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.

Live Science is bringing our readers a monthly series of personal health goals, with tips and tricks we've gathered from the many health experts we've interviewed. Each month, we'll focus on a different goal, and the goal for January is Lose Weight. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to connect with other readers who are working toward these goals. 
You TOTALLY need to do a podcast!! I absolutely love reading your articles, Jay! The people who are the best at what they do and get the results they are looking for are masters of the basics! The basics aren’t usually ‘sexy’ or revolutionary pieces of information, but they seem to be the things people are lacking while they continue to be confused as to why they’re not making progress. You do an amazing job of providing ‘basic’ information in a way that puts things into perspective for the reader. I’ve really appreciated articles like yours during my fitness journey. When I’m not making progress, I know exactly why. It’s not because I ate too many ‘dirty’ carbs or didn’t maximize my metabolic window or some other bullshit dogmatic theory that other ‘gurus’ push, it’s because I was slacking ass and my caloric deficit was nonexistent. Yep…that’s it. So, thanks so much for the awesome content in your articles that bring me back down to reality! MUCH appreciated!!!
“This seemingly-innocent food is almost always loaded with added sugar. In fact, most companies use synonyms or alternative words for plain old ‘sugar’ to disguise it. ” Lisa Hayim, registered dietitian and founder of The Well Necessities tells us in 37 Worst Breakfast Habits for Your Waistline. And she’s right: Choosing a cup of Kashi Indigo Morning Organic Corn Cereal over ¾ cup of Kashi Organic Promise Cranberry, Spelt and Flax Granola, will slash 160 calories off your breakfast!
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.
Driving to work may be easy, but it’s also part of what’s inhibiting you from losing weight. According to a study in the British Medical Journal, those who drive to work gain more weight than those who take public transportation. Per the research, commuting by car slaps an extra 5.5 pounds on your body, whether you exercise or not. And a Japanese study found that people who take public transportation to work were 44 percent less likely to be overweight, 27 percent less likely to have high blood pressure, and 34 percent less likely to have diabetes. If possible, consider leaving the car in the driveway and walking, biking, or commuting to work via public transportation a few times per week.
“I wish people knew that there is no one-size-fits-all diet that works for everyone. Individuals have different food preferences, dining habits, schedules, body types, past experiences, and obstacles. Stop falling for restrictive diet plans, America! Start by changing one simple habit and build from there,” Stephanie Brookshier, RDN, ACSM-CPT tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.

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.


Regardless of birthdays, late-night bar crawls, and crazy work weeks, sticking to a consistently healthy diet on both weekdays and weekends renders long-lasting results. According to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, most folks who maintain their weight loss report that that their diet is the same on both the weekends and weekdays. And same goes for your workout schedule. “My most successful clients are the ones who stay consistent with their workouts throughout the year; they don’t let anything get in the way of their workout! It’s like putting on their pants or brushing their teeth and is something that they wouldn’t think of not doing!” Langowski explains.
There is no one best thyroid diet, but making a significant change to how you eat is usually necessary in order to successfully lose weight when you have a thyroid condition. What type of diet to follow, however, depends on your unique physiology, food sensitivities, ability to absorb nutrients, and how effective your body is at metabolizing, storing, and burning carbohydrates, among other factors. The key is to try different ways to lose weight, and when you find something that's working, stick with it.
Mounting research suggests that eating the majority of your daily calories earlier in the day makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight and tempers blood sugar and inflammation. “To help with weight loss, eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper,” recommends Courtney Peterson, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center. One study reported that dieters who ate a 700-calorie breakfast, 500-calorie lunch and 200-calorie dinner lost nearly 18 pounds in 12 weeks, compared to seven pounds lost among subjects who ate a 200-calorie breakfast, 500-calorie lunch and 700-calorie dinner.
If you have a big celebration or date coming up, you might think it makes sense to “save” your calories for when it’s time to let loose, but this technique is rarely effective and could actually be hindering your ability to lose weight. “Although this makes sense in theory—consuming fewer calories total per day—it rarely works out as cleanly as we like,” Lisa Hayim spelled out for us in The 30 Worst Diet Mistakes You’re Making. “By the time you get to the date, and have a drink or two, the feelings of extreme hunger rush in, and you’re grabbing for whatever you can get your hands on, which is usually foods high in calories and fat. You’re so hungry, you may even end up consuming more than a day’s worth of calories in one sitting! Plus, with alcohol in your system, your body is less able to efficiently metabolize the calories,” explains Hayim. “Instead, consume normal meals throughout the day, arrive at your date cool, calm, and collected, and enjoy your cocktail and eat responsibly.”
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.
No, genistein isn’t a trendy food item that’s about to blow up—it’s a compound that can help you lose weight. According to a study of female mice printed in The Journal of Nutrition, genistein has the power to decrease food intake and body weight. Scientists suspect this is because of the compound’s ability to turn down the genes for obesity and reduce your body’s capacity to store fat. To add some genistein to your diet, incorporate peanuts, beans, and lentils into your meals.
Though you may give yourself a pat on the back for passing on that slice of chocolate cake you’ve been craving for dessert, you’re actually doing yourself (and your waistline) a disservice in the long run. According to a study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, when you resist food, your body actually experiences more cravings for whatever it is you aren’t getting. Saying “no” to a sweet treat or slice of pizza wires our brains to view forbidden foods as rewards, setting us up for cravings that are hard to satisfy, so give yourself a break and indulge every now and again.

One reason for this is that many products labeled "low fat," "light," and "reduced fat" (things like yogurt, ice cream, and peanut butter) are highly processed and engineered to taste like their original full-fat predecessors. To accomplish this, food manufacturers typically add extra sugar — and sugar, unlike fat, has been strongly implicated as a leading factor contributing to obesity and weight gain.
So think of any form of low carb diet plan. Or low fat diet. Or a diet that eliminates all sugar, or wheat, or grains or gluten or whatever else. Or the paleo diet, or a vegan diet, or a raw food diet, or an organic diet. Or a diet built around only eating “clean” foods. Or any diet that puts some non-calorie-based limit on when, how or what you can eat. Or 800 other similar examples.
And some of these factors can go pretty deep. Albers says that people often don’t realize how dramatically past experiences influence our relationships with ourselves and bodies. For example, having to clean your plate as a child, getting sweet treats to “cheer up” after a bad day at school, or being called “fat” when you were 8 years old all likely have an impact. “Comments about your body or being urged to lose weight by a parent can do emotional damage for the rest of your life,” Albers says. Unless you deal with these issues, “many people spin their wheels and don't know why they feel so stuck,” she says. For this reason, Langer often refers clients to psychologists who specialize in food issues, and she won’t work with those clients on the nutrition side of things until they’ve started to unpack these fundamental emotional factors. Understanding your relationship to food is an important step in trying to change it.
Listen up: Skipping meals will not make you lose weight faster. If a hectic day makes a sit-down meal impossible, stash an energy bar or a piece of fruit in your car or tote, keep snacks in your office desk drawer, and make a point of getting up to grab a nosh — anything that will keep you from going hungry! Going long periods of time without food does double-duty harm on our healthy eating efforts by both slowing down your metabolism, and priming you for another binge later in the day. (Think: You've skipped breakfast and lunch, so you're ready to takedown a whole turkey by dinner!) Make it your mission to eat three meals and two snacks every day, and don't wait longer than three to four hours without eating. Set a "snack alarm" on your phone if needed.

Just as distracted driving negatively impacts your driving ability, distracted eating can cause you to ignore satiety signals, according to Kimberly Gomer, M.S., R.D., Direction of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa. When you’re eating at your desk, in front of the TV, or even just scrolling through your social media feed, it’s harder to “hear” your body signal that it’s full, she says.
Common sense states if you want to lose weight, then you shouldn’t have a large meal not long before going to bed. And now we have additional research to back up that hypothesis. A study published in the journal Obesity followed two groups of overweight women with metabolic syndrome on identical 1,400-calorie weight loss diets for three months. While both groups consumed 500 calories at lunch, one group consumed 700 calories for breakfast and a 200-calorie dinner (the “big breakfast” group), while the other group ate 200 calories at breakfast and 700 calories at dinner (the “big dinner” group). Even though the nutrient content of the meals was exactly the same for both groups, after three months the big breakfast group lost about two and a half times more weight than big dinner group.
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.
“The best way to stick with a diet, is for people to put the fewest restrictions on themselves as possible,” Langer says. “There shouldn't be anything in the world that they shouldn't ever eat again.” Similarly, Albers recommends ditching the “don’t” list entirely. “Instead of trying to stop an old negative habit, focus on building a positive new one,” she says. “New habits crowd out the old without the struggle of trying to stop a behavior.”
However, if a HIIT workout or piling on muscle mass seems too daunting, simply move for two-ish minutes to whittle your waistline. Why, you ask? Research printed in the journal Physiological Reports showed that people who did five 30-second bursts of max-effort cycling, followed by four minutes of rest, burned 200 extra calories that day. If you incorporate this technique into your workout routine just a few times per month, you can burn thousands of additional calories per year.
When researchers compared women on two different diet plans—one that gave dieters a list of foods they could eat and a few easy-to-follow rules, and another more-complicated diet that allowed dieters more food choices, but required them to carefully track all of their eating and exercise—they discovered that those who found the latter plan difficult were the most likely to give up. "Complex diets can be burdensome, so opt for one that seems manageable," says study coauthor Peter Todd, Ph.D., a professor of cognitive science and psychology at Indiana University in Bloomington and director of the IU Food Institute. "Everyone has a different tolerance, so the diet that works for your best friend might feel challenging to you. And if you're feeling overwhelmed by a diet, switch to a simpler approach. That's far better than quitting altogether."
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Writing stuff down may be helpful, but it’s tough to accurately gauge how much you move every day (and not just on the treadmill). Invest in a wearable to monitor energy burn. You can also track your daily steps with a simple pedometer. Studies show that individuals who walk more tend to be thinner than those who walk less, and pedometer-based walking programs result in weight loss.
If you’d rather not channel your inner bunny, try dancing as a way to help shed fat on the body as a whole. “It is obviously a cardio workout, but because your body is forced to move in all different directions in different planes, it is making every single muscle in your body work,” Pedraza explains. “Similar to the benefits of a high-intensity interval training workout, you get the cardio plus toning benefit all in one.” Turn up the volume on your iPod and start moving!

So as you're planning new weight-loss-related lifestyle changes, make a plan to address other stresses in your life first, such as financial problems or relationship conflicts. While these stresses may never go away completely, managing them better should improve your ability to focus on achieving a healthier lifestyle. Once you're ready to launch your weight-loss plan, set a start date and then — start.
If you typically wake up early and stay up late, there’s probably something you’re consistently doing throughout that entire time: eating. Your eating window is bigger, so the amount of calories you take in during the day is, too — and that’s why it’s worth keeping that window as small as possible. What’s more, a 2014 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that only eating within a 8- to 9-hour window — even without restricting your calories — was an effective way to lose weight and prevent obesity. And for more ways to shed pounds, learn the 20 Science-Backed Ways to Motivate Yourself to Lose Weight.
If stone fruits aren’t your thing, peel a banana instead and watch your belly bloat disappear. A study in the journal Anaerobe found that women who ate a banana twice daily before meals for two months reduced belly bloat by 50 percent. Researchers believe this is because bananas are packed with potassium, which can reduce water retention. The yellow fruits are also a good source of fiber, which will keep you feeling full.

A series of new studies suggests that when you eat may be as important as what you eat. In one, participants who usually ate within a 15-hour window were told to confine it to 10 or 11 hours—and they dropped an average of seven pounds over the 16-week study, without changing anything else about their eating. "The timing of food intake affects the body's internal clock, which in turn affects genes that play a role in metabolism," says study author Satchidananda Panda, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. In other words, our bodies may burn calories more efficiently when we eat during a shorter window of the day. So consider eating your breakfast a little later and your dinner a little earlier.


Dairy products such as cream and cheeses. They work well in cooking as they satisfy. The problem is if you’re munching a lot of cheese in front of the TV in the evening… without being hungry. Be careful with that. Or lots of cream with dessert, when you’re actually already full and just keep eating because it tastes good. Or another common culprit: loads of heavy cream in the coffee, many times per day.
Not like you needed another reason to fall in love, snuggle up with your sweetie, kiss or get it on. Harvard Medical School researchers found that all of those things can aid weight loss. How? Lovey-dovey feelings cause levels of the hormone oxytocin to increase, which in turn, decreases appetite. For even more weight loss hacks, check out these 20 Weight Loss Tricks You Haven’t Tried.

Track what you eat, when you ate it, how much you ate and how that food made you feel, Glazer recommends. “Being completely honest with yourself and writing down every single thing that passes through your lips will help you start to notice that maybe you actually do snack, possibly take in more sugar than you thought, eat when you’re bored rather than just hungry or maybe that you have a habit of snacking before bed while watching TV.”
We applaud you for getting off the couch and making it to your weekly spin class. But if you refuse to venture beyond stationary bikes, you might give the pounds the green light to creep back on. “If you’ve been doing the same workout for the past few months, your body isn’t being challenged anymore, meaning it’s not burning as many calories as it otherwise could,” Dr. Sean M. Wells, personal trainer and author of Double-Crossed: A Review of the Most Extreme Exercise Program, tells us in 17 Reasons Why You’re Regaining Weight. Spike your metabolism and switch things up by exploring different fitness classes or trying a HIIT routine at home.
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