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Dangerous crash diets may lead to short-term weight loss, but dropping extra pounds for the long haul can be trickier.
Attaining a new shape does mean adhering to some old advice small, steady changes in eating and exercise habits are still the best predictors of lasting weight loss, experts say. But that doesn't mean dieting needs to be boring.
A few smart tricks incorporated into a healthier lifestyle can help. Here are some fresh tactics for shaving pounds, including a few that put a new spin on the tried-and-true.
Say no to numbersSlide 2 of 15
Say no to numbers
When the ingredient list on packaged food includes numbers, put it down. Ingredients that include numbers as part of their names usually identify an item as a "convenience food" that's full of fat and preservatives, said Dr. Carson Liu, a Los Angeles-based bariatric surgeon.
"If you're trying to lose weight, it's very, very difficult to do so with processed foods," Liu said, because they have so many carbs, sugars and hidden ingredients."
For the same reason, Liu recommends shutting the door on meal deliveries, whether they're a month's worth of diet food hyped on TV or a triple cheeseburger from a greasy spoon.
"It's an unsustainable and extremely costly habit," he said.Slide 3 of 15
Dieting commandment: Lettuce not eat lonely saladsSlide 4 of 15
Dieting commandment: Lettuce not eat lonely salads
"Eating just a salad for lunch is probably the worst meal for weight management," said Manuel Villacorta, a San Francisco-based dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "Have the salad, but have a sandwich with it, or a bowl of bean soup."
As low-calorie as all those salad veggies are, without carbohydrates, they do nothing to knock down levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which tells the brain when to eat. Villacorta recommended carb-containing foods such as fruits, grains, pasta and bread.
"If you're not eating enough, you're not lowering your ghrelin amounts, and you'll eat more later," Villacorta said.Slide 5 of 15
Pick pillow timeSlide 6 of 15
Pick pillow time
Those who sleep less than five hours a night have a 73 percent chance of becoming obese. By getting between five and six hours, those odds plummet to 27 percent, Villacorta said.
"Sleep is a big deal," Villacorta said, "because ghrelin increases when you sleep less. If you're lacking sleep because you're going to the gym instead, I'd rather you go less to the gym. Sleep your seven hours."Slide 7 of 15
Breathe heavy before breakfastSlide 8 of 15