No more messing around — it's time to get real.
By Lizzie Fuhr
Exercise plays an essential role in any weight-loss journey, but how you fuel your body is just as — if not more — important. If you're ready to embrace new lifestyle changes and even more ready to stop feeling like food is a constant struggle, here are the straightforward tips we live by that really work.
1. Lose the mind-set that foods are off-limits.
According to trainers Chris and Heidi Powell, "anytime you deprive yourself of food . . . all you want is what you can't have!" Take your mind-set away from sacrifice, and allow yourself everything in moderation.
2. Keep it clean.
Replace processed foods with clean (whole and natural) items. Not only are natural options more nutritious, you'll find that their flavors are more satisfying.
3. Opt for whole grains.
Refined and processed carbs weigh you down and muck up your progress. Fiber-rich whole grains keep hunger at bay, support healthy digestion, and are a crucial part of a long-term weight-loss success.
4. Greek yogurt is your best friend.
Instead of sour cream, dollop this protein-rich yogurt on your burrito bowl. Make it into a creamy pasta sauce that satisfies any Italian cravings. Honestly, is there anything this protein-rich dairy option can't sub for?
5. Make your snacks smarter.
Instead of a snack that includes just one food group, go for two — even three. The winning combination of protein, fiber, and carbs fuels workouts and keep you full.
6. Eat (don't sip) your produce.
According to Biggest Loser chef Cheryl Forberg, RD, when you eat a whole piece of fruit with all the fiber intact, your body will release blood sugar slowly, and you'll stay satisfied for longer. Enjoy the occasional fresh-pressed juice as a treat and learn to eat your produce!
7. Eat carbs in the morning.
Totally eliminating carbs from your life is not a long-term technique for success, but when you eat carbs earlier in the day, you have more time to burn them off, says trainer Bob Harper.
8. Top your salad right.
Croutons and preservative-laden dressings have got to go. Dress your favorite salad in a lighter homemade recipe instead, and pile on the veggies, protein, and produce. If you're craving crunch, add some nuts instead.
9. Skip the fryer.
Bake, steam, or sauté, but please don't fry! It packs on the calories and fat and can leave you in a serious food coma.
10. More spice, less sauce.
Sugar- and cream-based sauces cover up the natural flavors of the foods you're enjoying and add an extra layer of unnecessary calories. Go light and bright with a squeeze of citrus and experiment with fresh herbs.
11. Seriously, say no to soda.
The extra calories and chemicals that come from soda are just not worth it. If you love bubbles, sip sparkling water instead. In the beginning, it will be hard, but if soda is a part of your daily diet, this is 100 percent worth doing.
12. Always add something green.
When it comes to lunch and dinner, always add something green to your plate. Serve spinach with last night's leftovers or order a salad at your favorite takeout spot. It ups the nutrition of every meal, every time.
13. Drink your coffee and tea without sugar.
Instead of squeezing honey and adding packets of sugar into your morning beverage, keep your blood sugar level by skipping these unnecessary additions.
14. Cook one serving.
If portion control is a problem, cook single-size servings of your favorite foods. Simply divide your favorite recipes accordingly and skip out on temptation.
15. A little bit of hunger isn't bad.
According to Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, "you should feel mild to moderate hunger three to four times a day at your scheduled mealtimes." When your hunger returns, it's a signal from your body that it's time to refuel!
16. Leave space for smart indulgences.
Plan ahead, and keep your diet extra clean leading up to your special indulgence. It will make the whole experience that much sweeter.
This article was originally published at Popsugar Fitness. Reprinted with permission from the author.