Thanks to an increased interest in food and food trends, recipe videos are likely dominating your social media feeds. And their constant presence could be hindering your weight loss goals, especially since many of the brief clips spotlight unhealthy dishes and sweets. “The internet and social media sites are basically making you fat,” Lisa Hayim, MS, RD, and founder of The WellNecessities, told us in The 30 Worst Flat Belly Mistakes Women Make. “If it isn’t 25 ways to eat tater tots then it’s [another] national [something] day. The internet has made it basically impossible to stay away from cravings and indulgences. These are not excuses to eat unhealthy food.” Next time you see one of these videos, scroll quickly past. Or better yet, unfollow the page completely, and follow Eat This, Not That! on Facebook for healthier videos and more slimming tips.
If you often find yourself binge-watching your favorite reality series or catching up on emails come midnight, you may be doing your body a disservice. A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that participants who slept over seven hours a night and reported better sleep quality, longer sleep duration, and shorter latency to sleep onset were actually able to maintain their weight loss more successfully than those who got less than six or seven hours of shut-eye. Plus, those who considered themselves early birds also reported better weight-loss maintenance. If you need help clocking in more hours of beauty rest, turn to our tried-and-true 20 Ways to Double Your Sleep Quality.
Plain and simple: We just don't feel full by liquid calories in quite the same way as we do real food. Drinking a juice or caramel coffee drink, for instance, won't make you feel full the way eating a bowl of veggie- and protein-packed stir-fry will. So monitor your intake of juice, soda, sweetened coffee and tea, and alcoholic beverages. If you consume each of those beverages during the day, you'll have taken in at least 800 extra calories by nighttime — and you'll still be hungry. (Incidentally, alcohol may suppress the metabolism of fat, making it tougher for you to burn those calories.) Some other ways to skip sugar? Check 'em out here.
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:
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.
So, obviously, what is going to work for each person is different, and that’s OK. If your weight-loss practices help you identify areas for behavioral change and give you tools on how to make that happen, or just help keep your motivation up or feeling good, great. “But if you are not losing weight, then the tools you are using aren't working for you,” Fear says. “Many people keep doing the same monitoring even though it's actually not helping them. A sense of control and organization are not to be confused with efficacy.” Use this as an opportunity to try something else.
While ketchup and BBQ sauce are frequently used to help flavor beef, chicken, and the like, the tasty condiments are no friend to your waistline. Ketchup, for example, typically contains around 19 calories and 4 grams of belly-bloating sugar per tablespoon, and BBQ sauce is just as unhealthy, if not worse. To avoid consuming empty calories and unhealthy added sugar, have condiments such as mustard and sauerkraut on hand. While mustard has been linked to revving your metabolism, fermented sauerkraut will help balance the bacteria in your gut.
If you want to lose weight, you’d better avoid special “low-carb” products that are full of carbs. This should be obvious, but creative marketers are doing all they can to fool you (and get your money). They will tell you that you can eat cookies, pasta, ice cream, bread and plenty of chocolate on a low-carb diet, as long as you buy their brand. They’re full of carbohydrates. Don’t be fooled.
Each strategy has the potential to work, but more often than not diets fail. It can be hard to make a changes that you can stick with long enough to see long-term results. When trying to lose weight, it’s always better to take a slow, calculated approach that involves small but impactful changes that lead to a healthier lifestyle. Use these seven proven strategies to help you out along the way.
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.
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.
If you feel like you've been doing everything right and you're frustrated by the scale refusing to budge, here's one last diet tip: Don't give up! Regroup and start troubleshooting your diet and weight loss program by finding out more about how to bust through a weight loss plateau and exploring more tips for thyroid patients on making your diet work for effective weight loss. Consulting with a registered dietitian and a fitness trainer may also be helpful.
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.”
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Friends are helpful not only because they can double as workout buddies or help hold you accountable for appropriate diet and exercise, but also because they’re a surefire way to combat gut-growing feelings of loneliness. A study in the journal Hormones and Behavior found that those who feel lonely experience greater circulating levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin after they eat, causing them to feel hungrier sooner. Over time, folks who are perennially lonely simply take in more calories than those with stronger social support networks, so be sure to fit time with pals into your busy schedule.
Re-think date night. “It’s really hard to find time to be together. People always say 'date night,' but it’s hard to get out once a week and leave the kids and do that," says Delaney. "So what we do is rather than date night we try to have one or two days a week where we train together in the gym. We spend time as a couple together being active and doing active things with the family. One of our favorite things to do is walk around the city, we don’t take cabs, we walk the whole city, window shop and have something to eat. When it comes to exercise, have fun and don’t make it feel like it’s a chore.”
When you're at your heaviest, it can be intimidating to step into a gym and begin running or lifting among the spandex-clad. Working out in your own space is also simply easier to schedule—you can lift weights while the baby naps or first thing in the morning without dragging yourself out the door. "I bought an exercise bike so I can work out whenever I want," says Sarah DeArmond, who lost 100 pounds.
An additional factor that should also be taken into consideration is the amount of weight that needs to be lost. For example, someone with 100lbs to lose will be able to use a larger deficit with a much lower risk of any potential downsides (and the more fat you have to lose… the faster you can and arguably should lose it), whereas someone who is already lean and looking to get REALLY lean will often do best with a smaller deficit (and thus a slower rate of progress).
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.
That's exactly what TIME did in a recent cover story looking at new weight loss science. After speaking to people who had successfully lost weight (after failing many times), it became clear that there's no best way to go about it. Instead, evidence—both scientific and anecdotal—show that it's possible for anyone to reach a healthy weight through a strategy that works best for them.
Have trouble eating reasonably sized portions? Try dimming the lights and cueing up some soft music. According to a study published in Psychological Reports, soft lighting and music lead noshers to eat less and enjoy their food more. That’s what we call a win-win. Looking for the perfect date night dish? Check out these 35 Healthy Crockpot Recipes.
Cutting carbs altogether can often cause a guilt-ridden binge that will leave you unmotivated and packing on the pounds. Instead of prohibiting yourself from eating the foods you love, set a carb curfew. “For dinner, contestants always have a high-protein, high-fat meal with plenty of fibrous veggies,” Chris Powell of ABC’s reality series Extreme Weight Loss tells us in Chris Powell’s Behind-The-Scenes Extreme Weight Loss Tips. “If they have a post-dinner snack, they stick to protein-rich, high-fat foods like almonds or 2 percent milkfat string cheese.” Nixing carbs at night flips the fat-burning switch by increasing the amount of fat-burning hormones released while we’re asleep, Powell adds.
Loads of research demonstrates people who log everything they eat — especially those who log while they're eating — are more likely to lose weight and keep it off for the long-haul. Start tracking on an app like MyFitnessPal when the pounds start sneaking up on you. It'll help you stay accountable for what you've eaten. Plus, you can easily identify some other areas of your daily eats that could use a little improvement when it's written out in front of you.
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?
Last but definitely not least, it's important to check in with yourself on a regular basis. At the beginning of the week, make a list of the meals and snacks you plan to have. Then use that as a checklist, and make sure your kitchen's stocked accordingly. It's easier to make healthy choices if you have a bowl of delicious fruit sitting on the counter and that list is what'll get it there! Then, each day, write down everything you're planning to eat and everything you do eat. Be honest, and write down everything. This will keep you accountable to yourself, and reviewing your lists will help you identify any recurring problem foods.
In one four-week Spanish study, researchers found that eating a calorie-restricted diet that also included four weekly servings of legumes aided weight loss more effectively than an equivalent diet sans the pulses. Those who consumed the legume-rich diet also saw improvements in their bad LDL cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure. Next time you’re cooking something starchy for dinner, consider eating fiber and protein-packed lentils instead.
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
“Exercise should not be used to purge calories,” Albers says. “Instead, to boost your mood to keep you motivated.” The thing is, exercise is great for you and can make you feel awesome. And feeling good about yourself seems to be actually useful in weight-loss efforts. Plus, some research has shown that changes in exercise behavior can lead to changes in eating behavior. “In part, it is neurochemical. Movement and exercise you enjoy boosts your serotonin and dopamine levels, which makes you feel good all the way around,” Albers says.
And please note that this isn’t me saying that nothing else matters besides calories. That’s not true at all and I’m definitely not saying that. PLENTY of other stuff matters. What I AM saying is that the deficit is always what matters most. Take that away and no fat will ever be lost regardless of everything else. On the other hand, put the deficit in place and completely screw up the rest and guess what? Fat will still be lost 100% of the time.
When you’re all gung-ho about hitting the gym, there’s nothing worse than pulled hamstrings or pesky shin splints. Read up on how to avoid the most common yoga injuries (often from over-stretching and misalignment), and running injuries (like stress fractures, pulled muscles, and blisters) to make sure you’re in tip-top shape. Make sure to get in a good warm-up, too. Studies show you perform your best and better avoid injury after warming up.
Weight loss isn’t a linear event over time. When you cut calories, you may drop weight for the first few weeks, for example, and then something changes. You eat the same number of calories but you lose less weight or no weight at all. That’s because when you lose weight you’re losing water and lean tissue as well as fat, your metabolism slows, and your body changes in other ways. So, in order to continue dropping weight each week, you need to continue cutting calories.
The benefits of chowing down on whole fruits are clear, and eating an apple each day can help prevent metabolic syndrome, a disorder associated with abdominal fat, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. The red or green fruits are a low-calorie, nutrient-dense source of fiber, which research has proven to be integral to reducing visceral fat. A study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years.
Close the Kitchen at Night. Establish a time when you will stop eating so you won't give in to the late-night munchies or mindless snacking while watching television. "Have a cup of tea, suck on a piece of hard candy or enjoy a small bowl of light ice cream or frozen yogurt if you want something sweet after dinner, but then brush your teeth so you will be less likely to eat or drink anything else," suggests Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, WebMD's "Recipe Doctor" and the author of Comfort Food Makeovers.
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.
University of Pennsylvania researchers found that about 65 percent of dieters gain back the weight they lost within three years. How come? While diets are meant to be followed short-term, many people end up veering back to their old habits. To reap a long-lasting lean body, make sure that your diet is maintainable and that you can continue following your slim-down plan for the long haul.
When you’ve got a hankering you can’t ignore for juice or a cocktail, ask for a tall, thin glass, not a short, squatty one. Research shows that people pour less liquid into tall narrow glasses than into their vertically challenged counterparts, meaning you’ll (probably) drink less in one sitting. This is especially helpful when it comes to boozing.
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.
Looking for the easiest possible way to lose weight? Grab your pajamas early and log some extra Zzzs! According to researchers, getting eight and a half hours of shut-eye each night can drop cravings for junk food a whopping 62 percent and decrease overall appetite by 14 percent! Mayo Clinic researchers note similar findings: In their study, adults who slept an hour and 20 minutes less than the control group consumed an average of 549 additional calories daily. That’s more calories than you’ll find in a Big Mac!