Attempting to lose weight can be seriously stressful when you feel like you have to follow a laundry list of rules—don’t eat after 7 pm, banish white flour, etc., etc.—in addition to hitting the dreaded treadmill and the stinky weight-room. According to Women’s Health magazine, however, it’s possible to shed pounds successfully without listening to every piece of diet advice that gets thrown around (or, you know, printed in Women’s Health).
What are the diet rules you can break?
Eat many small meals a day instead of three big meals:
Many people insist that eating small portions throughout the day instead of stuffing your face with three big meals will lead to weight-loss by revving your metabolism and keeping it going from morning until night. But Women’s Health points out that if you’re eating multiple times a day, you’re running the risk of consuming more calories than you might if you stuck to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. Instead, make sure that mealtimes are defined by fiber-rich foods and lean proteins (those will fill you up without packing in the calorie), and leave the daylong grazing to the farm animals.
Brown rice and whole wheat breads and pastas are better than their evil white flour twins:
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if your pasta is white as long as you’re consuming the recommended six ounces of carbohydrates each day. Women’s Health says that a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reports that people on high-carb diets were slimmer than their carb-banning counterparts even when they consumed “bad carbs.” While you should make sure that half of your daily carbohydrate intake comes from whole grains, white bread isn’t going to lead to weight gain any more than whole-wheat bread if you keep your portion sizes small.
Don’t eat after dark:
Women’s Health quotes doctor Ann G. Kulze, who explains that the body handles calories in the same exact way no matter what time they’re consumed. Figure out how many calories you should be consuming each day – this number depends on your age, height and activity level – and stick to it. To make sure that you have enough energy to fuel your daily activities, you should spread out caloric intake throughout the day. But if you eat two cookies at 9 p.m., you’re not going to gain any more weight than you would if you ate them at 6.
Putting foods on the do-not-touch list only makes you want them more and can lead to binges. Eating dessert is okay as long as you tweak your diet accordingly, which means eating less for dinner and picking desserts like chocolate-dipped fruit and sorbets instead of ice-cream sundaes. Women’s Health points out that restaurant dessert portions are often ridiculously large and high in calories—an Applebee’s chocolate chip cookie sundae, for example, contains 1,620 calories, more than many people should be consuming all day long! The magazine also suggests re-thinking the traditional idea of dessert when you want to indulge. Your after dinner treat doesn’t need to be chocolate; a craving for something sweet can be met in the form of a yogurt and cereal parfait.