6 Tips to Build a Weight-Loss Diet

Your body needs fuel to exercise, and the source of that fuel is food. That's why some people report feeling hungrier when they start to work out. If you're trying to lose weight, this could be counterproductive—unless you find the right balance of healthy, filling foods.

The typical American diet is loaded with refined or simple carbohydrates such as white flours, rices, and pastas, and pastries, sodas, and other sugary foods and drinks. These carbs, which lack the fiber found in complex carbs (whole grains, fruits, and veggies), are metabolized by your body quickly. So while you may feel raring to go after eating them, that energy boost will soon be followed by a major energy slump, making it hard to give your all during your workouts.

In addition, if many of the foods you eat are metabolized quickly, you'll find yourself feeling hungry more often, which could mean more snacking and a higher calorie intake. To keep from eating back all the calories you've burned, stick to a diet based on these six science-backed components.

1. Fiber

Eat at least 20 grams of fiber per day from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber helps keep you feeling full longer—a big benefit when you're trying to lose weight. A 2009 study from Brigham Young University College of Health and Human Performance demonstrated that women who ate more fiber significantly lowered their risk of gaining weight and fat. Each gram of fiber eaten correlated to ? pound less body weight. The researchers suspect that the higher fiber intake led to a reduction in total calories over time.

2. Calcium & Vitamin D

Strive for three servings of calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods a day. These nutrients often occur together in foods, especially dairy.

Calcium and vitamin D work together in your body, primarily to strengthen your bones. But if the latest research is any indication, both of these nutrients may flex some muscle in your weight loss success. Dairy foods are the prime source of calcium and vitamin D in the diet. In a recent study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, college students who came closest to meeting the three-a-day dairy requirement while eating an otherwise healthy diet weighed less, gained less, and actually lost belly fat, compared with students who consumed little or no dairy.

Moreover, vitamin D by itself may play a role in weight control. Extra body fat holds on to vitamin D so that the body can't use it. This perceived deficiency interferes with the action of the hormone leptin, whose job is to tell your brain that you're full. And if you can't recognize when you're satiated, you're more likely to overeat.

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