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.
This healthy brew acts like a diet drug in a mug, but without the negative side effects. A review of studies concluded that regularly sipping green tea can help you drop pounds. This weight loss is the result of EGCG, a compound known to reduce fat absorption, according to new research from Penn State. But that's not all this magic drink does: As it's reducing fat absorption, "green tea also increases the amount of fat that your body eliminates," explains study author Joshua D. Lambert, PhD, an assistant professor of food science at the university. So think about trading your usual afternoon java for green tea instead. Experts say that drinking three to five cups of the regular or decaf variety every day may help you lose weight.
Food labels can help you lose weight, if you know how to read them. Everyday Health says it's important to pay attention to serving size, calories (and calories from fat), fats, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, protein, and vitamins and minerals. Then, you can make smarter food choices like picking up a water-packed tuna rather than oil-packed, which can cut significant calories.
As part of an eight-year study that included nearly 50,000 women, Harvard researchers tracked what happened when people either slashed their intake of sweetened drinks or started consuming more of them. Not surprisingly, the participants who raised their sugary-drink intake gained weight and increased their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In fact, the more people's sweet-drink intake increased, the more weight they gained and the more their disease risk went up.
“You need a combination of both weight training and cardio to get fat off your body,” Mike Duffy, CPT, tells us in 17 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Back Fat, adding, “Cardio alone will only train one type of muscle fiber and you’ll only be building one part of your fat-burning furnace. I see many people doing tons of cardio every day and not lifting weights. They never change the way they look.”
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.
Are your portion control issues making it hard for you to shrink your man boobs? Stop yourself from going back for seconds by grabbing a box of mints. People often yearn for that second cookie or helping of mac and cheese because the taste of the first still lingers. To cleanse your palate, keep mints or breath strips on hand and pop them when it’s time to quit noshing. Not only will this rid the alluring taste from your tongue, it will also keep your mouth busy and act as a distraction. Drinking water or tea are also helpful tactics.
Functional exercise has been shown to increase strength and balance and reduce the risk of injury all while working multiple muscle groups at the same time. All that movement promotes muscle gain, which can increase metabolism, which can help shed fat. Added bonus: Functional exercises can make real-life tasks — like hauling groceries up stairs — easier.
Adding whole, natural, and anti-inflammatory foods to your diet is a great start for better health and to keep weight off. “People who consume natural, whole foods have lower rates of diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease,” says Luiza Petre, M.D., NYC-based cardiologist and weight management specialist. “Anti-inflammatory foods in particular, such as low-fat dairy, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, poultry, and fish, can make a significant difference when trying to shed pounds and belly fat. They are easily digested, keep you satiated, and boost energy levels.”
Driving to work may be easy, but it’s also part of what’s inhibiting you from losing weight. According to a study in the British Medical Journal, those who drive to work gain more weight than those who take public transportation. Per the research, commuting by car slaps an extra 5.5 pounds on your body, whether you exercise or not. And a Japanese study found that people who take public transportation to work were 44 percent less likely to be overweight, 27 percent less likely to have high blood pressure, and 34 percent less likely to have diabetes. If possible, consider leaving the car in the driveway and walking, biking, or commuting to work via public transportation a few times per week.
And that, combined with the fact that these various unnecessary rules and restrictions often force you to eat in a manner that doesn’t fit your personal preferences or just flat out annoys the crap out of you (thus often leading to problems with adherence and long term sustainability… more about that later), is the main difference between Group 1 diets and Group 2 diets.
In contrast to supplements, weight-loss drugs (including prescription pills) have more scientific evidence supporting their use. The makers of these drugs must conduct studies showing that the drugs can lead to weight loss before they can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, these drugs still need to be used along with diet and exercise measures for people to achieve a meaningful amount of weight loss. You should also keep in mind that the long-term safety of these drugs has not been well studied.
Trim Portions. If you did nothing else but reduce your portions by 10%-20%, you would lose weight. Most of the portions served both in restaurants and at home are bigger than you need. Pull out the measuring cups to get a handle on your usual portion sizes, and work on paring them down. Get instant portion control by using small bowls, plates, and cups, says Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating. You won't feel deprived because the food will look plentiful on dainty dishware.
“Get off your phone for a day and escape to nature as we are human and of nature,” Nguyen suggests. “Just get out there. Disconnect from the electronics and connect to the elements.” Not only will this help reduce stress (a major factor in weight gain) by giving your mind a break from the constant stimulation we’ve all become so accustomed to, but it may also reprogram your brain to connect with yourself and what you’re feeling.
In addition to blasting belly fat, you should also be working out and trying to build up your muscle mass. Even when you’re at rest, your body is constantly burning calories, and the “resting metabolic rate” is much higher in people with more muscle. That’s because every pound of muscle uses about six calories a day just to sustain itself. If you can pack on just five pounds of muscle and sustain it, you’ll burn the caloric equivalent of three pounds of fat over the course of a year, and be even closer to obtaining that lean physique you’ve always wanted.
A calorie isn’t always a calorie. Eating 100 calories of high fructose corn syrup, for example, can have a different effect on your body than eating 100 calories of broccoli. The trick for sustained weight loss is to ditch the foods that are packed with calories but don’t make you feel full (like candy) and replace them with foods that fill you up without being loaded with calories (like vegetables).
The holidays can feel like an extended open bar, but switching to water occasionally can be helpful for your weight-loss strategies—and not just because you’re missing out on a calorie-hit in the moment. That’s because alcohol affects your liver’s ability to process sugar, according to Joshua Scott, M.D., primary care sports medicine physician at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. It can also lower your ability to burn calories efficiently, he adds, not to mention tanking your inhibitions when it comes to food choices.
Diet experts say that we need about one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight to aid muscle growth and weight loss. So if that’s what you’re eating each day, you’re bound to get the body of your dreams, right? Unfortunately, there’s more to it than that. According to University of Texas researchers, the timing at which you consume your protein can make or break how much lean muscle mass you pack on. If you’re like most Americans, you likely consume little to no protein for breakfast, a bit of protein at lunch and the bulk of your daily intake during dinner—which the researchers discovered isn’t ideal for muscle synthesis. Luckily, fitness-minded friends, the fix is a simple one: Just distribute your protein intake evenly throughout the day. The scientists found that those who followed this simple trick had 25 percent higher protein synthesis than those who ate the majority of the nutrient after the sun went down. To hit the mark and start leaning out, try one of these 35 Best-Ever Chicken Recipes for Weight Loss!
Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that's not really so difficult: "Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings," she says. "Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won't be reaching for the cookie jar."
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.