Fed up with living in a world of diet don’ts? So are we! That’s why we threw all the negative rules and restrictions out the window and developed the Do Diet, a radical, positive new way to eat, full of easy dos to help you shape up and slim down.
1. Get lean with protein
Studies show that upping your protein intake can boost your chances of weight loss success. Researchers at the University of Illinois report that dieters who stick to a plan of 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat lose more weight — and specifically more fat — than those who get most of their calories from carbs. And a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who included more protein and fewer carbs in their meals consumed 441 fewer calories a day.
Make it a habit: At every meal or snack, ask, “Where’s the protein?” If you don’t see it, add it. A handful
of nuts or a couple of pieces of cheese will do the trick.
Tip: Pack portable proteins. When you’re on the go, keep smart snacks like almonds, cheese or plain yogurt within easy reach. Pair them with fruits, veggies and whole grains to keep cravings away.
2. Swear by whole grains
These grains are nothing short of a diet superfood. Australian scientists recently reviewed 25 years of research and found that people who eat lots of them have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) and smaller waistlines than people who eat only refined grains like those found in white bread, pasta and rice. Why are whole grains so superior? They’re packed with nutrients and fibre, so they take longer to digest, say the experts. In contrast, refined white grains hit your system quickly, causing insulin levels to rapidly rise and then fall. You end up more tired and hungry than before. That’s also why a white-pasta lunch leads to an afternoon meltdown at the vending machine.
Make it a habit: Next time you get groceries, make a pact with yourself. If whole grains don’t top the ingredients list of a cereal, pasta or bread, put it back on the shelf. Look for whole wheat, barley, oats, brown or wild rice, spelt or quinoa. And when making pancakes or muffins, use a mix of half whole wheat flour and half white — your taste buds won’t know the difference.
Tip: Beware of imposters. “Enriched wheat flour” is just a fancy name for white, and multi-grain may just have a few token grains thrown in. Always check the ingredient list for the words “whole grains.”
3. Fill up on fibre
Fibre — found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes — is an important ally in the battle of the bulge. A University of Texas study found that adults who maintain a healthy weight consume 33 percent more fibre a day than their overweight counterparts. What’s the magic number? Between 25 and 35 g a day, say the experts.
Make it a habit: Eat more foods that have at least 4 g of fibre per serving, like raspberries (4 g per half cup), pears (5 g each), kidney beans (12 g per two-thirds of a cup), edamame (8 g per two-thirds of a cup), avocado (7 g per half) or whole-grain bread (5 g per two slices).
4. Stock up on one-ingredient foods
The more processed foods you eliminate from your diet, the slimmer you’ll be. Why? Processed foods like cheese slices, frozen waffles and cold cuts are more likely to be high in calories, refined sugar and bad fats and low in nutrients. With unprocessed foods like apples, berries, nuts, edamame or carrots, it’s the opposite: they pack healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.
Make it a habit: Every other trip to the grocery store, avoid the inner aisles completely. Instead, shop the perimeter for fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, meats, whole grains and dairy products. In other words, look for labels that list only one ingredient or, better yet, have no label at all.
Tip: Savour a naked supper. Let the natural flavours of foods shine through. When you smother a dish in fancy sauces, you do nothing but add calories. Instead, use fresh herbs and spices to season fish and meat, or drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt on veggies.
5. Curb cravings with h2o
It’s a fact: our bodies often mistake thirst for hunger. So if you’re not reaching for water throughout the day, it’s only a matter of time before you opt for cookies or chips instead. And don’t be fooled: sugary drinks are not a water substitute. In fact, one UCLA study found that adults who have one soda a day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight than those who avoid it altogether. Research also shows that replacing sugary drinks with water means consuming fewer calories overall.
Make it a habit: Pour yourself some water before you sit down to work at the office each morning. And refill that glass immediately each time it’s empty!
Tip: One small change, big results. Research out of Virginia Tech shows that drinking two cups of water before each meal can translate into eating up to 90 fewer calories per sitting! Water doesn’t have to be dull! Flavour it with citrus, cucumber or mint. Trade ice cubes for frozen berries or grapes. Or get your fizz fix from club soda.
6. Eat more greens
Add brightness to the table by upping your vegetable intake by at least one or two servings a day. It’s a great detox strategy (and so much more satisfying and healthy than trying to survive on cayenne and grapefruit alone). Experts recommend having at least one serving (half a cup cooked or one cup raw) of dark, leafy greens a day. Our favourite options? Kale, spinach, arugula, collard greens and swiss chard.
Make it a habit: Try arugula instead of romaine in your salad, toss some bok choy into your next stir-fry or add kale, spinach or any of these fab greens to a soup or pasta sauce.
How to pick the best bunch
A few pointers to help you bring home the freshest and healthiest leafy greens.
1. Look for brightly coloured leaves and firm stalks.
2. Choose bunches with smaller leaves — they’re more tender and milder in taste than bigger leaves.
3. Opt for locally grown, organic varieties whenever you can.
7. Start everyday with breakfast
How’s this for a wake-up call: Studies show that eating within two hours of waking up can help you lose weight, perform better at work and lower your risk of heart disease and obesity. People who eat breakfast every day also have a lower BMI than those who don’t. Why? Because eating breakfast is the single best way to kick-start your metabolism and rev up all the systems in your body. Opt for a power-packed combo of whole grains, protein and fruit or veggies.
Extra credit: Those who eat in the morning are more likely to make healthier food choices all day, while skipping breakfast increases the appeal of high-calorie foods, reports a study in the European Journal of Neuroscience. You’ll also benefit if you make breakfast the biggest meal of the day. In a study from Virginia Commonwealth University, people who ate a 610-calorie breakfast rich in complex carbs and lean protein (including milk, whole wheat bread, turkey, eggs and cheese) for eight weeks lost more than 21 percent of their body weight, compared to less than 5 percent for the eaters who consumed a 290-calorie breakfast. The first group also reported less hunger and fewer cravings overall.
Kick-start the morning
Energize the day with these smart and satisfying breakfast combos.
1. Poached omega-3 eggs with whole-grain toast and fresh berries.
2. Oatmeal with apple slices, cinnamon and low-fat milk.
3. Whole-grain French toast topped with plain yogurt and fresh fruit.
4. High-fibre cereal (five grams per serving) with sliced banana, a spoonful of flax seeds and milk.
5. A whole-grain bagel with light cream cheese and smoked salmon.
8. Refuel every three to four hours
Now that we have breakfast covered, remember that your body needs fuel all day to balance blood sugar and protect you from cravings. The longer you wait between meals, the more depleted you feel and the more vulnerable to temptation you become.
Good news: there’s no need to worry that eating more often will lead to extra pounds. Research shows that women who eat regularly throughout the day consume the same amount of calories as those who eat sporadically, or even fewer.
9. Downsize your dinnerware
Do you usually eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full? Researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, report that visual cues like plate size can greatly influence when you think you’ve had enough. The theory also holds true for glasses, snack bowls and even spoons — the bigger they are, the harder your diet will fall.
Make it a habit: Use smaller bowls, plates, glasses and utensils. And given that most cereal servings are only one cup and most bowls can hold two or three, eat your bran flakes out of a mug instead. At lunch and dinner, keep portions in their place; fill half of your plate with vibrant veggies, a quarter with a smart protein (like chicken) and the last quarter with a whole grain or healthy starch (like a whole wheat bun or half a sweet potato).
Serving size cheat sheet
Not sure what a portion looks like? Here’s an easy guide:
1. One serving of meat or fish = a cellphone or a deck of cards
2. One serving of pasta or cereal = a hockey puck
3. One serving of fruits or vegetables = a tennis ball
4. One serving of cheese = your thumb
5. One serving of butter or oil = the tip of your thumb
10. Embrace poaching and steaming
Sure, baking, grilling and roasting are great ways to keep calories under control, but poaching and steaming
are the true secret weapons of healthy home chefs. Why? Because both are easy ways to avoid oil and butter during cooking, without compromising flavour.
Poach: Chicken or fish
Pour two to three inches of broth or water into a lidded pot and bring to a simmer. For more flavour, add a bay leaf, garlic cloves, sliced onion, carrot, celery and even last night’s leftover wine. Add chicken or fish, cover and cook very gently.
Cut vegetables into even-sized chunks. Use a steamer insert or simply add half an inch of water to a lidded pot and place veggies inside. Remove when colours become more vibrant and veggies are fork-tender.
Tip: Invest in a good non-stick frying pan. When you use high-quality cookware, you instantly need far less oil, no matter what you’re making.
11. Detox in seven days
Drop those stubborn extra pounds in no time by combining our smart slim-down strategies with this easy seven-day meal plan!
For more slimming secrets get your copy of Chatelaine‘s Whole Beauty guide on newsstands now.