The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do For Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, it seems like everyone is always swearing by their latest tips and tricks. Whether it’s a juice cleanse or a dedicated Soul Cycle habit, it can be hard to keep up on what the current secret supposedly is.

However, most of us know by now that there is no quick trick to losing weight, and a healthy diet and exercise is the way to go.

That being said, there is one important component of weight loss that has been proven to help people get slim and fit, and it doesn’t involve any cleansing systems or expensive gyms — it’s as easy as cooking at home.

Studies show that people who regularly cook at home consume fewer calories, carbohydrates, fats and sugars than people who ate out more, regardless of whether they were attempting to lose weight or not.

Interestingly enough, these same people also end up eating fewer calories when they dine out, as they are less likely to make unhealthy choices such as fast food.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as restaurant meals are often laden with excess fat and calories. A recent study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics analyzed different popular entrees from restaurants across the country, and they found that nearly all types of cuisines contain more calories than what is recommended for a single sitting.

Cooking at home, however, can help you control portion sizes, as well as encourage you to use whole foods and fresh produce, which can help you cut down on salt, sugar, and fat content.

Restaurants often rely on deep frying and use flavor enhancers such as butter, oil, and salt to help make your food taste better, while cooking at home allows you to control which ingredients you use.

Need some encouragement to cook more at home? Consider these tips to help making preparing meals easier.

1. Meal Plan

Knowing what you are going to cook in advance can not only help you prepare a grocery list, but it can help you make healthy choices ahead of time. Keeping healthy food in your house can help encourage you to reach for the good stuff rather than resorting to junk food.

2. Balance Your Meals

Restaurant meals are not usually fruit-and-veggie heavy, so be mindful of the types of foods you put on your plate. Follow the Healthy Eating Plate model, and make sure you include whole grains, vegetables, fruit, healthy protein, and healthy fats into every meal you eat.

3. Utilize Herbs and Spices

Spices and herbs are a great way to add flavor to your dish without making them unhealthy. Use fresh herbs such as basil or parsley, or opt for dried spices such as turmeric or paprika, which can add a kick to your meals without any excess sodium or fat.

4. Make It A Fun Activity

If cooking sounds daunting to you, make it a fun activity with friends or family. Peruse Pinterest or blogs for inspiration, and remind yourself of all the money you’re saving by not dining out.

5. Prepare The Foods You Like

Nothing will have you calling delivery like a wimpy plate of soggy broccoli. Make the foods you enjoy, but lighten them up if you can. A homemade pizza is going to be much healthier cooked at home than ordered from Domino’s.

Photo by Moyan_Brenn