If you’ve put on a few pandemic pounds, you’re not alone. The aptly named “quarantine 15” is a trending search topic for a reason: Being stuck at home with unhealthy food options is a recipe for weight gain. Pile on the stress of homeschooling and remote work (or lack thereof), and it’s no wonder so many people have seen the number on the scale creep up over the past few months.
Fear not! You can drop those stubborn pounds with a few simple lifestyle tweaks. We tapped Jenny Craig’s Registered Dietitian, Briana Rodriquez, to get her best tips to lose weight now — so you can emerge from lockdown looking and feeling your best. She even shares her top weight loss-friendly foods, so you can start eating healthier today.
9 Tips to Lose Weight Now
It might not be the news you want to hear when you’re trying to lose weight now, but healthy weight loss takes time. Rodriquez notes that a healthy rate of weight loss is between 1-2 pounds a week — but you might experience a more noticeable drop in the beginning as your body adjusts to your new healthy habits. (Check out the 3 phases of weight loss to get a better idea.)
With that being said, there are healthy lifestyle adjustments you can implement to jump-start your weight loss and feel your best. Here are Rodriquez’s best tips.
1. Eat more non-starchy vegetables
What’s the number one weight loss-friendly food? Non-starchy vegetables! “You can’t go wrong with eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables,” Rodriquez says. “They’re nutrient-dense, low in calories and great for weight loss.” Rodriquez suggests adding them to most of your meals if you can, and opting for veggie-forward snacks whenever possible. Non-starchy vegetables will help fill you up on fewer calories, which makes them an excellent weight loss food.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
If you don’t have access to fresh veggies, opt for frozen or canned low-sodium varieties. These healthy non-perishable foods are excellent to have on hand, especially if you can’t run to the grocery store.
A few weight loss-friendly meal idea starters:
- Breakfast: 2-egg scramble with bell pepper, onion, spinach and tomato. Season to taste.
- Lunch: Chicken Sandwich with a side salad boasting arugula, artichoke hearts, roasted red bell peppers, red onion and grape tomatoes.
- Dinner: Three Cheese Macaroni with Broccoli & Carrots (with extra roasted broccoli on the side!)
- Snacks: Baby carrots with a tablespoon of hummus, celery sticks with a little bit of nut butter, or cucumber slices sprinkled with a few of your favorite spices.
2. Watch your portion sizes
“You don’t have to give up the foods you love to lose weight,” Rodriquez emphasizes. While you do need to create a calorie deficit to lower the number on the scale (consuming fewer calories than you burn in a given day), it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite foods in moderation.
“Focus on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods while keeping an eye on your portion sizes, especially with calorie-dense foods,” Rodriquez advises.
A good rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter with lean protein and a quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, corn or peas. If you want to have a slice of pizza or a piece of cake, go ahead and enjoy it! Just be mindful of how much you eat to stay on track with your weight loss goals. Use this handy portion control guide to help you out at your next meal.
3. Reduce your sugar intake
If you’re feeling stressed from being cooped up at home, you might be tempted to reach for a sugar-filled treat to give you a quick boost. But if you want to lose weight now, you’ll want to cut back on the sweet stuff. According to the American Heart Association, the average adult consumes 77 grams of sugar per day — more than three times the recommended amount for women!1
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Added sugars are the main problem (not natural sugars found in fruit), which can be found in most packaged products. Sugar-sweetened beverages are also a major culprit — Rodriquez recommends avoiding cocktails, soda, pre-made drinks like sweetened coffees and smoothies as well as juices made from concentrate.
Did you know? If you swapped a large soda a day for water, you could lose 14 pounds and slash your added sugar intake by 52 pounds in a year.2
“When in doubt, check the nutrition label and browse the ingredient list,” Rodriquez says. “If sugar is the first ingredient on the list, it’s probably not the healthiest choice.”
How much sugar should you have in a day?1
- Men: Less than 36 grams or 9 teaspoons
- Women: Less than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons
Want more tips? Check out these 10 Foolproof Ways to Reduce Your Sugar Intake.
4. Drink more water
Drink up! Whether you’re working from home or helping your kids with their school work, make sure to keep a reusable water bottle on hand at all times. Water does more than keep you hydrated, it can also support weight loss by helping to keep you feeling full.
“It’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger,” Rodriquez acknowledges. “Not only can drinking enough water help support your weight loss efforts, but staying hydrated could also help you feel more energized.”
Experts recommend drinking at least eight, 8-ounce cups of water a day.
And don’t forget, foods can be hydrating too! While foods shouldn’t replace your H20, they’re a great way to supplement your intake. Cucumbers, celery, zucchini, cauliflower, watermelon and strawberries are all excellent water-rich options.4 Check out our full list of the best foods for hydration.
5. Get movin’
You might not have access to the gym right now, but there are plenty of other ways to move your body and break a sweat. If you want to manage your weight, you’ll want to make physical activity a part of your everyday routine.
“You don’t have to start a crazy fitness program,” Rodriquez says. “The goal is to move consistently — whether it’s a going for a morning walk, playing games with your kids at the park or trying a 15-minute yoga routine.”
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week — or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity — or a combination of the two.5 You’ll also want to incorporate at least two days of muscle-building exercises per week.
If you’re new to exercise, don’t rush into it or you could set yourself up for burnout — or worse, injury. Rodriquez advises to take it slow, and gradually increase the length of your sessions every week. Think outside the box if hitting the treadmill or swimming laps isn’t your cup of tea: Zumba classes, gardening, jumping rope, and dancing around your house are all great ways to get your heart pumping!
6. Try intermittent fasting
Don’t let the word “fast” scare you — any time you’re not eating, you’re technically fasting! Intermittent fasting is an eating schedule that focuses on the timing of your meals, allowing your body to take a break from digesting food over a certain period of time. When this break is long enough, your insulin levels drop, which can help your body switch to burning fat for energy.6
The great news is that there are different types of intermittent fasting — so you can pick the eating schedule that works best for you.
How it works: Enjoy healthy meals and snacks over the course of 12-14 hours, and then take a break from consuming food and caloric beverages for the remaining 10-12 hours (this is when you sleep!). So, if you were to eat your first meal at 8 a.m., you’d have your last meal or snack of the day by either 6 p.m. or 8 p.m., depending on how long you want to fast. The following day, you’d start the process over again and have your first meal at 8 a.m.
Following this kind of eating pattern could benefit your health, not to mention give your weight loss a boost. Research continues to show how intermittent fasting might be beneficial when paired with a healthy diet. A small 2019 study published in Cell Metabolism found that individuals with metabolic syndrome who followed a 14-10 eating schedule for 12 weeks lost weight, reduced their waist circumference and visceral fat, lowered their blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.7
Learn more about intermittent fasting for weight loss.
7. Steer clear of fad diets.
If you want to see results fast, you might be tempted to start a quick-fix diet with alluring weight loss claims. Beware! Most fad diets are not nutritionally sound and won’t last long term.
“Fad diets won’t teach you the healthy, sustainable habits you need to keep the weight off,” Rodriquez says. “Sure, you’ll lose weight quickly, but you’ll likely gain it right back.”
Her recommendation? Do your research before starting any weight loss program (and always consult your health care provider.) A program should focus on eating balanced meals, always recommend eating plenty of vegetables and doesn’t need to eliminate any food groups. The best weight loss plan will fit your lifestyle, so you don’t have to make drastic changes to lose weight and live healthier.
Jenny Craig’s science-backed program, Rapid Results, is an all-inclusive plan that features great-tasting, ready-to-go meals and one-on-one support from a dedicated weight loss coach. Find out how Jenny Craig works.
8. Include healthy fats and protein
Want to avoid raiding your pantry only a couple of hours after your last meal? Make sure to include healthy fats and protein at each meal. This powerful combo can not only help you feel satiated but may also contribute to a variety of other health benefits, including lowering your cholesterol and supporting your heart health.8-9
Rodriquez’s favorite healthy fats include avocado, fatty fish, nut butter and olive oil. “Just make sure to watch your portion sizes if you want to lose weight,” Rodriquez recommends. A little bit can go a long way! Try smearing a teaspoon of nut butter on your toast in the morning, or making a healthier salad dressing by mixing a teaspoon of olive oil with balsamic vinegar.
Photo by K8 on Unsplash
Her favorite weight loss-friendly, protein-rich foods? Lean cuts of meat like chicken or steak, nonfat dairy products like nonfat plain Greek yogurt and meat alternatives like tofu and legumes.
Find out more about the health benefits of protein.
9. Give yourself some love
Above all else, remember to be kind to yourself! If you have gained some pounds over the past few months, it’s OK! Just know that you have the power to take control of your weight and start making healthy choices.
Do things that make you feel good and take time every day to give yourself some much-needed self-care. Unwind with your favorite book, take some time to journal, savor your morning coffee — whatever gives you a sense of peace and relaxation.
“These are truly unprecedented times,” Rodriquez says. “Everyone is juggling a million things and trying to navigate the situation the best they can. Being kind to yourself can translate to making healthier choices. Nourishing your body with good-for-you foods is one way to show yourself some love!”
We hope these tips were helpful and help boost your weight loss. Want some help making healthier choices? Jenny Craig helps make weight loss easier with great-tasting meals and one-on-one support. View our different plan options and get started today!
Elisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. An endurance sports enthusiast, she is usually swimming in the pool, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Chico.
Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple
Reviewed by: Briana Rodriquez, RDN
Briana Rodriquez, RDN Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and is written by experienced health and lifestyle contributors and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.