SOURCES: WebMD Feature: "With Fruits and Veggies, More Matters." 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD,author, Comfort Food Makeovers. Brian Wansink, PhD, professor and director, Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Ithaca, N.Y.; author, Mindless Eating. Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences; and director, laboratory for the study of human ingestive behaviors, Penn State University; and author, The Volumetrics Eating Plan.
Rather than relying on the drive-thru when hunger strikes, prep your meals in advance so that you have healthy grub on hand. “Identity three meals you can prepare with pantry staples and start cooking. Store the meals in your freezer so you always have something healthy on hand when hunger strikes,” Dietitian Christine M. Palumbo, RD, explains in 20 Ways to Lose Weight Forever. “For example, my go-to meals include risotto with frozen shrimp and asparagus, vegetable barley and a red lentil soup. Your goal should be to replace the meals whenever your stash starts running low.”
Now if all you care about is just losing weight, seeing the number on the scale go down, fitting into smaller clothes and being skinnier, you’ll be fine without it. If, however, you want to maintain whatever muscle and strength you currently have or potentially gain more muscle and strength while you lose this fat, or you simply want to look strong/lean/toned/muscular/other-similar-words instead of skinny/thin… then you will NOT be fine without it. For this purpose, heavy, intelligent, strength-focused weight training is required.
While having a scale in the house isn’t right for everyone, research has shown that it can help encourage weight loss by providing a level of accountability. When Cornell University researchers observed dieters who weighed themselves daily, they discovered that the routine of stepping on a scale helped those people lose more weight than those who weighed themselves less frequently. To avoid being thrown off by natural fluctuations in body weight, try stepping onto the scale the same time every day.
Not only is pomegranate packed with fiber (which is found in its edible seeds) but it also contains anthocyanins, tannins, and high levels of antioxidants, which research published in the International Journal of Obesity says can help fight weight gain. A half-cup of the colorful fruit gives you 12 grams of fiber and more than half a day’s vitamin C. Snack on these fruits raw or toss ’em into a smoothie and you’re good to go!
What smells like an exotic vacation and can shrink your waist faster than your favorite Zumba class? You got it: coconut oil. A study of 30 men published in Pharmacology found that just two tablespoons per day reduced waist circumference by an average of 1.1 inches over the course of a month. However, the health benefits of coconut oil are still debated—coconut oil is high in saturated fat. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which aren’t processed in the body the same way long chain triglycerides (LCTs). A study published in International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that when MCTs replaced LCTs in the diets of overweight women, they were less likely to gain weight.
So as you're planning new weight-loss-related lifestyle changes, make a plan to address other stresses in your life first, such as financial problems or relationship conflicts. While these stresses may never go away completely, managing them better should improve your ability to focus on achieving a healthier lifestyle. Once you're ready to launch your weight-loss plan, set a start date and then — start.
We’ve all known that person who CHEWS LIKE THIS, smacking and crunching through a meal like a toddler. Rude? Sure. But maybe onto something: The sound of that chewing may be doing them a favor (but don't tell them that). In a 2016 study, researchers noted that you’re likely to eat less if you're more conscious of the sound your food makes while you’re eating.
You may have heard the widely quoted statistic that 95% of people who lose wait on a diet will regain it within a few years—or even months. While there isn’t much hard evidence to support that claim, it is true that many weight-loss plans fail in the long term. Often that’s simply because diets that are too restrictive are very hard to maintain over time. However, that doesn’t mean your weight loss attempts are doomed to failure. Far from it.
The faster food gets from the farm to your plate, the higher its nutritional value, so, no matter the season, stay healthy by heading out to your neighborhood farmer’s market and stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. The walk around the market is a great way to elevate your heart rate a bit, and the beneficial finds can’t be beat. To make the most of your nutritionally-minded outing, keep an eye out for what’s in peak season whenever you go.
Getting your mindset in order is important, but sometimes small habits can make a big difference. “After eating, you still have the taste of food in their mouth, which often causes people to eat more even if they are full or engage in a nibble or two of dessert,” says Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, registered dietitian and nutrition expert at Betches Media. “Brushing your teeth will remove the taste of food from your mouth, and the clean, minty freshness will serve as a cue that mealtime is over.”
“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.”
If you’re trying to decide whether to work out in the morning or at night, getting up early has some serious weight-loss potential. A 2012 study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise can reduce your appetite, decreasing your motivation for food throughout the day. Because of that, you’ll see the number on the scale drop. For tips on getting out of bed with the sun, learn The Best Ways to Become A Morning Workout Machine.
Bumping up vegetable consumption has long been recognized as a way to protect against obesity. Add veggies to omlets, baked goods, and of course, pasta dishes (Bonus: Try zucchini ribbons, or spaghetti squash instead or traditional grain pastas). Pump pureed veggies, like pumpkin, into oatmeal or casseroles. Adding a little vegetable action into a meal or snack will increase fiber levels, which helps make us fuller, faster.
You can avoid a mindless binge by adding visual traffic lights to your snack. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University gave one set of students a bowl of uniform yellow chips, while another group had their regular snack layered with differently colored chips. Students who had their snack segmented ate 50 percent less than those with a uniform bowl.
It’s possible that maintaining weight loss has more to do with your contact list than your grocery store buys and gym routine. Think about it: if you’re surrounded by friends with fatty habits, some of those bad behaviors are bound to rub off on you. And if your loved ones aren’t supportive of the sacrifices you have to make for your bod goals—for instance, your roommate won’t stop stocking the freezer with your favorite flavor of ice cream—good luck staying on track. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that a person’s chances of becoming obese increases by 57 percent if one of their close friends is obese.
And that raises the most important point: Thinking about exercise as a way to work off food or simply allow you to eat sets up a host of unhealthy and unhelpful thought patterns and habits around food and exercise. For instance, one 2013 research review found that, not only did people generally overestimate how many calories exercise burned—when they did work out, they ramped up their food intake. And if you overeat following exercise, any caloric deficit created during your workout can become a wash. And related: thinking of food as a reward and exercise as a punishment is likely to sabotage your weight loss efforts anyway.
Gum is a bad-breath and weight-loss solution? A 2011 study published in the journal Appetite seems to think so. Researchers found chewing gum for 45 minutes significantly decreased the participants’ level of hunger, appetite, and cravings. On top of that, it also made them feel more full, helping them better control their appetites to lose weight. (Just be sure to grab the sugarless varieties so you don’t rot your teeth in the process.)