Intermittent fasting (IF) is the hottest ticket in the nutrition world right now, with reported benefits ranging from improved immunity, faster metabolism, better insulin sensitivity, lower cancer risk, and of course, weight loss. While we'd all love these rewards, not eating for 24 hours or more can feel like a marathon of deprivation. A way to ease into IF is to try to eat just one meal a day. People often find that once they get past the habit of eating all the time, they really don't miss the extra meals.
Reach for natural mint gum (avoid sorbitol, which makes you bloat), or even brush your teeth with mint-flavored toothpaste. The mint flavors send signals to your brain that it's time to stop eating. They also tweak your taste buds so second helpings and dessert aren't quite so tasty. Bonus: One study published in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine found that people who sniffed peppermint every two hours lost an average of 5 pounds a month!
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.
Re-think date night. “It’s really hard to find time to be together. People always say 'date night,' but it’s hard to get out once a week and leave the kids and do that," says Delaney. "So what we do is rather than date night we try to have one or two days a week where we train together in the gym. We spend time as a couple together being active and doing active things with the family. One of our favorite things to do is walk around the city, we don’t take cabs, we walk the whole city, window shop and have something to eat. When it comes to exercise, have fun and don’t make it feel like it’s a chore.”
Throw away your peeler. It might actually be limiting your true weight-loss potential — at least when it comes to apples. In a 2012 study published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers found ursolic acid — a natural substance in apple peels — could play a role in preventing obesity, as well as increasing muscle and brown fat, which are both known as being major calorie-burners. Anyone, your peeler is one of the 20 Kitchen Tools You’re Using All Wrong.
Slow down, pay attention to taste, and feel the food’s texture. Tricks to avoid the temptation to gorge include counting your bites, focusing on chewing everything more thoroughly, or making sure you sit down to eat in a relaxed space (no TV allowed). By eating mindfully you will be more attentive to your body’s natural satiety cues, leaving you stomachache free and down in calorie consumption.
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.)
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.
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.
On the physiological side of things, it’s important to realize that the vast majority of your daily caloric burn comes down to just basic functions like breathing and keeping your heart beating, Moore says. Called your basal metabolic rate (BMR), your muscle does play a role in setting it, but extra muscle isn’t going to turn you into a supercharged calorie-torching machine. And even though exercise does burn calories, that total is often significantly less than what we expect and would need to create a large daily caloric deficit, he says.
But before we get into how to go about losing weight, please consider this: Weight loss isn’t a healthy goal for everyone, Susan Albers, Psy.D., a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic specializing in body image and eating issues, tells SELF. “I work in a medical facility,” she says. “I have access to people’s blood work. You can be healthy or unhealthy at every size.”
We're big fans of the "everything in moderation" mantra, but it's important to remember that just because a weight-loss strategy works for one group of people doesn't mean it's the best plan for you. If you typically have trouble stopping after just one sweet treat, you're better off skipping this slim-down strategy to avoid undoing any progress you've already made.
“My dad is like a food-pushing wizard, he’s always pulling stuff out of his pockets or showing up with delicious food,” says Mary Mock. While the family tradition of surprise sweets was fun, when it came time to lose weight, she knew she had to put a stop to all that temptation. “At first, he seemed hurt when I kept saying no but when I explained it was for my health, he got on board. Sometimes I still have to remind him though!” she says.
Sure, trampolines are built for kids, but as an adult, using one for rebounding is a great way to flatten your tummy and get rid of excess fat. “Not only is it a great cardio workout (which is the first step to tightening up your midsection) but it makes your core work like crazy so you are getting the cardio plus the toning: everything you need for a tight tummy!” explains Hope Pedraza, a Certified Personal Trainer through American College of Sports Medicine in 50 Ways to Shrink Your Belly. To get a comprehensive workout using a mini trampoline, Pedraza suggests jumping, lifting your knees up high, twisting, adding some light weights to move around while you’re jumping, and moving in all directions in different planes.
If you used a very low-energy diet to help you slim down (think shakes and soups), you’ll be widening that waist in no time if you jump right back into normal food. While no one’s saying you have to live off of this strict regimen forever, you do need to ease your way back into the good stuff. And by ease back into it, we mean you should take six weeks to slowly incorporate your favorite foods back onto your plate. Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that people who were eating normally within a week gained back twice as much weight in ten months as those who took six weeks to reintroduce regular food. So it must be true; slow and steady does win the race.