If living with your parents taught you anything, it's that
the more rules there are, the more you want to break them. And losing weight
can seem like nothing but rules.
Fortunately, rebellion has its advantages: Disregarding
strict food guidelines could be the secret to a successful slim-down. A study
published in the International Journal of Obesity found that people with a
flexible approach to eating-one that allows for sweets and other perceived
slip-ups-had a better record of maintaining weight loss than dieters with an
"all or nothing" strategy.
How can you do it without skidding into a diet danger zone?
We got top nutrition pros to confess the supposedly vital weight-loss
principles they violate. Employ their secrets to stay satisfied without gaining
Dieting Rule #1: Eat five small meals
Who breaks it? Renee Melton, R. D., director of nutrition
services for the mobile weight-loss program Sensei."My schedule doesn't
give me time to prepare healthy snacks, much less eat them, so I make sure I
get what I need in three squares a day."
Why you can, too.
The "graze, don't gorge" philosophy is based on the premise that
having frequent small meals keeps your blood sugar steady, your metabolism
ramped up, and your appetite in check. But some studies show a link between
obesity and eating more than three times a day, most notably in women. More
frequent noshing means more opportunities to overeat. Plus, says Melton, having
to constantly think about what you're going to eat can be stressful, especially
for emotional eaters.
Do it right. To
keep hunger pangs from overriding your willpower throughout the day, eat
fiber-rich foods at mealtimes—they make you feel fuller and take longer to
digest. Shoot for 21 to 25 grams a day, starting with a high-fiber grain cereal
like Kashi's GoLean with low-fat milk and fruit. For lunch and dinner, Melton
says, fill half your plate with produce, a quarter with carbs, and the other
quarter with lean protein.