I'm struggling to lose weight. What can I do to improve? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Cher Pastore, Registered Dietician, Author, Owner; CherNutrition:
Losing weight can be challenging. It is important to look at your behaviors and patterns as they relate to food choices. Many people have formed some unhealthy habits through the years. Once you have identified some of the key issues start with changing one behavior at a time.
Step 1: The easiest way to learn about your food patterns is to keep a food diary. Write down all food and beverages consumed for 3-7 days. MyfitnessPal or Loseit are two great apps to help you with this. Once you have done that analyze your data. Start to notice if you are getting too many calories from liquids, for example, juices or soda. If so, it will be the first thing to work on changing. Then look for your next pattern that needs to change, for example, many people go too long without eating and then get too hungry and end up with unhealthy snack choices in between meals or eating too much at their next meal. Another thing to look for is where the majority of your calories are coming from. Are you eating too many carbohydrates or fats? The apps will be able to identify this for you.
Step 2: Increase lean proteins, for example, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, or meat alternatives, (tofu, tempeh) if you are following a vegetarian diet. Protein helps you stay fuller longer and requires a bit more energy for your body to breakdown than carbohydrates. Studies show higher protein intake leads to faster and more sustained weight loss.
Step 3: Increase vegetables in your diet. If you are adverse to many vegetables put it on your list to try one new vegetable per week. By the end of a few months you will have greatly expanded your palate. Work your way up to eating two cups of green leafy vegetables at both lunch and dinner.
Step 4: Start incorporating exercise into your daily life. Be active any chance you get. 30 minutes of walking daily is a great place to start. Consider getting a FitBit to help you be more active.
Step 5: Eat more fiber. Aim to consume between 30-40 grams of fiber per day. Good sources of fiber include whole bran, other whole grains, beans (pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, etc) and legumes, vegetables and fruits.
Step 6: Drink more water. Aim for 2-3 liters per day.
The important thing is to get started and work on one behavior change at a time.