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.


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!
When I go to big meals at family-style restaurants or people’s homes, I keep my appetizer or salad plate for the entrée course. I load up on a lot of food during both courses but using the slightly smaller plate helps. I've also learned to fill my plates with mostly veggies. I will still gladly take a spoonful of mac and cheese, but I'm careful not to take more than that because I know that if it’s on the plate, it will end up in my mouth.
You know the kind, says Jillian: "Everyone's like: 'Give up carbs!' 'Give up fat!' 'Wait, no, now I'm taking pills!' None of them are manageable long-term—and they wreak havoc with your metabolism! Because you're either starving yourself or you're cutting out a major food group. Then you go back into weight-gain mode, but it's even worse, because your body has adjusted to all that crazy fad crap."
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great belly-blasting option for those who already feel comfortable in the gym because it helps you drop fatty tissue and build muscle simultaneously. “High-intensity interval training is when you perform an exercise at or close to your maximum ability for a short period of time and then take a brief respite and do it again. HIIT should usually be done on a 2:1 interval, meaning if you did an exercise for one minute, you rest for 30 seconds and then repeat,” explains Dr. Alex Tauberg, DC, CSCS, EMR in 50 Ways to Shrink Your Belly. To use HIIT to shrink your belly, do workouts that engage your core such as abdominal crunches or bridges. “By performing core workouts using a HIIT plan, you can burn calories and build muscle at the same time,” Alex adds. “This can be a great way to flatten that stomach when you don’t have too much time to work out.”

Not long ago, Traci Mann and her colleagues showed study subjects a sad movie, then allowed some of them to eat their favorite feel-better food—such as brownies, cookies and ice cream. Others were given a granola bar, while a third group ate nothing at all. When the researchers assessed their subjects' moods afterward, there was no difference among the three groups. In other words, brownies aren't the surefire pick-me-up we think they are. Mann's takeaway: "When you feel bad, you're far better off calling a friend or going for a walk—both of which are proven to lift mood." These options also have zero calories.


“Long bouts of cardio don’t help weight loss. The body sees them as a long and uncertain search for food. [It] slows the metabolism to save calories,” explains Herbst. “Weight training raises the metabolism and builds muscle by causing tiny micro tears that the body works hard to repair over the next 48-72 hours. Additionally, the body builds additional muscle in anticipation of having to lift greater loads in the future.” The best weight-training movements that he recommends are complex multi-joint movements. These include squats, lunges, bench press, and deadlifts which use the major muscle groups.
Part of the weight loss puzzle has to do with fighting inflammation, and incorporating the spice turmeric into your diet is an excellent way to do that. Like a myriad of other spices, the Indian cooking staple contains anti-inflammatory compounds. In a 2015 study in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers gave 117 patients with metabolic syndrome either supplements of curcumin—the active ingredient in turmeric—or a placebo. Over eight weeks, those who received the curcumin saw dramatic reductions in inflammation and fasting blood sugar.
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.
Drugs.com provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Data sources include IBM Watson Micromedex (updated Jan 9th, 2019), Cerner Multum™ (updated Jan 14th, 2019), Wolters Kluwer™ (updated Jan 7th, 2019) and others. To view content sources and attributions, please refer to our editorial policy.
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.
Not only is drinking lemon water a healthy, low-calorie alternative to soda or juice, but lemons themselves have also been shown to contribute to weight loss. Just one of the citrus fruits contains an entire day’s worth of vitamin C, a nutrient that has the power to reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that triggers hunger and fat storage. Additionally, lemons also contain polyphenols, which researchers say may ward off fat accumulation and weight gain. Believe it or not, even the peel is beneficial because it is a potent source of pectin—a soluble fiber that’s been proven to help people feel fuller for longer. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, participants who ate just 5 grams of pectin experienced more satiety.
What may come as some consolation is that even the fittest among us know the struggle is real: “Many know me from social media as the jump rope queen and fitness trainer who is always smiling while coming up with difficult and creative workouts. What they may not know is that like everyone else, I too struggle with finding ways to keep my motivation up when it comes to diet and exercise,” says Janine Delaney, psychologist and fitness expert whose social media platform has amassed almost 2 million followers. “As a full-time psychologist, wellness influencer and mom of two teenage girls I have an awful lot going on. Sometimes it would be easier to head for the couch with a bag of chips than plan a healthy meal and fit in a workout. Still, I make it happen.”
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.
Since tomatoes can be grown indoors, they never really go out of season, making them a reliable weight loss staple to add to your diet. The tasty fruits have a high water content that will help keep you hydrated, and they’re also low in calories. What’s more? A study published in Nutrition Journal found that eight weeks of tomato juice consumption helps the body burn about an additional 100 calories per day—that adds up to around 3,000 calories a month!
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.
In addition to watching what you eat, you should also take note of the hours you spend watching television. Not only is sitting in front of a screen for too long detrimental to eye health, it can also wreak havoc on your newly-trim waistline. Members of the National Weight Control Registry, who were able to lose weight and keep it off, nixed their binge-watching habit: 62 percent report watching less than 10 hours of TV per week. And it seems like the majority of the NWCR members also found a new, more productive pastime—just take a look at our next savvy hack.

Everybody knows that to lose weight you should eat less and move more. But, of course, it’s not that simple; the combination of today’s environment and human biology can make it really, really hard to shed pounds. To reduce diseases caused by being overweight or obese, society needs to change, but those changes will be slow to come. We need effective weight-loss strategies now.
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.
We're big fans of the "everything in moderation" mantra, but it's important to remember that just because a weight-loss strategy works for one group of people doesn't mean it's the best plan for you. If you typically have trouble stopping after just one sweet treat, you're better off skipping this slim-down strategy to avoid undoing any progress you've already made.
When many of us have too many options to choose from, we often become flustered and make the wrong decision. Same goes for food. If you have a few different boxes of cereal and a handful of flavors of potato chips, you’re likely to eat more of the packaged stuff. Limiting your options to just one can cut down on your grazing habits and prevent a snack attack.
Just because you're denying yourself calories doesn't mean you should deny yourself intense aromas and flavors—in fact, just the opposite. Research published in the journal Flavour found that stronger aromas, such as garlic- and onion-infused fare, lead to smaller bite sizes, and smaller bite sizes are often linked to the sensation of feeling fuller sooner. The study results suggest that enhancing the odor of the foods you eat could result in a 5 to 10% decrease in intake per bite. Together, amping up aroma as you tamp down on portion size could trick your body into thinking its fuller sooner.
Despite the common perception that you need to drop pounds slowly in order to maintain your weight loss, the exact opposite is true. In fact, you’re more than five times as likely to succeed in your long-term weight-loss goals if you start out of the gate by dropping pounds rapidly, according to a 2010 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. To set yourself up for weight loss success, make sure you focus on diet and exercise.
Make sure that everything you're eating is whole — as in nothing processed or packaged. Since salt is a preservative, these are the foods that are highest in sodium — something to keep in mind when planning your meals. Plan on making sure that all items you choose are fresh. That means filling up on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
When you’re done cooking, portion out just enough for your meal and pack the rest away. Putting your food away asap will not only keep it fresh for future meals but it will also deter you from mindlessly nibbling and eating more than the desired portion size. Same goes for when you’re dining out: Ask for a to-go box along with your meal, that way you can pack away the leftovers and aren’t tempted to overeat. When noshing on the leftovers at your next meal, you can also experiment with adding some additional fiber or protein to give the dish a nutritional boost.
Despite the common perception that you need to drop pounds slowly in order to maintain your weight loss, the exact opposite is true. In fact, you’re more than five times as likely to succeed in your long-term weight-loss goals if you start out of the gate by dropping pounds rapidly, according to a 2010 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. To set yourself up for weight loss success, make sure you focus on diet and exercise.
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.
Perhaps you'd like to be the same size you were in high school or when you got married, but that would mean dropping more than 50 pounds. Don't go there — not yet, at least. Set a more realistic goal of losing 5% to 10% of your weight, and give yourself plenty of time and some flexibility to reach that goal, keeping in mind that most people take at least six months to achieve that degree of weight loss.
Drugs.com provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Data sources include IBM Watson Micromedex (updated Jan 9th, 2019), Cerner Multum™ (updated Jan 14th, 2019), Wolters Kluwer™ (updated Jan 7th, 2019) and others. To view content sources and attributions, please refer to our editorial policy.
×