If you’re hoping to trim your waistline, every bite and nibble makes a difference in your progress. After a long day of tracking each meal and snack, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the time dinner rolls around. If you’re working a demanding job that eats up your day, dinner time may be the only time you can exercise complete control over your diet. Healthy dinner dining is not just about balanced food choices; the time you eat and the way you eat also affects the success of your weight loss.
Weight Loss Science - Though the myriad diet plans on the market advertise secrets or tricks to weight loss, the basic science of losing weight remains creating a calorie deficit that forces your body to burn stores of energy rather than available calories from consuming food. Medline Plus, an extension of the Institutes of Health, confirms that the formula for weight loss is to burn more calories than you ingest. Though dramatic crash diets that result in severe and sudden calorie deficits result in significant short-term weight loss, healthy and sustainable weight loss is best achieved through slow weight loss that averages between 1 and 2 lbs. per week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adjust your nightly meals rather than skipping them for a more reasonable and sustainable approach to weight loss.
Significance of Dinner - If you are just starting out on a weight-loss plan, you've likely heard about the importance of a balanced breakfast in promoting weight loss from experts like those at the Mayo Clinic. Though breakfast gets significant attention in weight-loss plans, dinner serves an equally important role in healthy lifestyle changes for sustainable weight loss. According to the Weight-control Information Network, eating several small meals throughout the day rather than reserving most of your caloric intake to one large meal at the end of the day can prevent overeating and promote weight loss.
Nutrition - A sustainable weight-loss plan focuses on balanced nutrition rather than the exclusion of certain food groups. For weight loss and management, your total daily caloric intake should include 20 to 35 percent of calories from healthy fat, 45 to 60 percent of calories from complex carbohydrates and 10 to 35 percent of calories from protein, according to the U.S Department of Agriculture. Design dinner meals that both proportionally represent various nutrient energy sources as well as various food groups, according to USDA recommendations. A well-balanced dinner meal may include a serving of whole wheat pasta with fresh tomato and avocado salsa, a portion of trimmed lean chicken breast and a side of lightly sauteed baby spinach. Avoid fried foods, full-fat dairy and untrimmed meats that contain high levels of saturated fat and calories that inhibit weight loss.
Time Frame - Though it seems counterintuitive, the timing of your evening meal does not necessarily significantly affect weight loss. A 2008 study conducted by the Oregon National Primate Research Center found that late-night eating was no more likely to cause weight gain than consumption of the same amount of calories earlier in the day. Instead, a 2010 research study found that drinking 2 cups of water prior to dinner results in lower calorie consumption that promotes weight loss. Consider drinking 2 cups of water immediately before your meal as a method of calorie control. Though eating later in the night may not cause weight gain, eating right before bedtime may increase symptoms of asthma and gastrointestinal reflux if you have pre-existing conditions.
Portions - Portion control is essential to weight loss and management. A 2002 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants consumed 30 percent more energy when served larger portions than when served smaller portions, regardless of their reported feelings of hunger or satiety; researchers concluded that modifying portion sizes could positively impact weight loss. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides printable serving and portion size cheat cards for quick reference about proper portion sizes of common foods. Control portions by purchasing pre-portioned plates or eating from measuring cups until you are accustomed to the look and weight of proper portion sizes.