5. Keep a food journal.
Keeping a food diary is the best weight-loss tool. Several studies have confirmed this, and most SparkPeople members would agree, too. One recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that dieters who kept track of their food lost twice as much weight as those who didn't. Writing down what you eat will encourage you to think about your food choices all day, and consider what you've already eaten and what you plan to eat later. This means you'll make conscious choices more often and usually curb your calorie intake as a result. Whether you jot foods down on a sticky note, keep a small paper pad in your purse or use SparkPeople's free Nutrition Tracker, writing down everything you eat will keep your calories in check. ACTION TIP: If you don’t' already, start tracking your food. Even if you don't list all the calories, fat or carbs you eat, even a simple list can make a big difference. Don’t forget to include beverages, sauces, condiments, and other small "tastes" in your log! Extra calories can be hiding in these items.
6. Use the proper plate method.
Most meals we eat at home or in restaurants are backwards: big portions of meat and carbs and very few (if any) vegetables. If your plates put veggies in a supporting role, you're probably consuming too many calories and hurting your weight-loss efforts. Using a perfectly portioned plate can help! ACTION TIP: Fill half your plate with disease-fighting vegetables, a quarter with lean protein and a quarter with your whole grains. This method automatically piles your plate full of filling, low-calorie veggies that also provide fiber, vitamins and minerals to fight disease. It also helps control portions of starches and protein, which can sometimes become larger than necessary. Keep in mind that using a smaller dish still helps, even when using the proper plate method.
7. Pack in the protein.
Studies show that protein plays a key role in regulating food intake and appetite; people who consistently consume protein regain less weight after a significant weight loss, too. Protein helps increase feelings of fullness because it takes longer to digest. When you skip protein in your meals and snacks, those pesky hunger pangs might encourage overeating! So get into the habit of consuming protein at each meal and snack. ACTION TIP: Stick to lean sources of protein: Beans, hummus, egg whites, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products (cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, and milk) can all give you muscle-building proteins without added fat.