Here are four diet truths to help you achieve your goals:
- Cutting out sweet drinks is non-negotiable. Sweet tea, soda, and flavored and sweetened milks, waters, and coffees all have to go. Drink plain water, low-fat milk, and sugar-free drinks instead. A study of 810 adults between 25 and 79 years old showed that after 18 months, those who cut out sweet drinks had greater weight loss than those who cut down on food calories. One possible reason: While your body lets you know when it is full of food, there is no way for your body to tell you when you’ve maxed out on liquid calories.
- Physical activity helps counting calories. Being physically active burns calories while it improves your overall health. Aim for 30 minutes a day most days of the week. A brisk 30- to 45-minute walk burns 100 to 200 calories. If you can burn 200 calories through exercise, you only have to cut out 300 calories in food or drink to reach your daily calorie-cutting goal.
- Strategically eating less drops weight. A study of 811 overweight people who participated in four popular diets found that whether diets were low-fat, high-protein, or a combination didn’t matter — weight-loss success depends on cutting out calories. In fact, you can continue to eat filling portions if you simply replace high-calorie foods with low-calorie foods that contain a lot of water, such as fruits and vegetables. A study of 97 obese women who ate either a low-fat diet or a low-fat diet with additional fruits and vegetables found that those who emphasized fruits and veggies lost up to five pounds more.
- Journaling leads to success. Counting calories is easier if you write down (or type in) what you eat, including serving sizes and details such as condiments you may have added. “Research has shown that exercise and journaling really make a difference in long-term weight management,” says Gail Curtis, assistant professor at Wake Forest University Health Sciences in Winston-Salem, N.C. A detailed journal will help you identify your successes and pinpoint where you can cut additional calories or replace high-calorie foods with low-calorie ones.
With dedicated work you can apply these truths to lose 20 pounds in 20 weeks or less. So get moving!