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Fad diets have always been popular. They promise glamorous weight loss results with minimal effort. Just eat this bar, use this supplement, cut out this food group or drink this tea for an overnight flat stomach.

These diets might help you shed a few pounds fast, but once the diet is over, that flat stomach won’t stay that way. Fad diets are inherently unsustainable, so once you return to a “normal” eating plan, you may gain even more weight than you lost in the first place. What’s more, fad diets often advocate for cutting out foods that contain important vitamins and minerals. This can have dangerous health effects.

Instead of jumping on the latest trend bandwagon, do your research. Any dietician will tell you that losing weight is all about eating less and exercising more and it should be achieved with a gradual lifestyle change.

Here are some healthy pointers for your weight loss journey.

 

Practice portion control.

Cutting portions by just 10-20% at each meal can help you lose weight in a healthy way. However, everyone knows that cutting portions is much easier said than done. These tips might help:

  • Eat from salad plates instead of dinner plates. Studies show that our hunger levels respond to physical cues, like seeing the bottom of the dish we’re eating from. So the sooner you see the bottom, the faster you’ll feel full.
  • When dining out, order from the kid’s menu or share with a friend.
  • Never eat straight from the bag, the pint or the carton. Separate snacks out into serving-size containers.

 

Drink more water, especially right before meals.

Water is proven to promote metabolism. Drinking a full eight-ounce glass before every meal contributes zero calories and expands your stomach, making you feel fuller so you eat less. Common recommendations for water intake are 13 cups of water per day for men and nine cups for women. Water also contributes to energy, hydration and healthy skin.

 

Shop the walls at the grocery store.

Studies show that the best diet for weight loss includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, complex carbohydrates and fats from fish, nuts and avocados. Notice that list didn’t include protein bars. Inherently based on restriction, fad diets replace nutrient-rich food with supplements and fillers, which can deprive your body of the vitamins it needs to remain strong.

When you do your weekly shopping, stick to the walls at the grocery store. This is where they stock whole foods like grains, dairy, produce and fish. Avoid the middle aisles, where the highly processed ingredients and boxed meals are stocked.

 

The bottom line is: You don’t have to go out and buy protein powders or vitamins or cut out certain foods to lose weight. Sustainable weight loss comes from building healthy habits over time.

For more information, visit the QualChoice website to learn how you can lose weight the healthy way.  

 

Dr. Lubna Maruf, M.D., is the Medical Director at QualChoice Health Insurance in Little Rock.