Read an Excerpt
What if there were a whole new way of eating that could slim you down, enhance your health, increase your energy, and help you feel full, satisfied, and happy with the food on your plate? Now there is—and you’re holding the key. By following the diet and advice in this book, you can change your body, your health, and your life—all without giving up foods you love or ever feeling deprived. Whether you want to lose 10, 20, 50 pounds, or more, these pages contain the easy tools to help you achieve your goal in a way that fits your lifestyle.
Are you in your twenties and establishing your own independent, adult eating habits? In your thirties and struggling to lose baby weight? In your forties and wondering when you’ll ever find the time to eat well? Or are you fifty-plus and looking to achieve your optimal weight in order to stay healthy? Whatever your age, food preferences, or lifestyle, the simple solution is to add more super foods to your plate and watch the pounds melt off. That’s it. No fads, extreme calorie cutting, or banned foods—in fact, by continuing to eat your favorite treats, you are more likely to win at weight loss. All you’ll give up is extra, unwanted pounds.
Here’s the secret: We’ve identified thirty everyday foods that contain specific ingredients scientifically proven to help turn on your body’s fat-burning powers, rev up your metabolism, tame your appetite, and curb overeating. Eat more of these super foods, and your body is primed to drop extra weight. Best of all, you choose how you lose. Add some or all of the superfoods to your current diet (we’ll give you tons of easy tips) or follow our step-by-step meal plan (with recipes or no-cook options—you pick) to shed 10 pounds in five weeks. Have more to lose? Keep going until you reach your personal target. When you’re done, use our easy tips to tweak the plan so you can easily maintain your healthy new habits and weight loss for good.
Ready to get started? Say hello to the first day of your slimmer, superfoods way of life!
On the Drop 10 plan, you can forget everything you think of when you see or hear the word diet. Deprivation? It doesn’t apply here. Hunger pangs? Not on the menu. Cravings? We help you indulge them and show you how doing so will improve your odds of meeting your weight loss goals. This plan is like no other: We actually encourage you to eat more in order to weightless. So many diets fail because they ask you to change everything at once and put your favorite foods off-limits; some ask you to drastically reduce calories, cut out entire food groups, or even skip solid food all together. (A cleanse? That’s for the shower!) The Drop 10 diet works because it helps you trim down with every bite you take, not by telling you to stop taking them. From here on, diet—and this one in particular—is not a four-letter word, andit’s not something you are “on” or that you “break.” It’s the total of everything you feed your body, and it offers an incredible opportunity to live life at your healthy best. And that means slimmer and happier, too.
Why This Plan Will Work for You
Studies show that in a depressing 63 to 80 percent of cases, dieters end up gaining back the weight they lose and often more. They typically either cannot sustain restrictive programs or find that menu plansare not practical in the real world—in your world, where you need to grab a fast lunch at work, juggle feeding yourself and your family at night, and fit in fun get-togethers with friends. By not taking into account how you live, most diets set you up to fail at every turn. But the flexible Drop 10 diet creates opportunities for you to succeed with every bite, thanks to three key, groundbreaking elements:
1. The super foods that fight fat. This program hinges on thirty delicious, fat-fighting foods that you’ll want to add to your diet. They’re ordinary items, some of which may be in your kitchen right now. But each possesses extraordinary properties that work against fat to help you lose weight. (You can skip ahead if you can’t wait for the incredible details on how they do it!) But that’s only part of the story. The foods are wholesome and packed with nutrients; by eating more of them, you will automatically begin crowding out the processed snacks and meals that are staple of the American diet and play a huge role in our obesity crisis and related health struggles. Bottom line: These foods give you thirty chances to get ahead in weight loss simply by eating, not by saying no!
2. A customizable program that puts you in charge. This carefully designed plan fits into your life, not the other way around. You have distinct time demands and food, cooking, and exercisepreferences. You’ve got family commitments and lifestyle priorities that only you understand. We get that—it’s why you call the shots. You pick and choose from the tools on these pages to build a personal eating and exercise program that takes into account your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and everything else that makes you unique—including the foods you crave. That’s right: Nothing is off-limits! You can simply add superfoods to your existing menus and add favorite superfood recipes to your usual rotation, or go all the way with the full meal-by-meal Drop 10 plan, which is based on 1,600 stomach-filling, delicious calories per day. But even here, you choose from an extensive and tasty selection of easy breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners. They create your base diet of 1,400 calories, which frees up 200 calories a day for anything you want—you’ll still lose weight. You can also save up four days ‘worth of your treat calories and “spend” them all at once—you’ll still slim down! (Drinks and nachos with friends? Dig in. Pizza night with the family? Enjoy an extra slice!) As you’ll read in the pages to come, Drop 10 has already helped dieters just like you shed the weight they wanted to. Now it’s your turn!
3. Research to back it all up. For more than thirty years, SELF magazine has been committed to bringing readers proven, effective ways to improve their health and well-being. Our editors and experts constantly scour journals and spend hours researching and testing strategies in order to separate hype and trends from what truly delivers results. But the ideas and methods in this book are backed by science. You can read it in these chapters, but you’ll also see the proof as the inches begin to disappear.
The Science of Superfoods
The idea of eating to lose turns the traditional approach to dieting on its head. And that’s exactly why this plan will help you: If most diets fail and more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, it’s clear that something in our current approach to dieting is not working. Isn’t it time to rethink the battle of the bulge? Researchers all over the world have been doing just that, exploring how food itself can help you become a diet success. Here’s a rundown of what we know about the superfoods:
Specific nutrients trigger fat and calorie burning. Over the past several years, research has begun to pour in showing that certain foods could aid in weight loss or are associated with being slim. For example, a 2005 study from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville finds that adults on a weight loss diet who ate yogurt lost 61 percent more fat overall and 81 percent more belly fat than those on a similar eating plan that didn’t include yogurt. As it turns out, eating calcium-rich dairy foods suppresses two hormones that influence how your fat cells do their job; in other words, when they’re low, your body favors fat burning and resists fat storing. Another exciting discovery: a special type of fiber found in sweet potatoes and lentils, called “resistant-starch carbohydrates,” which increases the production of certain peptides and hormones that turn up your body’s furnace, compelling it to burn more fat and calories. Who needs gimmicky shakes and supplements? Mother Nature, it seems, was the original weight loss guru.
Superfoods stymie fat production in your body. It’s oftensaid that weight loss is all about taking in fewer calories than you burn. And while that is certainly true, there’s more to the story. Gaining and losing weight is a complex process in the body, more complicated than just adding and subtracting calories. Some foods (nuts, avocados, whole grains) actually discourage your body from packing on fat, whereas others (refined carbohydrates such as white bread) encourage it.
Here’s why: When you eat, your body breaks down the food to get at the glucose (or sugar) molecules it needs to burn for energy. As glucose enters your bloodstream, your pancreas pumps out insulin to ferry the sugar out of blood and into cells that use it for fuel. In an ideal diet, this happens slowly and continuously over several hours; your body releases small amounts of glucose into your blood, and a low, steady stream of insulin takes it to cells. But when you eat highly processed, fast-digesting foods, loads of glucose flood your blood at once, causing insulin levels to rise sharply and spurring your body to store those calories as fat instead of burning them. To make matters worse, the faster you digest food, the hungrier you become for more energy within an hour or two of eating, triggering cravings for sugary treats. The result: You start snacking (and gaining). The way to stop this runaway fat production is with foods that slow digestion and release glucose little at a time, keeping insulin levels steady and your body’s cells humming along at a cruise-controlled, calorie-in, calorie-out pace that naturally curbs hunger.
Most of the weight loss superfoods slow digestion with fiber (complex carbohydrates that take your body longer to pull apart into usable components), healthy fats, and protein. Some foods contain all three. Take nuts, for instance: Studies find that people who consume nuts lose more weight when dieting, are less likely to experience significant weight creep over time, or are leaner than those who don’t, even though nuts are high in fat and calories. What gives? The crunchy combination of fats, protein, and fiber spends more time in your gut, keeping insulin levels steady.
Superfoods curb hunger and overeating. Taking in variety of slow-digesting foods that are high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber not only keeps insulin levels steady, but it also keeps you feeling fuller, longer—key for controlling hunger and stabilizing the number of calories you consume. Say you eat a protein-rich egg along with yogurt and fresh blueberries (all superfoods!) for breakfast. By midmorning, your stomach isn’t rumbling and you feel just as energized as you did a few hours earlier. You’re a lot less likely to raid that box of doughnuts at work or hit the vending machine, right? Likewise, if lunch consisted of wild salmon, broccoli, and quinoa, not only would you not succumb to a three p.m. slump, you’d more easily drive right past that fast-food joint on the way home and instead make healthier, lower-calorie dinner choices. Suddenly, by eating more nutrient-dense, delicious foods, you’ll effortlessly eat fewer calories overall while gaining more vitamins and energy.
Superfoods and Your Health
Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich dairy, lean protein, fish—the range of foods on our list provides all the macronutrients (protein, fiber, healthy unsaturated fats) plus the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals you need for your body to function and be healthy. But they also exert specific positive effects on cholesterol, blood pressure, digestion, your immune system, and more.
Take the unsaturated fat in fish, nuts, and avocados. It lowers levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, while raising levels of HDL, the “good” type that sweeps up lipoproteins from the lining of blood vessels, where they might otherwise build up and contribute to blocked arteries. Or consider fiber: Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, discovered that women who eat more than 4 servings a day of whole grains had a 35 percent lower risk for colon cancer. The reason: Fiber speeds the passage of stool through the colon, limiting your body’s exposure to potentially carcinogenic waste.
The health benefits of superfoods are undeniable. Yet fewer than 1 in 10 eat the recommended 1 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables daily. We consume only about half the minimum 25 grams of fiber we need per day, and only about 10 percent of us get the amount of heart-healthy seafood a year that the American Heart Association recommends to lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. (Fish should be on your plate at least twice a week.) As a result, we’re unhealthier than ever: Heart disease is now the number one cause of death. And diabetes rates are skyrocketing: As many as 1 in3 Americans could develop the condition by 2050 if trends continue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Drop 10 diet helps you painlessly increase your intake of health-promoting foods. But that’s not the only way it can cut your risk for disease and help you feel healthier. Shedding excess pounds alone makes drastic improvements to health. (Being overweight or obese is linked to a host of chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and depression.)The best part: You needn’t whittle down to a size 2. Lightening your load by even a few pounds can turn things around for you significantly, in the short and the long term. What the research reports:
Diabetes. Losing a scant 2 pounds may cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 16 percent, according to a study from the Colorado School of Public Health.
High blood pressure. Overweight people who lost 15 pounds or more reduced their risk for hypertension by as much as 28 percent, researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine find.
Inflammation. A modest weight loss of about 13 pounds is enough to bring inflammation levels down to those found in lean people. Inflammation is central to the body’s ability to heal and to fight bacteria; a poor diet and excess body fat can put this process into overdrive. Once inflammation becomes chronic, it attacks healthy cells and causes damage that may contribute to heart disease and other conditions.
Back pain. After trimming nearly 10 pounds, study participants reported significantly less upper-back, lower-back, and hip pain, research from the University of Cincinnati indicates.
Self-confidence: Losing only 5 percent of one’s body weight—about8 pounds for a 165-pound woman—leads to a significant increase in self-esteem, reports a study in the journal Health and Quality of Life Outcomes.