Calories matter most when you're trying to shed pounds, but carbs are a close second. The biggest diet demons, from chips to chow mein, are CARBOHYDRATES. Still, carbs are essential for energy. Plus, what's life if you can never eat pasta again? Different strategies work for different people, so pick the mini plan here that you're most likely to stick with.
Option 1: Eat carbs, don't drink 'em.
What do orange juice, a vodka tonic, and root beer have in common? They're all pure carbs, and they each have 100 calories or more. One of the simplest ways to lose weight is to swap sugary beverages for water or other carb-free drinks, like plain coffee.
Option 2: Eat only the right carbs.
Eat only the right carbs. Foods made with white flour--like muffins, white pasta, and doughnuts--are digested quickly, which can lead to a spike in blood sugar and make you hungrier. Plus, "you hold more water if you eat a lot of simple carbs, and get that puffy look," Middleberg says. Choose complex carbs instead, like brown rice, beans, and whole grains. They contain much more fiber, the magic ingredient that foils overeating by making you feel full.
Option 3: Follow the 2-3-3 rule.
People tend to overeat carbs more than anything else, so counting servings will naturally keep calories under control, Middleberg says. Aim for no more than two servings a day of grains (a serving is ½ cup of rice or noodles, or two slices of bread), up to three servings of fruit, and no more than three 8-ounce servings of dairy. You'll get faster results if you go for healthier grains, as in Option 2, but even if you don't, this plan will help you slim down. As for desserts? Something small, once a week!
Option 4: Go caveman.
Our ancestors survived without dinner rolls, and they were a lot slimmer. Adherents to the Paleolithic-type diet eschew anything that wouldn't have been on a caveman's table, including bread and pasta. You eat lots of veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, and fish. Experts tell us that a "paleo" plan--which you can find in books or on thepaleodiet.com--can be healthy if done right, but it's extreme for most. If you're thinking about this or any other drastic diet changes, check with a pro first.