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.
It’s every chocoholic’s dream: Research now shows that eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate can reduce overall body fat and shrink your waist. A study among women with normal weight obesity (or skinny fat syndrome) who ate a Mediterranean diet that included two servings of dark chocolate each day showed a significant reduction in waist size than when on a cocoa-free meal plan. Researchers say it has to do with the flavonoids, heart-healthy compounds in chocolate that have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Just be sure you’re reaching for a bar with at least 70 percent cacao, and stay away from the “alkalized” stuff, which has a significantly reduced flavonoid content.
Meatless Monday is more than just an alliteration; it’s an easy way to drop a few pounds. Numerous studies have shown that those who eat the least amount of meat are less likely to be obese, have lower BMIs, and lower body fat levels. Though it’s perfectly fine to eat meat a few times a week, these high-protein foods tend to fill you up before you can work your way over to the veggies, which possess fat-fighting, waist-trimming powers. Try spotlighting just greens and healthy grains in your meals a few times a month.
The trick here is not only to avoid all obvious sources of carbohydrate (sweets, bread, spaghetti, rice, potatoes), but also to be careful with your protein intake. If you eat large amounts of meat, eggs and the like, the excess protein will be converted into glucose in your body. Large amounts of protein can also raise your insulin levels somewhat. This compromises optimal ketosis.
And beyond that, weight-loss efforts can take an emotional toll. “It can destroy your relationship with food. It can lead you to feel obsessed and frustrated,” Albers explains. For some people, quitting dieting is better and healthier than continuing to try to lose weight. And whatever a person’s weight-loss goal, the priority should be first and foremost on health. “Eating for health frees you up emotionally and is based on improving your body rather than rejecting your body,” she says.
Common sense states if you want to lose weight, then you shouldn’t have a large meal not long before going to bed. And now we have additional research to back up that hypothesis. A study published in the journal Obesity followed two groups of overweight women with metabolic syndrome on identical 1,400-calorie weight loss diets for three months. While both groups consumed 500 calories at lunch, one group consumed 700 calories for breakfast and a 200-calorie dinner (the “big breakfast” group), while the other group ate 200 calories at breakfast and 700 calories at dinner (the “big dinner” group). Even though the nutrient content of the meals was exactly the same for both groups, after three months the big breakfast group lost about two and a half times more weight than big dinner group.
Do you consider products from specialty supermarkets to be healthier than those from other grocery stores? Or do you think that dishes from organic restaurants are all waistline-friendly? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you could be derailing your weight loss efforts. When people guess the number of calories in a sandwich coming from a “healthy” restaurant, they estimate that it has, on average, 35 percent fewer calories than they do when it comes from an “unhealthy” restaurant, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Remember that the next time you reach for that package of Whole Foods’ Organic Fruit & Nut Granola. One cup of this seemingly healthy snack contains almost 500 calories. Yikes! To stay on track at the grocery store, check out these 50 Best Supermarket Shopping Tips Ever.
Regardless of birthdays, late-night bar crawls, and crazy work weeks, sticking to a consistently healthy diet on both weekdays and weekends renders long-lasting results. According to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, most folks who maintain their weight loss report that that their diet is the same on both the weekends and weekdays. And same goes for your workout schedule. “My most successful clients are the ones who stay consistent with their workouts throughout the year; they don’t let anything get in the way of their workout! It’s like putting on their pants or brushing their teeth and is something that they wouldn’t think of not doing!” Langowski explains.
The diversity in tools and strategies that work for people is nicely illustrated by the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), which, since 1994, has collected data on people who have lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for at least one year. If you take a look at some of their findings, you’ll see some commonalities in various behaviors and strategies (such as increasing eating breakfast every day, watching fewer than 10 hours of TV per week, and weighing themselves regularly). But rather than looking at the NWCR’s data as a how-to guide—after all, these are the behaviors that correlate to weight loss, we can’t know if they’re the ones that caused weight loss—look at it as further evidence that there’s no one right way to live to lose weight and keep it off, and that finding the thing that will work for you is a personal journey, specific to you.
If you find yourself craving something sweet during the day, ignore the impulse to eat a cookie and snack on a stone fruit instead. In addition to being more nutritious than a cookie, some stone fruits—plums, peaches, and nectarines—have been shown to help ward off weight gain. Studies by Texas AgriLife Research suggest the aforementioned fruits may help prevent metabolic syndrome, a fancy name for the combination of belly fat, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.
In a 2015 Orlando Health survey of more than a thousand respondents, the majority cited their inability to stay consistent with a diet or exercise plan as their primary barrier to weight loss success. Sounds common, but here’s the kicker: Only one in 10 of the survey respondents noted their psychological well-being as part of the equation—and it’s likely why nearly two out of three people who lost five percent of their total weight ended up gaining it all back. Yikes! To unlock the door to weight loss success and stop emotional eating, try keeping a journal that tracks your food choices and current mood. Then, look for unhealthy patterns, which can help you recognize specific emotional connections you have with food. Once you’re more aware of these connections, it will be easier to adopt healthier eating patterns. Do you always reach for something sugary when you’re stressed or devour fries when you’re sad? Instead, try more productive ways to cope, like going for a brisk walk or texting a friend.
Want to burn 100 more calories today? One study suggests you can do it by simply substituting whole grains for the refined kind. For example, choose wild rice instead of white rice. Researchers found that those who embraced the whole approach increased their metabolic rate and showed “greater fecal losses.” Let’s be honest, pooping more is a goal we all secretly crave.
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.
Cutting butter and oil can slash calories, and it’s easy to swap in foods like applesauce, avocado, banana or flax for baking. But, it’s important to remember that we still need fat in our diets as a source of energy and to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Plus it helps us feel full. Get healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from olive oil, nuts, coconuts, seeds and fish. Pro tip: Combining fat with fiber has been shown to increase fat’s power to make us feel full.
Everyone knows that smell plays a huge part of how we taste our food—remember your fourth grade science experiment where you ate an onion and an apple with your nose pinched and couldn't tell the difference? So while it may seem a little extreme (and get you some weird looks at restaurants) clipping your nose shut during meals will help you only eat until you're full. Although it does make your favorite foods a lot less enjoyable.
Even if you don’t typically order take-out, research suggests that just the mere presence of take-out food increases your risk of being overweight. One study printed in the British Medical Journal found that just having a lot of take-out options near your work or along your commute to work makes you twice as likely to be obese. Though you obviously have little control over what kind of establishments populate where you live and work, this is just another reason to practice healthy eating as often as you can.
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!