Though you may give yourself a pat on the back for passing on that slice of chocolate cake you’ve been craving for dessert, you’re actually doing yourself (and your waistline) a disservice in the long run. According to a study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, when you resist food, your body actually experiences more cravings for whatever it is you aren’t getting. Saying “no” to a sweet treat or slice of pizza wires our brains to view forbidden foods as rewards, setting us up for cravings that are hard to satisfy, so give yourself a break and indulge every now and again.
This was a very hard one for me because I'm a frugal and waste-conscious person. I hold on to things for far longer than I should and always try to either recycle or donate whatever I don’t use anymore. This can be difficult when it comes to having leftover food that I probably shouldn't eat three days in a row (I'm looking at you, pizza.) I use the phrase “better in the trash than in my body” anytime I am in that situation to help me realize that if I eat my daughter's picked-at leftovers, for example, they're still not going anywhere in need.
Well yeah, but if I was writing weight loss articles for the potential specific needs of every person who might one day read them and every potential health/medical condition they may have or might potentially be genetically at a higher risk for, each article would turn into a 20 page disclaimer that would be irrelevant to the other 95% of the population. 🙂
Not only is drinking lemon water a healthy, low-calorie alternative to soda or juice, but lemons themselves have also been shown to contribute to weight loss. Just one of the citrus fruits contains an entire day’s worth of vitamin C, a nutrient that has the power to reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that triggers hunger and fat storage. Additionally, lemons also contain polyphenols, which researchers say may ward off fat accumulation and weight gain. Believe it or not, even the peel is beneficial because it is a potent source of pectin—a soluble fiber that’s been proven to help people feel fuller for longer. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, participants who ate just 5 grams of pectin experienced more satiety.
Constantly eating when you don’t need the fuel is a major contributor to weight gain. Before you pop something into your mouth, ask yourself why you’re eating. (We’re lookin’ at you Ms. Office Candy Bowl.) Are you actually hungry or are you just angry, stressed, anxious or board? If it’s any of the latter feelings, healthy snacks like carrot sticks and apples won’t seem appealing. If you’re not hungry enough to eat a plant, vow to not eat anything at all.
Hypothyroidism, in which the pituitary gland produces too little of a key hormone that regulates metabolism, is one of the key reasons for weight gain that stubbornly refuses to reverse itself. And it's surprisingly common; endocrinologists say as many as one out of five adults over age 40 suffer from an under active thyroid. If you think this might be you, get a thyroid test. But beware: The first-line thyroid blood test, known as the TSH, is controversial and the cut-off for "normal" used by most labs may be too high. In 2003, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists began recommending that the cutoff for normal TSH should be 3.0 versus the older standard of 5.5, but this news hasn't reached many labs or doctors. So check your results yourself and if they're between 3 and 5 and your doctor notes them as normal, make sure she's aware of the new recommendation. Pay attention to other signs as well; if you feel tired and lethargic and notice that you're cold all the time, or have poor circulation in your hands and feet, or hair loss (including eyebrows and eyelashes), these are all symptoms of hypothyroidism. Not to mention uncharacteristic weight gain that stubbornly refuses to respond to typical weight loss strategies such as making dietary changes, increasing exercise, and trying the strategies outlined here. You can also ask for further testing; there a number of additional tests that many experts believe give more accurate readings of thyroid function. And lots of endocrinologists think having a TSH between 1 and 2 is ideal for maintaining normal body weight and function, so if your doctor isn't sympathetic, get a referral to an endocrinologist known to treat thyroid disorders aggressively.
If you just can’t shake those belly-bloating sugar cravings, try tyrosine—a building block of protein. It has been shown to prevent that yearning for the sweet stuff by encouraging the brain to release dopamine and another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine. In other words, eating more tyrosine (which can be found in eggs, spirulina, certain cheeses such as Parmesan, Gruyère, Swiss, and Romano, milk, sesame seeds, beef, and bacon) helps fend off those harmful sugar cravings that make your belly fat.
We’ve all been told that salmon, packed with heart-healthy omega-3s and belly-flattening protein, is a great way to get strong, lean and healthy. But not all salmon is created equal. Farmed salmon, which is what’s commonly sold in restaurants, can have the opposite effect on your waistline. Farmed salmon has over 100 more calories and nearly twice as much fat as wild-caught salmon. Plus, it’s much higher in saturated fat and lower in heart-healthy omega-3s. When dining out, you’re better off skipping the salmon altogether unless you are 100 percent sure it’s wild-caught.
A series of new studies suggests that when you eat may be as important as what you eat. In one, participants who usually ate within a 15-hour window were told to confine it to 10 or 11 hours—and they dropped an average of seven pounds over the 16-week study, without changing anything else about their eating. "The timing of food intake affects the body's internal clock, which in turn affects genes that play a role in metabolism," says study author Satchidananda Panda, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. In other words, our bodies may burn calories more efficiently when we eat during a shorter window of the day. So consider eating your breakfast a little later and your dinner a little earlier.
Starting a weight-loss journey can be tough, especially if you're giving up a lot of things you love. Shannon Hagen’s secret to staying positive while losing weight? “I never think of it as giving things up, that makes me feel deprived,” she says. “Instead I focus on adding in one small healthy change at a time, until it becomes a habit.” For instance, instead of being bummed over not having your usual bowl of ice cream before bed, try a new healthy dessert recipe to add to your file.
When you've hit a weight-loss wall, it may be time to change your thinking. "For some, I recommend focusing on forms of measurement other than the scale, such as body composition changes, energy levels, performance, etc.," Ostler says. "I personally like to have people focus on establishing healthy behaviors that can improve many aspects of health, instead of just weight, which isn't always the best measure of health."
When the going gets tough (and it likely will from time to time along any weight loss journey), it’s important to realize that a host of non-food factors can make losing weight difficult, explains board-certified obesity medicine specialist Spencer Nadolsky, D.O., a diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and author of The Fat Loss Prescription. Hormones, genetics, and, ultimately, metabolism are three big ones, he says.
If you work at a job that requires you to be chained to your desk all day, try switching things up and giving a trendy standing desk a shot. Simply standing while you toil away as opposed to sitting has been shown to contribute to weight loss. Bloomberg reports that researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that standing burns about 54 calories over a six-hour day, and although that might not sound like much, those calories accumulate quickly. At that rate, you can burn over 1,000 calories a month just by staying on your feet.
Feeling blue? That’s a good thing for your weight — well, when it comes to your dinnerware. In a study published in Contact, researchers found those who ate in a blue room ate 33 percent less. Why? According to one doc, it has to do with how it alters the look of your meal — which is exactly why you should snag some blue plates, stat. “Blue lights make food look less appealing, while warmer colors, especially yellow, have the opposite effect,” said Val Jones, MD.
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.
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!
Even if you’re trying to reduce your eating window, you shouldn’t go to sleep starved. In fact, going to bed with a rumbling stomach can make it more difficult to fall asleep and subsequently leave you feeling ravenous the next day. And get this: Eating the right type of bedtime snack can actually boost your metabolism and aid weight loss, registered dietitian Cassie Bjork explained. “The right snack can help keep blood sugar stable so the fat-burning hormone glucagon can do its job. I suggest pairing a natural carb with a healthy fat. Apple slices and almond butter, berries with heavy cream and carrots with guacamole all fit the bill.”
There are still plenty of people who believe losing weight is solely about limiting calories, but according to a 2018 study of more than 600 participants in JAMA, that’s not the case. Researchers found that simply focusing on the quality of their food instead of counting calories — like eating mostly whole foods and scrubbing their diets of added sugar and processed junk — can lead to more weight loss. Plus, you’ll be much happier along the way. Next, don’t miss the 50 Genius Weight-Loss Motivation Tricks.
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.
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.
Just because you're denying yourself calories doesn't mean you should deny yourself intense aromas and flavors—in fact, just the opposite. Research published in the journal Flavour found that stronger aromas, such as garlic- and onion-infused fare, lead to smaller bite sizes, and smaller bite sizes are often linked to the sensation of feeling fuller sooner. The study results suggest that enhancing the odor of the foods you eat could result in a 5 to 10% decrease in intake per bite. Together, amping up aroma as you tamp down on portion size could trick your body into thinking its fuller sooner.
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.)
When grabbing grub at a fast-food restaurant, the “combo” or “value meals” are typically less expensive and make you feel like you’re getting a better deal, but oftentimes they’re also nutritional nightmares. A study in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing shows that compared to ordering à la carte, you pick up a hundred or more extra calories by opting for the aforementioned cheap “value meals.” That’s because, when you order items bundled together, you’re likely to buy more food than you need or want, and end up overeating as a result. To keep your weight in check, order your food piecemeal instead.
Taking this vitamin daily may help you drop pounds. A study at the University of Minnesota found that people who started a weight-loss program with higher levels of D lost more than those who weren't getting enough of the nutrient. Other research suggested that vitamin D appears to boost the effectiveness of leptin, a hormone that signals the brain that you're full. Because it's difficult to get D from food, Shalamar Sibley, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the university, says you may need to take a vitamin D3 supplement. Many experts now recommend 1,000 international units every day.
Chronic migraines were what first inspired Amanda Tagge to start exercising. “I was hoping to find some relief from my headaches and working out did help but I realized that if I really wanted to feel better I needed to revamp my health habits overall and lose weight,” she says. The more she changed, the better her headaches got and she lost 70 pounds in the process which helped her feel even better. Focusing on all the ways her health was improving kept her going even when the scale wasn’t moving.