11 Slimming Secrets From Leading Nutritionists

 by Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN

Do you ever wonder how nutrition experts stay slim or if they ever struggle with their weight? Do they eat for taste or nutrition? Most importantly, do they have any insider tricks that could help you shed a few pounds? Yes, they do.


Do you ever wonder how nutrition experts stay slim or if they ever struggle with their weight? Do they eat for taste or nutrition? Most importantly, do they have any insider tricks that could help you shed a few pounds? Yes, they do. Whether it's steering clear of temptation, spicing things up in the kitchen or asking the right questions, 11 leading nutritionists share their personal secrets for slimming results.

1. Balance Tastes in Your Meals

If you think you need to swap taste for nutrition, think again. "A meal that leaves you satisfied and content is about more than just nutrients -- it's about taste too. The six tastes are salty, sour, sweet, bitter, umami and pungent. When a meal incorporates all of these tastes -- or four or more of them -- it's more satisfying and we're more content, which means we're less likely to run for the cookies or chips later in the day," says Rachel Begun, M.S., RDN, registered dietitian and culinary nutritionist. To achieve a synergy of flavors in a healthy way, Begun suggests stocking your fridge and pantry with healthy herbs, spices, condiments and booster foods to make it easy to balance the tastes of your meals.

Related: 10 Comfort Foods Gone Light

2. Avoid Tempting Situations

There's a reason marketers put the candy at the checkout aisle: It's because they know people are prone to impulse purchases. "There's no need to create cravings. I skip the sweets aisle at markets and drugstores, walk right by the kettle corn at the farmers market and, yes, casually hold my breath walking by Cinnabon," says Caroline Kaufman, M.S., RDN, a Los Angeles-based nutrition expert and health blogger at Caroline Kaufman Nutrition. While avoiding tempting situations intuitively makes sense, a study found that people who can resist temptation deliberately avoid situations that require a lot of self-control. "Many researchers believe that self-control is a depletable resource. If you used it up earlier in the day trying not to eat cake at the office party, you'll likely find it harder to resist the ice cream at the supermarket that evening. If you avoid temptation, you don't have to rely on willpower," adds Kaufman.

Related: 4 Science-Backed Hacks to Strengthen Your Self-Control

3. Close the Kitchen After Dinner

It's all too easy to eat after dinner due to boredom, fatigue or mindlessness rather than physical hunger. "I try to tune in to true hunger and avoid eating because of external cues. So if I think I'm hungry after dinner I'll ask myself if I'm just really tired (I often mistake this for hunger) and enjoy a glass of herbal tea and do my best to get to bed earlier," says Melissa Halas-Liang, M.A., RDN, CDE, nationally recognized nutrition expert at MelissasHealthyLiving.com. Research supports that late-night eating, especially in sleep-deprived individuals, is associated with weight gain. "In a study comparing healthy adults, those who went to sleep later and got less than eight hours gained more weight and consumed over 130 percent more calories than a healthy adult who did not because of the extra food consumed after dinner," says Halas-Liang. Instead of mindlessly munching at night, close up the kitchen and create a new routine, such as a relaxing bath, evening walk, reading a book or going to bed earlier.

Related: 13 Ways to Trick Yourself Full

4. Drink Water With Your Meal

Not only does your body need water to function normally (it's made up of 60 percent water by weight), drinking more water with meals can have slimming results. "I particularly love to focus on drinking 16 ounces of water with each meal. It allows you to feel even more satisfied just because of the increased volume effect it has in your stomach," says Jim White, RD, ACSM CPT, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios. Recent research has indicated that increasing water intake before or with meals can help maintain weight or help prevent weight gain. "Think about filling up your water bottle before leaving the home or office so you're never left being thirsty in traffic or before a grueling workout. Unlike many other exclusive health tips and supplements, this old-fashion skinny tip costs nothing more than a few seconds at a water fountain," adds White.

Related: Download LIVESTRONG.COM's FREE Water-Tracking App

5. Consciousness: Count It All

Dietitians have long recommended keeping a food journal as a key way to maintain a healthy weight. And for good reason: It works. "As unsexy as it sounds, calories in and calories out are the bottom line. If you know your numbers, you are bound to do a better job at managing your weight and won't be surprised at the scale," says David Grotto, M.S., RDN, and author of "The Best Things You Can Eat." According to Grotto, a recent meta-analysis showed that calorie counting, contact with a dietitian and use of behavior-change techniques were associated with greater weight loss. To make things easier, you can use LIVESTRONG.COM's MyPlate Calorie Tracker App to track your daily calorie intake and physical activity.

Related: Track Your Calories Using LIVESTRONG.COM's MyPlate Calorie Tracker

6. Add Almond Butter to Your Oatmeal

There's a reason people say oatmeal is a "stick to your ribs" type of food -- it will help keep your hunger at bay for hours. A small study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that eating oatmeal for breakfast resulted in an increased feeling off fullness and decreased desire to eat four hours later, compared with an oat-based, ready-to-eat cereal. For even more staying power, add some almond butter to your oatmeal. "Add a tablespoon of almond butter into your hot bowl of oatmeal. Almond butter supplies a protein punch along with healthy fats to keep you feeling full and satisfied, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, M.A., RDN, CDN, author of "Read It Before You Eat It" and New York-based nutrition expert. No time to cook oatmeal at home? "Leave a jar of almond butter and packets of instant oatmeal in your desk drawer. All you'll need to do is grab a spoon and some hot water to enjoy a warm bowl of breakfast without any excuses and without needing a snack before lunch," suggests Taub-Dix.

Related: 13 Types of Nut and Seed Butter

7. Move for 10 Minutes Each Hour

One of the hardest things about being physically active is finding the time. But you don't need an entire hour for a workout to get the benefits. "When I know I'll be sitting at my desk to write for long periods of time, I make sure to set my alarm on my phone to get up from my desk and move for 10 minutes each hour. Those 10-minute bursts of stair climbing, walking, stretching, standing, doing crunches or doing some combo of many things helps me not only burn some calories, it also freshens me up mentally," says Elisa Zied, M.S., RDN, CDN and author of "Younger Next Week." Having an app or friend to remind you to take a short fitness break can be key for accountability. "A recent study found that almost 83 percent of the subjects in a sedentary job who received email encouragements to climb stairs did so at least three times weekly, and their aerobic fitness increased," says Zied.

8. Set Your Taste Buds to Less Salt

How much salt do you eat? Chances are you consume more than you think. While salt has no calories, high doses of it can stimulate your body to retain fluids. "I set my taste buds up for success! By limiting the amount of salty foods I consume and not adding salt when I'm cooking, this helps me decrease cravings for salt while retaining less fluid and avoiding bloating," says Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. According to Zanini, our taste buds regenerate approximately every 10 days, so you can help train your taste buds to notice if you bite into a food with too much sodium. "Instead of simply eliminating salt, I always add more flavor. This may mean an extra teaspoon of oregano in my marinara, a dash of cayenne pepper in my chili or even doubling the cinnamon in my favorite baked goods. Whatever the dish, there is always a way to add more flavor while you avoid adding salt," adds Zanini.

Related: 20 Sneaky Sources of Sodium

9. Pump Up the Protein -- in Breakfast

Bearing the honor of "the most important meal of the day," a healthy breakfast can help keep you trim, improve your mood, boost your immunity and help you think sharper. One of the best ways to make sure your breakfast has staying power is to pump up the protein. "When I have protein with breakfast I feel better and can usually last until lunch without getting hungry, says Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN, corporate dietitian for Ingles Markets. Research shows that when people incorporate protein they have better results with weight loss. "Adding nuts to high-fiber cereal with low-fat milk, eating cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt with fruit or making a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs are some ways that you can pump up the protein at breakfast," adds McGrath.

11. Spice Up a Plant-Based Diet

You don't need to be a vegetarian to eat like one -- sometimes, anyway. Whether it's once a week or once a day, vegetarian meals are a great way to include more healthy plant-based foods in your diet, which can help you stay slim. "A well-planned, plant-based diet is naturally high in fiber, whole grains, lean protein from beans and legumes, colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. It fills you up in a good way," says Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDE, owner of a private practice and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Sheth recommends people be creative and have fun with herbs and spices to amp up the flavor profile and satisfaction. "Start small. Try substituting beans, lentils or tofu in place of your meat or other animal proteins in a recipe. Try one meatless meal per week and gradually expand," suggests Sheth.

Related: 13 Surprising Vegetarian Sources of Protein

What Do YOU Think?

Have you tried any of the tips suggested here? Do you have any own slimming secrets you'd like to share? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Related: 14 Foods to Help You Get Lean


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