Free Diet Tips

Our free diet tips are not based on your immense willpower. Instead, these are tested and effective ways to get craving control, diet motivation, and reach your fitness goals!

Click on any of the links to go to the description further down the page:

  1. Write it down!
  2. Know what you can eat
  3. Zero-calorie salad before meals and snacks
  4. Pre-prepared 500-calorie meals your love!
  5. Exercise when you're hungry!
  6. Know when you can eat

Free Diet Tips #1: Write It Down!

One day I was in a grocery store, and I saw a headline in a magazine: "The One Diet Tip Everyone Misses."

I thought, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." But I was hooked. I picked up the magazine.

They said that a study was done with 18 people. They were not told they were in the study yet. They were told they were preparing for a study. First, though, they needed to write down everything they ate for 6 weeks so that the researchers would know something about them.

All 18 lost weight.

You know that would happen to you, too!

When those people had to write it down—and someone else was going to look at it—then all of a sudden they were wonderful eaters. They knew how to eat; they just didn't have the motivation!

Someone looking over their shoulder gave them the motivation.

Write it down!

Write everything you eat, and show it to someone who loves you.

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Free Diet Tips #2: Know What You Can Eat

On our calorie counting page, I tell you that your body's going to count calories whether you do or not.

It's unavoidable. Sorry. Every good diet web site and book will tell you that in the end, your weight loss or gain is the product of calories in minus calories burned. For every 3000 to 3600 calories over or under, you will gain or lose a pound.

No avoiding it.

But it's not such a bad thing.

As you get to know what foods are nutrient-dense and what foods are calorie-dense, you'll start learning that if you eat right, you can eat a lot without gaining weight. In fact, as you eat less calorie-dense foods, you'll probably be packing your body with extra immune-system-building, restful-sleep-providing, energy-boosting vitamins and, especially, minerals.

Vitamin Pills and Mineral Supplements

I (Paul) think vitamin pills are good, even though I have informed friends who (vehemently) disagree with me. I recommend taking a daily vitamin. But don't be fooled. No one has it figured out.

The vitamins that are alphabetized (A, B, C, etc.) are the ones we know about. We're still learning what the body needs that comes only from foods. Sports nutritionists are finding out all the time of the incredible benefits of things like chromium, magnesium, and silicon.

I guarantee you there's still plenty they don't know about.

So it's good to eat a lot and a variety of foods. In my opinion, there's almost no better vitamin pill than a handful of pumpkin seeds. (You can sprinkle them on a salad if you don't love the taste, like I do.)

Things like pumpkin seeds, nuts (in small quantities because they're loaded with calories), and a variety of fruits and vegetables are providing you with vitamins and minerals that scientists—and the manufacturers of vitamin pills—don't even know about yet.

You want a lot of food. You just don't want too many calories.

If you're a 170 lb. guy, you can eat 13 cups of rice a day without gaining weight, even if you don't exercise. You could have the same amount of chili, or you could have 6 1/2 cups of each.

You could eat somewhere in the vicinity of 35 apples if that's all you ate. You could eat a bucket of spaghetti if the sauce didn't have any meat in it.

If you grill your chicken and throw away the skin, you could have 27 breasts or thighs. In fact, you could eat 4 entire chickens, if you didn't deep fry anything and didn't eat the skin.

But here's the flip side ...

Lots of people think they can eat whatever they want if they exercise.

Oh, no, no!

Go for a two-mile run. That will add only 2 skinless breasts to the 27 you could eat that day. Or a mere 4 apples to the 35 you could eat without exercising.

Yes, that's right. 4 apples gives you all the calories you burned in a 2-mile run. So will ...

  • one candy bar
  • one power bar
  • something less than one scoop of ice cream.

Depressing, isn't it? Imagine if I told you that you could run 4 miles, then replace every calorie you burned with one medium-size ("grande") Starbucks mocha!

People who exercise make better choices about what to eat. That's why they can eat a lot. Quit eating those hamburgers; eat spaghetti, soup, a sandwich, stew, chili, or other choices.

If you have two hamburgers off the grill at home, and you've consumed 40% of your day's calories without even touching the fries. Worst, the fat you ate is saturated, which is not good for you except in small quantities. Those hamburgers used up about 3 days of your saturated fat allowance.

Know what you can eat, and you won't have to go hungry!

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Free Diet Tips #3:
Have a Zero-Calorie Salad Before Meals and Snacks

I (Paul) got this diet tip from my doctor, and it is very effective.

I told my doctor that my problem is late-night snacks. It seems I can eat as much at 9:00 pm as I can the entire rest of the day!

And the hunger is difficult.

It used to be the only way to handle it was to go to bed; however, I hardly want to take up going to bed at 9 p.m. every night.

So my doctor told me to find a zero-calorie vinaigrette dressing and put it on a large salad consisting of only lettuce. Then, afterward, eat whatever I want.

Okay, the advice is inaccurate, but great, nonetheless. I don't know if you'll be able to find a zero-calorie vinaigrette dressing, but I couldn't. Also, lettuce isn't really zero-calories. There are some calories to it.

Nonetheless, this one of the free diet tips is effective. If I use a dressing, I have found one that is 25 calories for two tablespoons. I make a large salad (for me, very large), and I use 3 tablespoons, which is 37.5 calories (round to 40).

The end result is that if I use only lettuce, my salad is no more than 100 calories. I like to throw other vegetables on it, though, and so it's often 200 calories.

At my weight and activity level, I can eat about 3,000 calories a day without gaining weight. (See What Is a Calorie? to figure that for you.) So those 200 calories are no problem, and really, that pretty much takes care of my late night food cravings. If I just can't handle it, I'll have a bowl of cereal on top of that.

The bowl of cereal can easily be 500 calories, but ... you have to adapt all these tips to your own situation. I'm not normal. I can easily eat a plate of spaghetti, a couple bowls of cereal, and add snacks on top of that—all in one sitting in the evening. On the other hand, I never want breakfast and fasting till dinner is not even difficult for me.

Fasting till dinner is not healthy. While I'm waiting to eat, my body's going to be going after muscle because it can't keep up only burning fat I've stored. So I plan my breakfast and lunch, when my cravings are no problem, so that I get a lot of nutrition and limited calories. At dinner, I eat a moderate meal with my family. I make sure I have 700 calories worth of room in my diet by the end of the day.

My doctor, who apparently has free diet tips, too, told me not to worry about the fact I don't like the vinaigrette dressing. Just endure it, then eat what I want after.

I found a better solution. Most of the time I eat spinach leaves raw, which can be purchased at any grocery store. I don't bother with dressing or even a place. I eat it right out of the bag like it was popcorn. Same effect, and that really is close to zero calories. Then, my wife likes to cut up other vegetables for me, and by the time I'm done eating those, I'm usually over the late night craving, which is a miracle for me.

Again, know thyself! Adapt, adapt, adapt.

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Free Diet Tips #4:
Have a List of 500-Calorie Meals You Love

Everyone who's had trouble maintaining weight should have a list of meals that are easy to prepare that are under 500-calories.

There's two uses for these 500-calorie meals:

  • Sometimes, you're just hungry. It is better to have something that packs on 500 calories, which really isn't much when the average man can have over 2500 calories per day even without exercising, and to make up for it somewhere else than to try to resist and then end up binging.
  • Several fad diets, such as Slim-Fast, involve replacing a meal with one of their 200 or 300 calorie shakes. Ever done that? It's nothing you want to continue doing. Replace a meal with a cup of chili and some bread (also 300 calories), mix that up with other low-calorie meals day by day, and you'll have a regimen that is very easy to maintain.

For example, one less than 500 calorie meal of mine is a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup with either one cup of rice or 14 saltine crackers. (Yes, 14. I read the box, realized that's 210 calories, and with the 220 calories in the soup, I'm at 430.)

Note: I now eat Trader Joe's tomato soup. It's just 100 calories a cup, all natural ingredients, and with a cup of brown rice, it's a healthy and filling meal. 300 calories. Amazing.

A bowl of soup like that (really, a can of Campbell's soup is 2 bowls) fills me up enough to satisfy my appetite, and it's under 500 calories.

I also like to eat fried egg sandwiches without mayonnaise. Just the olive oil from frying the eggs is enough to make the sandwich good for me. I can have two of those on whole wheat bread for around 450 calories. If you like butter or mayo, you'll have to have just one egg.

I've got others, but you can come up with your own. There are many 6-inch subs from Subway that are under 300 calories. You don't have to go to Subway to do that, though. You can make your own sandwiches. Mayo's costly at 110 calories per tablespoon. If you can find an alternative, like mustard, it will help you.

Spaghetti, rice, soup, beans, and chili are also easily kept under 500 calories. Most chili is only 200 calories per cup! Isn't that awesome!

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Free Diet Tips #5:
Exercise When You're Hungry

I have no idea whether this diet tip works for everyone, but it sure works for me.

When I get hungry and it's not a good time to eat, then I exercise. I find something strenuous and short, or not so strenuous and long.

This only works for me if I really get my heart rate up or if I go on a decent walk (15 min. or more) at a decent pace (enough to pick up my breathing. To get my heart rate up I'll do something like shadow box, crank out a few pushups, and do some deep knee bends. I can get myself gasping for breath in two minutes doing that.

Unlike most of our free diet tips, I don't know whether it will work for you, but it stops my hunger for up to 2 hours.

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Free Diet Tips #6:
Know When You Can Eat

Warning! Every book I've ever read on good nutrition says you ought to eat a good breakfast. A study of school children in Boston showed that children who had a good breakfast learned better and were less like to have behavioral problems.

That said, I don't eat breakfast.

Note: This is no longer true since I had leukemia!

I've read the reports of several successful dieters, who were dieting to lose weight. Almost all of them found that the 3-meal-a-day American eating plan doesn't work well for them.

There were two main alternate plans:

  • Several small meals a day.
  • Two meals a day, one at mid-morning and one a relatively late dinner at 7 to 8 pm.

I find that the latter works best for me. I have a couple close friends for whom the former works better.

Again, this has changed since I had leukemia. I now do the several small meals a day.

It's good to know what rhythm your body naturally settles into for weight loss.

I try to keep our free diet tips nutritionally sound. In this case, I know I'm going against prevailing wisdom, but I'm opting for what works over what the experts say. Nonetheless, it seem important to tell you that I'm giving you advice that goes against the experts on this particular diet tip.

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