Diet books are all too often unsustainable get-skinny-quick schemes with minimal scientific research to back them up. Eliminating entire food groups from your diet may result in quick weight loss but upon reintroduction, the weight lost will quickly find its way back to your trouble spots. But sometimes you find a surprising gem, like Bob Harper’s Skinny Rules that recommends healthy and sustainable ways to take off unwanted pounds and keep them off. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite rules from our favorite Biggest Loser trainer.
1. Drink a Large Glass of Water Before Every meal –No Excuses!
Making up more than half of your body’s composition, it’s no surprise that water comes first on Harper’s Skinny Rules. But it’s studies that show drinking water helps aid in weight loss that should make this an easy addition to your daily routine. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day to make it easy to make sure you’re getting the daily-recommended amount (about 2 liters).
2. Don’t Drink Your Calories
Say what you want about the Paleo diet -a return to the diet of ancestral humans (think fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meats and no processed foods), but they’re onto something. We are not designed to process liquid calories; therefore, our bodies do not register they’re full despite chugging a Venti Mocha Cookie Crumble. “Humans may lack a physiological basis for processing carbohydrate or alcoholic calories in beverages because only breast milk and water were available for the vast majority of our evolutionary history,” said evolutionary expert Barry Popkin. Sound like __ science? Just do the math! Water for zero calories or Jamba Juice for 300+?
3. Eat Protein at Every Meal –or Stay Hungry and Grouchy
Take your weight and divide it by two—that’s more or less how much protein you should be eating in grams every day, says Harper. Why, you ask? Protein slows the movement of food from the stomach to the intestine aka making you feel fuller longer, steadies blood sugar unlike simple carbs and the body uses more energy to digest protein than fat or carbs. But, don’t confuse Harper’s recommendation as a suggestion to gorge on high-fat proteins like ribs and bacon. Stick to low-fat proteins like white-meat turkey, fish and poultry.
4. No Carbs After Lunch
“Carbs are a form of sugar, and sugar cues the pancreas to make more insulin, which in turn triggers appetite.” Put simply, the later in the day that you consume sugar, the more likely you are to get cravings late at night. To avoid the temptations of late night, stick to leafy greens and lean protein at night!
5. Learn to Read Food Labels So You Know What You Are Eating
Serving size and the number of servings should be two of the first things you look for when reading a nutritional label. You may think you’re being healthy, but once you read that your Naked juice is in fact two servings, all of a sudden 28 grams of sugar quickly becomes 56, far surpassing the American Heart Association’s recommended daily dose for women (20 grams). Also make sure to check out the ingredients list. Listed in descending order by weight, the ingredients listed first are most predominant. Watch out if any of the first five ingredients are sugar (anything ending in –cose), and the longer the list, the more processed the food.
6. Stop Guessing About Portion Size and Get It Right –for Good
It’s time to cancel that membership to the clean plate club. With portion sizes often double –sometimes quadruple- the recommended serving size, it’s easy to see how two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. To avoid overeating, buy smaller plates, pre-portion food into smaller containers and ask your server to put half of your meal in a to go box before your meal.
7. No More Added Sweeteners, Including Artificial Ones
Splenda. Stevia. Sweet ‘n Low. You’ve seen them, you’ve used them, but it’s time to stop –or at least rein it in. Research shows that ingesting artificial sweeteners confuses the body’s ability to regulate food intake, and may actually cause weight gain. Because the artificial sweetener might trigger the expectation of real food to come, the body coaxes a person to then eat more.