Many of us doom our diets before we ever even start them. We long to lose weight and look great, but can make a huge mistake on our diets that ends up making us miserable.
One of the worst ways things we can do on a diet is skip meals in the mistaken belief that this is the best way to restrict our calories and see the weight come off.
In fact, this could not be further from the truth. The key is to take your daily calorie allowance you have planned for your diet, and space it out during the day, allocating the calories for three meals a day, plus snacks.
Skipping meals is completely unhelpful when you are trying to lose weight. So is doing a crash diet of less than 1000 calories a day, since such strict lifestyle changes are going to impossible to maintain for more than a few days. They are not only ultimately unhealthy, they can actually cause diet rebound, in which you not only gain all the weight back that you lost, but you might even gain more on top of that.
First, let's look at meal skipping. The last thing you want to do is lower your blood sugar drastically, since you need a steady supply of energy and nutrients to help you keep functioning throughout the day, both physically and mentally.
In addition, eating the bulk of your calories at one sitting may impair your metabolism, the rate at which your body burns the energy from the food you eat. Everyone's metabolism is different, but it can't be toyed with like a yo-yo without serious consequences.
You will be more successful in the long run if you allow yourself to eat when you are hungry. You should eat enough nutritious low-fat food to satisfy that hunger, and spread your calorie intake over the course of the day so you don’t start to run out of energy and then grab for a quick food fix.
No matter what you eat when you are in that state, your body will grab onto the calories as though it were starving, and hold on to them, rather than burn them efficiently as fuel. In addition, you will get a blood sugar "rush" that can leave you light-headed and not able to perform at peak efficiency.
The USDA recommends a daily calorie intake for women of 2000 calories a day, and for men, 2500 calories a day. To lose one pound, you need to burn an extra 3500 calories beyond your normal daily activities. If you were to cut your calories by 500 a day, you would lose one pound safely in a week (more if you increased your exercise level).
If you are a woman, for instance, you would then be permitted 1500 calories for the day. That would allow for three meals of 400 calories each, plus three 100 calorie snacks. Or, you could have about 200 to 300 calories at breakfast and lunch, and have more calories in hand to have for dinner.
If you plan out the number of calories you are allowed each day, and then organize your food into bags, a lunch box, or a homemade hundred calorie snack pack, you will keep to your calorie count. If you take your calorie-controlled snack with you, like a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread, you will also be less likely to grab for something unhealthy when you start to feel hungry.
Making sure that you eat small, calorie-controlled meals and snacks throughout the day will stop food cravings, and the out of control eating habits that often go with them. This will help you to stick to your diet, and diet successfully without misery or starvation.