Bad diet decisions are often made when you’re starving and have nothing healthy to eat in your kitchen. Ward off diet-derailing decisions by stocking up on frozen, deveined shrimp—one of Insanity trainer Shaun T’s! go-to proteins. Once you throw it on the stove, it’s ready to eat in just a few minutes, and it’s a great source of lean, low-cal protein. Organic, low-sodium turkey breasts, pre-grilled chicken and hard-boiled eggs are also smart meal-starters to keep on hand.
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.
To lose weight, you'll need to consume fewer calories than you burn. The exact number will depend on your current weight and activity level, but generally, people should aim to cut 250 to 1,000 calories from their diet per day in order to lose 0.5 to 2 lbs. (0.2 to 0.9 kilograms) per week. There are calculators available to help you determine how many calories you should consume per day.
Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that's not really so difficult: "Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings," she says. "Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won't be reaching for the cookie jar."
Another mindfulness trick is to pause for a moment before eating to smell your food, which releases digestive enzymes that improve digestion, Rissetto says. This is also another reason to skip that extra cocktail. A study published last year found that alcohol consumption changes how your brain perceives the aroma of food—specifically, it makes everything smell pretty tasty. As a result, people tend to eat more than they would sober.
No matter how minute your cabinet space or how kid-friendly your kitchen, cereal boxes should always be stashed out of sight and never on your countertops. Why? Because if you have even one box of cereal on your counter, you're likely to weigh a startling 21 pounds more than someone who doesn't, concludes Wansink's research. And women, who tend to spend more time in the kitchen than men do, are especially vulnerable to cereal. "It has what we call a 'health halo'," says Wansink. "Its boxes are covered with phrases like 'contains whole grain' and 'now with 11 essential vitamins and minerals.' This implies it's healthy, so we underestimate the calories and overeat it to reward ourselves for being so healthy." And that's especially true if we see it every time we enter the kitchen. The only food Wansink recommends keeping in full view on your kitchen counter? Fruit.
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!
Do-overs: They’re what your parents use to give you when you missed an easy hole on the mini golf course. But sadly, with adulthood, comes “grown-up” responsibilities, leaving little to no time for second shots—especially when it comes to your long-term happy weight. Shedding pounds takes countless hours of dedication, so if you’ve already gone through the grind to reach your goal weight, do you really want to do it again? We didn’t think so.
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.
There are still plenty of people who believe losing weight is solely about limiting calories, but according to a 2018 study of more than 600 participants in JAMA, that’s not the case. Researchers found that simply focusing on the quality of their food instead of counting calories — like eating mostly whole foods and scrubbing their diets of added sugar and processed junk — can lead to more weight loss. Plus, you’ll be much happier along the way. Next, don’t miss the 50 Genius Weight-Loss Motivation Tricks.
In addition to watching what you eat, you should also take note of the hours you spend watching television. Not only is sitting in front of a screen for too long detrimental to eye health, it can also wreak havoc on your newly-trim waistline. Members of the National Weight Control Registry, who were able to lose weight and keep it off, nixed their binge-watching habit: 62 percent report watching less than 10 hours of TV per week. And it seems like the majority of the NWCR members also found a new, more productive pastime—just take a look at our next savvy hack.
Functional exercise has been shown to increase strength and balance and reduce the risk of injury all while working multiple muscle groups at the same time. All that movement promotes muscle gain, which can increase metabolism, which can help shed fat. Added bonus: Functional exercises can make real-life tasks — like hauling groceries up stairs — easier.
Recent Cornell University findings suggest that shying away from the scale can cause those former pounds to sneak back onto your frame—not what you want! According to senior author David Levitsky, people who weigh themselves daily and track the results are more likely to lose weight and keep it off than those who check in less often. The method “forces you to be aware of the connection between your eating and your weight,” Levitsky said in a press statement. “The scale also acts as a priming mechanism, making you conscious of food and enabling you to make choices that are consistent with your weight.” For even more ways to shrink your gut, check out these 50 Best Ever Weight Loss Tips.
In one four-week Spanish study, researchers found that eating a calorie-restricted diet that also included four weekly servings of legumes aided weight loss more effectively than an equivalent diet sans the pulses. Those who consumed the legume-rich diet also saw improvements in their bad LDL cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure. Next time you’re cooking something starchy for dinner, consider eating fiber and protein-packed lentils instead.
If you want to do a bunch of unproven, gimmicky, fad-ish, non-evidence-based, non-science-based, sometimes unhealthy, largely-if-not-entirely-unnecessary things with your dietary approach for the purpose of maybe indirectly causing the one proven, non-gimmicky, non-fad-ish, evidence-based, science-based, healthy and necessary thing (a caloric deficit) to happen… then a Group 2 diet is perfect for you.
However, if a HIIT workout or piling on muscle mass seems too daunting, simply move for two-ish minutes to whittle your waistline. Why, you ask? Research printed in the journal Physiological Reports showed that people who did five 30-second bursts of max-effort cycling, followed by four minutes of rest, burned 200 extra calories that day. If you incorporate this technique into your workout routine just a few times per month, you can burn thousands of additional calories per year.
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.
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that after just two weeks, those who sipped four to five cups of the green brew daily in addition to working out for 25 minutes lost more belly fat than those who didn’t sip. We can chalk up these favorable results to the tea’s catechins, a type of antioxidant that hinders the storage of belly fat and aids rapid weight loss.
New research from the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute has determined that the popular holiday spice can help fight obesity thanks to cinnamaldehyde, an essential oil that gives cinnamon its flavor. According to researchers, cinnamaldehyde improves metabolic health by acting directly on fat cells, inducing them to start burning energy via thermogenesis. To work cinnamon into your diet, try sprinkling some on oatmeal or sipping on cinnamon tea.
If you part with your gym membership, don’t be surprised when you have to wave goodbye to that new and improved number on the scale, too. Successful losers have a much better chance of maintaining their weight loss when they continue their regular workout routine—or, at the very least, don’t bounce from gym rat to couch potato. According to University of Alabama researchers, not working out after weight loss will result in a metabolism dip. The study claims that people who do 40 minutes of lifting or cardio three times a week keep burning calories at the same rate. Get up and get moving; even taking a walk is one of the 42 Ways To Lose 5 Inches Of Belly Fat.
You'll need to think about whether to have RAI versus other hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease treatments. Weight gain after RAI is common. One study on patients who had a thyroidectomy found that those who did the surgery as their first line of treatment were less likely to become overweight or obese than those who had undergone RAI first. Talk to your doctor about your Graves’/hyperthyroidism treatment options.
Then, assuming you don’t want to lose muscle/strength while you’re in this deficit (or that you’d like to gain some while you’re in this deficit), combine that deficit method with the type of heavy, intelligent, strength-focused weight training needed to ensure this second goal is taken care of, too. (Superior Muscle Growth contains workouts that fit this description.)
“Tahini is an oft-forgotten option for nut and seed butters, but it sits front and center in my fridge because it delivers major creaminess to sauces and smoothies and packs a powerful flavor punch,” says Willow Jarosh MS, RD co-owner of C&J Nutrition. “Although some advise against eating the spread because of its high omega 3:6 ratio, the super high intake of omega-6s in the average American’s diet isn’t due to things like tahini—it’s mostly from not eating a variety of fats or consuming the majority of fats from fried foods and packaged snacks. As long as you’re also eating foods rich in omega-3s, your end-of-day ratio should be nothing to worry about. Plus, tahini is loaded with tons of healthy nutrients like copper, which helps maintain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant responses in the body. It also provides six percent of the day’s calcium in just one tablespoon.”
Use weekly check-ins to celebrate small successes. Recognizing your wins keeps you motivated, says Delaney, who recommends checking in with yourself every Sunday about your progress for the week — specifically what went well. "When you did a good job, you should recognize that because that keeps you motivated,” she says. “Then you can go back and reflect. It’ll remind you of your progress and of the things that you did really well; we need that. Part of the sustenance of keeping with a goal is feeling good about yourself.” Take five minutes each Sunday to complete this journaling prompt: What did I do well this week? What didn’t go well this week? What can I do differently next week to improve?
Vitamin D doesn’t just help your body absorb calcium and regulate your immune system — it could also help you lose weight. In a 2009 study out of The Endocrine Society, researchers found that adding vitamin D to a reduced-calorie diet might help you shed more pounds. In addition, another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that vitamin D did a lot of good for burning body fat. Hello, double weight-loss whammy. Small wonder that this magical nutrient tops The 50 Best Supplements on the Planet.
The next time you’re making a salad, why not throw some watercress in there? The green veggie is an excellent source of folate, which has been shown to stimulate weight loss. In fact, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those with the highest folate levels lose about 8.5 times more weight when dieting than those with the lowest levels of folate. What’s more? A separate study in the British Journal of Cancer found that higher dietary folate intake reduces the breast cancer risk. In addition to watercress, other good sources of folate include spinach, asparagus, and papaya.
The holidays can feel like an extended open bar, but switching to water occasionally can be helpful for your weight-loss strategies—and not just because you’re missing out on a calorie-hit in the moment. That’s because alcohol affects your liver’s ability to process sugar, according to Joshua Scott, M.D., primary care sports medicine physician at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. It can also lower your ability to burn calories efficiently, he adds, not to mention tanking your inhibitions when it comes to food choices.
This is were I take advantage of your knowledge though. I am new to weight training and for the last 3 month’s I’ve been cutting. This has been tough mainly because I was only 145 lbs when I started but had some belly fat and thought I should work on the theory to get lean first. I guess the cut has been going okay as I’ve dropped 11 lbs. My problem is in my damn head I keep telling myself I’m too small (because I am) and constantly feel the urge to bulk. I can’t see my abs yet and still have some belly fat…I hear it’s the last to go. If you were in my shoes would you continue the cut until the abs show or would you switch it up and start a bulk? The other thing is I don’t know how long it’s gonna take to see my abs.
I wanted to ask a question regarding weight loss and creating a caloric deficiency. I am a 16 year old girl, 5’3″ and 211 lb. I am aware that I am very overweight, and I am trying to change that. In the past 3 weeks or so, I have managed to lose about 13 lbs. However, my weight loss has slowed down significantly over the past few days. In fact, my weight has gone up by 1 lb in the past few days. However, this may just be due to bloating.
So using this same example, if you eat 2500 calories per day but then burn an additional 500 calories through exercise such as cardio (e.g. steady state or HIIT) or metabolic training (which is essentially turning more strength-focused weight training into a form of high intensity cardio), that same 500 calorie deficit would exist and you would lose weight.
So I just began my training again after constantly training and taking a break for different periods of time because of school. So after a 6 month break I got really fat. Gained like 7-8 KGS, and I am wondering what I should do to get lean again. Have my calorie intake low, or make it stable so I burn fat and keep my muscle? I am following your muscle building workout routine with the upper and lower body split.
There’s some truth to the old adage that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day,” and if you’re looking to blast belly fat, what you eat at the start of each day can make all the difference. According to a study from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast may be the most important investment you can make for your waistline. The study showed that eating breakfast triggered women’s brains to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical that helps to control impulses. In other words, eating a balanced breakfast decreases your chances of reaching for that 3 p.m. candy bar and keeps your belly slim.
“There are so many amazing properties in tea and so many healthy foods that require hot water,” Emmy-award winning and author of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse, Kelly Choi says. “But I’ll swap in hot green tea instead of water for things like oatmeal and quinoa. I’ve seen so many people benefit from my tea cleanse that it inspired me to keep the tea flowing whenever I can!”
Studies of successful dieters reveal a hard truth: "They remain fairly strict about their eating forever," says James O. Hill, Ph.D., cofounder of the National Weight Control Registry, which keeps data on thousands of people who have lost weight and kept it off. Sound depressing? Think of it this way, suggests Eat to Lose, Eat to Win author Beller: "You just need to find a nutritional strategy you can live with long-term—like allowing yourself to have dessert or a cocktail or two every so often. It's like moving to a new city. For the first year or so it's difficult, but once you establish a routine you get comfortable. You might still miss things about your old life, but you're happy with your new one too."
You TOTALLY need to do a podcast!! I absolutely love reading your articles, Jay! The people who are the best at what they do and get the results they are looking for are masters of the basics! The basics aren’t usually ‘sexy’ or revolutionary pieces of information, but they seem to be the things people are lacking while they continue to be confused as to why they’re not making progress. You do an amazing job of providing ‘basic’ information in a way that puts things into perspective for the reader. I’ve really appreciated articles like yours during my fitness journey. When I’m not making progress, I know exactly why. It’s not because I ate too many ‘dirty’ carbs or didn’t maximize my metabolic window or some other bullshit dogmatic theory that other ‘gurus’ push, it’s because I was slacking ass and my caloric deficit was nonexistent. Yep…that’s it. So, thanks so much for the awesome content in your articles that bring me back down to reality! MUCH appreciated!!!
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.
In a 2015 study in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, scientists instructed subjects to choose either a fruit salad or a chocolate cake, then eat and evaluate their snack. Those who ate the chocolate cake in the room with the mirror found it less appealing than those who didn’t have a looking glass nearby, but those who opted for the fruit salad reported no difference in taste. In other words, the presence of a mirror makes unhealthy foods less appealing. So hang one in your kitchen to discourage the consumption of cake and the like, and then use it to watch your waistline shrink each day!
You can write down what you ate, but when looking back a week later, it may be tough to visualize exactly what a meal looked like. A quicker, and perhaps more telling, alternative is to take photos of each meal. A small study showed that photographic food diaries could alter attitudes and behaviors associated with food choices more than written diaries. Grab a camera and get snapping.
“Do what you can instead of quitting when you can't be ‘perfect,’” Fear says. As if there’s such a thing as “perfect.” After all, research suggests that perfectionism surrounding food and weight, especially coupled with body dissatisfaction, contribute to disordered eating and even obesity in women. Researchers note that perfectionism can contribute to poor self-esteem, dietary restraint, and binge eating.
To help combat the negative impact of artificial light, try working close to a window. Researchers have discovered that those who sit near a window tend to be healthier than those who don’t. Per a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, workers near a window got 46 more minutes of sleep a night on average, which is beneficial to weight loss, while workers who weren’t near a window had more sleep disturbances. Additional research has shown that those exposed to natural light during the workweek tended to be more inspired to get outside and exercise.
Evaluate the slip up: When the slip ups occur, having a check-in process in place can help identify why it happened and prevent it from happening again. Ask yourself: How did I slip up? (I ate a bunch of unhealthy snacks at the office.) How does that make me feel? (Frustrated; like I disappointed my kids.) What can I change moving forward so it doesn’t repeat itself? (Pack snacks ahead of time so that I’m not tempted by candy when I have a stressful day.) This process will help you “understand why you slipped up: maybe it’s because you were stressed out; if you find it to be a constant pattern that you’re always messing up on your diet because you’re stressed, then you need to take action on that,” says Delaney. “When you start to feel stressed out, you can go take a hot bath or read a book; whatever you need to do. And you won’t have as many slips ups because you’ve identified the source of the problem.”
SUPPORT: Meet with a weight loss support group or friends who are also trying to lose weight. Sharing with others will help you stay excited about your weight goals. Other people can give you good feedback on your progress. Talk to your caregiver monthly to be sure your diet is working. Tell him or her if your diet is too hard to follow or makes you too tired.
This could be because the body increases insulin secretion in anticipation that sugar will appear in the blood. When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Whether this chain of events regularly takes place is somewhat unclear. Something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max though, and there are well-designed studies showing increased insulin when using artificial sweeteners.
People tend to find one workout routine and stick to it but it’s important to switch things up every now and then, especially in terms of cardio. Instead of simply running or walking, try to vary your speeds as you go. Researchers at Ohio State University found that walking at varying speeds can burn up to 20 percent more calories compared to maintaining a steady pace, so get moving!
Make sure that everything you're eating is whole — as in nothing processed or packaged. Since salt is a preservative, these are the foods that are highest in sodium — something to keep in mind when planning your meals. Plan on making sure that all items you choose are fresh. That means filling up on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
Weight loss isn’t a linear event over time. When you cut calories, you may drop weight for the first few weeks, for example, and then something changes. You eat the same number of calories but you lose less weight or no weight at all. That’s because when you lose weight you’re losing water and lean tissue as well as fat, your metabolism slows, and your body changes in other ways. So, in order to continue dropping weight each week, you need to continue cutting calories.
There's no magic pill for weight loss, and people should be wary of any over-the-counter supplements that claim to help you shed pounds. These supplements can be dangerous because they can contain ingredients not listed on the label. A 2015 study found that weight-loss supplements send more than 4,600 people to the ER every year in the United States.
A Credit Suisse Research Institute report found that more and more of us are choosing full-fat foods over skim, light, fat-free, or other modern monikers of leanness. And while many health organizations like the American Heart Association still recommend cutting down on fat—particularly saturated fat—this full-fat trend may be a healthy rebellion against those decades-old credos, according to recent studies. In fact, people who eat a lot of high-fat dairy products actually have the lowest incidence of diabetes, according to a 2015 study of 26,930 people in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Those who ate a lot of low-fat dairy products, on the other hand, had the highest incidence. So what’s the best way to join the full-fat revolution? Eat This, Not That! polled some of the country’s top nutrition experts and asked for their favorite full-fat fat burners. Check out what they said in our exclusive report The 20 Best Full-Fat Foods for Weight Loss.
If you're like many Americans, one of your New Year's resolutions is to shed some pounds. In fact, about a third of Americans say they want to make a commitment to lose weight in the New Year, according to a Nielsen survey from 2015. But starting a weight-loss regimen may seem daunting, particularly if you've tried in the past, only to see the weight come back later. Here, we've outlined some of the best tips for losing weight, including how to get started, stay motivated and keep weight off.