When we have hit a weight-loss plateau, there are a few things that can kick-start the weight loss phase again.

According to Rhoda Lucas, creator of the Elegant Eating Solution, the key to weight loss is creating an energy deficit, or taking in less energy through food than you burn.

You need to make a change if you want to lose more weight. “The only way to break through your weight-loss plateau and lose more body fat is to either reduce energy intake further and/or use more energy through exercise and activities of daily living,” Lucas advises.

It’s not easy to cut food without feeling hungry all the time. The key question is: how can you cut food without feeling constantly hungry?

Perils of Chronic Hunger

Rhoda says that not many people can go for long periods of time without food. When you’re hungry, your brain starts making you do things you don’t want to – like going to fast food restaurants or buying junk food. It’s easy to eat a lot of food very quickly when you’re starving yourself.

To resist temptation and keep your weight-loss going, you need to distract yourself from thoughts of food. The best way to do this is to make sure you’re not hungry, which you can do by eating the right kinds of foods that will fill you up without a lot of calories.

Satiety = Success

The key to success is to get as much satisfaction as possible for every calorie you eat.

Hunger is the feeling of needing food, while satiety is the feeling of being full after eating. The more satiated you feel, the less hunger you feel. If you can reduce your overall daily calorie consumption compared to energy used, you will lose weight.

How long it takes you to feel hungry after eating is also a measure of satiety. For example, if a meal keeps you full for one hour, it has more satiety than a meal that only keeps you full for 30 minutes.

You don’t necessarily need more calories to feel fuller for longer. If you ate a can of nuts or a pound of Oreos, you would feel full. But you can feel just as full on fewer calories.

To choose foods that give you the most satiety on the fewest number of calories – and help you break through your weight-loss plateau – follow these 10 tips:

Eat Water-Rich (Not Fat-Rich) Foods

Eating foods that are high in water and fiber content can help to feel full without consuming a lot of calories.

A pound of vegetables contains a small number of calories, ranging from 65 to 195. This is in comparison to a pound of fruit, which contains 200 to 400 calories, or a pound of beans, hot cereals, potatoes, corn, yams, whole-wheat pasta, or brown rice, which contains 400 to 750 calories.

A pound of dried cereal, fat-free chips, or white sugar contains 1,600 to 1,725 calories.

It can be useful to think about food weights when talking about stomach capacity to understand how much it can hold. This is important because someone could eat 500 calories or 5,000 calories and the stomach capacity would be the same. The stomach would be full after either amount and the person would stop eating.

You can fill up on a big platter of water-rich, fiber-rich pasta topped with marinara sauce and lots of grilled vegetables for about 400 calories. For the same size platter heaped with fatty, fiberless food like pastrami on rye, potato chips, and cookies, the calorie input is a whopping 1,400 calories. Your waistline will be different soon.

Water-rich, fiber-rich foods are not only good for you, they are the best foods for your health. Studies have shown that populations who eat whole, natural foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans have longer lives and lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and many cancers.

Ditch the Dry Stuff

Don’t eat dry foods that are high in fat, like chips, crackers, candy bars, trail mix, cookies, and other baked goods. These are some of the least filling foods you can eat per calorie.

Bagels, pretzels, dried cereals, fat-free chips and dried fruit are all healthier options but should be limited as they are high in calories. It’s easy to consume 1000-2000 calories without feeling full.

Start With a Big Satisfying Salad

Begin lunch and dinner with a large salad full of fresh vegetables. This will help fill you up at restaurants so you will eat less of the higher calorie food that comes next. When you are at a salad bar, get seconds or even thirds!

Rhoda advises using a dressing with lots of vinegar and little to no oil. She also suggests adding beans and whole grains to salads, but leaving off croutons, fatty meats, mayonnaise salads, creamy dressings, and cheese. She states that these items can dramatically increase the calorie density and undo most of the benefits of eating a salad.

A salad consisting of three cups of fresh vegetables contains only 100 calories. However, if that same salad is made with cheese, full-fat dressings, and bacon bits, it contains 600 calories and provides little extra satisfaction for all those extra calories.

Forget the Crash Diets

It’s common to want to follow in the footsteps of others and try a diet that’s working for them, but it’s important to remember that every body is different. Just because a certain diet worked well for your friend, doesn’t mean it will have the same effect on you. Many of these trendy diets can actually do more harm than good in the long run, so it’s best to consult with a professional before making any major changes to your diet.

“We refer to these crash diets as “yo-yo diets,” since they often result in a person dropping a lot of weight during the diet, only to regain it almost immediately afterward. Then, she starts the diet again — and the yo-yo-like cycle continues,” explains Rhoda. “Crash diets simply aren’t sustainable. In addition, these diets slow your metabolism and reduce lean body mass, making it harder to keep weight off long-term.”

Rhoda says that most crash diets are not effective because they leave people feeling more hungry more often, and suggests avoiding crash diets and learning how to manage hunger instead.

Control Your Hunger by Making the Right Food Choices

If you want to be successful at losing weight and keeping it off, you need to be able to control your hunger.

“Not all foods are created equal. Some foods are full of nutrients that help fill you up and keep you feeling full longer. Other foods are full of empty calories, contributing nothing towards your health or level of fullness,” explains Rhoda. “Most people hit a weight loss plateau or fall off of a weight loss plan because they aren’t properly controlling hunger.”

Here are Rhoda’s do’s and don’ts of controlling your hunger:

  • Do choose foods with high fiber and less sugar
  • Do fill yourself up by eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables (green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, etc)
  • Do swap sweet snacks or desserts for fresh fruits
  • Do choose healthy fats, such as nuts or seeds, over-saturated ones
  • Don’t eat foods full of added sugar
  • Don’t drink your calories
  • Don’t assume a food is healthy — check the label!

“Added sugar, in particular, can become an addiction and a huge contributor to experiencing a weight loss plateau,” warns Rhoda. “Added sugar provides no nutritional benefit and lights up the same areas of the brain that a drug does, albeit to a lesser extent. Plus, it’s almost everywhere — even in foods you may think are healthy. It’s really hard to lose weight if you’re not avoiding added sugar as often as possible.”

Track Your Diet and Exercise

Losing weight is all about managing the number of calories you consume compared to the number of calories you burn. Creating a deficit of calories will lead to weight loss, while consuming more calories than you burn will lead to weight gain.

While you can guess how many calories you eat and burn, tracking both diet and exercise gives a more detailed picture of where you may be overdoing it.

“There are plenty of free apps available for calorie monitoring, and fitness trackers can help you understand how effective your workouts are,” says Rhoda. “Diet-tracking apps are particularly useful for helping you understand which foods and meals are particularly calorie-dense or unhealthy — so you can learn what to avoid.”

Rewarding yourself with food after working out can actually sabotage your weight loss goals. To avoid this, try tracking your exercise and rewarding yourself with something other than food. You may find that this is a more effective strategy for weight loss.

Add Strength Training to Your Exercise Routine

If you want to lose weight, you can focus on doing cardio exercises, however, you may not know that building muscle can help with weight loss.

“Cardio is an efficient way to expend energy as you’re working out, but building muscle can help you use even energy when you’re not exercising,” says Rhoda. “Lean body mass, which includes muscle, uses energy throughout the day. The more muscle you have, the more energy you will burn while at rest.”

You can build muscle without becoming a powerlifter or bodybuilder. Spending just 15 minutes doing simple bodyweight exercises or resistance-band workouts can help. You don’t need to drop your cardio altogether, but adding resistance training into your workout a few times a week can help you build lean muscle mass and boost your metabolism.

Shift Your Weight Loss Mindset

It would be great if we could all lose weight overnight, but that’s just not how it works. Crash diets may give you short-term results, but if you want to lose weight for the long term, you need to make healthy choices most of the time and be patient.

“A sustainable diet doesn’t provide the degree of rapid weight loss that a crash diet can, but you have to accept this reality to be successful long-term,” says Rhoda. “When it comes to losing weight, ‘slow and steady wins the race’ really is true. A crash diet is a temporary fix, but you need an actual solution.”

While weight loss may be a challenge, it is important to shift your mindset and develop healthy eating habits to make it more manageable. This will also help you maintain the weight loss long term.


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About Rhoda ...

Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

She is the creator of the Elegant Eating Solution, an affordable program that helps women avoid weight regain and feel great about themselves, without restrictive eating.

Elegant Eating is based on the science of protein leverage and follows the unique R.E.M.A.P approach to successful aging.

Learn More About Elegant Eating and How to Get Started

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