The degree to which exercise aids weight loss is open to debate, but the benefits go way beyond burning calories. Exercise can increase your metabolism and improve your outlook—and it’s something you can benefit from right now. Go for a walk, stretch, move around and you’ll have more energy and motivation to tackle the other steps in your weight-loss program.
We applaud you for getting off the couch and making it to your weekly spin class. But if you refuse to venture beyond stationary bikes, you might give the pounds the green light to creep back on. “If you’ve been doing the same workout for the past few months, your body isn’t being challenged anymore, meaning it’s not burning as many calories as it otherwise could,” Dr. Sean M. Wells, personal trainer and author of Double-Crossed: A Review of the Most Extreme Exercise Program, tells us in 17 Reasons Why You’re Regaining Weight. Spike your metabolism and switch things up by exploring different fitness classes or trying a HIIT routine at home.
Finally decided to venture out for a run? Snack on some beets before you hit the pavement. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that runners who ate baked beets before a 5K race ran 5 percent faster. Researchers suspect this is because beets are high in nitrates, a natural chemical that increases endurance and lowers blood pressure.
Fiber expands in your stomach and also takes time to digest, both of which help keep you feeling full for longer. Good sources include whole grains, veggies, and whole fruit (not juiced). Healthy fats like olive and nut oils—in moderation—improve flavor, give you energy, and help your body use certain nutrients. Alexandra Shipper added healthy fats, such as avocado, to protein sources like eggs and fish on her way to dropping 55 pounds.
Practicing portion control is one of the most reliable ways to lose weight — even if it’s not an easy task. Portion distortion is common, but it may help to use portion visuals. For instance, a serving of chicken (three ounces) is roughly the size of a deck of cards; or holding about a two-inch circle of uncooked pasta, will yield about one cup cooked.
As part of an eight-year study that included nearly 50,000 women, Harvard researchers tracked what happened when people either slashed their intake of sweetened drinks or started consuming more of them. Not surprisingly, the participants who raised their sugary-drink intake gained weight and increased their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In fact, the more people's sweet-drink intake increased, the more weight they gained and the more their disease risk went up.
Decide how you want to create your deficit. You can do it through diet, a typical calorie-burning form of exercise (e.g. cardio), or some combination of both. And make this decision based solely on your own personal preferences and needs because that’s really the only part of this decision that actually matters. Pick the most convenient, efficient and sustainable option for YOU.
Your purchases may not be as virtuous as you think. Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently analyzed Americans' shopping habits and found that 61 percentof the calories in the food we buy are from highly processed items like refined breads, cookies, crackers, soda and chips. These foods also provide higher-than-optimal levels of saturated fat, sugar and sodium. To healthy-up your cart and help with weight loss, the study authors suggest buying mostly single-ingredient foods and shopping the perimeter of the store, where the fresher, healthier stuff like produce and fish tends to live. Chew some gum while you're at it too. Research shows it could help you buy 7 percent less junk food when you shop (minty gum works best).
Great article and thanks for sharing. So if my RMR is 1850 and I burn between 800 -1,000 calories per workout a day 5 times a week according to my heart rate monitor. My maintenance then would be 2,650 – 2,850. So I should eat between 2,120, 2,280 to cut on my workout days. Then on my rest days, should I eat 20% below my RMR which would be 1,480 calories? I am currently at 18% body fat and trying to get to 10-12 % then bulking.
Just wanted to say Great Article! I love reading all your articles. Even when it may be about things that I already know from reading previous articles. It just helps keep me encouraged that I’m doing things the right way. I love how you explain everything so well, yet simplify what needs to be done. It really helps me to not stress out when I hear about a new diet and wonder if that’s what I should be doing. I already know what the best way is, thanks to all the info you’ve given. I’ve lost 24lbs in 15 weeks! I still have about 85 more to go, but I’ve got a great start and the confindence to reach my goal. Thanks for all you do!!
“Family and friend support is so critical to staying accountable," says Delaney. "People may have a sincere interest to work out and eat healthy, but [it's hard if] their family is not on the same page. They buy junk food. They aren’t active. They sit in front of the TV instead of taking a walk.” But getting your family on board with your health goals is another one of those things that’s easier in theory than practice. Delaney offers up three strategies she uses in her own household:
Take time to toss the junk. If you’ve got favorite not-so-great items you’d like to save as a treat, tuck them in the back of the pantry with healthier items, like whole grain pasta, rice, beans and nuts up front. We know that just because the bag of lentils are right in front doesn’t mean you’ll forget about the brownie mix, but it can help. Just seeing or smelling food can stimulate cravings, and increase hunger (especially for junk food).
“This hits me in the heart every day I wake,” he says. “It gets me on my foam roller and my Versaclimber in the morning. It allows me to choose a healthy salad over junk food because I visualize myself running on the track with my children. Moment to moment, we are faced with decisions and it’s about being mindful to the ones that follow your ‘why’ path. Sure, I may be willing to drop a cheeseburger down the gullet because I am hungry and inconsiderate of the long game. However, if I am unwilling to be a father who is out-of-shape, my short game will match my long game vision and I will opt for a cleaner meal.”
“One of the strongest risk factors for being overweight is poor sleep,” Beckerman says. “When you’re feeling tired, you’re more likely to choose unhealthy comfort foods and to skip your workout. Additionally, sleep deprivation may slow down your metabolism. Yikes! Therefore, sleeping 7–8 hours per night can help with weight loss without having to change your diet or increase your physical activity.”
Typically, Americans eat a small breakfast, medium-sized lunch, and big dinner, but one study of 50,000 adults published in the Journal of Nutrition found you should be doing the opposite, if you want to lose weight. By eating your most calorie-heavy meal at breakfast, you’ll be able to better decrease your BMI — and, you know, enjoy more of your favorite foods right away in the morning. Healthy pancakes, anyone?
High blood sugar levels coupled with high blood ketones, on the other hand, will mean that you have a pathologically low level of insulin – something non-diabetics do not suffer from. This can lead to ketoacidosis – a potentially life-threatening condition. If this happens, you’ll need to inject more insulin; if you’re at all unsure of what to do, contact a medical professional. Coveting really high blood ketones for weight control is not worth the risk for type 1 diabetics.
Although tactics like drinking one more glass of water, choosing smaller plates, and smelling peppermint oil may feel like they won’t create much change—and might even feel slightly silly—it’s small changes like these that create solid habits that lead to consistency, says Greuner. He notes that these “wins” cause a neurotransmitter release that give you happy buzz of achievement.
Coffee jumpstarts your metabolism, making the non-decaf stuff a worthy weight loss ally. According to a study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee was 16 percent higher than that of those who drank decaf. And remember, don’t ruin your fat-blasting cup of joe by adding any unhealthy creamers and/or artificial sweeteners to it, both of which are enemies of weight loss.
A recent JAMA Internal Medicine study of nearly 4,000 couples found that people are more likely to stick to healthy habits when they team up with a partner. Invite your honey to a Saturday morning run and then hit the showers together—knowing you have something steamy to look forward to afterward should serve as some additional motivation. And speaking of getting frisky, be sure to check out these 30 Best Proteins for Your Penis.
Seriously: Your flab can help you shed pounds. How? Just as there's more than one kind of fat in food, there's more than one type in your body. White fat is the bad stuff you want to zap. But a second kind, brown fat, actually torches calories. "Up to 80 percent of adults have brown fat deposits in their bodies," says Aaron M. Cypess, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School. This good fat is powerful because it's packed with mitochondria, the parts of cells that generate heat. When activated, as little as two ounces of brown fat can gobble up as much as 20 percent of your body's calories.
Most low-carb diets advocate replacing carbs with protein and fat, which could have some negative long-term effects on your health. If you do try a low-carb diet, you can reduce your risks and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats by choosing lean meats, fish and vegetarian sources of protein, low-fat dairy products, and eating plenty of leafy green and non-starchy vegetables.
By now you know that protein is a vital part of a healthy diet, but don’t let that fact fool you into thinking that all protein bars are created equal. Though a multitude of the trendy treats purport to be nutritious and low in calories, many of them are also packed with sugar but low in satiating fiber, meaning they aren’t actually very healthy at all. Before picking a protein bar to snack on, give the nutrition label a good once-over and look for something with natural ingredients and plenty of protein (obviously) and fiber. If you need help making sense of the overcrowded landscape, consult this list of 25 Best & Worst Low-Sugar Protein Bars!
Cortisone as an oral drug is another common culprit (e.g. Prednisolone). Cortisone often causes weight gain in the long run, especially at higher doses (e.g. more than 5 mg Prednisolone per day). Unfortunately, cortisone is often an essential medication for those who are prescribed it, but the dose should be adjusted frequently so you don’t take more than you need. Asthma inhalers and other local cortisone treatments, like creams or nose sprays, hardly affect weight.
“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.”