3. Be realistic about which habits need to go. "When I was heavy, I'd eat French fries every single day, plus carbs at almost every meal—like a sandwich for lunch or bread with pasta for dinner. A diet so heavy in fried food and carbs just isn't conducive to weight loss. To lose the weight, I went from three large meals a day to six small meals, mostly made of fresh vegetable salads with lean meats and nuts. And no more bread!"
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.
“You don’t have to eat salad all the time to lose weight. There are so many ways to tweak ingredients and make food you actually love to eat—even pancakes. (Try almond flour.) That being said, the type of food you eat also defines your lifestyle. You can eat junk food and lose weight, but you will probably be hungry all the time. So give yourself an occasional cheat day or reward for sticking to your plan. In the end, you want to lose weight in a healthy way, without feeling like you’re hurting yourself.”
Show don’t tell. “It’s important as you’re raising children to lead by example and hopefully as they grow up you start to influence their mindset so they become the type of people who want to do these things,” says Delaney. “Kids never like being told what to do, so I was never strong handed. Now that my girls are college-aged, they make good choices on their own. What I’ve learned is, as my children have grown up they on their own have made these choices because they see me working out and eating healthy. What that has done is create an adult that is doing things intrinsically, because they are meaningful to them and not because someone is forcing them to.”
When eating out or picking up a quick lunch on your break, ask for any sauce or dressing on the side. Though these emulsions often add flavor to a dish, they’re also frequently packed with empty calories, added sugar, and a whole host of other unhealthy stuff that makes shedding pounds that much harder. For example, just one three-tablespoon serving of Panera Bread’s Greek dressing has 230 calories. 3.5 grams of saturated fat, and 310 milligrams of sodium. By asking for the sauce or dressing on the side, you have more control over how much of it you eat, and you could easily save yourself a few hundred calories.
“Repetition builds rhythm. Be boring. Most successful losers have just a couple of go-to breakfasts or snacks,” says registered dietitian Lauren Slayton. “Make an effort to pinpoint these for yourself. ‘Hmm, I’m starving what should I have?’ doesn’t often end well. You can change the rotation every few weeks, but pre-set meals or workouts on certain days will help tremendously.”
Since it was established in 1994, The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) in the United States, has tracked over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. The study has found that participants who’ve been successful in maintaining their weight loss share some common strategies. Whatever diet you use to lose weight in the first place, adopting these habits may help you to keep it off:
If you're trying to lose weight, you probably have an ultimate goal in mind. It's great to have a target but it's also important to set small, manageable goals throughout the process. If your aim is to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year, first focus on losing five pounds by next month. If you want to be a size six, start with dropping one size. If your goal is to give up your 3-cups-a-day soda habit, begin by cutting back to one daily cup. Setting smaller goals will help you recognize your progress and keep you motivated, and they'll eventually add up to your ultimate goal!
What smells like an exotic vacation and can shrink your waist faster than your favorite Zumba class? You got it: coconut oil. A study of 30 men published in Pharmacology found that just two tablespoons per day reduced waist circumference by an average of 1.1 inches over the course of a month. However, the health benefits of coconut oil are still debated—coconut oil is high in saturated fat. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which aren’t processed in the body the same way long chain triglycerides (LCTs). A study published in International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that when MCTs replaced LCTs in the diets of overweight women, they were less likely to gain weight.
The final possible culprit behind stubborn weight issues may be the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol will increase hunger levels, bringing along subsequent weight gain. The most common cause of elevated cortisol is chronic stress and lack of sleep (see tip #10), or cortisone medication (tip #9). It’s a good idea to try your best to do something about this.
In addition to researching avocado oil, the folks over at Penn State University conducted some research involving canola oil as well and discovered it can also stimulate weight loss. More specifically, researchers found that after one month of adhering to diets that included canola oil, participants had a quarter-pound less belly fat than they did before the diet. They also found that the weight lost from the mid-section did not redistribute elsewhere in the body. Like peanuts and avocados, canola oil’s belly-blasting abilities are thought to be a result of the monounsaturated fats it contains.
There’s an idea that focusing on less helps us achieve more. Changing a habit is tough, but trying to tackle a handful may seem impossible. Instead, concentrate on changing one behavior at a time. Start small and make clear guidelines. For example, if you’d like to increase your veggie intake, decide to eat three different vegetables each day, or one cup with each meal. And remember, small changes can lead to gradual weight loss.
Jenifer Tharani, MS, RD, also encourages mindful eating as a general strategy. Eating slowly, bringing attention to flavors and textures of foods, and checking in frequently for fullness all promote a feeling of satiation—even when cutting back on portion sizes. "I ask patients during follow-up weight management sessions whether they felt satisfied with eating smaller portions, and they always say yes," she says.
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.
According to a study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, & Biochemistry, consuming apple cider vinegar each day can lead to weight loss, reduced belly fat, waist circumference, and lower blood triglycerides. More specifically, the study of obese Japanese participants found that those who consumed just one tablespoon of ACV over a three-month period lost 2.6 pounds, and those who consumed 2 tablespoons lost 3.7 pounds in the same time frame. Go ahead and toss a tablespoon or two of this calorie, fat, and sugar-free stuff in your next salad dressing, sauce, or smoothie.
Instead of depriving yourself of all your favorite indulgences or meticulously counting calories to drop a size, simply consume at least 30 grams of fiber daily. This simple, no-fuss method fuels weight loss and improves health just as effectively as more complex diet approaches, University of Massachusetts Medical School researchers discovered. “Very few people reach the goals that are recommended,” said lead study author Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD, adding that “Telling people to reduce this or reduce that is just too hard to do.” However, asking people to focus on eating more of a certain nutrient—rather than eliminating things from their diet–can help people reach their weight loss goals, he explains. Interested in giving the diet strategy a try? Check out these 11 Best High-Fiber Foods for Weight Loss and start slimming down!
In addition, eat healthy foods throughout the day to keep your glucose, which fuels your body, at a high level so that you feel energized and satisfied. You'll also be better able to resist cravings when you snack on nutritious choices like fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and whole-grain bread topped with a little peanut butter, according to a recent study that showed that eating consistently helps us control our impulses.
And that raises the most important point: Thinking about exercise as a way to work off food or simply allow you to eat sets up a host of unhealthy and unhelpful thought patterns and habits around food and exercise. For instance, one 2013 research review found that, not only did people generally overestimate how many calories exercise burned—when they did work out, they ramped up their food intake. And if you overeat following exercise, any caloric deficit created during your workout can become a wash. And related: thinking of food as a reward and exercise as a punishment is likely to sabotage your weight loss efforts anyway.
To help you avoid losing muscle, or avoid seeking weight loss at the expense of muscle loss. Basically, the secondary goal of everyone trying to lose weight should be to preserve as much lean muscle as possible while that weight is lost, thus ensuring it’s primarily body fat. This is a topic I’ve covered in detail before: How To Lose Fat Without Losing Muscle
Sure, it’s packed with vitamin C, contains natural sugars, and tastes great in a cocktail, but that shouldn’t grant you a free pass to sip on fruit juice every day. Just one 8-ounce cup of your leading orange juice brand packs in 110 calories and 22 grams of sugar. To put that into perspective, drinking two glasses every day can add over a pound to your frame in just three weeks! Whether you’re used to pairing a drink with dinner or rather quench your thirst with something flavored, NWCR members reported maintaining weight loss and limiting total calorie intake by swapping out their regular beverages with water or low-calorie and calorie-free sips. Just remember to forgo drinks spiked with artificial sweeteners and choose one of our favorite healthy sodas instead.
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate from plant-based foods like bran flakes and strawberries that absorbs water and helps us eliminate waste as it travels through the digestive system. According to a review published in Journal of American College of Nutrition, fiber may increase satiety to keep you fuller longer and dietary fiber intake is associated with lower body weight. Mayo Clinic recommends that women should aim for at least 21 to 25 g of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 g a day.
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.
PROTEIN FOODS: Make sure your diet plan allows plenty of protein while you are losing weight. This will help you feel stronger while you are eating a lot fewer calories. Choose meat, fish, and poultry that is very lean before cooking. Remove all fat from meats and skin from poultry before cooking. Nuts and seeds are high in fat so limit the amount you eat. Do not eat more than 3 to 4 eggs a week. Use low fat and fat-free dairy products, salad dressings, and cheeses.
Ugh, I'm so fat!For many of us, that's what passes for a weight-loss pep talk. "There's this common misconception that being hard on yourself is the only way to achieve your goals," says Kristin Neff, Ph.D., associate professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Self-Compassion.But treating yourself with kindness, research shows, is a better way to bolster your commitment to healthy behaviors. "Coach yourself through your ups and downs the way you'd coach a friend—with words of encouragement and support," says Neff. "For instance, if you overeat or gain a few pounds, tell yourself, 'Losing weight is hard for everyone—I'm not the only one struggling. I'm going to take it slowly and keep at it.'" Think of every day—even every meal—as an opportunity to start over.
Part of the weight loss puzzle has to do with fighting inflammation, and incorporating the spice turmeric into your diet is an excellent way to do that. Like a myriad of other spices, the Indian cooking staple contains anti-inflammatory compounds. In a 2015 study in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers gave 117 patients with metabolic syndrome either supplements of curcumin—the active ingredient in turmeric—or a placebo. Over eight weeks, those who received the curcumin saw dramatic reductions in inflammation and fasting blood sugar.
Imagine each time a person goes home in the evening, they eat a snack. When they first eat the snack, a mental link is formed between the context (getting home) and their response to that context (eating a snack). Every time they subsequently snack in response to getting home, this link strengthens, to the point that getting home prompts them to eat a snack automatically. This is how a habit forms.
Though many believe chewing gum keeps you from mindlessly eating, the minty treat has its own drawbacks that can lead to a bigger belly. Not only does chewing gum cause you to swallow tummy-bloating air, many gums also contain sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol that can cause bloat. If you have to have something to chomp on, go for an organic variety like Glee gum or Simply gum instead. They’re still low-cal, but they don’t use those sweeteners that’ll make you puff up.
Nothing beats breakfast in your PJs, but if you put a bit of effort into what you wear prior to chowing down, it could impact your physique. You can keep your goals front and center by dressing up before a meal, Clinical psychologist Katie Rickel tells us in If You Weigh Over 170 Pounds, Here’s What You Need To Do To Lose Weight. Showing that you care about your appearance is a great reminder to eat in a way that reflects that, whether you’re throwing on business attire or a pair of jeans.
We often make the wrong trade-offs. Many of us make the mistake of swapping fat for the empty calories of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead of eating whole-fat yoghurt, for example, we eat low- or no-fat versions that are packed with sugar to make up for the loss of taste. Or we swap our fatty breakfast bacon for a muffin or donut that causes rapid spikes in blood sugar.
It’s true that a caloric deficit—burning more calories per day than you take in—is a requisite of weight loss. But creating a deficit doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) involve deprivation. That goes for calories, carbs, sugar, fat, or any other commonly demonized nutrient. “No one food is responsible for your weight,” Langer says, explaining that a good vs. bad mentality sets people up for disordered eating and exercise habits. In fact, caloric deprivation increases how the brain responds to food, setting you up for binge-eating down the line, according to research from the Oregon Research Institute.
I feel so bad for people I see eating cottage cheese and chicken breast every day and I’m having delicious health conscious foods and even a homemade cheeseburger every week and still lose weight because I stay within my limits. Even more messed up is they payed someone a few hundred dollars to eat like that. The knowledge I’ve gotten from this site has allowed me to customize a dietary plan that is easy, tasty and most importantly sustainable, which has been my issue many times before. Kudos for all the help.
Adding whole, natural, and anti-inflammatory foods to your diet is a great start for better health and to keep weight off. “People who consume natural, whole foods have lower rates of diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease,” says Luiza Petre, M.D., NYC-based cardiologist and weight management specialist. “Anti-inflammatory foods in particular, such as low-fat dairy, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, poultry, and fish, can make a significant difference when trying to shed pounds and belly fat. They are easily digested, keep you satiated, and boost energy levels.”
If you work at a job that requires you to be chained to your desk all day, try switching things up and giving a trendy standing desk a shot. Simply standing while you toil away as opposed to sitting has been shown to contribute to weight loss. Bloomberg reports that researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that standing burns about 54 calories over a six-hour day, and although that might not sound like much, those calories accumulate quickly. At that rate, you can burn over 1,000 calories a month just by staying on your feet.
Get this: Nearly 80 percent of National Weight Control Registry members—who have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years—regularly eat breakfast. Though researchers haven’t discovered a definite connection between the morning meal and weight loss, one theory is that when you start your day with something healthy and satiating it helps set a healthy tone for the rest of the day. To get on board, whip up one of these 50 Best Overnight Oats Recipes or enjoy an omelet with some Ezekiel bread and some berries.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great belly-blasting option for those who already feel comfortable in the gym because it helps you drop fatty tissue and build muscle simultaneously. “High-intensity interval training is when you perform an exercise at or close to your maximum ability for a short period of time and then take a brief respite and do it again. HIIT should usually be done on a 2:1 interval, meaning if you did an exercise for one minute, you rest for 30 seconds and then repeat,” explains Dr. Alex Tauberg, DC, CSCS, EMR in 50 Ways to Shrink Your Belly. To use HIIT to shrink your belly, do workouts that engage your core such as abdominal crunches or bridges. “By performing core workouts using a HIIT plan, you can burn calories and build muscle at the same time,” Alex adds. “This can be a great way to flatten that stomach when you don’t have too much time to work out.”
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”.
Starting a weight-loss journey can be tough, especially if you're giving up a lot of things you love. Shannon Hagen’s secret to staying positive while losing weight? “I never think of it as giving things up, that makes me feel deprived,” she says. “Instead I focus on adding in one small healthy change at a time, until it becomes a habit.” For instance, instead of being bummed over not having your usual bowl of ice cream before bed, try a new healthy dessert recipe to add to your file.
Chances are, you read The Fat Trap in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago, in which Tara Parker-Pope demonstrated how typical weight-loss strategies backfire, leading people to regain the lost weight, usually within months. What happens is that most popular weight loss regimens trigger the body's starvation alert, which in turn triggers hormonal changes that essentially set up a rebound reaction. So forget fast-track weight loss plans and instead make small, gradual changes that allow your metabolism to adjust once and for all. Once your system is used to the new regimen, it won't react with rebound.
If you want to lose weight, you're going to need to do more exercise than you might expect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthy people of normal weight need at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (or some combination of the two) every week to maintain weight and avoid excess gain. If you're hypothyroid and want to lose weight, you may need to do more than an hour a day of exercise.
Rather than relying on the drive-thru when hunger strikes, prep your meals in advance so that you have healthy grub on hand. “Identity three meals you can prepare with pantry staples and start cooking. Store the meals in your freezer so you always have something healthy on hand when hunger strikes,” Dietitian Christine M. Palumbo, RD, explains in 20 Ways to Lose Weight Forever. “For example, my go-to meals include risotto with frozen shrimp and asparagus, vegetable barley and a red lentil soup. Your goal should be to replace the meals whenever your stash starts running low.”
We’ve already discussed how the color red may act as an appetite suppressant (hence the need for red dishes) but apparently that’s not the only color you should be taking note of as you prepare to eat. Per a recent study from Cornell University, diners actually serve themselves more food if the color of their food matches the color of their plate. In other words, if you’re eating from a white plate, you’re more likely to help yourself to more rice or pasta. Conversely, if your goal is to eat less, select plates that have high contrast with what you plan to serve for dinner.
Since tomatoes can be grown indoors, they never really go out of season, making them a reliable weight loss staple to add to your diet. The tasty fruits have a high water content that will help keep you hydrated, and they’re also low in calories. What’s more? A study published in Nutrition Journal found that eight weeks of tomato juice consumption helps the body burn about an additional 100 calories per day—that adds up to around 3,000 calories a month!
Kick the diet beverages and vitamin-enhanced sugar-water, and reach for good old H2O instead. Drinking water helps people feel full, and as a result, consume fewer calories. Drinking water also significantly elevates resting energy expenditure (basically the number of calories we’d burn if we sat around all day) and lower water intake is associated with obesity.
Zero Belly Diet test panelist Bryan Wilson, a 29-year-old accountant, lost 19 pounds and an astounding six inches from his waist in just six weeks on the diet, and he attributes his success to the Zero Belly shake recipes in the program. “I love the shakes. I added them to my diet, and almost immediately I lost the bloat,” Bryan said. “I’m a sweet craver, and the shakes were an awesome alternative to bowls and bowls of ice cream I would have had.” Protein-enriched drinks lend you a monster dose of belly-busting nutrition in a simple yet delicious snack. But most commercial drinks are filled with unpronounceable chemicals that can upset our gut health and cause inflammation and bloat. Not to mention, the high doses of whey used to boost protein levels can amplify the belly-bloating effect. The Zero Belly solution: Try vegan protein, which will give you the same fat-burning, hunger-squelching, muscle-building benefits, without the bloat. Lose weight in less than 30 seconds, with the 100+ proven recipes in Zero Belly Smoothies!
Sure, you know the main weight-loss tactics: drink plenty of water, eat veggies, and exercise regularly. But just when you thought you had tried it all, there’s a whole new mix of methods that could help drop the number on the scale as well. Whether it’s upping your vitamin D intake, working out on an empty stomach, or eating dessert for breakfast (no, seriously!), anyone can use these surprising, fat-burning tips. And for more calorie-incinerating advice, learn the 20 Weight-Loss Techniques Every Successful Dieter Uses.
Skipping snack time won’t necessarily lead to weight loss: Low calorie consumption can actually slow metabolism. Eating less than three times a day may benefit those who are obese, but research shows skipping meals throughout the day and eating one large meal at night can lead to some undesirable outcomes (like delayed insulin response) which may increase the risk of diabetes. Instead of forgoing breakfast or lunch, stick to a few meals a day with healthy snacks between them.