Category: Diet & Nutrition
25 Best High-Protein Snacks to Keep You Full Between Meals
According to dieticians, From sweet to savory, these high-protein snacks are guaranteed to squash hunger (and taste great).
By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
But, choose something protein-packed and you may be pleasantly surprised at how little you need to eat to feel full. “Protein is an important nutrient that helps keep you fuller for longer,” says Amy Gorin, RDN, founder of Amy Gorin Nutrition in New York City.
“Ensuring your snacks have protein can help prevent mindless munching during the day that can add empty calories to your diet,” says Elizabeth Shaw, RDN, CPT, a California-based dietitian and author.
But how much protein should be in a snack? Both Shaw and Gorin say around 10 grams is the ideal amount. “I would consider anything more than 15 grams as more of a mini-meal, so 10 grams is the sweet spot,” says Shaw. Aim to keep your snack under 300 calories, too.
“I like to pair protein-rich ingredients with foods that offer healthy fats and fiber, both of which also help keep you satiated,” adds Gorin. “If you eat a snack that’s mainly carbs, you’ll likely be hungry again a lot more quickly.”
With that, this list of snacks features healthy combos that come in around 10 grams of protein with plenty of healthy fats and fiber in the mix. Ready to beat hunger? Reach for these high-protein snacks when you need something tasty to beat hunger in between meals.
Toast can be a high-protein snack to enjoy morning, noon, and night, says Shaw. “Using your favorite whole grain toast as a base, mix a little cinnamon and a dash of honey with full-fat cottage cheese and slather it on toast,” she says.
Protein: 14 grams per toast
Everyone could use a sweet pick-me-up in their day, and this blueberry chia pudding does the trick. It’s the ideal combination of tasty treat, protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Plus, it’s beyond simple to meal prep for a grab and go snack. In a small container, combine 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, ¼ cups chia seeds, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 cup fresh blueberries, and 1 cup plain Greek yogurt. Stir it together and refrigerate overnight.
Protein: 14 grams per serving
“Homemade protein bars can be a great thing to prep ahead and keep around to satisfy your snack cravings,” says Shaw. “I also love that you can really customize these based on what you have on hand and your personal and/or dietary preferences,” she adds. Many recipes require simple ingredients like oats, dates, nuts, and protein powder. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Shaw’s raw chocolate peanut butter protein bars.
Protein: 12 grams per bar
Don’t have time to whip up a batch of homemade protein bars? There are plenty of healthy protein bars to choose from at your local grocery store. Look for options made with whole ingredients that contain at least 7 grams of protein and around 3 grams of fiber. Stick to 180 to 250 calories, with no more than 12 grams of sugar (the lower, the better). Try the CLIF Nut Butter Filled Bars for 7 grams of protein or RX bars for 12 grams.
Protein: 7+ grams per bar
When hunger strikes, don’t head to the fridge. Instead, look to the freezer for your favorite microwaveable sushi appetizer. These green bean pods serve up plant-based protein and gut-filling fiber for just 95 calories per serving.
Protein: 9 grams per 1/2 cup
6 Black bean wrap
If you had a sad desk lunch and need a little protein to power you through the afternoon, roll up a black bean and hummus wrap. Cut a whole wheat tortilla in half and fill with a ½ cup of black beans, ¼ cup of hummus, a tablespoon of chopped bell pepper, a teaspoon of diced red onion, and a squeeze of lime juice. Because who doesn’t want to feel like their having a Mexican fiesta for a snack?
Protein: 9 grams per wrap
Artisanal jerky is going mainstream, and this dried meat delicacy is packed with protein. Brands like Krave, EPIC, and Lorissa’s Kitchen make interesting flavors, such as black cherry barbecue, smoked salmon maple, and Szechuan peppercorn. If jerky is a once in a while treat, feel free to opt for any type of meat that satisfies your taste buds. But if you’ve always got a bag of jerky in your purse, try to look for ones that are made with salmon, turkey, or chicken for a leaner piece of protein.
Protein: 9 grams per ounce (about the size of half a bag, one bar, or one stick)
Don’t have tortillas? No problem—throw together a few simple ingredients to make a protein-rich vegan salsa. The combination of black beans, tomato, orange juice, and tomato makes the quickest and most flavorful salsa recipe that you’ll want to put on everything from crackers to crudité.
Protein: 8 grams per 1/3 cup
9 String cheese
Serious question: Do you peel your string cheese or take a bite out of it? Either way you eat it, this portable snack contains just 80 calories per stick, plus a healthy dose of bone-building calcium.
Protein: 7+ grams per stick
High-protein smoothies can be made so many different ways, but it’s best to opt for ones that have quality protein in the form of Greek yogurt, milk, or nut butter. “This coffee-flavored smoothie is full of protein-offering ingredients, like soy milk and Greek yogurt,” says Gorin. For a fruit-based smoothie, try this immune-boosting tropical sunshine smoothie. If you prefer to add a protein powder, reach for one of these healthy options.
Protein: 10+ grams per smoothie
11 Bean-based pasta
If you plan on hitting the post-work spin class, fuel up with some bean-based pasta, like Banza’s chickpea pasta. For a snack portion, stick with the suggested 2-ounce serving size and serve with high-quality marinara sauce, like Rao’s Homemade. Of course, adding veggies to the mix is always encouraged!
Protein: 12+ grams per 2 ounces
12 Egg muffins
Eggs boast an impressive 6 grams of protein per large egg, but you may not always have time to whip up an omelet. Instead, cook up these egg muffins from Prevention’s 30-day meal prep plan, which pack the flavor of egg, turkey bacon, mozzarella cheese, peppers, spinach, and spices into one bite-sized snack.
Protein: 8 grams per 2 muffins
“Top ½ cup plain cottage cheese with a couple of tablespoons of pistachios for a high-protein, delicious snack,” says Gorin. “Pistachios are one of the highest-protein snack nuts, and they offer the incredibly satiating trio of plant-based protein, healthy fat, and fiber,” she adds.
Protein: 13 grams per ½ cup
14 Frozen yogurt
No, we’re not talking about that type of frozen yogurt, but this one may be just as good. Made with frozen Greek yogurt, 100 percent juice, and peanut butter powder, this PB&J Frozen Yogurt from Snacking Sneakers is a high-protein treat you will look forward to eating all day.
Protein: 12 grams per ½ cup
15 Roasted pumpkin seeds
Seeds are an often-overlooked food group that offer plenty of satiating protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Simply toss them in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake at 250 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes for a crunchy snack. Looking for something sweeter? These maple and vanilla roasted pumpkin seeds are a mouth-watering snack that you’re going to want to make in large batches
Protein: 9 grams per 1/4 cup
Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast. Make a heaping bowl of loaded oats (roughly ½ cup raw makes 1 cup cooked) for a fiber-rich, high-protein snack. To up the protein ante, cook the oats with ½ cup of milk and ½ cup of water. Top with fruit, like apples, pears, berries, unsweetened coconut flakes or bananas, and a tablespoon of chopped nuts, hemp seeds, or flax seeds.
Protein: 10 grams per 1 cup cooked
17 Tofu nuggets
Eat nuggets like you’re a kid again with this meatless tofu nuggets recipe from Delish Knowledge. It is as simple as dredging tofu pieces in flour, cornstarch, and spices and baking in the oven. If you think you don’t like tofu, then you haven’t tried these nuggets! Bonus: Tofu is low in calories, contains all of the essential amino acids, and is a great source of magnesium, zinc, and iron.
Protein: 11 grams per 4 nuggets
18 Tuna salad wrap
Make tuna salad fun again with this fresh, flavorful wrap. Mixed with tangy Greek yogurt and lemon juice, grapes and celery for sweetness and crunch, arugula for greens, and walnuts for healthy fat, this tuna salad wrap recipe is a simple high-protein snack to make that will instantly squash your hunger.
Protein: 15 grams per wrap
Homemade energy bites come in many shapes and sizes, but most include protein-rich ingredients, like nut butters or seeds. This chocolate peanut butter variety combines two popular flavors alongside oats to serve up a bite-sized high-protein snack.
Protein: 14 grams per 2 bites
20 Greek yogurt dip
Greek yogurt isn’t just for eating with a spoon. Grab a fiber-rich fruit or veggie, like apples or celery sticks, and get dippin’. Mix some yogurt with honey, or even peanut butter powder for the easiest protein-packed dip around. Fancy something savory (and a little bit fancy)? Try this spiced chickpea Greek yogurt dip.
Protein: 10 grams per 1/3 cup of dip
21 Homemade cheddar muffins
Let’s be honest, most muffins are just cupcakes without the frosting, but not these savory cheese muffins (which happen to be gluten-free!). Made with zucchini, white cheddar, and egg, each muffin in this recipe from Marisa Moore Nutrition packs a protein punch.
Protein: 10 grams per muffin
22 Protein pancakes
Protein pancakes are a thing, and you can thank us later for introducing you to them. There are a ton of varieties on Pinterest, but this gluten-free pancake recipe from Edwina Clark includes eggs, flax seeds, and Greek yogurt for a filling snack. If you rather reach for a mix, go for this option from Kodiak Cakes, which packs 14 grams of protein per serving.
Protein: 10+ grams per 1 large pancake
Homemade chicken salad is always the ultimate palate pleaser. Combine 2 cups of chopped leftover grilled or rotisserie white meat chicken with ½ cup of crunchy fruits and veggies, like chopped celery and apple. To make it healthier than traditional chicken salads, coat the chicken mixture with ¼ cup of mayonnaise and ¼ cup of low-fat Greek yogurt and season with salt and pepper.
Protein: 15 grams per ½ cup
This Asian lettuce cups recipe is made with protein-rich chicken breast combined with a spicy Asian slaw. “Each serving has 11 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and only 1 gram of saturated fat, and it’s a delicious way to add protein to any meal,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RDN, author of Smart Meal Prep for Beginners.
Protein: 11 grams per 2 cups
25Turkey + apple roll-up
Don’t feel like cooking anything? Take a slice of deli turkey and wrap it around an apple slice. The varying textures and flavors pair together really nicely.
Protein: 12 grams per 2 roll-ups
This Guy Lost 65 Pounds By Adopting 4 Simple Habits
By Melissa Matthews
Ely Roberts is part of an entirely new generation. At 22, he’s steadfastly a member of Generation Z. You know, those kids who’ve never known a world without Facebook, or Uber, GrubHub, and Seamless. This access to instant gratification fostered Roberts’ sedentary lifestyle. He topped 250 pounds by the time he was an adult. Roberts didn’t want to waste more time being inactive, so he got up and got moving–and lost 65 pounds in the process.
“I had been heavy for most of my life, and for the most part accepted it as my fate,” Roberts shared with Men’s Health. “The biggest contribution to my weight gain was a lifestyle filled with foods and drinks that stimulate the pleasure centers in my brain.”
According to Roberts, he ate what he considered the “standard American diet,” which included copious amounts of foods he knew weren’t good for him. But, they made him feel good so he ate them anyway. And, he paired it with drinking because, well, he liked drinking.
“I did it almost every weekend and it even seeped into my weekdays too,” he said.
Though they felt good in the moment Roberts knew he was paying the price. And in the long run, he hated himself in return for what he had done to his body.
“I felt awful when I was at the peak of my obesity at 250 pounds,” he said. “My weight peaked out around the age of 21. The new accessibility to alcohol only put me further behind.”
However, there was something inside Roberts that wanted to change course. And all it took to veer onto a better path was a little challenge between him and his cousin.
“I bet you couldn’t stop drinking for a month,” his cousin said. Roberts quickly accepted the challenge. Four short weeks later, Roberts wasn’t only the victor of the challenge but was also down a full 22 pounds.
“I was shocked,” Roberts explained. “I figured, Why not keep going?”
From there, Roberts made more lifestyle changes to benefit his health. He cut out sugar, began meal prepping, and educated himself about calorie deficits. Then, he joined a gym and began training with a buddy from work.
“I just kept adding one thing after another, and before I knew it I was living quite healthfully and all of these things I was doing daily became habits,” he shared. These tweaks helped Roberts lose 65 pounds in eight months to hit his new weight of 185.
“After my initial weight loss, I had a new outlook on life. I felt better in my own body, my energy improved, I wasn’t having issues with digestion or acid reflux anymore,” Roberts said of all his new body benefits. “The daily endorphin dump from training kept my brain clear and gave a feeling of euphoria; I was just more happy in all aspects of life. I slept better, my eating habits were better, my confidence was improved upon.”
But, just because his weight is where he wants it to be doesn’t mean Roberts is done improving. He continues to set new goals for himself on his fitness, so is now adding a bulking routine to his regime.
“That is my current goal. To never stop,” he said. “I am not finished, I can’t be finished. This is a lifestyle.”
As for how he got this to work and he thinks others can too Roberts revealed, “The way I got this to work is by throwing the word ‘diet’ out the window, and coming to terms with the fact that this isn’t short term. This isn’t something I’ll stop doing in two months. This is a lifestyle. My best piece of advice to the new trainee is to educate yourself. Learn how the body works, learn energy balance. Learn how to fuel your body and train correctly. Learn how to recover.” And lastly, he shared: “Instill discipline in your life and you’ll be surprised what you can change.”
The most popular low-carb diets for weight loss
Confused by all of the weight-loss plans out there ?
The good news about low-carb diets is that there are plenty of options, and not all of them involve counting carbs or sticking to a very small amount. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular low-carb diets and what to consider before you decide to follow them.
- Keto Diet: The keto diet, aka the ketogenic diet, originally started in the 1920s as a way to help treat epilepsy, but since then it has become one of the most popular low-carb diets for weight loss. On the keto diet, you will limit your carb intake to no more than five percent of your daily calories. This will help your body hit ketosis, a state in which your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs. While the keto diet has helped thousands of people lose weight, it’s highly restrictive, which can be hard to sustain long-term.
- Atkins Diet: Another popular low-carb diet, you might remember Atkins from the early 90s. The Atkins diet is a high-protein, high-fat diet that helps you lose weight by filling up on meat, dairy, and fats, in place of carbs. Atkins has three different plans: Atkins 20, Atkins 40, and Atkins 100. All three plans involve keeping your daily carb intake low. During the first phase of the Atkins 20, for example, you will have only 20 to 25 grams of net carbs daily. As you progress within your plan, you gradually increase the amount of net carbs you can enjoy.
- Whole30: The Whole30 diet is a Paleo-inspired eating plan, where you restrict sugar, alcohol, dairy, grains, gluten, and legumes from your diet for 30 days. The goal of Whole30 isn’t necessarily to lose weight but to help you combat your sugar addiction, focus on clean eating, and uncover food sensitivities. However, many people follow Whole30 as a way to detox after the holidays or lose weight before a big event, like a wedding. Because it helps you avoid eating highly processed packaged foods and promotes healthy home cooking, you might lose a significant amount of weight, depending on what your eating habits were like before you started the diet. Why 30? Creators of the diet believe that 30 days is all you need to reset your body and improve you relationship with food.
- Paleo diet: The Paleo diet is another low-carb eating plan that focuses on eating lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. The Paleo diet mimics eating patterns of our Paleolithic ancestors who ate only foods they hunted or gathered for. This means you can eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and lean protein, but dairy products, grains, beans and legumes, and highly processed foods, like sugar and artificial sweeteners, are off limits.
The bottom line is that low-carb diets aren’t meant to be followed long-term
If you want to follow a low-carb diet to lose weight, be sure to talk to your doctor and a registered dietitian to help you find the right diet for you. Restricting carbs can lead to nutritional deficiencies and yo-yo dieting, so you want to make sure you’re still getting a balanced diet that makes you feel satisfied and delivers the nutrients you need.
A Diet should be something you could live with forever. A lot of people say they cheated on their diet or fell off the bandwagon, but a diet you can keep for life shouldn’t feel like you got off of something.
4th of July Appetizers, Maybe!
Fruit and Cheese Hors d’oeuvres
This recipe is as easy as it gets! If you need to put together a last-minute appetizer or party snack, look no further than these fruit and cheese stacks. All you need to do is take a bite-size piece of the fruit of your choice, and stack it on a toothpick with a cube of thoughtfully paired cheese. Try out some of our favorites below!
1. Blackberries & Brie
2. Granny Smith Apples & Sharp Cheddar
3. Anjou Pears & Gouda
4. Grapes & Fontina
5. Peaches & Goat Cheese
And for something more substantial:
Seasonal Recipe Roundup: Summer Favorites
It’s finally Summer! We can’t complain from way out West in sunny So Cal, but we know many of you have been counting down the days until the sun peaked through those clouds and your friends started planning potlucks and bonfires. We were so excited that we pulled together some of our seasonal favorites, all perfect for warm weather and fresh feasts. So gather up the avocados, berries, fresh fish and the like, and get ready to impress at your next BBQ!
Paleo-Friendly BLT Avocados
If you’re looking to eat fresh and healthy this Summer, these lean and clean BLT avocados are about to become a lunch staple!
2 Bacon slices, cooked and chopped
1/2 C. Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/2 C. Lettuce (iceberg or romaine), chopped
1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt & pepper, to taste
1. In a small bowl, combine your bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, and lemon juice. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
2. Slice the avocados in half and remove the pit. Using the hole from the pit as a starting point, widen the “bowl” you’re creating in the avocado slightly to accommodate for as much of the filling as you’d like to include.
3. Scoop the BLT mixture into your avocado bowl, and serve immediately.
Teriyaki Chicken Wonton Tacos
Something about tacos just screams Summer, and these teriyaki tacos are no exception. Treat yourself to this fresh and tangy alternative to your favorite guilty-pleasure Mexican cuisine.
15 Wonton Wrappers
1 lb. Chicken Breasts, cubed
1 C. Slaw Mix 1/4 C. Red onion, chopped
1/4 C. Green onions, chopped
1/4 C. Cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp. Teriyaki Sauce
1 tsp. Salt
1. Combine soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, salt, and chicken in a large Ziploc bag, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
2. In a large skillet over high heat, drizzle with olive oil then add your chicken, cooking until it isn’t pink in the center. Remove from heat.
3. Turn a muffin tin upside down, and fold wonton wrappers into a taco shape between the cups. Bake at 350F for10 minutes, until wontons are crisp and golden brown.
4. While the wonton shells are cooking, combine the slaw, red onions, green onions, and cilantro in a small bowl. 5. Remove the wonton shells from the oven and put on your serving place. Place one or two scoops of the veggie mix into the bottom of each, and top with a scoop of chicken.
Ahi and Avocado Bites
Fresh fish demands warm weather and sunshine. Cut up some fresh-caught ahi tuna and share with your loved ones over a good glass of white wine and a sunset.
Ahi tuna, cubed
1/2 Tbsp. Red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Lemon juice Ginger, thinly sliced Soy sauce, for dipping
1. In a small bowl, mash together the avocado, red onion, and lemon juice.
2. Scoop a bit of the avocado mixture onto a ginger slice, then stick a toothpick through the avocado and ginger and into an ahi cube. Repeat until you have your desired amount.
3. Serve with soy sauce for dipping. You can also add wasabi to spice it up!
Raw Zucchini Roll-Ups
Lighten up your lunches with these raw veggie roll-ups, and we guarantee you’ll have a new favorite warm-weather snack!
Zucchini Red pepper, thinly sliced
Carrots, thinly sliced Purple cabbage, thinly sliced Fresh Basil Greek
Yogurt Hidden Valley Ranch Dip mix
1. Slice your zucchini lengthwise into thin strips that can be rolled up. This can also be done easily with a mandolin slicer, if you have one on hand. 2. Following the directions on your ranch mix, combine with the greek yogurt to make your dip. Spread roughly 1 Tbsp of the ranch mix onto one side of each of your zucchini strips. 3. Work on only 1/4 of your zucchini, starting from the end, lay down your basil, then your peppers and carrots, then your sprouts. 4. Roll up your zucchini, starting with the end with the veggies, then secure with a toothpick.
Larry’s Avocado Cucumber Salad
Mix up this fresh chopped Summer salad and bring it to your next dinner party or potluck BBQ!
Red Onion, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1. Combine the cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions in a large salad bowl and mix until just integrated.
2. Add your avocado and gently toss, to combine without mashing the avocado.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper, and toss with your hands or salad spoons.
4. Add 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice and gently mix. Serve immediately.
Fresh Fruit Pops
This popsicle-meets-smoothie combo is the perfect sweet and tart treat to keep you cool this Summer.
1/2 C strawberries
1/2 C raspberries
1/2 pineapple chunks
In a food processor or blender, puree each fruit. Be sure to puree the pineapple and mangos together, and strawberries and raspberries together for color consistency. Pour each fruit puree into popsicle mold until you have 3 fruit layers in each mold. Insert a popsicle stick, or place popsicle mold stick/cap on, and place in your freezer for at least 40-50 minutes or until your fruit pop is completely frozen. If they don’t remove easily from the mold, try running warm water over the base of the mold to unfreeze the fruit from the sides, and your fresh fruit pops should slide right out.
3-Ingredient Clean Cookies
Still can’t kick that sweet tooth but want to keep your body in Summer-shape? Thes 3-ingredient cookies are a healthy alternative to a universal favorite, and even make a great on-the-go breakfast!
1 C. Rolled Oats
2 Ripe bananas
1 1/2 Tbsp. Dried or fresh fruit
In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas completely, then fold in the oats bit by bit. Once the oats and bananas are combined, stir in the addition of your choice — raisins, dried cranberries, fresh blueberries, etc. Scoop onto a cookie sheet and smash into round “cookies,” then bake at 375F for 15 minutes.
Uncork a bottle of Chardonnay and enjoy the sunshine and Summertime with the ones you love. We can’t wait either!
Yum in my tum ! Thanks to the following for these recipes:
The easy sauces every healthy grill master needs to know
The Instant Pot may be the savior of your weekday meals, but summer weekends mean the grill gets to steal the show. Burger patties, corn, eggplant, peaches, pineapple—what doesn’t taste delicious with a little fire beneath it? But as every grill master knows, when it comes to barbecuing meat, fish, poultry, or tofu, the secret to taking the meal to the next level is a finger licking good sauce.
Just like how red wine pairs better with steak while white wine is best paired with salmon, different types of sauces work best for different proteins—which is where this handy recipe guide comes in. Consider it your barbecue sauce cheat sheet. Bonus: all are healthy and a cinch to make.
These are the best sauces to pair with your go-to grilled protein
For steak: chimichurri sauce
It’s a common misconception that because steak is so hearty that it should be topped with a hearty sauce, but TBH, all you really need is a good chimichurri. This one is made with olive oil, garlic, vinegar, and cilantro. Clean, simple, and definitely yum.
For tofu: cilantro avocado cream sauce
Because tofu essentially works as a sponge, soaking up whatever liquid you pair it with, the sauce is a super important component. This dairy-free avocado-based sauce is mild, yet flavorful. Bonus: it gives great healthy fats to your meal.
For salmon: ginger garlic sauce
Salmon has a more delicate taste than chicken or steak, so it requires a more mild sauce. One that works perfectly is this ginger garlic blend, also made with rice vinegar and chili pepper flakes. Add cilantro on top to amp up the flavor even more.
For chicken: maple chipotle sauce
Store-bought chipotle sauces can be loaded with sneaky sugar and sodium, but this recipe accomplishes that perfect balance of sweet and tangy without the additives. The secret: a combo of maple syrup, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, and garlic. It hits all the flavor notes.
BTW, you should definitely be throwing veggie on the grill too.
4 steps this woman took to lose 112 pounds
By Meghan Holohan
During college, Hannah Lester knew she was the “fat friend” — and she hated it. But that didn’t stop her from living off burgers and fries. She worked at a fast food restaurant, so it was the easiest option on most days.
“I picked up fast food up on the way to class. It really became my go-to,” the school librarian, 31, from Puxico, Missouri, told TODAY. “I didn’t make very healthy choices. I was pretty lazy.”
Thanks to a steady diet of unhealthy food and little exercise, she kept gaining weight. At 5 feet 6 inches tall, she weighed 285 pounds.
After she graduated and started her first job, there was finally an opportunity to make some changes: a weight-loss challenge among her co-workers.
“It gave me a reason to lose the weight,” she said. “I kind of wanted to prove myself that I can do this.”
Lester first set a moderate goal: to lose 35 pounds from January to May 2012. She stopped eating fast food and reduced her soda consumption, going from six to one a day. She increased how much water she drank and started walking more.
“Something just clicked,” she said. “I lost that first 10 pounds and realized I could do it. I kept doing it because I wanted to win.”
Lester shed 35 pounds by March, reaching her goals two months early.
“It came off really, really fast for me in the beginning,” she said. “I needed to lose it so badly, the weight came off easily.”
After losing 50 pounds, Lester modified her habits to stay on track. She started using a stepper at the gym and went from walking one mile to four miles.
“I just started eating at home more. I didn’t actively make that decision to eat healthier,” she said.
In three years, she lost 100 pounds and she has maintained her weight for three years, before losing an additional 12 pounds. She’s proud of how far she’s come.
“I really can do something if I honestly set my mind to it,” she said. “I am truly happy with what I accomplished.”
Lester, who shared her story in the Start TODAY Facebook group, provides tips for others hoping to shed weight.
1. Keep ‘fat’ clothes as a reminder.
Simply glancing at her old clothes helps Lester remember how far she has come and how she doesn’t want to regain the weight.
“I went from a size 22 to a size 12 — a 2X to a medium,” she said. “That is almost more important than saying I lost all this weight. I can visually see (it by) looking at an old t-shirt.”
2. Celebrate non-scale victories.
When Lester was losing weight, she felt frustrated when the number on the scale wasn’t getting smaller.
“The scale was almost my enemy,” she said. “If … I didn’t like what it said, I was going on a downward spiral.”
That’s when she realized she had to focus on how she felt or how her clothes felt as a measure of success.
“These pants were a little snug but now I don’t have to unbutton them. That is what I look for,” she said.
3. Set reasonable goals.
While Lester knew she needed to lose more than 35 pounds, she was overwhelmed by shedding large amounts of weight. That is why she kept her goals reasonable. After she lost 35 pounds, she focused on losing 50 pounds. Then 75 pounds. This kept her motivated.
“Don’t set a big huge goal that you may not reach right away,” she said. “Set little goals. Make a goal just to walk for 30 minutes every day. Make a goal to cut back on something you eat a lot.”
4. Do what feels right for you.
Lester knows a lot of people who are successful with low-carb diets. That doesn’t work for her so she skipped it. Over the years, she learned that working out in the morning, running or walking three or four miles, keeps her energy up for the rest of the day.
“If I wait until the afternoon, I tend to skip workouts,” she explained.
She believes she’s so successful because she does what feels right for her instead of following the pack or seeking out another trend.
“Find what works for you. Not every diet, or lifestyle, works for everyone,” Lester said.