If you're like many Americans, one of your New Year's resolutions is to shed some pounds. In fact, about a third of Americans say they want to make a commitment to lose weight in the New Year, according to a Nielsen survey from 2015. But starting a weight-loss regimen may seem daunting, particularly if you've tried in the past, only to see the weight come back later. Here, we've outlined some of the best tips for losing weight, including how to get started, stay motivated and keep weight off.
For even more impressive effects on body composition: aim for exercise forms which elicit a positive hormonal response. This means lifting really heavy things (strength training), or interval training. Such exercise increases levels of the sex hormone testosterone (primarily in men) as well as growth hormone. Not only do greater levels of these hormones increase your muscle mass, but they also decrease your visceral fat (belly fat) in the long term.
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!
Typically, Americans eat a small breakfast, medium-sized lunch, and big dinner, but one study of 50,000 adults published in the Journal of Nutrition found you should be doing the opposite, if you want to lose weight. By eating your most calorie-heavy meal at breakfast, you’ll be able to better decrease your BMI — and, you know, enjoy more of your favorite foods right away in the morning. Healthy pancakes, anyone?
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.
Exposure to light at night doesn’t just interrupt your chances of a great night’s rest, it may also result in weight gain, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. As crazy as it may seem, study subjects who slept in the darkest rooms were 21 percent less likely to be obese than those sleeping in the lightest rooms. The takeaway here is a simple one: Turn off the TV and toss your nightlight.
For example, when it comes to hormones, ghrelin makes you hungry, leptin and other hormones keep you feeling full, Nadolsky says. Thyroid, cortisol, insulin, testosterone, and estrogen all influence how you metabolize and store energy. Meanwhile, genetics have a large influence on both basal metabolic rate (how many calories you burn just to live) and hormone health. While all of these things are impacted by our diet, they’re not only controlled by the way we eat. And, in fact, while sleep, stress management, and, when needed, medication can help regulate other hormone levels such as estrogen and thyroid, our hormones and other physiological processes are often out of our control. And by the way, being able to impact our hormone levels and metabolism with our diet doesn’t always work out in favor of weight loss. As a 2016 review notes, one of the reasons weight loss by way of caloric restriction isn’t efficacious is because “this strategy is countered by the body’s natural physiological response to negative energy balance.” In other words: The body fights back against caloric restriction.
Eating cake first thing in the morning may sound like the worst diet advice ever (or the best!), but Israeli researchers found that "obese participants who ate a breakfast high in protein and carbohydrates that included a dessert were better able to stick to their diet and keep the pounds off longer than participants who ate a low-carb, low-calorie breakfast that did not include sweets." The scientists hypothesize that allowing yourself a treat in the a.m. helps curb your cravings for sweets later in the day.
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.
Coffee jumpstarts your metabolism, making the non-decaf stuff a worthy weight loss ally. According to a study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee was 16 percent higher than that of those who drank decaf. And remember, don’t ruin your fat-blasting cup of joe by adding any unhealthy creamers and/or artificial sweeteners to it, both of which are enemies of weight loss.
“Do what you can instead of quitting when you can't be ‘perfect,’” Fear says. As if there’s such a thing as “perfect.” After all, research suggests that perfectionism surrounding food and weight, especially coupled with body dissatisfaction, contribute to disordered eating and even obesity in women. Researchers note that perfectionism can contribute to poor self-esteem, dietary restraint, and binge eating.
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.
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?
Just wanted to say Great Article! I love reading all your articles. Even when it may be about things that I already know from reading previous articles. It just helps keep me encouraged that I’m doing things the right way. I love how you explain everything so well, yet simplify what needs to be done. It really helps me to not stress out when I hear about a new diet and wonder if that’s what I should be doing. I already know what the best way is, thanks to all the info you’ve given. I’ve lost 24lbs in 15 weeks! I still have about 85 more to go, but I’ve got a great start and the confindence to reach my goal. Thanks for all you do!!
Eating while watching television is linked to poor food choices and overeating. Getting sucked into the latest episode of “Scandal” can bring on mindless eating — making it easy to lose track of just how many chips you’ve gone through. It’s not just the mindlessness of watching television that’ll get us. Commercials for unhealthy foods and drinks may increase our desire for low-nutrient junk, fast food and sugary beverages.
Another mindfulness trick is to pause for a moment before eating to smell your food, which releases digestive enzymes that improve digestion, Rissetto says. This is also another reason to skip that extra cocktail. A study published last year found that alcohol consumption changes how your brain perceives the aroma of food—specifically, it makes everything smell pretty tasty. As a result, people tend to eat more than they would sober.
Next time you need groceries, circle the perimeter of the store before going up and down every aisle. Why? You’ll load up on the healthy stuff first. The edges of grocery stores generally house fresh produce, meat,] and fish, while the inner aisles hold more pre-packaged, processed foods. Browsing the perimeter can help control how many unwanted additives are in your basket.