Do's and don'ts for getting beach body ready

Have thoughts of summer brought a smile to your face or are you stressing that you’d better lose some weight?  This is the time of year when many people resort to crash dieting. However, extreme diets are a terrible idea because they are not safe and ultimately they never work because no one can walk around feeling hungry and exhausted for very long. The good news is, to get beach body ready, you don’t have to. Here’s a better way:

Don’t: Skip breakfast
Do: Start your day off with a hearty breakfast
If you are trying to shed pounds, skipping breakfast to save calories is counterproductive. By mid-morning, hunger kicks in and sets you up to overeat. The right kind of breakfast, such as a parfait made with high-fiber cereal, berries and some Greek yogurt, will jump-start your metabolism early in the day and keep you feeling full right until lunch.

Don’t: Go cardio crazy
Do: Focus on weight/strength training
Cardio exercise is great for releasing endorphins and getting your heart rate up, but numerous studies have shown that it does not help much with weight loss. People who engage in prolonged cardio exercise often wind up feeling hungrier, which can lead to overeating and poor food choices.  Exercise burns calories, it’s true, but if you’ve eaten more calories than you’ve burned by day’s end you are going to gain weight.  Far more effective for weight loss is weight training. Lifting weights builds up lean muscle mass, and for every pound of lean muscle mass you add to your frame you can burn an extra 35-50 calories per day. That means if you add an extra 10 pounds of muscle, you’ll burn nearly 500 calories more per day – enough to lose about 1 pound of fat every week!

Don’t: Cut out carbohydrates
Do: Eat more high fiber carbs
It’s a myth that carbohydrates make you fat. Your body needs carbs for energy and cutting carbs from your diet will leave you weak, irritable, and even nauseous.  For healthy weight loss you’ll definitely want to eat more high fiber carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.  Dietary fiber has zero-calories so the more fiber a food has, the fuller you’ll feel after eating it.  Not only will you eat less during the day, fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing digestion, which in turn puts an end to sugar cravings.

Don’t: Be unrealistic
Do: Set realistic short-term goals
Thinking you can lose 20 pounds in a month is unrealistic and trying to lose that much that quickly is dangerous.  A healthy rate for weight loss is about 1-2 pounds per week, and you can achieve this by eating a balanced diet that’s satisfying and easy on calories and fat. Add moderate exercise to the mix, like yoga or a resistance workout, and you’ll see results even faster.

Don’t: Ignore those between-meal bites that really add up
Do: Write down in a food journal what you plan to eat and then stick to it
Planning meals and snacks in advance leaves nothing to chance and journaling makes you accountable for what you put into your mouth. A study of nearly 1,700 dieters from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research found that those who kept track of their food, drinks and exercise everyday lost twice as much over six months as people who did so occasionally or not at all.

Remember, just as it takes time to gain weight it takes time to take weight off. Depriving yourself of food to lose weight is bound to backfire because in the end being hungry just isn’t sustainable. Eating well will get you slimmer this summer, and you’ll hit the beach looking and feeling great too.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a nationally known registered dietitian based in New York and the creator of a proprietary high-fiber nutrition program for weight loss, wellness and for treating various medical conditions. Tanya authored the bestselling weight loss book The F-Factor Diet, and she is the first dietitian with a national line of high-fiber foods, which are sold under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website