“Every morning I drink a cup of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and a dash of cayenne pepper,” says Michelle Keough. This helps her start her day off on a healthy note while getting her hydrated after a long night. This trick, combined with eating meals built around protein and veggies, helped her lose 20 pounds and keep it off.
Too much variety in your diet can mess with your satiety cues and make you overeat, so add some (tasty) monotony to your routine. One easy way: Eat the same healthy breakfast and/or lunch each day during the week, and savor new tastes on the weekend. The best thing about that plan, says 69-pound-loser (er, winner?) Melanie Kitchen: "I didn't have to keep coming up with new recipes!"
If however you’d rather just directly set your calorie intake to an amount that causes fat loss to occur, and then get all of those calories from a good balance of protein, fat and carbs, and then get those nutrients from a variety of foods you truly enjoy eating, and then put it all together in whatever the hell way best suits your personal preferences and is completely free from all of the stupid rules and restrictions that make weight loss a lot harder than it needs to be… then a Group 1 diet is perfect for you.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota did a series of studies in which they had participants eat vegetables before they put any other food on their plates—and even the researchers were surprised by what they found. "People consumed up to five times more veggies than usual," says Traci Mann, Ph.D., who led the study. And participants who munched carrots before being offered M&Ms subsequently ate one-third less candy than those who were just given the candy first. Why does this trick work? Because when any food is put in front of us, we generally go for it—and the veggies aren't competing with other foods on our plate (which we tend to go for first, if given the option). So start with a salad or crudités.
The American Heart Association recommends that the amount of added sugar consumed in a day shouldn’t exceed 25 grams for women and 37.5 grams for men, but since the sweet stuff is in everything from bread to tomato sauce, most Americans aren’t adhering to those guidelines and they’re fatter for it. In a review of 68 clinical trials and studies, New Zealand researchers reported in the British Medical Journal that increasing sugar intake meant increasing body weight while reducing sugar meant reducing body weight. Additional research has shown that cutting back on the granular stuff is one of the fastest ways to lose weight.
One reason for this is that many products labeled "low fat," "light," and "reduced fat" (things like yogurt, ice cream, and peanut butter) are highly processed and engineered to taste like their original full-fat predecessors. To accomplish this, food manufacturers typically add extra sugar — and sugar, unlike fat, has been strongly implicated as a leading factor contributing to obesity and weight gain.
While it’s possible to lose weight without doing a single pushup or burpee, in order to keep it off, physical activity is must, says James O. Hill, PhD, co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry. But not all workouts are created equal. Although cardio gets all of the glory, interval and strength training are the real heroes in the world of weight maintenance. These methods of exercise will help you replace flab with hard, sexy muscle which will boost your metabolism and make it easier to keep off those sneaky pounds. For the best results, do strength or interval training twice a week and aim for an hour of physical activity a day—that could mean walking, swimming or running errands. Just get off your tush and move! Why an hour? The majority of successful losers who have maintained their weight loss for an average of 5.5 years report moving for about an hour a day, according to the National Weight Control Registry.
Sure, all fruits and veggies are healthy and low-cal, but did you know that when it comes to keeping away those waist-expanding pounds, flavonoid-rich foods like bananas, strawberries, grapes, pears, onions, peppers and celery are the best bets? In a 2016 British Medical Journal study of 124,000 middle-aged and older people, those who ate a diet rich in flavonoid-filled foods maintained their weight better than those who didn’t—and it makes a lot of sense. Earlier findings suggested that the naturally occurring plant compounds could ward off inflammation and fat absorption. Not a big fan of the fruits and veggies above? Tea is another option that’s chock full of flavonoids! To make the most of the benefits from your brew get your hands on the The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse! Test panelists lost up to 10 pounds in one week, so it’s sure to keep the pounds at bay for you, too!
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.
Ideally, it’s best to clean out your fridge and cupboards so there aren’t any junk options, but maybe that would start a civil war in your house. If you live with someone—or several someones—who don’t share your enthusiasm for healthy choices, that’s okay, just be sure to put your food where you see it first, suggests Dubost. That might be eye-level shelves, or one dedicated cupboard for you, as well as the top shelf of the fridge.
In her book The Naughty Diet, author Melissa Milne—whose own essay, “I Eat Slim-Shamers for Breakfast” also went viral—interviewed thousands of women about the body shaming and they all said the same thing: “They were sick and tired of feeling bad while trying to be good,” she writes in The Naughty Diet. “And here’s the secret of all secrets: You don’t feel bad about yourself when you get fat. You get fat when you feel bad about yourself.” This could be because chronic stress raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body, which can trigger belly fat storage. Try being kinder to yourself, which will reduce stress and help melt the pounds away effortlessly.
And, save the bread for the end of the meal. Eating simple carbs first dramatically increases blood sugar, which causes your body to pump out insulin and store the calories as fat—the opposite of what you want if you're trying to lose weight, says obesity expert Louis Aronne, M.D., a professor of metabolic research at Weill Cornell Medical College. "Having some vegetables and protein before simple carbs blunts that unhealthy blood sugar response," he adds.
Unsurprisingly, the results showed that nothing had happened to the weight of the women receiving calcium or the placebo. However, the group which took the multivitamin lost more weight – about 3 kg more – and improved their health markers. Among other things, their basal metabolic rate (the rate at which the body burns calories when at rest) increased.
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.
This could be because the body increases insulin secretion in anticipation that sugar will appear in the blood. When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Whether this chain of events regularly takes place is somewhat unclear. Something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max though, and there are well-designed studies showing increased insulin when using artificial sweeteners.
It’s true that a caloric deficit—burning more calories per day than you take in—is a requisite of weight loss. But creating a deficit doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) involve deprivation. That goes for calories, carbs, sugar, fat, or any other commonly demonized nutrient. “No one food is responsible for your weight,” Langer says, explaining that a good vs. bad mentality sets people up for disordered eating and exercise habits. In fact, caloric deprivation increases how the brain responds to food, setting you up for binge-eating down the line, according to research from the Oregon Research Institute.
To ensure you fit in those 60 minutes and fit in more daily steps, rethink your commute. On the days that I have to skip the gym, I force myself to walk home from work instead of hopping in a cab or taking the bus. If you drive to work, cycle to the office once a week or park your car further away from the entrance. However you decide to do it, the more steps you take, the better. The majority of people (76%) who have lost weight and kept it off report walking for an hour a day so fit in those steps wherever you can! And to get more out of each and every stride, check out these 30 Tips for When You’re Walking for Weight Loss!
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.
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.
Regardless of birthdays, late-night bar crawls, and crazy work weeks, sticking to a consistently healthy diet on both weekdays and weekends renders long-lasting results. According to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, most folks who maintain their weight loss report that that their diet is the same on both the weekends and weekdays. And same goes for your workout schedule. “My most successful clients are the ones who stay consistent with their workouts throughout the year; they don’t let anything get in the way of their workout! It’s like putting on their pants or brushing their teeth and is something that they wouldn’t think of not doing!” Langowski explains.
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.
If you’re the type of person who likes to eat a full breakfast before hitting the gym, you might want to change up your eating schedule. According to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers found getting your sweat on with an empty stomach could get rid of excess fat cells. So, give it a try: your healthy bowl of oatmeal can wait. To make the most of this technique, start with any of the 30 Workouts That Burn More Than 500 Calories An Hour.
Common sense states if you want to lose weight, then you shouldn’t have a large meal not long before going to bed. And now we have additional research to back up that hypothesis. A study published in the journal Obesity followed two groups of overweight women with metabolic syndrome on identical 1,400-calorie weight loss diets for three months. While both groups consumed 500 calories at lunch, one group consumed 700 calories for breakfast and a 200-calorie dinner (the “big breakfast” group), while the other group ate 200 calories at breakfast and 700 calories at dinner (the “big dinner” group). Even though the nutrient content of the meals was exactly the same for both groups, after three months the big breakfast group lost about two and a half times more weight than big dinner group.
Most low-carb diets advocate replacing carbs with protein and fat, which could have some negative long-term effects on your health. If you do try a low-carb diet, you can reduce your risks and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats by choosing lean meats, fish and vegetarian sources of protein, low-fat dairy products, and eating plenty of leafy green and non-starchy vegetables.
In reality, a never-ending list of factors—including (yes) food and exercise, but also sleep, stress management, hormone health, self-esteem, past weights, and those pesky genetics—influence weight loss as well as the weight your body naturally gravitates toward at a given time in your life, Abby Langer, R.D., a Toronto-based dietitian and nutrition counselor, tells SELF. Of course, maintaining a caloric deficit drives weight loss, but so much more goes into a successful weight-loss effort than the math of calories in and calories out.
For many people, losing weight is only half the battle — the bigger challenge is keeping the weight off over the long term. And it's no surprise that keeping weight off is difficult — studies have shown that the brain and the body are hardwired to regain lost weight. But don't despair: Research also has revealed that people who are successful in keeping weight off share some habits. They tend to do the following:
And speaking of eating full-fat fare, a cutting-edge review published in PLOS One discovered that when it comes to reducing cardiovascular risk and promoting rapid weight loss, low-carb diets are superior to low-fat diets. Can’t imagine fully committing to a low-carb lifestyle? Start by eliminating empty sources of carbs from your diet such as white bread, desserts, and sugary drinks.
Many dietitians begin by asking clients to access the organ with the most powerful effect on weight: the brain. "I always ask my clients to monitor their food intake by keeping a food journal," says Karolin Saweres, RDN, LD. "I often find that my clients are not aware of how many meals, snacks, nibbles, or handfuls of food they eat each day." Becoming aware of our actual intake may initially be an uncomfortable surprise but can lead to more mindful eating throughout the day.
“They may be small, but these sweet-tasting fruits contain a hefty amount of actinidin, a natural enzyme unique to kiwifruit that aids in digestion by breaking down protein in the body. Kiwifruit also contains prebiotic fiber, which primes the gut for healthy digestion,” Scritchfield says. “Research indicates that a daily serving of green kiwifruit helps increase bowel movements. So, cut in half, scoop with a spoon, and pop into your mouth like nature’s Tums (SunGold kiwis, with a yellow flesh and tropical taste, offer three times the vitamin C of oranges and as much potassium as a medium banana).”
“The best way to stick with a diet, is for people to put the fewest restrictions on themselves as possible,” Langer says. “There shouldn't be anything in the world that they shouldn't ever eat again.” Similarly, Albers recommends ditching the “don’t” list entirely. “Instead of trying to stop an old negative habit, focus on building a positive new one,” she says. “New habits crowd out the old without the struggle of trying to stop a behavior.”
Before you begin the habit of refilling your water bottle several times a day, make sure yours isn’t laced with BPA. A Harvard study found that adults with the highest concentration of BPA in their urine had significantly larger waists and a 75 percent greater chance of being obese than those in the lowest quartile. No wonder why drinking out of plastic bottles is one of our 40 Bad Habits That Make You Fat! To avoid weight gain, make sure your bottle is BPA-free and be particularly wary of plastics that sport a #7 recycling symbol on them, which is an indicator that BPA may be present.
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.
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.
“You don’t have to eat salad all the time to lose weight. There are so many ways to tweak ingredients and make food you actually love to eat—even pancakes. (Try almond flour.) That being said, the type of food you eat also defines your lifestyle. You can eat junk food and lose weight, but you will probably be hungry all the time. So give yourself an occasional cheat day or reward for sticking to your plan. In the end, you want to lose weight in a healthy way, without feeling like you’re hurting yourself.”
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?