But before we get into how to go about losing weight, please consider this: Weight loss isn’t a healthy goal for everyone, Susan Albers, Psy.D., a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic specializing in body image and eating issues, tells SELF. “I work in a medical facility,” she says. “I have access to people’s blood work. You can be healthy or unhealthy at every size.”
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!
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.
Most people think of their protein or meat as their meal’s main event, but that shouldn’t be the case. “Place flavorful vegetables front and center on lunch and dinner plates, accompanied by sides of protein and whole grains,” registered dietitian Cheryl Forberg said. By simply rearranging your plate, you’ll automatically consume fewer calories and take in more health-protective vitamins and nutrients.
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.
Last, and most importantly: don’t get discouraged if the scale swings upwards a bit. Vacations, holidays, and stressful life situations happen, and not to mention, weight fluctuations are totally normal. If you feel your pants getting tighter, take it with a grain of salt but don’t forget about it. Examine what you’re doing differently and commit to getting back on the bandwagon—it’s as simple as that! And always remember, maintenance is a marathon, not a sprint; you’re in this for life!
If you’re interested in doubling your weight loss, keep a notebook and a pencil on hand at all times. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research found that even though 1,700 participants exercised 30 minutes a day and ate diets rich in fruit and veggies, the more food records people kept, the more weight they lost in the long run. Those who didn’t keep a record at all only experienced half as much loss. So start this healthy habit and hold onto it even after you’ve hit your mark to stay mindful of your munching.
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!
Get this: Nearly 80 percent of National Weight Control Registry members—who have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years—regularly eat breakfast. Though researchers haven’t discovered a definite connection between the morning meal and weight loss, one theory is that when you start your day with something healthy and satiating it helps set a healthy tone for the rest of the day. To get on board, whip up one of these 50 Best Overnight Oats Recipes or enjoy an omelet with some Ezekiel bread and some berries.
Most of us eat quickly, chewing each bite just a few times, which means we consume more food than we realize. Slow down and you'll slim down: In a recent study, people who chewed each bite 40 times ate almost 12 percent less than those who chewed just 15 times. When we chew longer, our bodies produce less ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite, and more of the peptide hormones that are believed to curb hunger. "Chewing seems to stimulate the gut to make appetite-suppressing peptide hormones," Dr. Cypess explains. Plus, the more you chew, the more thoroughly you break down food, which may release nutrients into your blood faster and give your brain time to register that you're full. From now on, focus on eating slowly at every meal. Put down your fork between bites and work your way up to 40 chews per mouthful of food.
At the end of the day, successfully achieving a health goal — whether it be to lose weight, tone up or feel more energized — all comes down to identifying a goal that is meaningful to you as an individual, says Delaney. "It's different for everybody. It's about creating goals based on what is important to you and really understanding yourself so that you can continue to work towards them.”
As an added bonus, your metabolism also gets a nice boost from eating these foods. It takes more energy to burn whole foods. “Avoid starchy, processed high-fat foods that are loaded with toxins that cause a buildup of inflammation. This—combined with stress—creates elevated cortisol levels and promote[s] the storage of fat in the abdomen,” Dr. Petre adds.
Adding a wide variety of flavorful spices to your foods can help you control portion sizes and lose weight. Research shows that people eat less when their food tastes new and spicy (perhaps because we're forced to pay attention to it?). The crazier the blends of spices, the more novel the food will taste and the more benefits you'll reap, so don't be afraid to mix spices and go out of your comfort zone. Plus, traditional spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin are chock-full of powerful antioxidants.
The baseline portion sizes of our snacks and meals have ballooned over the past 40 years. The average size of many of our foods — including fast food, sit-down meals, and even items from the grocery store — has grown by as much as 138% since the 1970s, according to data from the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of Nutrition, and the Journal of the American Medical Association
This is one tip we can all get behind. Many weight loss gurus agree that getting plenty of sleep is one of the best ways to lose weight and keep it off. Your body reaches a metabolically active high as you sleep, so the more you sleep, the more you burn. Not getting enough sleep can mess with two of your body’s metabolic hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin controls hunger and ghrelin controls the feeling of satiety.
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!
Carb backloading — when you eat all your carbs later in the day — is becoming a buzzy trend in the health space, and it could actually help you lose weight. It might seem surprising to load up on carbs at the end of the day opposed to in the beginning, but one registered dietitian said it can help you burn fat faster and more effectively: “The theory of carb backloading is based on the fact that insulin sensitivity is higher earlier in the day, which promotes carbohydrate absorption into your muscles and fat tissue. Carb backloading requires you to eat all your carbs later in the day to promote using fat for fuel during the day and suggests you also work out in the evening to promote better carb absorption into your muscles,” said Emmie Satrazemis, RD. And, in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, participants did indeed lose weight using the method. Just, unfortunately, not by eating spaghetti.
If you’re not already lifting weights, you might want to incorporate some into your exercise routine. You might be worried that weights will only, well, add on weight. But this is not always true when incorporated correctly. In fact, doing the opposite, for example, only partaking in high-cardio exercises, might be causing you to hold on to weight.
21. Keep it simple. "I take a minimalist approach to nutrition: My diet consists of lean protein (chicken breast, egg whites, ground turkey), complex carbs (quinoa, sweet potatoes, oatmeal), healthy fats (coconut oil, almonds, avocados), and leafy green veggies. I eat as clean as I can—locally-grown vegetables, organic when possible, and minimally-processed everything."
But don't worry: Most of the research does not suggest a need to slash meat, dairy, or fish from your diet. In fact, the best results typically appear to come from diets that combine high amounts of vegetables with healthy sources of protein, which can include seafood, eggs, and meat. Eating plans like these include the popular Mediterranean diet and MIND diet.
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.
Make an effort to fill your fridge with healthy produce and proteins. And when the crisper is empty, make sure the freezer is stocked with frozen veggie mixes or berries (and don’t forget to grab the bags that are sans added sauces or sugar). You may be less apt to order out when you’ve got the makings of a healthy dinner right at home. More good news: Healthy food doesn’t always have to be pricey.