You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have days when the mirror showed you something you didn’t want to see. The average person wants to lose weight or slim down at some point in their lives, but they often don’t go about it in the healthiest way.
While you might not be satisfied with the way you look or the number on your scale, you should never diet with the intention of losing weight as quickly as possible. This is a huge mistake—it’s dangerous to your health and unlikely to yield lasting results. Plus, dieting in this manner is often an effortful, punishing ordeal that few people are actually willing and able to push through. This is why most diets fail and people give up before they achieve results.
If you’re ready to see lasting change in your body and break the cycle of one broken fad diet after another, try one of these easy and healthy diets. Busy people with busy lives might not feel that they have time to change the way they eat, but dieting the right way isn’t hard and it can fit into any lifestyle.
Dieting Hack 1: Intermittent fasting
If the word “fasting” immediately causes panic, don’t worry: intermittent fasting is not the same as typical fasting. It’s allotting time each day for eating and time for fasting. This is easier to stick with than the average diet and is vastly different from starving yourself, as many harmful diets promote.
The idea of intermittent fasting is that it forces your body to burn fat by giving it nothing else to burn, making it great for weight loss. Additionally, intermittent fasting is incredibly flexible. The only foods permitted during fasting are water and other calorie-free drinks, but when it’s time to break the fast, you get to eat what you want. You also decide what your eating-fasting schedule will be.
One of the most popular intermittent fasting approaches is the 16:8 method. This involves eating within a designated eight-hour period and fasting for the other 16 hours of the day. It is common to see people eat three normal meals on this plan and align their fasting with sleep. This diet, like any other, is most effective at burning fat when accompanied by regular physical activity.
There is no strict meal plan to follow when you’re doing intermittent fasting, though nutritious foods are obviously recommended.
As with most diets, this lifestyle change might not be safe for certain people (those with diabetes, people with a history of eating disorders, etc.). But for many, this trending diet is not only safe but highly beneficial—research has shown that it promotes healthy weight loss and may even have lasting positive effects on the body’s ability to fight disease and process food.
Dieting Hack 2: Track Your Macros
Following a macronutrients plan is an easy and accessible lifestyle adjustment that promises numerous benefits. This diet, often called counting macros, allows you to set very specific goals for yourself and takes the guesswork out of meeting them.
The purpose of the macronutrient diet is to give your body the right percentage of each type of the three main macronutrients it needs: carbs, proteins, and fats. Rather than simply eating less of one thing (i.e. carbs) or reducing portion sizes, you eat exactly what you need to carry out normal bodily functions and burn fat while on the macronutrient diet. Many people find counting macros easier and less restrictive than counting calories.
Most physicians recommend an intake of 45-65% calories from carbs, 10-30% calories from proteins, and 25-35% calories from fats. To figure out exactly what composition is best for you, set a goal for yourself and adjust the ratios with a calculator. Health conditions and exercise habits play a role in determining how much of each nutrient you need.
Make sure your calories are coming from high-quality sources. For example, don’t eat fried food and expect that to be a good source of fat. Lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats (monounsaturated fatty acids) are best.
Dieting Hack 3: Cook for Yourself (Using Whole Ingredients)
Everybody knows that cooking for yourself instead of eating takeout is cheaper, but it’s also considerably more healthy. That is, of course, if you’re cooking with whole ingredients rather than throwing ready-made mixes into a bowl or popping frozen foods into the oven.
Cooking for yourself using whole foods is the ultimate dieting hack because it often feels nothing like dieting. Whole foods are ingredients that have not been processed or refined. This includes everything from meat and dairy products to fruits and vegetables.
This “diet” is simple: just make your favorite foods from scratch using natural ingredients. There are plenty of resources out there for people that are completely new to cooking, so don’t let inexperience stop you.
A few simple swaps and changes can make your home cooking even better for you:
- Opt for nutrient-rich whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice rather than empty carbs such as pasta and white rice.
- Avoid added sugar in favor of natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey, agave, and monk fruit.
- Purchase lean cuts of meat and eat more white meat than red.
- You can never have enough vegetables.
Don’t feel like you always need to skip dessert or deprive yourself of other indulgences. There is room for a bit of “bad stuff” in any healthy diet, so long as you consume these things in moderation. Ignoring your cravings often leads to them growing worse, and this is what causes many people to fail when dieting.
Remember, dieting shouldn’t be miserable. If a diet ever enforces the idea of “dropping pounds fast!” or calls eating what you want “cheating,” that diet probably isn’t going to be good for you or easy to maintain.