Ranging from just-juice to just-tea cleanses, these typically short-term plans can be dangerous. “Detoxes and cleanses are usually low in calories, protein, and fiber, all nutrients that our bodies need to function,” says Alissa Rumsey, RD, who is in private practice in New York City. “These plans leave you feeling hungry and cranky, causing a rebound food binge once you stop the detox.”
Have to work late tonight and need dinner—in a hurry? Not to worry. If you find fast food is your only option, pull up the restaurant's nutrition facts online before you go; you can make an informed decision ahead of time about what to order. "Nearly every quick-service restaurant has a relatively healthful option or two," says Newgent. We're thinking salads, chili, or grilled chicken. Some low-cal, healthy, on-the-run dishes: the vegetarian burrito bowl at Chipotle, the Bangkok curry at Noodles and Company, and the tomato basil bisque at Au Bon Pain.
You should aim to score your carbs from high-fiber, water-rich fruits and vegetables to naturally boost hydration and keep your digestive system humming along. Unsure of whether a produce pick is low in carbs? Reach for options grown above the ground (leafy greens, peppers, and stalk-shaped vegetables), rather than below ground (root veggies like potatoes, carrots, and parsnips), as they typically offer fewer carbs.
Start with 40 grams of Net Carbs of carbohydrates a day. Net Carbs represent the total carbohydrate content of the food minus the fiber content and sugar alcohols (if in the product). The Net Carbs number reflects the grams of carbohydrate that significantly impact your blood sugar level and therefore are the only carbs you need to count when you do Atkins.
If you follow these two guidelines, you’ll automatically be doing a third thing that is linked to reduced calorie intake: eating more low-calorie–dense foods. High-calorie–dense foods (like full-fat cheese and red meat) pack more calories ounce for ounce than low-calorie–dense ones (like vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole-grain cereal). According to a study published in the journal Appetite, eating a low-calorie–dense diet (by decreasing fat, eating more produce, or adding water to recipes) helped people consume 230 to 396 fewer calories a day. “With these strategies, you’ll also be eating foods that are higher in fiber, so you’ll stay satisfied,” says Donald D. Hensrud, M.D., the chair of preventive medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. If you’re still not dropping weight, consider using an app, such as Lose It!, to track your calories. That way, you’ll be able to see what you’re consuming and where the calories are coming from.
The purpose of the Mayo Clinic Diet is to help you lose excess weight and to find a way of eating that you can sustain for a lifetime. It focuses on changing your daily routine by adding and breaking habits that can make a difference in your weight, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, not eating while you watch TV, and moving your body for 30 minutes a day.
I want to conclude with a very important point. The goal isn't to go for "perfection" with your diet. The goal is to make some changes to what you are currently doing and continue to add and remove things as you go. There are not "good" and "bad" foods. Each food can fit into your diet, but the frequency and quantity may need to be altered. Think of foods as "everyday" foods and "sometimes" foods, and go for lots of color and a balance of foods from each of the food groups. Remember, eating is a social, enjoyable activity that can be both fun and healthy. Bon appétit.
If you’re looking to get a jump start on your health and fitness goals this year, you may be thinking about trying the ketogenic diet. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase before — it’s a huge diet buzzword — but aren’t sure what it means. Here’s a primer: The ketogenic diet is an eating plan that drives your body into ketosis, a state where the body uses fat as a primary fuel source (instead of carbohydrates), says Stacey Mattinson, RDN, who is based in Austin, Texas.
Having ready-to-eat snacks and meals-in-minutes on hand sets you up for success. You'll be less likely to hit the drive-through or order a pizza if you can throw together a healthy meal in five or 10 minutes. Here are some essentials to keep on hand: frozen vegetables, whole-grain pasta, reduced-fat cheese, canned tomatoes, canned beans, pre-cooked grilled chicken breast, whole grain tortillas or pitas, and bags of salad greens.