Plate sizes have increased over the past millennium. When it’s time to sit down for dinner, choose a size-appropriate plate or bowl. Using a smaller plate (eight to 10 inches) instead of a tray-like plate (12 inches or more) can make us feel fuller with the same amount of food. How does that work? The brain may associate any white space on your plate with less food. Plus, smaller plates generally lead to smaller portions.
Health (both physical and mental… my breakdown of “starvation mode” and eating “1200 calories day” covers some of the lovely effects of very low calorie diets), the potential for nutrient deficiencies, the potential for disordered eating habits to develop, the potential for food and body image issues to develop, strength, performance, recovery, muscle maintenance, hunger, mood, metabolic issues, etc. etc. etc. and just your overall ability to consistently stick to your diet in the short term and then sustain it in the long term are all factors that need to be taken into consideration as well.
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.
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When the scale won't budge, dietitians often take the focus off diet and exercise entirely, exploring issues of stress and sleep instead. "Both lack of sleep and high cortisol levels are associated with lower levels of leptin, a hormone that is key in energy metabolism, weight, and our hunger signals," says Jen Scheinman, RDN. "Individuals must tackle sleep and stress to succeed in weight loss."
Barley got its hunger-fighting reputation after Swedish researchers found that eating barley or rye kernels for breakfast kept blood sugar on an even keel. That's because the carbs in barley and rye kernels are "low glycemic index," meaning they raise blood sugar more slowly than some other carbohydrate foods. This helps you avoid a spike, and then a drop, in blood sugar, which can leave you feeling famished.
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.
You might not be a morning person. But, just like the saying, the early bird gets the worm (even when it comes to weight loss). There’s plenty of research to support the idea that working out in the morning is more effective for weight loss than working out in the afternoon or evening. One study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that women who exercised in the morning had less desire for food than those who’d skipped out on an a.m. workout. Additionally, researchers found that the morning exercisers were more active overall than the group who did not work out. In addition to helping keep the weight off, morning workouts also come with a myriad of health benefits. One of them is reduced the risk of diabetes, according to a study published in the Journal of Physiology.
“I’ve been overweight my entire life. I’d try different diets, lose a few pounds and then gain it back. When I turned 25, I was 485 lb. and I knew I was fighting for my life. I want to have kids one day and be more active with my husband. I wanted to stop sitting on the sidelines of my own life. At the beginning of 2016, I started tracking my calories, working out and making healthier versions of the foods I loved. Ultimately, I fell in love with taking care of myself. My advice is to focus on each day, not how far you have to go. Weight loss is a journey, not a sprint.”
Yep, it might be possible to sniff your way to weight-loss. In one study, 200 overweight participants wore different patches — which included vanilla, lemon, a placebo patch, or no patch — to find out if any affected their ability to shift the scale. It turns out that, after four weeks, those with the vanilla-scented patches significantly reduced their cravings for high-calorie sweets. Spritz on some vanilla-scented fragrance for a similar effect.
If you’re accustomed to shredding muenster cheese into your eggs, try swapping it for your favorite veggie. One ounce of cheese packs in about 110 calories while a half cup of steamed broccoli boasts 15 calories. Making this morning switch will nourish your body with extra satiating fiber and nutrients, as well as save your waistline from added inches.
Gum is a bad-breath and weight-loss solution? A 2011 study published in the journal Appetite seems to think so. Researchers found chewing gum for 45 minutes significantly decreased the participants’ level of hunger, appetite, and cravings. On top of that, it also made them feel more full, helping them better control their appetites to lose weight. (Just be sure to grab the sugarless varieties so you don’t rot your teeth in the process.)
Getting your mindset in order is important, but sometimes small habits can make a big difference. “After eating, you still have the taste of food in their mouth, which often causes people to eat more even if they are full or engage in a nibble or two of dessert,” says Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, registered dietitian and nutrition expert at Betches Media. “Brushing your teeth will remove the taste of food from your mouth, and the clean, minty freshness will serve as a cue that mealtime is over.”
High blood sugar levels coupled with high blood ketones, on the other hand, will mean that you have a pathologically low level of insulin – something non-diabetics do not suffer from. This can lead to ketoacidosis – a potentially life-threatening condition. If this happens, you’ll need to inject more insulin; if you’re at all unsure of what to do, contact a medical professional. Coveting really high blood ketones for weight control is not worth the risk for type 1 diabetics.
We probably don’t have to tell you that heavy boozing will pack on the pounds. And you’ve likely heard the phrase “drink in moderation.” The point is, alcohol houses a lot of sneaky calories and has the ability to inhibit healthy eating decisions (midnight pizza delivery, anyone?). Even after you’ve sobered up, alcohol can have negative impacts on strength and may leave you lagging in the weight room days later.
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.
Trans fats, which are typically found in processed foods with partially hydrogenated oils, should be avoided when buying, cooking, or ordering food because of the role they play in weight gain. As noted in the journal Obesity, these unhealthy substances have been found to pack on the belly fat in monkeys. As it turns out, they’re not great for humans either. “Trans fats cause inflammation in the body leading to insulin resistance and impairing the body’s ability to use glucose properly, resulting in excess fat storage around the belly,” says Tina Marinaccio, MS RD CPT in 50 Ways to Shrink Your Belly. Trans fats, which are created by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils, are beloved by manufacturers because they increase the shelf life of processed foods, but they are no friend to your waistline. “Trans fats may be lurking in any processed or fried food such as chips, baked goods, and even butter spreads,”Marinaccio warns.”To avoid them, check the ingredients for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.”
Leaving the comforts of your gym can be difficult, but outdoor workouts have their own unique set of benefits. Research has shown that breaking a sweat outdoors may be more beneficial than burning calories inside. According to a study published in Environmental Science and Technology, exercising in a natural environment outdoors may improve energy levels and decrease stress more than working out indoors can.
No, you aren’t dreaming. According to Peterson, many adults are so busy with work and family that they skimp on shut-eye, which actually makes it harder to lose weight. “Lack of sleep causes your appetite to surge and increases the desire for higher-calorie foods,” Peterson says. Several studies now show that adults who routinely get less than six hours of slumber a night are more likely to have significant weight gain over time than those who sleep seven or more hours on most nights. While optimal hours of sleep are highly individualized, most adults need somewhere between seven and nine hours a night.
If beef is your prefered source of protein, make sure you’re eating the grass-fed stuff. Ground beef, a T-bone steak, or prime rib are amongst the healthiest cuts because they’re lower in unhealthy fats than other forms of beef and actually contain more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than some fish. Just be sure to limit your red meat consumption to around two three-ounce servings per week in order to keep your cholesterol in check, and stick to low-calorie rubs and spices as opposed to sugary sauces to flavor the meal.
While having a scale in the house isn’t right for everyone, research has shown that it can help encourage weight loss by providing a level of accountability. When Cornell University researchers observed dieters who weighed themselves daily, they discovered that the routine of stepping on a scale helped those people lose more weight than those who weighed themselves less frequently. To avoid being thrown off by natural fluctuations in body weight, try stepping onto the scale the same time every day.