1. Kick the cereal habit.
Cereal is delicious, and I for one could live on it exclusively, but it’s not really your friend when you’re trying to lose weight. Have you ever measured out a serving of cereal? It varies, but it’s usually about a cup. A handful. How much cereal do you eat? A bowlful? You mean like, 3 cups? Multiply that by about 130 calories per serving, and you have a 390 calorie breakfast that isn’t especially filling. You could have an egg sandwich or an enormous bowl of oatmeal for that.
And don’t get me started on granola. Filling, yes. Scrumptious, yes. But whoa – around 500 calories per cup? They fool you because the listed serving size is a quarter-cup, which is about how much you feed a toddler who’s not feeling well. Ugh. Here’s a hint – when you’re dieting, granola isn’t good for anything. Not even as a topping for your yogurt. Speaking of yogurt…
2. Enough with the yogurt already!
Real, actual Greek yogurt is very good for you – it’s got protein, probiotics, and no added sugar. Great. Use it in place of butter or sour cream if you want, but it’s still too high-calorie for a snack. And if you’re eating those little plastic cups of flavored yogurt – forget it. Stop right now. They are loaded with sugar, too high-calorie for the volume, and really not a valuable addition to your diet. And Activia is no better – it’s got probiotics, but so does real Greek yogurt. If you read the fine print, Activia is only proven to help your bowels if you eat it three times per day. That’s about 300 extra calories per day. That’s about an hour’s walk. Stop it.
3. Don’t drink calories!
Your body doesn’t register calories from beverages as nourishment, so they won’t squash your appetite. Save your precious calories for food, and drink only zero-calorie liquids. Water, tea, coffee – but no cream or sugar! Even diet soda and diet energy drinks are fine in terms of weight loss. Artificial sweeteners have gotten a bad rap, but they’re safe if you’re not drinking 100 gallons every day.
4. Embrace the artificial.
Do you want to be all-natural, or do you want to be thin? Ideally, we would all eat local, organic food. But when you’re dieting, if eating an artificial product means the difference between blowing your diet and sticking to it, go for it. Artificial sweeteners can help wean you away from your sweet tooth, and Walden Farms has a line of CALORIE-FREE salad dressings, chocolate syrup, marshmallow fluff, and even peanut butter. Sure, it’s not as good as the real thing and it doesn’t teach you better eating habits, but if you absolutely must taste something sweet before you commit homicide, it’s better if it doesn’t throw your diet off course.
5. Get your caffeine.
This is another one of my unpopular tricks, but I still tell all of my clients to stick with the caffeine if they enjoy it. Nothing (legal and OTC) has ever been proven to help with weight loss better than caffeine. It curbs your appetite, increases your calorie burn, and helps you get your ass off the couch and to the gym. In fact, taking caffeine about 30 minutes before a workout helps you burn more calories during that workout, even working at your usual intensity. Of course, if you’re caffeine-sensitive, pregnant, nursing or have any other medical condition that makes your doctors warn you against caffeine, this particular tip is not for you. But if you enjoy caffeine, drink your coffee, grab that sugar-free Rockstar, chug that espresso and soldier on!