By now you know that protein is a vital part of a healthy diet, but don’t let that fact fool you into thinking that all protein bars are created equal. Though a multitude of the trendy treats purport to be nutritious and low in calories, many of them are also packed with sugar but low in satiating fiber, meaning they aren’t actually very healthy at all. Before picking a protein bar to snack on, give the nutrition label a good once-over and look for something with natural ingredients and plenty of protein (obviously) and fiber. If you need help making sense of the overcrowded landscape, consult this list of 25 Best & Worst Low-Sugar Protein Bars!

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Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is never a good idea because research has shown it inhibits your ability to make smart choices about what you wish to eat. In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that even short-term fasts can lead people to make more unhealthy food choices, picking a higher quantity of high-calorie foods. Fill up before you shop in an effort to avoid buying foods that won’t help you lose weight.
You don't really want dessert, but your friends are having some, and they're urging you to join them. So you give in and order a piece of tiramisu. Sorry to say it, but you've just committed sociotropy, aka people pleasing, a behavior that can make you gain weight. In a recent study, women and men who regularly experienced negative emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger, and were impulsive and disorganized, tended to be heavier than those who were more even-keeled. "Women score slightly higher than men on people-pleasing measures," says Julie Exline, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University. That may be because guys are raised to be assertive while women are socialized to value relationships and "basically to be nicer," Exline explains. In other words, we're inclined to go along with what the rest of the group wants to do, which includes digging into the tiramisu after dinner. If you feel pressured to pig out, "tell your friends politely but firmly that you're fine with what you have and that you're not hungry for more right now," Exline advises. Hold your ground and your pals will get the message.
Want to burn 100 more calories today? One study suggests you can do it by simply substituting whole grains for the refined kind. For example, choose wild rice instead of white rice. Researchers found that those who embraced the whole approach increased their metabolic rate and showed “greater fecal losses.” Let’s be honest, pooping more is a goal we all secretly crave.
Cheese isn’t traditionally thought of as something you consume to encourage weight management, but calcium-rich Parmesan, when eaten in moderation, can help stave off sugar cravings that can easily lead to weight gain. How does that work, you ask? The native Italian cheese contains the amino acid tyrosine (remember that?) which has been shown to encourage the brain to release dopamine without any unhealthy insulin spikes. What’s more? The combination of calcium and protein present in dairy products such as Parmesan has been found to increase thermogenesis—the body’s core temperature—and thus boost your metabolism.

If you’re not sure if you need to lose weight, calculating your BMI can be a good starting point and help you work out whether you are at an appropriate weight for your height. Check your waist circumference too as your body shape is also important. Carrying too much weight around our middle increases risk, even if your BMI is within the healthy range.
Though you may give yourself a pat on the back for passing on that slice of chocolate cake you’ve been craving for dessert, you’re actually doing yourself (and your waistline) a disservice in the long run. According to a study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, when you resist food, your body actually experiences more cravings for whatever it is you aren’t getting. Saying “no” to a sweet treat or slice of pizza wires our brains to view forbidden foods as rewards, setting us up for cravings that are hard to satisfy, so give yourself a break and indulge every now and again.

The trick to keeping your appetite in check is avoiding foods that make you lose control. That's tough to do when you're surrounded by mouthwatering choices everywhere you go, but Stice says that a technique called mindful resistance can help. "If you're tempted to have a scone with your coffee at Starbucks, instead of thinking about how delicious it will taste, tell yourself you'll get health benefits such as a smaller waist or a healthier heart from not having it," he says. "Doing this actually changes your brain by strengthening the area that helps you resist things and weakening the region that makes you think of treats as a reward."
You may have heard the widely quoted statistic that 95% of people who lose wait on a diet will regain it within a few years—or even months. While there isn’t much hard evidence to support that claim, it is true that many weight-loss plans fail in the long term. Often that’s simply because diets that are too restrictive are very hard to maintain over time. However, that doesn’t mean your weight loss attempts are doomed to failure. Far from it.
If you’re interested in doubling your weight loss, keep a notebook and a pencil on hand at all times. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research found that even though 1,700 participants exercised 30 minutes a day and ate diets rich in fruit and veggies, the more food records people kept, the more weight they lost in the long run. Those who didn’t keep a record at all only experienced half as much loss. So start this healthy habit and hold onto it even after you’ve hit your mark to stay mindful of your munching.
Dining out can kill your hard-earned weight loss wins—and so can boozing too hard. To stay on track with your better-body goals, order your glass of wine or cocktail near the end of your meal. That way, the sweetness can act as a low-cal dessert. Plus, it won’t lower your inhibitions before your meal, which may prompt you to order something unhealthy off the menu.
Not much of a coffee drinker? Tea is also a natural diuretic, and types of herbal tea such as dandelion or fennel root can also lend a hand. In fact: When a recent study compared the metabolic effect of green tea (in extract) with that of a placebo, researchers found that the green-tea drinkers burned about 70 additional calories in a 24-hour period.

Thanks for the great article. I would love to hear your thought on Lyle’s Rapid Fat Loss Diet. I know after all it is just a huge deficit but is the best way to create a large deficit while preserving muscle mass is to consume mostly protein like his approach? If we create the same deficit e.g. Eating 800 kcal/day but having carbs and fat will we lose more muscle mass than just getting those calories from protein only?
Just because you're denying yourself calories doesn't mean you should deny yourself intense aromas and flavors—in fact, just the opposite. Research published in the journal Flavour found that stronger aromas, such as garlic- and onion-infused fare, lead to smaller bite sizes, and smaller bite sizes are often linked to the sensation of feeling fuller sooner. The study results suggest that enhancing the odor of the foods you eat could result in a 5 to 10% decrease in intake per bite. Together, amping up aroma as you tamp down on portion size could trick your body into thinking its fuller sooner.
For the cook who loves tasting as they go, licks, sips, and nibbles can add up fast, leaving you feeling as if you've already eaten a meal before it actually ends up on the table. To quell the tasting urge, some experts recommend sucking on a highly flavored hard candy while you cook. The potent taste—think mint, cinnamon, or sour—will keep your taste buds busy, and the act of sucking will keep your mouth occupied.
Within three years of dieting, Nearly 65 percent of dieters gain back the weight they lost within three years, say University of Pennsylvania researchers. The reason? They all slimmed down with the help of a diet, which by definition is short term and doesn’t produce life long results. To hit your goal weight and stay there, you need to make permanent changes to your lifestyle. Not sure how? Check out these 10 Daily Habits That Keep Away Belly Fat for some inspiration.
Others RDNs emphasize a focus on individual nutrients. "Oftentimes, the first place I start is to help someone get adequate protein throughout the day," says Megan Ostler, MS, RDN. "This can help with appetite control. Second, I focus on fiber." In addition to curbing appetite, Ostler says fiber helps stabilize blood sugar and improve gastrointestinal health, important factors that can correlate with healthy weight. Combine good sources of fiber and protein with choices like beans, lentils, and certain grains, such as quinoa and oats.
As I almost always mention in every article I write about this subject (seriously, if you’re a regular reader, you’ve seen me say this approximately 80 billion times before), you could lose fat, muscle, water, glycogen, poop and more, and the scale will tell you that you lost weight. However, out of everything on that list, the one you’re truly seeking to lose here is fat.
Whether or not you’re specifically aiming to cut carbs, most of us consume unhealthy amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and sweetened breakfast cereals. Replacing refined carbs with their whole-grain counterparts and eliminating candy and desserts is only part of the solution, though. Sugar is hidden in foods as diverse as canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, and many reduced fat foods. Since your body gets all it needs from sugar naturally occurring in food, all this added sugar amounts to nothing but a lot of empty calories and unhealthy spikes in your blood glucose.
Shedding pounds is tricky and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. “We all have a certain amount of calories [that] we need each day to function and not gain weight. However, this amount varies greatly from each individual depending on your size, muscle mass, hormones, sex, heredity, etc.,” says Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., Houston-based dietitian and founder of Eat Right Fitness. “One person may lose weight on 1,500 calories per day, [while] another may gain weight.” The good news is that there are plenty of solutions that do work. They ensure that both your health and your quality of life are top notch. We asked top nutrition experts to share their best tips to keep weight off for good.
First, the bad news: Three-quarters of Americans have a "fat gene" associated with a 20 to 30 percent higher risk for obesity. But that doesn't mean you're destined to be heavy. A recent British review found that exercise can trump your genetics. Physically active people with the fat gene are 27 percent less likely to become obese than couch potatoes who have it. We're not talking about training for a triathlon; the active people got just one hour or more of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a week. Aim for the recommended five hours a week (three days of cardio and two days of strength training) and you'll rev your weight-loss results even more.
Finally, some of us may simply not be emotionally ready to take on a weight-loss journey. Hang-ups from our past, stress in our home or work environment, and other lifestyle or psychological issues may crop up as roadblocks on our journey. "It's not about the food," says Lauren Artise, RDN. "I've found that individual challenges and perceived barriers most often keep patients from reaching their health goals."
Loads of research demonstrates people who log everything they eat — especially those who log while they're eating — are more likely to lose weight and keep it off for the long-haul. Start tracking on an app like MyFitnessPal when the pounds start sneaking up on you. It'll help you stay accountable for what you've eaten. Plus, you can easily identify some other areas of your daily eats that could use a little improvement when it's written out in front of you.
Who knew that fantasizing about eating your favorite candy can actually result in real-life weight loss? A study found that daydreaming about eating an entire packet of the sweet stuff before indulging may cause you to eat less of it. To come to this finding, researchers asked participants to imagine eating three M&Ms versus 30. Then, they conducted a taste test where participants were able to nosh on the chocolate orbs. The results? Those who imagined eating lots of M&Ms ended up gobbling down the least!

A calorie isn’t always a calorie. Eating 100 calories of high fructose corn syrup, for example, can have a different effect on your body than eating 100 calories of broccoli. The trick for sustained weight loss is to ditch the foods that are packed with calories but don’t make you feel full (like candy) and replace them with foods that fill you up without being loaded with calories (like vegetables).
Are your portion control issues making it hard for you to shrink your man boobs? Stop yourself from going back for seconds by grabbing a box of mints. People often yearn for that second cookie or helping of mac and cheese because the taste of the first still lingers. To cleanse your palate, keep mints or breath strips on hand and pop them when it’s time to quit noshing. Not only will this rid the alluring taste from your tongue, it will also keep your mouth busy and act as a distraction. Drinking water or tea are also helpful tactics.
“Suddenly cutting calories or ramping up exercise causes the body to go into famine mode and defend its calories,” explains Robert Herbst, personal trainer, weight loss and wellness coach, and powerlifter. “That’s why people who suddenly start eating only salads on New Year’s Day are starving and miserable a week later—and their resolution diet comes to a crashing halt.” Instead, he recommends that his clients aim to lose one pound every week by cutting out calories here and there, such as snacks or sugary coffees. “The body will feel comfortable and the gradual weight loss will add up.”
When many of us have too many options to choose from, we often become flustered and make the wrong decision. Same goes for food. If you have a few different boxes of cereal and a handful of flavors of potato chips, you’re likely to eat more of the packaged stuff. Limiting your options to just one can cut down on your grazing habits and prevent a snack attack.
You already know that a perfect diet doesn't exist, but many of us still can't resist the urge to kick ourselves when we indulge, eat too much, or get thrown off course from restrictive diets. The problem: This only makes it more difficult, stressful, and downright impossible to lose weight. So rather than beating yourself up for eating foods you think you shouldn't, let it go. Treating yourself to about 200 calories worth of deliciousness each day — something that feels indulgent to you — can help you stay on track for the long-haul, so allow yourself to eat, breathe, and indulge. Food should be joyful, not agonizing!
“Many people think that they can eat whatever they want as long as they work out. But the truth is, if you are looking to lose or maintain your weight, what you put in your body is significantly more important than hitting the gym. Exercise is important to keep your body healthy, but just because you work out for an hour or more per day, it doesn’t give you the liberty to eat whatever you want!” Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RDN, Co-Author of Should I Scoop out My Bagel tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
SNACKS: Fresh vegetables with fat-free dip are a healthy snack food. Fat-free rice cakes and rye crackers contain fiber and starch which helps you feel full. Avoid foods high in sugar, such as candy, cookies, and pastries. Also, avoid high fat snacks, such as nuts, regular chips, and chocolate foods. Instead try baked or fat-free chips, air-popped popcorn, or fresh fruit between meals.
Re-think date night. “It’s really hard to find time to be together. People always say 'date night,' but it’s hard to get out once a week and leave the kids and do that," says Delaney. "So what we do is rather than date night we try to have one or two days a week where we train together in the gym. We spend time as a couple together being active and doing active things with the family. One of our favorite things to do is walk around the city, we don’t take cabs, we walk the whole city, window shop and have something to eat. When it comes to exercise, have fun and don’t make it feel like it’s a chore.”
Sure, you certainly need to drink plenty of water to help expedite the process of ridding your body of excess sodium, you can (and should!) also consume high-water content foods. Reach for cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, asparagus, grapes, celery, artichokes, pineapple, and cranberries — all of which contain diuretic properties that will also help you stay full due to their higher fiber content.
Now if all you care about is just losing weight, seeing the number on the scale go down, fitting into smaller clothes and being skinnier, you’ll be fine without it. If, however, you want to maintain whatever muscle and strength you currently have or potentially gain more muscle and strength while you lose this fat, or you simply want to look strong/lean/toned/muscular/other-similar-words instead of skinny/thin… then you will NOT be fine without it. For this purpose, heavy, intelligent, strength-focused weight training is required. 

At the end of the day, successfully achieving a health goal — whether it be to lose weight, tone up or feel more energized — all comes down to identifying a goal that is meaningful to you as an individual, says Delaney. "It's different for everybody. It's about creating goals based on what is important to you and really understanding yourself so that you can continue to work towards them.”
A review of more than 600 studies found that being married, and transitioning into marriage, are both associated with weight gain. Transitioning out of a marriage, however, is associated with weight loss. The researchers found that weight gain occurs because of increased opportunities for eating due to shared, regular meals and larger portion sizes, as well as “decreased physical activity and a decline in weight maintenance for the purpose of attracting an intimate partner,” Zero Belly Smoothies states. we’re hardly advocating staying single or getting a divorce (unless you choose to) this research clearly indicates that dieters need to be especially careful around the wedding day. To keep things in check after you take the plunge, meal prep with your partner or develop a workout routine together.

At the end of the day, successfully achieving a health goal — whether it be to lose weight, tone up or feel more energized — all comes down to identifying a goal that is meaningful to you as an individual, says Delaney. "It's different for everybody. It's about creating goals based on what is important to you and really understanding yourself so that you can continue to work towards them.”
Obviously, it’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – just eat fewer calories than you burn, right? The problem with this simplistic advice is that it ignores the elephant in the room: Hunger. Most people don’t like to “just eat less”, i.e. being hungry forever. That’s dieting for masochists. Sooner or later, a normal person will give up and eat, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting”.

Not all fat is bad. Healthy or “good” fats can actually help to control your weight, as well as manage your moods and fight fatigue. Unsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, soy milk, tofu, and fatty fish can help fill you up, while adding a little tasty olive oil to a plate of vegetables, for example, can make it easier to eat healthy food and improve the overall quality of your diet.
If beef is your prefered source of protein, make sure you’re eating the grass-fed stuff. Ground beef, a T-bone steak, or prime rib are amongst the healthiest cuts because they’re lower in unhealthy fats than other forms of beef and actually contain more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than some fish. Just be sure to limit your red meat consumption to around two three-ounce servings per week in order to keep your cholesterol in check, and stick to low-calorie rubs and spices as opposed to sugary sauces to flavor the meal.

We’ve been clear on the benefits of wild salmon, but those pink creatures are quite literally not the only fish in the sea. Generally speaking, fish provide one of the best sources of fatty acids known as omega-3s, which will help fend off waist-widening inflammation and are an excellent source of high-quality, lean protein. This allows them to help you maintain muscle mass, thus reducing excess fat accumulation. Some of our favorite healthy seafood include mussels, Atlantic mackerel, and bluefish, but be sure to educate yourself on the ocean dwellers with this list of Every Popular Fish—Ranked for Nutritional Benefits!
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