It happens. You go on a diet and you are making good progress and then suddenly your weight loss slows to a crawl or you stop losing altogether. Your diet has plateaued, but by making a few simple changes you can get it back on track.
Eat more protein
Your body expends a lot of energy digesting protein so by eating meals and snacks containing protein you give your metabolism an automatic boost. Also, protein digests slowly, which helps you feel full longer – so you are less apt to overeat. Another plus: protein is essential for maintaining healthy muscles tissue – your body’s fat and calorie-burning machine – so getting plenty of protein in your diet helps keep your metabolism going strong.
Protein from animal sources is best, such as white chicken, white turkey, beef or steak, fish and egg whites. Other good non-animal protein sources include tofu or legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils.
Did you know your muscles keep burning calories even while you are at rest? The more toned muscle you have the more calories you burn; for every pound of muscle you gain, you’ll burn upwards of 35-50 calories more daily. If you are trying to lose weight, focus your workouts on strengthening exercises such as pushups, abdominal crunches, squats, lifting free weights and barbells, stretching with resistance bands, and more.
Eat throughout the day
Never skip meals thinking the calories you save will help you shed pounds. In truth, if you deprive your body of necessary calories and nutrients it will kick into survival mode, storing fat and conserving energy by slowing the metabolism down. That’s why crash diets that restrict food don’t work in the long run. Stick to regular meal times and eat meals and snacks that combine lean protein and fiber found in many fruits and vegetables.
Sip green tea
Green tea contains catechins, a substance known to boost metabolism. In a recent study people who consumed two to four cups of green tea on days when they were physically active burned even more calories. Also, research suggests that catechins in green tea promote the breakdown of fat.
Dehydration can mimic hunger, leading us to grab some food when all we really need is some zero-calorie water. Drinking water before and during a meal fills the stomach and promotes fullness, leaving us satisfied eating less. Also, studies have shown that drinking cold water may boost metabolism.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and the bestselling author of The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber as well as the F-Factor Diet. Follow Tanya on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and register for new weekly newsletter by visiting her website Ffactor.com.