05/14/2012 03:17 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

7 Strategies to Slim Down for Summer


The unofficial start of summer is just weeks away. If the thought of baring your arms, legs and belly this summer make you want to run for the cover ups, read on. These slimming strategies can help you jumpstart your weight loss in time for your first barbeque or stroll on the beach.

#1 Double your vegetables. You can't go wrong with half a plate of vegetables. So, pile on the broccoli, leafy greens, peppers or mushrooms for a flavorful and satisfying meal. Eat them first because vegetables help you feel full on fewer calories and for longer periods of time.

#2 Fill up on hydrating fruits. Melons and berries are weight loss gems. Both are high in water but berries are also a great source of fiber. For a treat, try raspberries. At 8g of fiber per cup, they are an excellent hunger fighter and make for a delicious dessert.

#3 Reevaluate your carb intake. Research shows that reducing carbohydrates can help jumpstart weight loss but the effect is not long lasting. Carbohydrates are essential to good health but we often eat way too much at once. Grains and other starches should take up about a quarter of the plate. Choose healthy options and watch your portions. Opt for whole grains which digest a little slower than their refined counterparts. This slower digestion process helps you feel full longer. If you're looking for an alternative to rice try bulgur wheat, quinoa or whole grain pasta.

#4 Eat healthy protein sources. Protein is a key nutrient for satiety and maintaining muscle mass. Quinoa, beans and tofu are great options for protein-packed, meatless meals. Nuts, edamame, roasted chickpeas, hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, sardines and smoked salmon are a few protein rich snack options that smash hunger.

#5 Cut liquid calories. Unfortunately, liquids are not as satisfying as solids and we tend to forget that we even had them during the day. If you regularly drink sodas, juices, fruit smoothies, energy drinks, sweetened teas, lattes or alcoholic beverages beware. The added calories can slow down your weight loss efforts.

Fill up instead on calorie-free beverages. Yes. You've heard it before: drink water. If this gets boring try sparkling water with fresh fruit chunks or a splash of fruit juice, hot or iced tea or jazz up your water with fresh mint, ginger or basil.

#6 Switch up your workout. If you spend the same 30 minutes doing the same activity every time you exercise, it may be time for a change. Consider incorporating interval training to increase your workout intensity and boost results.

#7 Get adequate sleep. This falls at the end but not because it's less important. How long you sleep can affect the hormones that regulate hunger in the body. Getting less than six hours of sleep per night may lead to increased hunger and appetite which can affect weight. To avoid this, aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Losing 1 to 2 pounds of body fat per week is a good, healthy target. In fact, losing weight too quickly is not recommended and may even leave you flabby and fatigued. This is not a quick weight loss diet. Instead, these are simple strategies to help you lose weight while incorporating plenty of healthy options into your diet. With some diligence, you will be on the way to the slimmer body you desire not just this summer but for years to come!

Image courtesy flickr user bluewaikiki