The "Protein" Way
Get 25 percent of your calories from low-fat protein.
Why try it: "Protein will keep you fuller longer," says Susan Bowerman, RD, assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. "When women cut calories, they tend to eat salad." Soon after, you're starving.
Add lean protein to meals and snacks — aim for 90 grams a day and 1,400 calories total. "A lot of women think protein means chicken, meat, or fish," says Elisa Zied, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. But some of the best choices are dairy foods, beans, and nuts.
Your Protein Cheat Sheet
Roasted chicken breast (3 ounces): 26g protein, 140 calories, 3g fat
Beef sirloin (3 ounces, trimmed of fat): 22g protein, 177 calories, 9g fat
Cottage cheese, 1% fat (4.4 ounces): 15g protein, 89 calories, 1g fat
Kidney beans (1/2 cup): 7g protein, 108 calories, 1g fat
Cheddar cheese (1 ounce): 7g protein, 114 calories, 9g fat
Almonds (1 ounce, about 22 nuts): 6g protein, 169 calories, 15g fat
Egg, hard-boiled: 6g protein, 78 calories, 5g fat
Yogurt, Dannon Light & Fit (6 ounces): 5g protein, 60 calories, 0g fat
DROP 10: In about eight weeks with just this one strategy!
The "Three Change" Way
Ban three high-calorie foods.
Why try it: Most likely there's a high-cal coffee drink, hunk of bread, and piece of cheese in your day.
Cut out these foods:
- Creamy, syrupy coffee drinks: A grande (16-ounce) low-fat caramel macchiato has 240 calories and 7 grams of fat. Trade it for a tall skinny mocha (90 calories, 0g fat) and save 150 calories.
- Half a bagel: A typical bagel packs 300 to 400 calories. Lose half and cut 150 to 200 calories.
- One slice of cheese: Swap the cheddar on your sandwich for mustard and save 111 calories and 9 grams of fat.
DROP 10: In about three months.
The "Eat Breakfast" Way
Consume 300 calories at breakfast and your daily total will be about 100 fewer calories.
Why try it: People who eat a morning bowl of cereal are less likely to become overweight than those who pass up their a.m. meal, studies show. "Breakfast skippers tend to overeat at lunch because they're famished," explains Bowerman. "They're also more likely to snack on high-cal food all day, and justify it by saying, 'I didn't have breakfast.'"
Try a rotation of these three healthy starts, which contain between 200 and 300 calories each.
- Power cereal: A bowl of high-protein cereal or oatmeal (6 to 7 grams of protein per serving and no more than 200 calories), such as Kashi GoLean Crunch!, with a half cup of fat-free milk
- Egg sandwich: A toasted whole wheat muffin with one scrambled egg and half a slice of melted American cheese
- Yogurt parfait: A container of fat-free yogurt with a half cup of berries and an ounce of almonds
DROP 10: In about nine weeks, if you combine this tactic with the "Three Change" Way and the "Sleep More" Way.
The "Smart Snack" Way
Break up with the office vending machine. Bring a healthy treat from home instead.
Why try it: You can still take a 3 p.m. snack break.
Limit your afternoon nosh to 150 calories. Here's what to eat for a:
- Chocolate fix: Try a 100-calorie pack of CocoaVia.
- Filling fix: Eat two cups of air-popped popcorn (62 calories).
- Crunch fix: Have one cup of raw veggies (carrots and celery) with two tablespoons hummus (80 calories).
- Healthy fix: Munch an apple with an ounce of low-fat cheese, such as one Laughing Cow Light cheese wedge (130 calories).
DROP 10: In about nine months. But if you combine it with the "Eat Breakfast" Way and the "Three Change" Way, it will take just eight weeks.
The "Eat More" Way
You can have as much as 30 to 35 grams of fiber every day.
Why try it: You won't feel hungry. "Fiber is the indigestible component of whole grains, fruits, nuts, beans, and vegetables," explains Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD, author of The F-Factor Diet. "Because you can't digest the fiber, it will fill you up on its bulk with no calories."
Keep total calories to 1,400 to 1,600, and get 35 grams of fiber a day from such foods as:
- Gnu Foods flavor & fiber bar: 12g fiber, 130 calories, 3g fat
- Fiber One cereal (1/2 cup): 14g fiber, 60 calories, 1g fat
- Chickpeas (1/2 cup): 5g fiber, 143 calories, 1g fat
- Pear (one medium): 4g fiber, 51 calories, 0g fat
- Raspberries (1/2 cup): 4g fiber, 32 calories, 1g fat
- Baked potato (one small, with skin): 3g fiber, 134 calories, 0g fat
- Whole-grain bread (one slice): 2g fiber, 69 calories, 1g fat
DROP 10: In about eight weeks.
The "Eat Three Fewer Bites Per Day" Way
A little bit of portion control can add up to a lot of weight loss.
Why try it: Obese patients given a plate and cereal bowl marked for portion size were almost four times more likely to have lost at least 5 percent of their body weight after six months, a study found.
Leave three generous bites of your breakfast muffin, lunch pizza, and steak dinner on your plate and you'll save between 50 and 75 calories at each meal.
DROP 10: In five to eight months — but wow, is it easy!
The "Burn Fat" Way
Blast more calories in less time and fire up your metabolism with interval training.
Why try it: "Adding several short bursts of high-intensity exercise to your walking routine can burn up to 100 calories more in the same amount of time," says Geralyn Coopersmith, a senior national manager at Equinox Fitness Training Institute. Doing challenging exercise also boosts your metabolism.
Kick up your workout with this routine from Coopersmith:
- Alternate walking at moderate intensity for three minutes with speed-walking for two minutes. Do this for 30 minutes, then add five minutes of moderate walking at the end.
- Try it five times a week and you'll burn 500 more calories weekly than you would with a moderate walking routine.
DROP 10: In about a year. Combine it with the "Eat More" Way and see results in just seven weeks!
The "Beat Bloat" Way
Sometimes feeling 10 pounds lighter is as good as losing it.
Why try it: The foods that make you bloated — refined carbs, such as pizza, pasta, and white bread — have empty calories. "When they get stored in the body they attach to water," says Zuckerbrot. "The more of them you eat, the more water you hold on to."
Trade white bread for whole-grain.
Trade white rice for brown.
Trade crackers for fruit and yogurt.
Other tips: Eat a small meal before an important event; a large one can cause bloat. Go easy on the salt: High-sodium foods can make your stomach pooch. And drink lots of water. Your body works more efficiently when hydrated.
FEEL LIKE YOU DROPPED 10: In two days, tops.
The "Eat Your Favorite Foods" Way
When dining out, don't order the "healthy" choice if it's not what you want. Otherwise, you may end up eating more than if you'd just had some of what you craved.
Why try it: Healthy food has calories, but we tend not to count them, experts say. For instance, when people were asked to guess the calories in meals from Subway (often considered to be a healthy takeout option) and McDonald's, they underestimated the number of calories in the food from Subway, according to research from Cornell University. "Bottom line: You can eat what you want, even a cheeseburger, if you keep portions small," says FITNESS advisory board member Dave Grotto, RD, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life.
Restaurant meals are higher in calories than home-cooked ones. Dine out once a week (including takeout) instead of three times.
DROP 10: In about a year — without ever feeling deprived.
The "Sleep More" Way
People who get fewer than seven hours a night have higher BMIs than those who get enough rest.
Why try it: "It's possible that just by sleeping more, you'll start to lose weight," says Grotto. "While I was writing my book, I stayed up until 2 a.m. each night for months, and I gained 15 pounds. Then after I got back into my sleep routine, the weight started coming off." Grotto believes that there are two reasons for this. First, lack of sleep spikes your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that signals your system to hold on to fat for survival. Second, a well-rested brain equals more energy for making smart lifestyle choices, such as having soup and salad for lunch instead of chicken fingers. "You'll have fewer cravings for rich, fatty foods when you aren't sleep-deprived," Grotto explains.
Turn off the TV and the computer and go to bed already!