At the heart of its flexible system: SmartPoints. SmartPoints derive primarily from number of calories; sugar and saturated fat drive the number up, protein brings it down. Getting a feel for the number of points that different foods typically “cost” in order to stay on your daily “budget” is a great way to cultivate healthy decision-making: A fried chicken wing is 7 points, while 3 oz. of chicken breast without the skin is 2 points. A sugar-laden Coca-Cola is 9 points, but so is a dinner-sized serving of Moroccan chicken rice and potatoes. Some foods are zero points: fruits and vegetables, skinless chicken and turkey breast, seafood, eggs, nonfat yogurt. Being encouraged to eat certain items in this way helps to restructure your mindset around food.
“Packed with important nutrients including vitamins A and C, potassium, and iron, one medium peach (only 38 calories) provides nearly 2 grams of fiber,” says Lauren O’Connor, a registered dietitian in Los Angeles, California. “A peach provides gentle laxative and diuretic properties; and thanks to itsbeta-carotenee, it also helps your skin stay fresh and bright.” (They also make the perfect after-dinner treat. Try this recipe for pomegranate and grilled peach dessert.)
Also, men tend to lose weight where they need it most (read: belly), so it's often more immediately noticeable when overweight men start trimming down than when women do, as ladies' fat stores are typically more spread out, which is partly why they tend to lose weight at a slower pace than guys. Even basic, regular exercise -- ideally 30 to 60 minutes a day -- tends to reduce abdominal obesity, even if guys don’t technically lose weight.
"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL
Ready to step it up with your Fitbit tracker and set some new health and fitness goals? That’s awesome! Cue the fireworks! But if your ultimate goal is to lose weight, unfortunately, activity alone isn’t going to get you there—you also have to change what you eat. That does not mean you need to do a cleanse or detox. But it is possible to get a jump on weight loss, the smart and healthy way. Fitbit Dietitian Tracy Morris developed this kickstart one-week meal plan to help her clients see results, fast. Disclaimers: Please don’t try to lose more than 2 pounds per week, or dip below 1200 calories per day, which can compromise your metabolism. This is not a long-term plan, so you definitely don’t want to eat this way every week. But it’s a great way to kick off a weight loss goal, with specific meal and snack ideas, so you’ll see an initial drop—and be extra motivated to keep the momentum going this year.
Why this easy fitness plan works: It's common for people who exercise regularly to do the same routine week after week. If you do the same exercises at the same intensity all the time you'll get the same results. Your body hits a plateau. This plan increases your activity level without added stress or strain to your joints. So you burn more calories without taxing your body.
Going gluten-free may be a popular trend, but unless you're actually gluten-intolerant or have celiac disease, plenty of reasons exist to continue eating whole grains. They're a tasty way to fill up on both soluble and insoluble fiber, which help you feel full for longer and keep bowel movements regular (oats, barley, and bulgur are especially high sources). Whole grains can also help prevent weight gain: in one study, women who ate whole grains like wheat germ and dark bread had a 49% lower risk of "major" weight gain over time.
Studies led by Dr. Barbara Rolls at Pennsylvania State University as well as those of Drs. James Barnard and Christian Roberts at UCLA, who are following people attending the Pritikin Longevity Center, are particularly enlightening. They have documented that one of the best ways of reducing calorie intake without triggering increased hunger is to reduce the calorie density of the foods consumed. Put simply, a bowl of pasta with veggies and marinara can fill us up just as well as a bowl of pasta with cheesy Alfredo, but for less than half the calorie cost.
“Although available year–round, celery is best in the summer,” says Ellis. This super low-calorie food is also an excellent source of vitamins K and C, and a good source of many other essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, folate, potassium, and thiamine. “Crunching on celery is one of the oldest diet tricks because it may help decrease overall calorie consumption and aid in healthy digestion.”
In contrast to contemporary matcha culture (it’s as easy as grabbing a green tea latte from a nearby Starbucks), traditionally, Japanese tea ceremonies (called chanoyu) centered around the preparation and offering of matcha. Where everything counts. From the beautiful hand-painted matcha bowls made by local artisans to the art of serving and receiving the tea.
“Before you begin to change your diet, spend a week recording everything you eat—and I mean everything. Before I made any changes to my diet, I journaled everything I ate each day for a week, including little things like gum or breath mints. If you have a piece of candy from your coworker’s desk, snag a few spoonfuls of your boyfriend’s ice cream, or finish the few bits of grilled cheese your kid left on her plate, write it down! It all adds up, and you just don’t realize how much you’re eating until you actually see it all on paper in front of you. I, for one, was stunned.” — Maria Menounos, author of The Everygirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness, on how she lost 40 pounds
Quinoa is a unique whole grain because it’s a complete protein (about 7g per serving) and high in fiber (6g). Dietary fiber actually binds to fat and cholesterol, helping your body absorb less of the two. The ancient grain is also rich in eight essential amino acids, and vitamins and minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, iron and B12—both of which are crucial to energy levels. “Quinoa is great eaten alone, mixed with raw veggies as a cold salad, or warm like a pilaf,” Zeratsky says. It’s a high-quality carb that scores low on the glycemic index, so you won’t experience a sharp rise and fall of blood sugar.
When it comes to weight loss, there is no substitute for healthy eating, reduced calories and increased exercise. Replace sugary beverages with unsweetened green tea to reduce calories, and enjoy drinking it for its possible cardiovascular benefits, but avoid costly and possibly dangerous supplements. Green tea can be enjoyed hot or iced and can be brewed with herbal or fruit teas for interesting alternatives to plain water and healthy alternatives to sugary beverages.
"Kibbeh" describes dishes made with bulgur, onions and spices. That mixture is combined with everything from tomatoes to goat. It's layered and baked, shaped into balls or footballs, stuffed, deep-fried or eaten raw. This vegetarian kibbeh recipe is made with pumpkin and stuffed with seasoned greens. Sorrel adds a lemony flavor, but you can use chard or kale and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the filling. Use fine bulgur or the texture of the dough will be gritty.
HCG, or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, is a hormone produced during pregnancy by the placenta after implantation, and doctors sometimes prescribe it for fertility issues. But this hormone has also gained popularity as a weight-loss supplement — and using it as such can be dangerous. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against purchasing over-the-counter hCG, as these supplement products are illegal. (34)
Here’s the full shopping list for exactly what to buy, and check to make sure you have a few pantry staples on hand. Morris recommends starting on a weekend, so you can make a big pot of veggie soup, and give your body a chance to adjust before diving into a busy week. Her plan cuts carbs for the first couple of days, before slowly reintroducing whole grains. And if you want to mix it up, there are lots more options for healthy snacks, just make sure to get a serving of fruit or vegetables, along with protein.
No, I’m not talking about fast food … in fact, please cut out ANY fast food, which relies on terrible ingredients and excessive sodium, from your diet. But simply speaking, there are going to be times that you are in a situation where you are in a position to eat something that is usually “off-the-menu” for healthy eating. So, instead of binging on these foods, keep your goals in mind and nibble on smaller amounts.