And that raises the most important point: Thinking about exercise as a way to work off food or simply allow you to eat sets up a host of unhealthy and unhelpful thought patterns and habits around food and exercise. For instance, one 2013 research review found that, not only did people generally overestimate how many calories exercise burned—when they did work out, they ramped up their food intake. And if you overeat following exercise, any caloric deficit created during your workout can become a wash. And related: thinking of food as a reward and exercise as a punishment is likely to sabotage your weight loss efforts anyway.
“Fad diets and meal replacement shakes are not the answer to sustainable weight loss or better health. Sure, you can do something drastic to lose 20 pounds in a month, but chances are these actions aren’t sustainable. If you want to lose the weight and keep it off for good, target a weight loss of one to two pounds per week so you can truly see permanent, long-lasting results!” Kristen Carlucci Haase RD-N dished out in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
To drop serious lbs, you need the one-two punch of aerobic exercise plus strength training. Resistance helps build and preserve metabolism-boosting lean muscle while burning fat and is especially key when you hit a plateau. Amanda Green lost 15 pounds in two months doing hour-long cardio DVDs, but it wasn't until she started running outside and lifting weights three times a week that she was able to ditch the last 15 of her 30-pound goal.
As an added bonus, your metabolism also gets a nice boost from eating these foods. It takes more energy to burn whole foods. “Avoid starchy, processed high-fat foods that are loaded with toxins that cause a buildup of inflammation. This—combined with stress—creates elevated cortisol levels and promote[s] the storage of fat in the abdomen,” Dr. Petre adds.
Skipping snack time won’t necessarily lead to weight loss: Low calorie consumption can actually slow metabolism. Eating less than three times a day may benefit those who are obese, but research shows skipping meals throughout the day and eating one large meal at night can lead to some undesirable outcomes (like delayed insulin response) which may increase the risk of diabetes. Instead of forgoing breakfast or lunch, stick to a few meals a day with healthy snacks between them.
We’ve already discussed how the color red may act as an appetite suppressant (hence the need for red dishes) but apparently that’s not the only color you should be taking note of as you prepare to eat. Per a recent study from Cornell University, diners actually serve themselves more food if the color of their food matches the color of their plate. In other words, if you’re eating from a white plate, you’re more likely to help yourself to more rice or pasta. Conversely, if your goal is to eat less, select plates that have high contrast with what you plan to serve for dinner.
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.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota did a series of studies in which they had participants eat vegetables before they put any other food on their plates—and even the researchers were surprised by what they found. "People consumed up to five times more veggies than usual," says Traci Mann, Ph.D., who led the study. And participants who munched carrots before being offered M&Ms subsequently ate one-third less candy than those who were just given the candy first. Why does this trick work? Because when any food is put in front of us, we generally go for it—and the veggies aren't competing with other foods on our plate (which we tend to go for first, if given the option). So start with a salad or crudités.
Make lunch at home and bring it to work. That way, you know of every single ingredient that's going into your meal. Not to mention it'll save you the cost of buying a lunch. Cleveland Clinic recommends making sure one half of your plate is filled with leafy greens, one quarter is lean meat, and the other quarter is whole grains like brown rice or barley.
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.
Pumping iron not only gives us muscles, but it can boost resting metabolism (meaning you burn more calories outside the gym) plus improve mood and confidence. Lifting a little weight can also help you sleep, another factor in effective weight loss. If we haven’t convinced you to take to dumbbells quite yet, there’s also this: Strength training takes just a few weeks to see results.
Feeling blue? That’s a good thing for your weight — well, when it comes to your dinnerware. In a study published in Contact, researchers found those who ate in a blue room ate 33 percent less. Why? According to one doc, it has to do with how it alters the look of your meal — which is exactly why you should snag some blue plates, stat. “Blue lights make food look less appealing, while warmer colors, especially yellow, have the opposite effect,” said Val Jones, MD.
Jenifer Tharani, MS, RD, also encourages mindful eating as a general strategy. Eating slowly, bringing attention to flavors and textures of foods, and checking in frequently for fullness all promote a feeling of satiation—even when cutting back on portion sizes. "I ask patients during follow-up weight management sessions whether they felt satisfied with eating smaller portions, and they always say yes," she says.
Though it’s hardly realistic to keep people from moving north, there’s evidence to suggest that those living in northern latitudes may need to be a bit more careful about their gut health than the rest of us. A study in the journal Biology Letters found that living in northern latitudes encourages the growth of Firmicutes microbes, which have been linked to weight gain while decreasing the number of microbes linked with slim body types called Bacteroidetes. Generally speaking, the research showed that the number of Firmicutes increases with latitude and the number of Bacteroidetes decreases with latitude. To help ensure a healthy gut no matter where you reside, make sure your diet includes fermented and probiotic-rich foods, both of which encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
I just want to say something about cardio for the few female readers. I think for smaller women, sometimes it’s really necessary, and not just 20 minutes twice a week. Not that anything you said is wrong, but if you’re a small woman, you might literally starve if the deficit comes from the diet entirely… I am just saying that because I see so many women “bragging” about not doing any cardio, and losing fat at a normal pace while eating a decent amount of food, which usually sets unrealistic expectations…
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:
Try counting the calories you eat. There are loads of different apps out there where you type in your current weight and how much you want to loose. It then tells you how many calories you should eat a day to reach this goal, and helps you keep track of how many you've eaten. The first few days it's a bit annoying having to weigh and note everything you eat, but it quickly becomes a habit. This has worked wonders for me, because it helps me make better choices for my meals, and tells me just how many chocolates I can eat before I've eaten too many calories :-) Good luck.
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.”
Ilana Muhlstein, M.S., R.D.N., is the co-creator of Beachbody’s 2B Mindset program. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and dietetics from the University of Maryland, sits on the executive leadership team for the American Heart Association, and leads the Bruin Health Improvement Program at UCLA. Ilana acts as a nutrition consultant for several companies, including Beachbody and Whole Foods Market. At home, she is a wife and mother of two.
"Order without looking at the menu. Almost every restaurant has the basics—veggies, grains, and protein. If you go in knowing what you want, I guarantee you'll be able to make a meal. If you're too uncomfortable to ask for what you need, tell a white lie: Say you're allergic. I know it's controversial to suggest this, but women in particular can really have trouble standing up for their own needs. So if you want the broccoli soup puréed without cream, tell the waiter you're lactose intolerant."
Though you may think skipping a meal such as breakfast will help you lose weight because you would be consuming fewer calories, numerous studies have actually shown that bailing on breakfast is bad for your waistline. Why, you ask? It turns out that skipping breakfast not only means you’ll likely consume more calories later in the day, but eating more calories in the later part of the day is a nightmare for metabolic circadian rhythms, which help keep your weight in check.
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.
I’ve never been one to focus too much on “mindful eating” because the idea of meditating on a grape is not my style. But I learned it does take more than that just focusing on what's on my plate. And yes, that means to eat more consciously. Here, I'm sharing the weight-loss tips and rules that work for me (and a glimpse at what you'd find on my 2B Mindset program).
Intermittent fasting (IF) is the hottest ticket in the nutrition world right now, with reported benefits ranging from improved immunity, faster metabolism, better insulin sensitivity, lower cancer risk, and of course, weight loss. While we'd all love these rewards, not eating for 24 hours or more can feel like a marathon of deprivation. A way to ease into IF is to try to eat just one meal a day. People often find that once they get past the habit of eating all the time, they really don't miss the extra meals.
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Enlist a workout buddy. You’re more likely to stick to a weight loss program if you have social support — after all, it’s hard to slack off when someone is counting on you. “Having an exercise partner can help you keep each other on a healthy path,” Heathman says. If you can’t find a workout buddy in your area, join an online accountability group — virtual fit-buddies are fine as long as they’ll nudge you when you need it.
National guidelines recommend that, for sustainable weight loss, a reduction in calorie intake of about 600 a day is needed. This could lead to a weekly weight loss of around 0.5kg (1lb). While it may not sound a great deal next to the promises of many quick-fix diets, it allows you to incorporate healthy eating habits into your lifestyle permanently, so you’re more likely to keep it off for good.’
Instead of depriving yourself of all your favorite indulgences or meticulously counting calories to drop a size, simply consume at least 30 grams of fiber daily. This simple, no-fuss method fuels weight loss and improves health just as effectively as more complex diet approaches, University of Massachusetts Medical School researchers discovered. “Very few people reach the goals that are recommended,” said lead study author Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD, adding that “Telling people to reduce this or reduce that is just too hard to do.” However, asking people to focus on eating more of a certain nutrient—rather than eliminating things from their diet–can help people reach their weight loss goals, he explains. Interested in giving the diet strategy a try? Check out these 11 Best High-Fiber Foods for Weight Loss and start slimming down!