Heidi Murkoff tells you how to get in pre-baby shape.
Need some advice on the best way to lose those extra postpartum pounds and get back into your pre-pregnancy shape? Whether you’re trying to get into the best shape possible or looking to lose the weight you gained from making that (beautiful!) baby, eating a sensible diet that helps you shed pounds gradually while supplying you with enough nutrients to keep your energy is the best way to go. So forgo the fad diet, and heed these weight-loss tips.
Write it down
You eat so little how is it that you can’t lose weight? Chances are, it’s because you’re eating a lot more than you think. It all counts, at least as far as your bottom line is concerned. That’s why the best diet strategy of all is to keep a food journal. In it, write down every single bite of food you take, even the ones you’re sure don’t count. You may be surprised to see how mindless eating does add up and how mindful eating can make all the difference when you step on the scale.
No, not baklava and moussaka (sorry) thick, luscious Greek yogurt. This protein-rich food is fast becoming a dieter’s best friend. Stock up on fat-free Greek yogurt (the whole milk variety is actually chock full of calories), and use it in smoothies, salad dressings, dips, as a topping or right out of the container for a great on-the-go snack. Because it is much higher in protein than regular fat-free yogurt, it has a longer staying power. Want more? Kids love it too!
Yes, you’ve heard it a million times, but get ready for a million and one. Eating a good breakfast can actually help you lose weight. It’s true. A breakfast that’s packed with protein and complex carbs helps stabilize your blood sugar, staving off morning hunger pangs. Try scrambled eggs with steamed veggies and a slice of flax bread or a whole-grain English muffin with sliced tomato and melted low-fat cheese. Cereals fine, too, but pick a whole grain one that’s low in sugar and has a substantial amount of protein (oatmeal’s a winner), and top it with fat-free milk.
Pump up the protein
You know that mid-morning crash? And the ones in the afternoon and right before dinner? That’s your blood sugar at work or rather, not working so well. The solution? Keep your blood sugar levels at an even keel by including a generous portion of lean protein at every meal (fish, non-fat dairy, white meat poultry, soy and eggs), and even at snacks. Team that protein with a complex carb, and you’ve got a sustaining combo. Make sure you sneak protein into your growing toddler’s meals too.
Spray away calories
Here’s one diet tip that doesn’t require an ounce of self-control. Just substitute cooking spray for oil or butter when sautéing, roasting or baking. For each tablespoon of oil or butter you don’t use, you’ll save yourself about 100 calories. And you won’t be sacrificing taste butter spray is particularly yummy on veggies and eggs. Go green by using a refillable oil mister/spray bottle instead of an aerosol can. And check out salad sprays, too.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s really true eating more is the key to losing weight (and keeping it off). It’s all about filling up on foods that are high in volume but low in calories: a massive pile of raw veggies, larger portions of leaner protein and fat-free dairy products. And instead of skipping meals, eat smaller amounts more frequently. Study after study shows that grazing stabilizes blood sugar, leading to better appetite and weight control.
You know you’re supposed to chow down on veggies, but somehow they’re just not cutting it, satisfaction-wise? Try a little skinny dipping. Mix ready-made salsa with fat-free Greek yogurt. The thick yogurt makes the salsa stick to veggies, instead of dripping off. Or try this delicious dipper: Mix fat-free yogurt with wasabi paste and a touch of Splenda to taste its spicy, tangy and a little sweet. Kids love dipping veggies, so let ’em dig in, too!
Be berry, berry good
Berries are berry, berry healthy, especially blueberries, which are off-the-charts in antioxidants (good for your skin, your memory and your heart). Best of all, one recent study showed blueberries may actually help you bust that post-baby (or pre-baby) belly fat. Enjoy them in season, and off-season keep a stash of frozen berries. Berries are great for making thick, satisfying smoothies (with milk or yogurt). Or fold them into yogurt and top with a sprinkle of chopped almonds for a delicious breakfast, snack or dessert.
Get your fill of calcium
Got skim milk? Good. And while you’re at it, get some fat-free yogurt and cheese, too. Research shows that women who get their fill of calcium (most women don’t, by the way) have an easier time losing weight than those who have a chronic calcium shortfall. What’s more (or less), milk drinkers and other calcium-consumers are likely to have less fat around their middles. So get your fill: three servings a day if you’re not pregnant or nursing, four servings if you are. Take a supplement if you can’t get enough through diet alone.
Don’t go fat-free
Don’t be fat phobic when you’re trying to lose weight just be fat savvy. Steer clear of those saturated fats, but do include small amounts of healthy fats in your weight-loss diet they’ll keep you feeling full. Olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds are good choices. Fatty fish, particularly salmon (wild is best), are also loaded with omega-3s, as are omega-3 eggs. Of course, too much of any fat can result in, well, too much fat. So stop at a few nuts, a slice of avocado, a drizzle of oil.
Heidi Murkoff is the author of the best-selling What to Expect series, including What to Expect: Eating Well When You’re Expecting. Go to whattoexpect.com for more of her pregnancy and parenting tips.