5 Ways to lose real weight, not water weight

To see a difference in your size and feel a difference in your clothes, you need to lose body fat-not water weight or muscle mass, which you definitely want to keep because the latter is the engine that fuels your metabolism. And with warm weather not exactly around the corner but a mile or so down the road (depending on where you live), right now is the perfect time to start. These 5 proven strategies will help you erase stubborn fat without starving.

1) Lose a pound a week

Maybe two. That's the best pace to shed body fat if you want to keep it off. Bonus: Gradual weight loss may also help smooth cellulite.

6 calorie cutters to fight fat

2) Cue your portions

Learn what healthy serving sizes look like--or you can use your hand: Your palm is about the size of a 3-ounce serving of meat, and your fist is good for a half cup, perfect for pasta. Your thumb is about an ounce (cheese is 1 1/2 thumbs), and the tip measures 1 teaspoon, which counts for one serving of oil.

Easy ways to keep your portions in check

3) Graze, don't gorge

Plan on three small meals and two or three snacks a day, spaced no more than 4 hours apart, for best weight loss results. Women who follow this mini-meal plan are leaner and have less body fat than women who eat the same number of calories packed into two or three big meals, found researchers at the University of Michigan. Eating small portions often helps keep your metabolism revved and stomach full so you don't overeat.

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4) Cut 100 calories per meal

It's a lot easier than you may think, and it adds up fast: With 300 to 500 calories cut, you'll lose slow and steady. Skip the croutons in your salad and use 1 less tablespoon of butter on bread; both are good for saving 100.

100 ways to cut 100 calories

4) Choose filling foods

That means those that are high in fiber and water, such as broth-based soups and raw veggies, which are particularly good for quelling appetite, so you'll want to stop eating sooner. A study of 150 overweight people found that those who ate soup every day for a year had 50% more weight loss than people who didn't. And munching on a salad with fat-free dressing before your meal may cut your calorie intake by 12%, according to another study.

Tasty ways to add more fiber

5) Pass on processed junk

Cookies, crackers, chips--they're all packed with a lot of calories and not nearly enough nutrients per ounce as healthier options. A recent CDC survey of more than 7,000 adults confirmed that women who ate a calorie-dense diet had a higher BMI and weighed more.

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