Everyone knows the keys to losing weight: Eat less and exercise more. Sounds simple enough, but in the context of real life and its demands, it can be anything but simple. So how do successful losers do it? To find out, WebMD asked experts across the country for their best diet tips.
Best Diet Tip No. 1: Drink plenty of water or other calorie-free beverages.
People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger. So you can end up eating extra calories when an ice-cold glass of water is really what you need.
"If you don't like plain water, try adding citrus or a splash of juice, or brew infused teas like mango or peach, which have lots of flavor but no calories," says Cynthia Sass, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
Best Diet Tip No. 2: Think about what you can add to your diet, not what you should take away.
"It sounds like a lot, but it is well worth it, because at the same time you are meeting your fiber goals and feeling more satisfied from the volume of food," says chef Laura Pansiero, RD.
You're also less likely to overeat because fruits and vegetables displace fat in the diet. And that's not to mention the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. More than 200 studies have documented the disease-preventing qualities of phytochemicals found in produce, says Pansiero.
Her suggestion for getting more: Work vegetables into meals instead of just serving them as sides on a plate.
"I love to take seasonal vegetables and make stir-fries, frittatas, risotto, pilafs, soups, or layer on sandwiches," Pansiero says. "It is so easy to buy a variety of vegetables and incorporate them into dishes."
Best Diet Tip No. 3: Consider whether you're really hungry.
Whenever you feel like eating, look for physical signs of hunger, suggests Michelle May, MD, author of Am I Hungry?
"Hunger is your body's way of telling you that you need fuel, so when a craving doesn't come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it," she says.
When you're done eating, you should feel better -- not stuffed, bloated, or tired.
"Your stomach is only the size of your fist, so it takes just a handful of food to fill it comfortably," says May.
Keeping your portions reasonable will help you get more in touch with your feelings of hunger and fullness.
Best Diet Tip No. 4: Be choosy about nighttime snacks.
Mindless eating occurs most frequently after dinner, when you finally sit down and relax.
"Sitting down with a bag of chips or cookies in front of the television is an example of eating amnesia, where you mindlessly eat without being hungry, but out of habit," says American Dietetic Association spokesperson Malena Perdomo, RD.
Either close down the kitchen after a certain hour, or allow yourself a low-calorie snack, like a 100-calorie pack of cookies or a half-cup scoop of low-fat ice cream. Once you find that you're usually satisfied with the low-cal snack, try a cup of zero-calorie tea, suggests Perdomo.