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Fill Your Plate Healthfully
Think of your dish as a pie chart: Fruits and vegetables should occupy half of your plate, while the rest should be equally divided between lean protein and complex carbohydrates made with whole grains. For each meal, keep your lean-protein portion to around three to five ounces -- about the size of your palm -- and your hearty grains to 1/2 cup. Add a piece of fruit, and load up on leafy greens and bright-colored vegetables, which contain the most nutrients.
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Eat Two Servings of Fruit and Veggies a Day
By consuming this amount, spread throughout your three daily meals and any snacks, you'll stay full and keep your calorie intake low. Incorporate fruit into breakfast; add frozen or fresh vegetables to your soups, egg scrambles, and pasta dishes for satisfying lunches and dinners; and top berries or bananas with low-fat frozen yogurt for a healthy evening dessert.
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"Sip 1 1/2 to 2 liters of water per day," says Marissa Lippert, a registered dietician and founder of Nourish. The result? More energy, better brain function, and a faster metabolism. To make it easy, tote a reusable water bottle that you can fill up at water fountains at work and on the go.
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Don't Skip Meals
If you do, pros agree, you'll increase the chances of overeating at the next meal. Instead, eat breakfast to kick-start your metabolism in the morning, and aim to eat small meals every three to four hours after that to keep it in high gear.
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Up Your Exercise
"Adding just an extra 30 minutes to your week can boost your heart health and give you added toning benefits," says Lippert. No time to exercise? Wear a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day. Sneak in a quick power walk at lunch, take the stairs instead of the escalator, choose a parking space in the back of the lot, and take the long route to the bathroom at work. You'll be amazed at how quickly steps accumulate!
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Don't Drink Your Calories
"If you cut back on booze, sodas, and juices by just 25 percent per week, you'll shave off loads of empty calories that cause weight gain," says Lippert. "Plus, you'll sleep better, since alcohol interrupts snoozing cycles." When you do indulge in booze, stick with light beer: It's actually the lowest in calories.
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Keep a Food Diary
It's a tried-and-true nutritionist trick that keeps you accountable for everything that passes your lips. Just jot down drink, snack, and meal contents right after you finish up, and don't worry about tracking the calories. You'll be able to tell if you're on or off track just by looking at the amount and type of food you're consuming.
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For three to five days, increase your fruit and veggie intake by 25 percent. In other words, make them the focus of every meal by making vegetable-rich salads, hearty cheese-free omelets, and filling fruit smoothies. "Their high-fiber content causes your body (and metabolism) to work extra hard breaking them down," says Julie Ruelle, a New York City registered dietician. In addition, hold back on alcohol, coffee, sweets, and dairy and wheat products.