May is here and Memorial Day is right around the corner. The pools will open, cookout season will begin and the lucky ones will find time to hit the beach. Kudos to those of you who stuck with your New Year’s resolutions and now can’t wait to put on that new bathing suit. For those of us that fell a little short the last few months, never fear, the right maxi dress can hide all flaws. And, for some extra help to get you bathing suit confident, here are some of our favorite tips for healthy eating.
Trick your taste buds
“Taste buds are malleable little fellas. When they can’t be with the foods they love, they learn to love the foods they’re with.
Make a short-term commitment to choosing more wholesome closer-to-nature foods with less added salt, sugar, saturated fat, and trans fat. Within weeks, you’ll start to prefer these now-familiar foods.”
—David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center
Indulge every day
“Eat a small amount of dark chocolate—I’m talking a 100-calorie piece that’s made of at least 70% cacao—every day. I consider it ‘the daily dark chocolate escape.’
Doing this curbs your cravings for both sweet and salty foods. You’re much more likely to be satisfied and not reach for those cookies or chips.
My clients say this allows them to pass up samples at the market without feeling deprived.”
—Cynthia Sass, RD, author ofCinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches and co-author of The Ultimate Diet Log
Bury your cravings
“If you’re a soda-lover—or have another favorite calorie-laden indulgence like potato chips—hide your stash in a really inconvenient place, like your basement. I do this myself. You’ll be less likely to go and grab it. And if you do make the trek, you’ll have to burn extra calories to get the treat.”
—Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think
Go for omega-3s
“Get into the habit of popping DHA-based omega-3s—take two 200-milligram capsules about 30 minutes before both lunch and dinner. Or have 4 ounces of non-fried salmon or trout three times per week, along with six walnuts before each meal.
This will decrease your desire for food later on, since this type of omega helps release the hormone cholecystokinin, which reduces appetite. Less food equals a smaller waist!”
—Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic and co-author of You: On a Diet and You: Stress Less (out this month)
Order with ice
“At a restaurant, make sure your water glass is always topped off and that it’s ice cold. Drinking water throughout your meal makes you feel fuller faster, and the coldness causes you to burn more calories to bring the water’s temperature up.”
—David Kirsch, New York City–based celebrity trainer (clients include Heidi Klum and Liv Tyler) and author of The Ultimate New York Diet
Plate like a french woman
“French women eat smaller portions of more things, and American women eat larger portions of fewer things. So plate your meal like a French woman!
For breakfast, eat a slice of toast, a sliver of butter, a bit of jam, and a fruit—like half a banana—plus coffee or tea. Variety, color, and presentation go a long way toward fooling the stomach into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are.”
—Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat
Up the burn
“Eating protein within 45 minutes after a moderate to intense workout (of at least 45 minutes to an hour) helps your muscles rebuild and repair—and also helps increase the number of calories you burn.
So for maximum fat-melting throughout the day, bring a small protein-rich 100- to 200-calorie snack with you to the gym, or keep a stash of yogurt or string cheese at work.”
—Teddy Bass, L.A.–based celebrity trainer who has worked with Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate
You eat fake foods
We admit that prepackaged weight-loss products like shakes and bars are convenient, but they may not be helping you to lose weight in the long run.
“You never feel satisfied after you eat something like that, because it’s just a bunch of processed stuff,” says Manuel Villacorta, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
There are lots of healthier, more filling options with the same or fewer calories, like a cheese stick or a serving of plain nonfat Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries.
You burn the midnight oil
Sure, you need to log time at the gym, but to lose weight, you also need to log time in your bed.
Skimping on sleep, especially sleeping less than five or six hours a night, can slow your metabolism and cause hormonal changes that hurt your weight-loss efforts.
Being tired may also make you eat more. One recent study found that people who are sleep-deprived consume a whopping 500 extra calories a day.
You exercise too much
Yes, you read that right. Exercise is important, but Villacorta maintains that being too focused on it can backfire.
“People think that if they exercise they will magically lose weight, and then they get frustrated,” he cautions.
In fact, about 80% of dieting time and energy should be focused on nutrition and 20% on exercise, he says. “If I have a client who’s exercising six times a week, sometimes I’ll cut that in half and have them spend the extra hours shopping and planning meals.”
You always choose the salad
Contrary to popular belief, heading for the salad bar may not be your best option.
Salads may not contain enough carbohydrates to help control hunger hormones, according to Villacorta. He suggests a healthy soup and sandwich instead, or tossing a serving of brown rice, lentils, or garbanzo beans into your greens. And beware of high-calorie salad bar additions like blue cheese and candied walnuts.
Add enough of those and “you may as well just have a burger,” he says.
You’re a high-calorie health nut
Just because a food is healthy doesn’t mean you can eat a mountain of it.
Switching from white bread to whole wheat bread, eating nuts instead of chips, using olive oil instead of butter —these are all healthy changes. But they aren’t low-calorie substitutions, so portion control is still key.
You eat too early
Popular wisdom says not to eat in the evenings, but that may not make sense unless you turn in extra early.
“People eat at 6:00 and stay up until 11:00 or midnight, so their bodies are naturally asking for fuel again,” Villacorta says. “I tell people to aim to eat 70% of their calories before dinner and 30% at dinner, but it doesn’t matter how late dinner is.” Healthy eating in the evening can prevent a late-night binge on ice cream or cookies.
You’re a loner
Remember the buddy system from your kindergarten field trips? It works for dieting, too. Studies show that support from friends and family increases the likelihood that women will lose weight.
If you can’t get what you need from your nearest and dearest, other forms of support—including advice from a weight-loss counselor or encouragement from online buddies—can also do the trick.
You never snack
To keep your metabolism at its peak, you need to eat every three to four hours.
“People think they need to eat less frequently, but really they need to eat more often, in smaller amounts,” Villacorta advises. “There’s no real reason you need to think in terms of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
You don’t have a diary
One large-scale study found that keeping a daily food journal doubled the amount of weight participants lost.
Researchers speculate that simply writing down what you put in your mouth makes you more accountable and cuts your daily calories.
Create your own food log or use one of the many available for free online.
You don’t like water
Substituting water for sugary sodas and even for juices can make a major dent in your daily calorie count. Drinking water may also help you manage your appetite.
In one study, people who drank two glasses of water before eating a meal consumed up to 90 fewer calories.
You skip breakfast
There’s lots of evidence that people who eat breakfast tend to have healthier weights, so start the day right by making time for a morning meal.
Experts say whole-grain cereal is one of the best breakfast choices for dieters.
It’s quick and easy, too—so there goes the excuse about not having time before work.
You hate to cook
Restaurant meals are frequently more caloric than home-cooked ones, so dust off your apron and hunt down some healthy recipes.
When you do eat out, consider splitting a meal with your date or asking the water to serve you half of your meal and have the other half boxed up to go.
1. Eat More…
- Fruits and vegetables: Produce is naturally low in calories and high in water and fiber, so it fills you up.
- Low-fat dairy: Research shows that the calcium in skim milk, cheese, and yogurt may help your body burn fat.
- Whole grains: They’re rich in fiber and more filling than refined grains. Try oatmeal or whole-grain bread with at least two grams fiber per slice.
- Lean protein: It’s slowly digested, so it stays in your stomach longer. Good choices: Pork tenderloin, broiled Pacific halibut, skinless chicken, and deli turkey breast.
- Salads and broth-based soups: Start your meals with a high-volume, low-calorie food like vegetable soup and you’ll eat less overall.
- Beans and legumes: Toss some black beans or chickpeas into your salad at lunch. They boast a unique combination of fiber to fill you up and protein to keep you satisfied.
2. Eat less…
- Sweetened cereals and yogurt: The typical 6-ounce container of yogurt with fruit on the bottom packs more than two tablespoons of sugar — more than 100 calories.
- White carbs such as bread, pasta, and rice: They contain empty calories and little fiber.
- “Fake foods” like rice cakes: They’re so lacking in taste that you end up overeating them because you never feel satisfied.
- Salty or fried snacks: Not only are they loaded with heart-clogging saturated fat, these foods also invite mindless munching.
3. Eat a Lot Less Often…
- Sweetened drinks such as soda and iced tea: Drinking just one can of soda a day equals about 150 calories — and 15 extra pounds a year.
- Bagels, muffins, cakes, and cookies: The average deli bagel is so enormous that it counts as four servings of bread.
- Butter, mayonnaise, and full-fat salad dressing: Butter and mayo contain more than 100 calories per tablespoon, and salad dressing can have 75 calories or more. Switch to light mayo and dressing and use them sparingly.
POWER UP WITH PROTEINS
Since protein has a high thermic effect, your body will burn more calories to digest it. Score! When it comes to protein, Amanda Carlson-Phillips, vice president of nutrition and research for Core Performance, recommends including a lean protein source in every meal.
“Eating five to six mini meals per day and including a lean protein source such as low-fat cheese, beans, chicken, fish, or peanut butter on every plate is a great way to rev your metabolism and keep you feeling energized and fueled all day long,” she says.
IF YOU’RE NOT ALREADY, BECOME A FAN OF GREEN TEA
“Drinking brewed green tea is an effective way to get EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), an ingredient known to speed up metabolism,” Carlson-Phillips says. “Three cups of green tea a day can increase metabolism by up to 10 percent.”
GET EGCG OTHER WAYS
If you’ve tried to like green tea and it’s just not happening, there are other options. Dr. Gregg Schneider, a dentist and expert in alternative medicine, says an adequate amount of green tea to achieve really good results means consuming about six to 10 cups per day. Now that’s a lot of green tea!
“It makes more sense to ingest a couple of green tea capsules per day,” he says. “Look for supplements that contain at least 70 percent EGCG.”
DON’T BE INTIMIDATED BY GYM MACHINES
Angela Corcoran, director of education at the Cybex Research Institute, says to hit the gym and take advantage of those fitnessmachines. They’re good for building lean muscles and will help you to ramp up your metabolism.
“They can also help to establish healthy fitness habits and consistency in an exerciseprogram,” Corcoran says. “Ask a trainer at your gym to explain how to use the programs on the equipment, and have them suggest a workout routine to help you.”
STOCK UP ON SALMON
Salmon is an Omega-3 powerhouse full of protein and healthy fats, says Ilyse Schapiro, registered dietitian and certified nutritionist. Salmon is great for burning fat, but also, the Omega-3s in it will help to make your metabolism more efficient, slowing digestion and preventing cravings, she adds.
USE OLIVE OIL
Believe it or not, some oil is good for weightloss. Olive oil is a healthy fat, which actually “turns on” your metabolism and helps you burn more body fat, according to Eric Broser, professional bodybuilder and Planet Muscle Magazine columnist.
MINIMIZE CARB CONSUMPTION
“Stay away from processed, high sugar, junk food, even fruit juice,” says Michael Mountain, author of Ultimate Fat Loss Solution. Stick to protein, which increases metabolism by 30 percent for up to 12 hours, whereas carbs and fat increase metabolism by 4 percent for less than one hour. And don’t forget fiber—it binds with metabolized fat and removes it from the body.
GIVE YOUR BODY A DETOX
“A seasonal detox is an effective way to clear toxins out of one’s system to speed up metabolism and to enhance overall health,” says Matt Dower, spa director of the award-winning Mirbeau Inn & Spa, which offers a do-it-yourself detox for those who seek to continue its health benefits at home after their visit. Just be careful to avoid extreme detox diets that can do more harm than good.
DRINK, DRINK, AND DRINK SOME MORE
Water really does a body good, as will otherhealthy drinks. “Drink lots of fluids,” says Ariane Hundt, a New York City-based personal trainer and nutritionist. “A dehydrated body will slow its metabolism and increase hunger and sluggishness.”
Hundt suggests detox teas (by Yogi Tea or Traditional Medicinals, for instance). You can also substitute your sugar-filled soft drink with soda water that has no flavor). They’ll give you an energy boost without making you crash.
AND OH, DRINK WATER WITH LEMON
Cheryl Wheeler Duncan, a detoxification expert, certified nutritionist, and Hollywood stuntwoman, recommends you drink a tall glass of lukewarm water with a half or wholelemon squeezed in it and fiber. She does so every morning.
“The digestive enzymes in the lemon, plus the fiber, will get your metabolism and digestive system moving so you are easily digesting anything you eat later that day,” she adds.
EAT SMALLER MEALS MORE FREQUENTLY
You’ve heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating! Eating smaller meals more often throughout the day can help fire up your fat-burning furnace. Susie Akers, director at the Aamoth Family Pediatric Wellness Center at MetroHealth and gastroenterology dietitian, recommends you consume at least three to four times a day instead of only one to two times to keep your metabolism up and avoid excessive portions with large meals.
Meaty and filling, as a stand-in for beef they can slash up to 400 calories from a meal. They may also protect against breast cancer by helping to regulate a woman’s estrogen levels.
Try this: Sauté sliced mushrooms and shallots until tender. Add a splash of white wine and cook until evaporated. Serve over roasted fish or chicken. Or try Grilled Steak, Mushroom, and Green Bean Salad.
Another high-fiber cholesterol fighter. On weeknights use the pearl or quick-cooking variety. More time? Give hulled barley, with its extra layer of bran, a go.
Try this: Add sautéed mushrooms and sherry vinegar to cooked barley. Or try Creamy Barley Salad With Apples.
A surprisingly good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Those are the fats that lower the bad-for-you cholesterol (LDL) and raise the good-for-you kind (HDL).
Try this: For a healthy on-the-go snack, pack a handful of walnuts with some dried figs and a few anise seeds. (As the ingredients sit together, the anise releases flavor.) Or try Corn Salad With Feta and Walnuts.
Contains three times the amount of fiber per serving as the typical semolina variety. Skip pasta labeled “multigrain”: It may be made with a number of grains, but they aren’t necessarily whole ones.
Try this: Toss whole-grain pasta with pesto, chopped arugula, and grated lemon zest. Or try Whole-Wheat Spaghetti With Asparagus.
Peanut and Almond Butters (All-Natural)
Heart-healthy monounsaturated fats abound in these protein-rich spreads. Opt for those with just two ingredients—nuts and salt.
Try this: Mix with soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice wine vinegar to make a quick Asian dipping sauce for chicken skewers. Or try Cold Noodle Salad With Peanut Butter Dressing.
Oatmeal (Steel-Cut or Old-Fashioned)
Holds cholesterol in check, helps fight against heart disease, and keeps you full until lunch, thanks to its soluble fiber.
Try this: For a savory breakfast, drizzle cooked oatmeal with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan.
It may cook like a grain, but quinoa is actually an herbaceous plant. It’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids, and offers the same energy and satiety you would get from meat, sans the fat or cholesterol.
Try this: Stir fresh lemon juice and chopped fresh dill into cooked quinoa. Or try Spiced Cod With Broccoli-Quinoa Pilaf.
It offers nine essential nutrients: calcium, of course, but also B vitamins, which help neurological function, and vitamin D, a potential cancer fighter.
Try this: If you want a break from your regular morning coffee, warm a cup of skim milk with a dash of vanilla and ground cinnamon. Or try Low-Fat Fettuccine Alfredo.
Packed with monounsaturated fatty acids, which keep blood vessels healthy. The plant fibers help lower cholesterol.
Try this: Fold chopped almonds into cooked whole grains, along with raisins or dried currants. Or tryChickpea Pasta With Almonds and Parmesan.
A protein powerhouse, these are flush with folate, a nutrient that may prevent certain birth defects.
Try this: Toss cooked lentils with extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, chopped celery, and fresh thyme. Serve over salad greens. Or try Spice-Baked Sea Bass and Red Lentils.
Packed with fiber, this superfruit was one of the top antioxidant-rich picks in a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study.
Try this: Serve over vanilla frozen yogurt with a pinch of ground cardamom. Or try Frozen Blueberry Lemonade.
Made from wheat that has been steamed, dried, and cracked, this delivers more fiber than brown rice, plus you get a boost of potassium, B vitamins, and calcium.
Try this: Cook bulgur as you would oatmeal. Top it with honey and chopped nuts for breakfast or a hearty snack. Or try Minty Bulgur Salad With Salmon and Cucumbers.
The whites offer up protein with minimal calories (and zero fat or cholesterol). Egg yolks get a bad rap, but don’t skip them—they are awash with vitamin B12 and vitamin A, and they contain choline, a nutrient that’s particularly important for pregnant women.
This protein-rich winner is an acquired taste for some, but totally worth it. Chockablock with vitamins D and B12, it is also an excellent source of calcium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Try this: Toss chopped sardines into a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh parsley.
You’ll get iron (for healthy hair), plus folate and at least a dozen flavonoids—compounds that are loaded with antioxidants.
Try this: Blend a handful of spinach into your favorite fruit smoothie. Or try Spinach-Stuffed Steak Roulades.
Ounce for ounce, this fuzzy fruit contains twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange and almost as much potassium as a banana.
Try this: Thinly slice, then drizzle with honey and sprinkle with toasted unsweetened coconut.
Its omega-3 fatty acids may improve your mood and keep your skin glowing. Why wild? It’s exposed to fewer toxins than the farmed Atlantic variety.
Try this: For breakfast, mash some avocado on whole-grain toast and top with flaked poached salmon. Or tryMustard-Broiled Salmon With New Potato Salad.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
An outstanding source of monounsaturated fats. When used in moderation, this tasty Mediterranean staple may even cut the risk of heart disease.
Try this: Gently heat olive oil with fresh herbs (such as rosemary and thyme). Drizzle on pasta, steamed vegetables, or sandwiches in place of mayo. Or try Sugar Snaps with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Shaved Parmigiano.
Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless)
A dinner staple from the leanest part of the bird: Half a breast has just 2.5 grams of fat and more than 22 grams of protein.
Try this: Shred cooked chicken and toss with olive oil, raisins, curry powder, and fresh lime juice. Or tryStuffed Chicken Breasts With Tomato Salad.
The payoff from this leafy green: loads of vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, and antioxidants. Kale is also a good source of lutein, an eye-friendly nutrient that may slow macular degeneration by more than 40 percent.
Try this: Make kale chips by tearing the leaves into pieces and tossing with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 300° F until crisp, 20 to 30 minutes. Or try Quinoa With Mushrooms, Kale, and Sweet Potatoes.
You’ll get nearly 20 percent of your daily dose of fiber in one ½-cup serving, plus cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats.
Try this: For a side dish, halve an avocado, drizzle with soy sauce and fresh lime juice, and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Or try Spinach Salad With Avocado and Pepper.
A chili essential, these were found to be one of the most antioxidant-rich foods in a USDA study.
Try this: Make a quick salad with kidney beans, olive oil, fresh lime juice, and fresh cilantro. Or tryTurkey and Bean Chili.
The darker the color, the richer these tubers are in the antioxidant beta-carotene.
Try this: For a side dish, steam cut-up sweet potatoes and apples. Puree with maple syrup and crushed red pepper. Or try Spiced Braised Beef With Sweet Potatoes.
Supercharged with nutrients—think calcium, B vitamins, and beta-carotene—this leafy green fuels your body with fiber, too.
Try this: Sauté chopped chard with sliced garlic, then toss with whole-grain pasta and raisins. Or try Swiss Chard With Chickpeas and Couscous.
These young soybeans pack more fiber per serving than shredded-wheat cereal and have the same amount of protein as roasted turkey.
Try this: Puree cooked edamame with garlic, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice for a quick hummus-like spread. Or try Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs With Edamame.
The antioxidants in this winter squash keep skin healthy; its potassium helps lower blood pressure.
Try this: Peel, cut into chunks, and roast with olive oil and sprigs of fresh thyme. Or try Pumpkin-Leek Soup.
Your go-to source for vitamin C, which, among other useful traits, can help the body burn fat. And in addition to helping prevent colds, vitamin C may stimulate collagen synthesis to keep skin looking supple.
Try this: Roast orange wedges along with salmon. Or try Seared Scallops With Snow Peas and Orange.
Nonfat Greek Yogurt
Rich in probiotics (bacteria that may improve digestion and increase your immunity), this extra-thick yogurt can contain 8 grams more protein per serving than conventional yogurt.
Try this: Mix with ground cumin, chopped cucumber, garlic, and cilantro. Serve with grilled chicken. Or try Beef Stroganoff With Yogurt and Dill.
A vitamin C gold mine—½ cup of cooked broccoli satisfies 80 percent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily dose. It’s also a key source of vitamin K, which helps blood clot properly.
Try this: Toss with olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Roast at 375° F until tender. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan before serving. Or try Pork Chops With Garlicky Broccoli.
These burrito mainstays boast antioxidants and magnesium, which helps maintain nerve and muscle function.
Try this: On a baking sheet, toss canned black beans with olive oil, ground cumin, and salt. Roast at 450° F until crispy, about 10 minutes, for a tasty snack. Or try Jerk Chicken With Rice, Black Beans, and Pineapple.