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.
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.
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.
Fasting glucose levels above 90 may be a sign of insulin resistance and pre-diabetes, which can make weight loss even more difficult. For very high levels, your doctor may prescribe a type 2 diabetes drug like Glucophage (metformin). For borderline levels, reducing the sugar and carbohydrates in your diet and following a healthy carbohydrate-controlled diet can lower your blood sugar and help with weight loss.
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.
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.
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Skipping breakfast in order to “save your appetite” for dinner probably isn’t a safety shield for late-night noshing. While there’s still debate on how important breakfast really is, not eating until the afternoon may lead to binge-eating later (think: a massive dinner because you’re starving). Stick to a reasonably-sized breakfast with plenty of protein, so you’re not tempted to eat unhealthy snacks mid-morning.
There’s an idea that focusing on less helps us achieve more. Changing a habit is tough, but trying to tackle a handful may seem impossible. Instead, concentrate on changing one behavior at a time. Start small and make clear guidelines. For example, if you’d like to increase your veggie intake, decide to eat three different vegetables each day, or one cup with each meal. And remember, small changes can lead to gradual weight loss.
Bad diet decisions are often made when you’re starving and have nothing healthy to eat in your kitchen. Ward off diet-derailing decisions by stocking up on frozen, deveined shrimp—one of Insanity trainer Shaun T’s! go-to proteins. Once you throw it on the stove, it’s ready to eat in just a few minutes, and it’s a great source of lean, low-cal protein. Organic, low-sodium turkey breasts, pre-grilled chicken and hard-boiled eggs are also smart meal-starters to keep on hand.
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.