#1: To lose weight, load up on protein
Protein is one of the three macronutrients that are essential to help you lose weight, but don’t count out fat and carbohydrates. Protein, fats and carbs all provide important nutrients to help keep your body healthy. Subsisting on (or avoiding) any one of them can throw your body off track.
Instead: Taking in fewer overall calories while providing your body with the nourishment it needs is the key to successful weight loss. Balance meals with a combo of lean protein, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and healthy fat.
#2: Avoid sweets and junk food at all costs
Dieting shouldn’t be about feeling deprived or as though you’re missing out. Besides, as hard as you try, your favorite junk foods (hello, chocolate!) will always end up calling your name.
Instead: Work in very small amounts of your favorite food so you can enjoy them on occasion, such as 1 ounce of dark chocolate after dinner or a small handful of salty potato chips with your sandwich.
#3: Agave is the best substitute for sugar
Agave, molasses, honey, and maple syrup are all sweeteners that can be used in your repertoire, and they all offer small amounts of nutrients too. But sugar is sugar, no matter what the source.
Instead: Whatever source of sugar you choose, consume sparingly.
#4: To lose weight quickly, eat as few calories as possible
Starving yourself may be easier than trying to balance out foods and nutrients, but it’s definitely not a healthy way to lose weight. According to the National Institutes of Health, the lowest amount of calories a person should consume is 1,200 calories per day. Fewer than that is dangerous.
Instead: For healthy weight loss, eat a minimum of 1,200 calories per day. A safe rate of weight loss is about 1 to 2 pounds per week, which is also the best rate if you want to keep the weight off in the long run.
#5: Avoid all fruits since they are high in sugar
Fruit does contain natural sugar, called fructose, but it also provides a tremendous amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that you just can’t get in a pill. (Plus, fruit is delicious!)
Instead: Weigh the pros and cons of any food before dismissing it. Fruit contains many beneficial nutrients you shouldn’t miss out on. Added sugar, found in many processed foods and baked goods, is what you want to minimize.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »