Managing your weight is something many people struggle to find balance with, and there’s almost innumerable tips for maintaining your weight out there, which can seem overwhelming at times. Truly though, in a world obsessed with dieting, we often forget that in order to maintain our weight, the basic stuff really does work. Trends and fads come and go, but clean eating will always be the best way, even if it is the most boring. Specific things about clean eating remain the best tips for maintaining your weight, due to how your body reacts to various foods and lifestyle choices. Check out my favorite tips for maintaining your weight if you constantly struggle. I find these help me stay the same weight year after year, and I feel so much better when I make these tips a priority in my life.
1. Reduce Sugar
One of the very best tips for maintaining your weight for life is to reduce all sources of sugar in your diet, and completely eliminate refined sources. The lower the sugar content in your diet, the less you weigh, period. Even natural sweeteners and fruits in excess serve as excess sugar. Eat more vegetables than fruits and choose low GI sources like berries, papaya, apples and pomegranates. Your body will switch to fat burning mode and a higher metabolism when it’s not trying to process additional sugars it doesn’t need for energy.
2. Watch Your Grain Intake
I don’t believe everyone should eliminate grains in their life, though some people do have strong sensitivities to grains. However, I do think that we all need to monitor how many grains we eat. Three servings a day is plenty and any more is simply taking in excess carbs your body probably doesn’t need for energy. I suggest using whole grain oats, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, amaranth, or sprouted grains as the only forms of grains you eat. These are the most nutrient dense grains to eat, and they’re also more friendly to your weight. Usually ⅓-½ cup portion is plenty per serving. It’s also better to have them earlier in the day when your body has time to use those carbs for energy expenditure, not storing them when you’re going to bed and don’t need the energy. Remember, complex carbs aren’t evil, but their purpose in the body is to provide fuel. Think about them that way, and enjoy whole sources instead of processed versions like crackers, bread, bars and cereal.
3. Stabilize Your Blood Sugar
Your blood sugar is key to reducing your weight, and it’s not just about reducing the sugar in your diet to take care of your blood sugar levels. Skipping meals, not eating enough protein each day, or suffering from stress or lack of sleep call all mess with your blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar drops, you get dizzy, moody, and hungry, and feel like you’re fixing to have a mental “crash”. This is due to exhaustion of dealing with the surges in your blood sugar, and a sense of panic takes over your entire body. This teaches your body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which stores fat in times of stress because it acts like a “survival” hormone, thinking the body is suffering from famine and stress. In order to reduce the surge in blood sugar, eat regular meals and include around 15 grams of protein at a minimum each time you eat. This keeps your blood sugar strong and also increases your metabolism.
4. Eat Plenty of Greens
Greens are your body’s best friend and nature’s miracle, if you ask me. They fill you up, but not out, and they are simply amazing for you, on almost every level. Greens are also rich in nutrients that tell your body you’re satisfied, and they stabilize your mood to reduce stress as well. Always eat plenty of greens in your meals. Your body loves them, and there’s almost nothing they can’t do for you.
5. Include Lean Protein
Lean protein is essential to managing your weight. It not only stabilizes your blood sugar and increases lean muscle tone in the body, but it also reduces stress. The amino acids in protein help to fight all levels of stress in the body and act like a relaxant as soon as you eat them. They deliver prime nutrition to all your cells ,and in the right amounts, they’ll keep you lean for life. I don’t suggest going overboard, but always have a little protein with your meals to stabilize your blood sugar, ward off hunger, reduce anxiety, and keep you trim and slim! As a bonus, lean protein literally feeds those lean muscles that give you a toned body. Don’t leave it out!
6. Don’t Fear Starchy Veggies
Starchy veggies like squash, sweet potatoes, beets and carrots are truly wonderful for you, and for your weight. In fact, at most meals, I’d suggest choosing these over grains for a couple of reasons. Starchy veggies include a ton of fiber, nutrients and water. They’re also easier to digest than grains and lower in calories per serving. Some people, such as those with IBS, also find them more tolerable to digest. Yet, even if you don’t have digestive issues or perhaps you like to eat grains, you should still include starchy veggies. These specific veggies, except for white potatoes, actually help reduce sugar cravings in the body and satisfy your sweet tooth. When cooked really well, they also taste amazing! Try them for yourself and see!
7. Choose the Right Dairy
Many people think dairy causes weight gain, but not all forms do. In fact, fat free, plain Greek yogurt and plain low fat kefir can help you lose weight. They’re both low in lactose, high in protein, and essential enzymes that increase the absorption of nutrients. They also help with digestion and help eliminate excess fats. Their calcium, Vitamin D, magnesium, potassium and protein content also help to burn fat in an entirely different way. These nutrients help manage stress, reduce nervousness and anxiety and ward off cravings and stress. Just always be sure to choose plain versions, not flavored, which are always high in sugar. Nondairy sources do not have the same benefits. I do suggest using almond milk ( plain and unsweetened) instead of milk, simply because it is low in calories and high in nutrients.
8. Always Add Fiber
Fiber is essential to maintaining your weight. It keeps you full, helps reduce cravings and it increases regularity. Fiber is essential to warding off cravings and managing your insulin levels. It’s also great for removing cholesterol from the body and it aids in heart health. Just be sure to choose easier to digest sources from gluten-free whole grains, cooked instead of raw veggies, and try grinding nuts and seeds to make them easier to digest if you don’t normally tolerate them whole.
9. Factor in Fat
Fat is important to your diet, metabolism, heart health and especially your brain health. You might lose weight on a fat free diet, but it won’t be long before weight loss stalls, you suffer constipation and your mood will plummet quickly, along with your metabolism. The key is to choose healthy fats. They help regulate your digestive system by lubricating your intestines, and they promote a sense of satisfaction and happiness in the brain as well. This helps reduce your cravings and you’ll naturally feel less hungry with a little healthy fat at each of your meals. While too much isn’t the best option, be sure to factor in enough of it so your metabolism gets the message it has all it needs to work at its best.
10. Exercise Most Days
Exercise is vital to maintaining your weight, as I”m sure you know, but what you might not know is exercise actually helps your body maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Exercising helps your body process all of your hormones naturally. It also helps reduce insulin in the body to keep your blood sugar stable. Exercise most days of the week, not only to burn calories, but also keep you from eating when you’re not really hungry. Though exercise can make you hungrier, this is only because your metabolism is burning calories, not because your hormones are confused and telling you they need food when they actually just need to get up and move. Aim for 45 minutes a day, 6 days a week for the best benefits.
11. Implement Yoga or Meditation
It’s vital to get a stress reducing exercise into your life. Try 10 minutes or more of yoga, or meditation at least 5 days a week, if not every day. I actually do this right before I take my night time bath and make it a part of my routine. It helps me naturally relieve stress and it also reduces muscle inflammation from stress as well. As a bonus, it’s a great way to prime your body for bed. These practices help manage your weight, because they reduce stress levels that cause your body to store excess weight, or cause you from being in a constant stressful stake.
12. Get Enough Rest
You can’t manage your weight without enough rest. Seven to eight hours is the number to shoot for, and make it a priority, whatever you need to do. Rest actually burns fat in your body and ignites fat-burning hormones in your body. This doesn’t happen unless you get at least 6 hours of sleep, but the longer you sleep up until 9 hours, the greater the benefits.
13. Stay Active
Being active, even when not exercising, is a great way to stay lean for life. It keeps your muscles toned, it spikes your metabolism, and it’s so wonderful for your heart. House chores, cooking, yard work, walking during the day, shopping all count! Be active however you can and you’ll naturally maintain a leaner figure for life.
14. Weigh Yourself Regularly
Weighing yourself too often can be counterproductive as our weight tends to fluctuate, but keeping tabs on your overall weight can help you maintain your weight. By weighing yourself every few days or weekly, you can catch yourself losing or gaining pounds and plan accordingly.
15. Surround Yourself with Positive People
You are the company you keep and hanging out with positive people can be extremely helpful in your efforts to maintain your weight. You don't have to eliminate all of the negative Nancys from your life unless you want to. But, spending your time around those who are supportive and enthusiastic about health and wellness will keep you motivated and excited about being healthy.
16. Don't Overdo Alcohol
Lots of people live healthy lifestyles and enjoy a drink every now and then, just make sure you stay on top of your alcohol intake. Some drinks such as wine does have health benefits, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing! Discovery Fit & Health recommends no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 for women. A drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits.
17. Hold the Salt
I love salt and think it makes everything taste better. The downside to my love affair with salt is that we typically consume way too much of it on a daily basis. Additionally, it can lead to hypertension and has been linked to osteoporosis, asthma, stomach cancer and weight gain from increasing fluid in our bodies. Go easy on salt and salty foods and experiment with different herbs and spices instead.
I hope these tips have helped you a bit. I know weight management tips seem boring since we hear about them so much, but think about it this way: you can either be excited about eating high calorie foods for just a few minutes at a time and not exercising short term, or be excited about maintaining a healthy body for life and having more energy every day. I choose the second option, what about you?
This article was written in collaboration with editor Lisa Washington.