One thing that might help you move away from food rules based on restriction is mindful eating, which is a way of eating that is centered on being present and engaged not just with your food, but why you’re eating it, and how your body feels. Mindful eating can help people learn how to eat based on what they want and need, as opposed to what they feel they should or shouldn’t eat. Mindful eating isn’t a weight-loss diet, but it can help change your orientation to food and food “rules.”
Speaking of dressing, you could even take it one step further and buck the suggested choice entirely. While we bet Panera’s Greek salad pairs well with a dressing of the same name, a splash of olive oil and vinegar will also bring out the flavors of the dish and save you a few hundred calories along the way. For a healthy, belly-blasting dressing when you’re eating salad at home, try incorporating some apple cider vinegar or a squeeze of lemon.
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.
For example, when it comes to hormones, ghrelin makes you hungry, leptin and other hormones keep you feeling full, Nadolsky says. Thyroid, cortisol, insulin, testosterone, and estrogen all influence how you metabolize and store energy. Meanwhile, genetics have a large influence on both basal metabolic rate (how many calories you burn just to live) and hormone health. While all of these things are impacted by our diet, they’re not only controlled by the way we eat. And, in fact, while sleep, stress management, and, when needed, medication can help regulate other hormone levels such as estrogen and thyroid, our hormones and other physiological processes are often out of our control. And by the way, being able to impact our hormone levels and metabolism with our diet doesn’t always work out in favor of weight loss. As a 2016 review notes, one of the reasons weight loss by way of caloric restriction isn’t efficacious is because “this strategy is countered by the body’s natural physiological response to negative energy balance.” In other words: The body fights back against caloric restriction.
“Don’t just write down everything you eat. Write down how you feel that day, what is going on in your life and how you feel after eating. After a while, look through your journal for patterns. Chances are you’ll find some. I’m a recovering food addict, and nothing was more freeing than realizing what behaviors or events were triggering my addiction. It wasn’t that I had no willpower; my brain was reacting to certain habits that made it hard for my willpower to do its job. Once I removed those patterns—like keeping cookies around the house—my willpower muscle could finally flex.”
When the scale won't budge, dietitians often take the focus off diet and exercise entirely, exploring issues of stress and sleep instead. "Both lack of sleep and high cortisol levels are associated with lower levels of leptin, a hormone that is key in energy metabolism, weight, and our hunger signals," says Jen Scheinman, RDN. "Individuals must tackle sleep and stress to succeed in weight loss."
Let's face it: the prospect of losing 20 pounds—or more—is daunting. That's why Rachel Beller, M.S., R.D.N., author of Eat to Lose, Eat to Win, recommends setting a nearer-term goal weight that's around half of the total amount you want to lose—and focusing on that. "Having an easier-to-reach goal can help keep you motivated," she says. "And when you hit that first milestone, it gives you a chance to celebrate, re-evaluate your strategy and re-up your enthusiasm for the next stage."
The trick to keeping your appetite in check is avoiding foods that make you lose control. That's tough to do when you're surrounded by mouthwatering choices everywhere you go, but Stice says that a technique called mindful resistance can help. "If you're tempted to have a scone with your coffee at Starbucks, instead of thinking about how delicious it will taste, tell yourself you'll get health benefits such as a smaller waist or a healthier heart from not having it," he says. "Doing this actually changes your brain by strengthening the area that helps you resist things and weakening the region that makes you think of treats as a reward."
Dozens of scientific studies have tied diets high in vegetables— especially greens— to better health outcomes, including weight loss and a decreased risk of a handful of chronic diseases. Veggies like watercress, spinach, chives, and collard greens all rank highly on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's list of "powerhouse foods," so find a few you like, and start adding them to your plate.
Most people who want to lose weight have more than 12 pounds to lose. That’s why even the best weight loss drug in the world can only be an optional complement to other treatment. That’s why this piece of advice is number 18 out of 18. It may be a helpful addition for some people, but the advice higher on the list is what can make the biggest difference, by far.
“Getting deep down to the root of why you want to lose weight is a very powerful and eye-opening experience,” she says. “I do this exercise with my clients. I give them a piece of paper and they start at the top with the initial reason they want to lose weight. Often, it starts with reasons like ‘I will look better.’ Under that, I ask them why that is important. Sometimes there are some very deep and powerful reasons that are incredibly motivating like ‘I want to lose weight to travel on an airplane with my husband on our second honeymoon’ or ‘to be able to really play with my kids.’”
You’ve probably already heard that drinking water helps you keep weight off. There’s some serious truth to this. “Research suggests that drinking eight to ten glasses of water (eight fluid-ounces each) a day can boost metabolism by 24-30 percent and suppress appetite,” explains Dr. Petre. If you’re not thirsty enough for this amount of H2O, chances are that you’re consuming too many other beverages, such as sugary sodas, juices, and alcohol. “Replacing those fluids with water helps your body stay hydrated. [And] it can save calories, money, and even help protect and clean your teeth,” notes Dr. Petre. Not a fan of the plain water taste? Add a slice of lime or lemon. “A glass of water with lemon is a recipe for successful weight loss because of pectin fiber, which can help reduce hunger,” Dr. Petre adds.
Ah, the über-popular “know your why” strategy. One Brown University study found that when people are motivated to lose weight for appearance and social reasons, they stick with their weight-loss habits for significantly less time than those who are motivated by their health. After all, these external motivators (like looking a certain way or fitting into a cultural ideal) aren’t going to get you going when you’re feeling down, have had a bad day, or are frustrated with a plateau, Albers says.
So, go ahead and pat yourself on the back for all that you’ve accomplished. But while you’re at it, why not start thinking about how you’re going to maintain your new body for the long haul? To help make it possible, we’ve come with 20 easy ways to keep those sneaky pounds away from your frame for good! Pick a few from the list below, stick to ‘em like it’s your job, and we can practically guarantee you’ll stay in your skinny jeans for life. And for some extra motivation, why not check out these 30 Healthy Habits Fit People Live By?
“Long bouts of cardio don’t help weight loss. The body sees them as a long and uncertain search for food. [It] slows the metabolism to save calories,” explains Herbst. “Weight training raises the metabolism and builds muscle by causing tiny micro tears that the body works hard to repair over the next 48-72 hours. Additionally, the body builds additional muscle in anticipation of having to lift greater loads in the future.” The best weight-training movements that he recommends are complex multi-joint movements. These include squats, lunges, bench press, and deadlifts which use the major muscle groups.
The next time you’re tempted to go out for dinner, try whipping something up at home instead. Limiting the amount of times you go out to eat may be the key to keeping off the weight you’ve lost. When the National Weight Control Registry surveyed its members, those who lost 30 pounds or more and maintained that for at least a year didn’t frequent fast food chains too often. In fact, only 0.74 of their weekly meals were of the drive-thru variety, while 2.5 were at a restaurant. It’s better to get your grub from the grocery store instead of ordering off of a menu.
Wansink and his team found that people who sat by a window or in a well-lit part of a restaurant tended to order healthier foods than those who sat at darker tables or in booths. And diners sitting within two tables of the bar drank an average of three more beers or mixed drinks (per table of four) than those sitting farther away. Additionally, the closer a person was to a TV, the more fried food he or she ordered. Whether or not these choices are causal remains to be determined, but it can't hurt to request a table by the window, right?
There's one piece of advice every weight loss guru now agrees on: getting plenty of sleep is one of the biggest secrets to losing weight and keeping it off. (Try these effective sleep-boosting strategies if insomnia is responsible for your lack of sleep.) Research now shows that the body is most metabolically active during sleep, so the longer we sleep, the more we rev up our fat-burning engines. Lack of sleep also plays havoc with two key metabolic hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control hunger and satiety. Deprive yourself of sleep, and ghrelin levels increase while leptin levels decrease. The result: more craving, less feeling full. Even worse, when you're weary you crave "energy" foods, which usually means chips, sweets, baked goods, or soda. Put the two together and you can see how the typical type-A lifestyle gradually puts on the pounds.
Though you may think skipping a meal such as breakfast will help you lose weight because you would be consuming fewer calories, numerous studies have actually shown that bailing on breakfast is bad for your waistline. Why, you ask? It turns out that skipping breakfast not only means you’ll likely consume more calories later in the day, but eating more calories in the later part of the day is a nightmare for metabolic circadian rhythms, which help keep your weight in check.
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.
Big-box stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club are great money-savers, but frequenting them to buy groceries can be bad news for your fitness goals. That’s because a 2015 study in the journal Appetite found that the larger the bottle, bag, or box the food comes in, the larger we think the serving size should be. To come to that conclusion, researchers surveyed more than thirteen thousand people and found that when confronted with larger packages of cola, chips, chocolate, or lasagna, the shoppers tended to want to serve themselves larger portions.
It’s always great to catch up with old pals or join your co-workers for a celebratory happy hour, but if you’re watching your weight it’s important to take note of who you choose to break bread with. According to an Eastern Illinois University study, you’re in danger of consuming 65 percent more calories if you’re eating with someone who gets seconds. In other words, while the old friend visiting from health-conscious LA may make a great dining partner, you should steer clear of the co-workers who keep ordering rounds of drinks and nachos.
Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is never a good idea because research has shown it inhibits your ability to make smart choices about what you wish to eat. In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that even short-term fasts can lead people to make more unhealthy food choices, picking a higher quantity of high-calorie foods. Fill up before you shop in an effort to avoid buying foods that won’t help you lose weight.
Maintain your newly slim physique and staying lean for life is as easy as adding more protein to your diet. Not only is protein super satiating and able to boost your metabolism, a multi-study analysis in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that sticking to a high-protein diet helped participants helped folks avoid unwanted weight gain. In fact, one of these protein shakes will do the trick.
Sleep not only reduces stress, helps us heal faster and prevents depression, it can also help shave off pounds. That’s because sleep loss is linked to changes in appetite and the metabolism of glucose (sugar in the blood). Moral of the story: Sleep is associated with less weight gain. Take a look at our guide to sleep positions to optimize those hours spent under the sheets. And try other solutions for extra zzz’s like turning off electronics in the bedroom and avoiding large meals late at night.
Pumping iron not only gives us muscles, but it can boost resting metabolism (meaning you burn more calories outside the gym) plus improve mood and confidence. Lifting a little weight can also help you sleep, another factor in effective weight loss. If we haven’t convinced you to take to dumbbells quite yet, there’s also this: Strength training takes just a few weeks to see results.
These are all Group 2 diets. Can they cause weight loss? Sure. It happens all the time. However, it’s never because of any of the specific rules and restrictions they entail (even though they will all claim that it is). It’s always because those rules and restrictions indirectly caused you to eat less total calories, which caused the required deficit to exist.
We’ve been clear on the benefits of wild salmon, but those pink creatures are quite literally not the only fish in the sea. Generally speaking, fish provide one of the best sources of fatty acids known as omega-3s, which will help fend off waist-widening inflammation and are an excellent source of high-quality, lean protein. This allows them to help you maintain muscle mass, thus reducing excess fat accumulation. Some of our favorite healthy seafood include mussels, Atlantic mackerel, and bluefish, but be sure to educate yourself on the ocean dwellers with this list of Every Popular Fish—Ranked for Nutritional Benefits!