Tip No. 3: Include protein at every meal.
If you are trying to lose weight, protein is key. “When you lose weight, your resting energy expenditure goes down, and the only way to counter that is to build up muscle mass to boost up your metabolism,” Apovian says. She recommends 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (so about 95 grams, or a little more than 3 ounces for a 140-pound person). The easiest way to meet this goal, she says, is to include 3 to 4 ounces of protein at every meal. You'll also build more muscle if you do it this way: A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming an equal amount of protein at all three meals is linked to more muscle strength in people age 67 and older. Keep in mind that 1/4 cup of cooked beans, an egg, a tablespoon of peanut butter or a half ounce of nuts or seeds is roughly equivalent to an ounce of cooked meat, poultry or fish protein.
Tip No. 4: Don't be draconian.
“The challenge of both short-term and long-term weight management is not just what you eat but how you think about what you eat,” says Gary Foster, adjunct professor of psychology in psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and chief science officer at WW. If you eat ice cream most days of the week after dinner, for example, don't get rid of it cold turkey. Instead, include it as an after-dinner snack a couple of days a week. “The shorter the distance between from where you are now to where you want to go, the more likely it is you'll be successful,” Foster explains.
Case in point: When researchers at the University of Colorado instructed people to shave only 100 calories a day from their diet, most ended up getting rid of 300. “When you make a goal, and it's small and doable, it builds your confidence and ability to take that next step,” Foster says. He also recommends that you steer clear of abstract, broad goals, like vowing to keep all junk food out of your house. “The more specific you can be, the better — for example, if you get rid of all the candy and chocolate bars in your house, substitute air-popped popcorn for them instead,” he says. “This way, you have a game plan.”
Tip No. 5: Practice self-compassion.
“When people start a weight-loss journey, they often take a punitive view,” says Foster, who notes that setting unrealistic goals, and getting angry at yourself for any setbacks, won't help you long term as much as seeing weight loss as a way to take care of yourself. When inevitable setbacks occur, he says, talk to yourself as you would to a friend, with encouragement , not harsh judgments. If slip-ups happen — even in your first week of any so-called diet — stay calm. Hop back onto the wagon as soon as you can, and don't punish yourself. “If you overindulge one afternoon, don't skip dinner to compensate,” Foster stresses. “Eat a light, healthy dinner, and pick up again right where you left off.” When you do this and view your weight-loss program as a way to nurture yourself, you set yourself up for healthy habits you can keep for life.