But if navigating these choices seems confusing, that’s where Eat This, Not That! comes in. What really works are making little lifestyle tweaks, simple moves that help you slash calories, boost nutrition and build a healthy foundation. We’ve gathered up some of the easiest, most effective new tricks and tactics to help you shed those unwanted pounds and slim down for good.
Having dessert for breakfast seems like a dream come true. You’re not dreaming, though: A 2012 study from Tel Aviv University found eating a big, 600-calorie breakfast that included a dessert — like the three Cs: cookies, cake, and chocolate — lost 40 pounds more than the group that avoided sweets. It might seem backwards, but the researchers said those who had dessert first-thing were able to naturally burn off more of those extra calories throughout the day, and they were also better able to control their cravings later on.

The next time you’re making a salad, why not throw some watercress in there? The green veggie is an excellent source of folate, which has been shown to stimulate weight loss. In fact, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those with the highest folate levels lose about 8.5 times more weight when dieting than those with the lowest levels of folate. What’s more? A separate study in the British Journal of Cancer found that higher dietary folate intake reduces the breast cancer risk. In addition to watercress, other good sources of folate include spinach, asparagus, and papaya.

SOURCES: WebMD Feature: "With Fruits and Veggies, More Matters." 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD,author, Comfort Food Makeovers. Brian Wansink, PhD, professor and director, Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Ithaca, N.Y.; author, Mindless Eating. Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences; and director, laboratory for the study of human ingestive behaviors, Penn State University; and author, The Volumetrics Eating Plan.


“[These tools’] potential benefit is awareness,” Fear says. “Knowledge can be power, but these things can be counterproductive when they simply create alarm without any clear course of action to take. Seeing your weight rise doesn't necessarily provide you with any action steps you can take. It's just upsetting, like a fire alarm going off with no exit routes identified.” Langer notes that “in people who have a history of or are at risk for an eating disorder or compulsiveness, tracking anything should be off limits.”
But don't worry: Most of the research does not suggest a need to slash meat, dairy, or fish from your diet. In fact, the best results typically appear to come from diets that combine high amounts of vegetables with healthy sources of protein, which can include seafood, eggs, and meat. Eating plans like these include the popular Mediterranean diet and MIND diet.

It’s tough to resist the draw of the jumbo-size savings you get from buying in bulk. We get it. But one U.K. study suggests that the bigger you go, the more you consume on a daily basis. The researchers explained that this effect was consistent no matter whether participants were men or women, had a larger BMI, were hungry or not, or were consciously attempting to control their eating.
When the going gets tough (and it likely will from time to time along any weight loss journey), it’s important to realize that a host of non-food factors can make losing weight difficult, explains board-certified obesity medicine specialist Spencer Nadolsky, D.O., a diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and author of The Fat Loss Prescription. Hormones, genetics, and, ultimately, metabolism are three big ones, he says.
Finally decided to venture out for a run? Snack on some beets before you hit the pavement. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that runners who ate baked beets before a 5K race ran 5 percent faster. Researchers suspect this is because beets are high in nitrates, a natural chemical that increases endurance and lowers blood pressure.
Studies of successful dieters reveal a hard truth: "They remain fairly strict about their eating forever," says James O. Hill, Ph.D., cofounder of the National Weight Control Registry, which keeps data on thousands of people who have lost weight and kept it off. Sound depressing? Think of it this way, suggests Eat to Lose, Eat to Win author Beller: "You just need to find a nutritional strategy you can live with long-term—like allowing yourself to have dessert or a cocktail or two every so often. It's like moving to a new city. For the first year or so it's difficult, but once you establish a routine you get comfortable. You might still miss things about your old life, but you're happy with your new one too."
If you often find yourself binge-watching your favorite reality series or catching up on emails come midnight, you may be doing your body a disservice. A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that participants who slept over seven hours a night and reported better sleep quality, longer sleep duration, and shorter latency to sleep onset were actually able to maintain their weight loss more successfully than those who got less than six or seven hours of shut-eye. Plus, those who considered themselves early birds also reported better weight-loss maintenance. If you need help clocking in more hours of beauty rest, turn to our tried-and-true 20 Ways to Double Your Sleep Quality.
If the bathroom scale is an instrument of torture to you, it's time to make peace! Studies show that people who successfully lose weight and keep it off long-term weigh themselves regularly. Otherwise you're at risk of mindlessly regaining. In one study, a third of women didn't realize they'd put on five pounds over the course of six months—and a quarter had no clue they'd gained nine. To get over your scale dread, remind yourself that the number isn't an indictment of you as a person, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D.N. "Think of it as objective data—like the temperature on an outdoor thermometer—that can give you helpful information about whether you're on track with your diet," she says. And daily weighing might be best. "It demystifies the scale and takes away some of its power," explains Carly Pacanowski, Ph.D., R.D., who has conducted weighing-frequency studies at Cornell University.

While you may think you’re doing yourself and your waistline a favor by stocking up on sugar-free goodies, the well-meaning habit is likely doing more harm than good. In a 2012 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that those who drank diet beverages had higher fasting glucose, thicker waists, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, higher triglycerides, and higher blood pressure. In other words, sugar-free cookies, soda, and the like may seem like the healthier option, but they contribute to a bulging belly and negatively impact your health in multiple ways.
Big-box stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club are great money-savers, but frequenting them to buy groceries can be bad news for your fitness goals. That’s because a 2015 study in the journal Appetite found that the larger the bottle, bag, or box the food comes in, the larger we think the serving size should be. To come to that conclusion, researchers surveyed more than thirteen thousand people and found that when confronted with larger packages of cola, chips, chocolate, or lasagna, the shoppers tended to want to serve themselves larger portions.
Instead, weigh yourself once a week. Do it the same time of day each time and in similar clothes (or no clothes at all!). And remember, the numbers on the scale don't tell the whole story. It's entirely possible that your body is getting stronger or losing inches even if it's not shedding pounds every week. Pay attention to how your clothes fit, your overall appearance, and, of course, how you feel.   
“Patients can diet themselves down to any weight they put their minds to, but to maintain that weight, they need to actually enjoy the lifestyle that got them there,” writes Yoni Freedhoff, M.D., the medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa, Canada, and Arya M. Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., the founder and Scientific Director of the Canadian Obesity Network, in Best Weight, a manual for clinicians who treat patients pursuing weight loss. “A patient’s best weight is therefore whatever weight they achieve while living the healthiest lifestyle they can truly enjoy.”
We’ve been clear on the benefits of wild salmon, but those pink creatures are quite literally not the only fish in the sea. Generally speaking, fish provide one of the best sources of fatty acids known as omega-3s, which will help fend off waist-widening inflammation and are an excellent source of high-quality, lean protein. This allows them to help you maintain muscle mass, thus reducing excess fat accumulation. Some of our favorite healthy seafood include mussels, Atlantic mackerel, and bluefish, but be sure to educate yourself on the ocean dwellers with this list of Every Popular Fish—Ranked for Nutritional Benefits!
Close the Kitchen at Night. Establish a time when you will stop eating so you won't give in to the late-night munchies or mindless snacking while watching television. "Have a cup of tea, suck on a piece of hard candy or enjoy a small bowl of light ice cream or frozen yogurt if you want something sweet after dinner, but then brush your teeth so you will be less likely to eat or drink anything else," suggests Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, WebMD's "Recipe Doctor" and the author of Comfort Food Makeovers.
Dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar), which slows down weight loss. What’s more, part of the protein in milk generates a significant insulin response, which can have the same effect. Consequently, cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss. This applies especially to dairy products typically lacking in fat, such as regular milk and various yogurts, but be careful with full-fat dairy such as cream and cheese all the same. And don’t forget whey protein powder, which is pure milk protein.

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.

Dieters already know to steer clear of sugary cocktails and stick to vodka sodas at happy hour. But nixing booze altogether for a few weeks at a time could really help you jumpstart your weight loss efforts. A Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study found that alcohol causes people to eat an additional 384 calories per day on average, likely because booze makes us more sensitive to food aromas and less likely to resist indulgent fare.
If you just can’t shake those belly-bloating sugar cravings, try tyrosine—a building block of protein. It has been shown to prevent that yearning for the sweet stuff by encouraging the brain to release dopamine and another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine. In other words, eating more tyrosine (which can be found in eggs, spirulina, certain cheeses such as Parmesan, Gruyère, Swiss, and Romano, milk, sesame seeds, beef, and bacon) helps fend off those harmful sugar cravings that make your belly fat.
Sure, you can lose weight quickly. There are plenty of fad diets that work to shed pounds rapidly -- while leaving you feeling hungry and deprived. But what good is losing weight only to regain it? To keep pounds off permanently, it's best to lose weight slowly. And many experts say you can do that without going on a "diet." Instead, the key is making simple tweaks to your lifestyle.
If you're like many Americans, one of your New Year's resolutions is to shed some pounds. In fact, about a third of Americans say they want to make a commitment to lose weight in the New Year, according to a Nielsen survey from 2015. But starting a weight-loss regimen may seem daunting, particularly if you've tried in the past, only to see the weight come back later. Here, we've outlined some of the best tips for losing weight, including how to get started, stay motivated and keep weight off.
Schedule "cheat meals" and gym breaks into your routine. “It’s hard to be consistently motivated and always be on your game. Give yourself a little bit of a reprieve," says Delaney. "Mentally, it’s not normal to constantly be on all the time, we need to unwind and relax. By doing something that’s not perfect, were allowing ourselves to revel in the moment and celebrate our success; it gives us a renewed energy to move on.” To do this, Delaney says to schedule one cheat meal a week, and to pick 1-2 days where you let your body rest. "Go out and have a slice of pizza and a glass of red wine. Your body needs that, not just physically, but mentally. Same with the gym. You don’t need to work out every day. Give your body that recoup time; physically and mentally it needs it. Give yourself a break so you can sustain that motivation. It’s an allowance instead of creating the ‘I messed up syndrome’ which causes you to get off track.”
Obviously, it’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – just eat fewer calories than you burn, right? The problem with this simplistic advice is that it ignores the elephant in the room: Hunger. Most people don’t like to “just eat less”, i.e. being hungry forever. That’s dieting for masochists. Sooner or later, a normal person will give up and eat, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting”.

Big-box stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club are great money-savers, but frequenting them to buy groceries can be bad news for your fitness goals. That’s because a 2015 study in the journal Appetite found that the larger the bottle, bag, or box the food comes in, the larger we think the serving size should be. To come to that conclusion, researchers surveyed more than thirteen thousand people and found that when confronted with larger packages of cola, chips, chocolate, or lasagna, the shoppers tended to want to serve themselves larger portions.


Langer adds that when when people have good vs. bad, perfectionistic expectations for themselves, they tend to handle supposed misdeeds (like eating something they “shouldn’t”) one of two ways: languishing in their failure or compensating by restricting subsequent meals. People who do make sustainable weight loss work, however, can enjoy that piece of cake and then, in their next meal, eat just like they had before digging into that slice of cake.

If you just can’t shake those belly-bloating sugar cravings, try tyrosine—a building block of protein. It has been shown to prevent that yearning for the sweet stuff by encouraging the brain to release dopamine and another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine. In other words, eating more tyrosine (which can be found in eggs, spirulina, certain cheeses such as Parmesan, Gruyère, Swiss, and Romano, milk, sesame seeds, beef, and bacon) helps fend off those harmful sugar cravings that make your belly fat.
How much your close friends weigh, plays a major role in how much you’ll weigh, say Harvard School of Public Health researchers. In fact, their findings suggest that a person’s chance of becoming obese increases by 57% if a close friend is obese—and it makes sense: If your buddies all love meeting up for burgers and beers on the reg, it will be really hard to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle. Our advice? From time to time suggest getting into other types of activities like yoga or a healthy cooking class. You could also consider hosting get-togethers at your house so you can control the menu. Another tip: Try to meet new people who enjoy living the healthy lifestyle you now lead. (A gym class or hiking group is a great place to introduce yourself!) This will help add a healthy balance to your life, without kicking your long-time besties to the curb. For more ways to maintain your newfound flat abs, check out these 25 Best Foods for a Toned Body!
NEW: My brand new fat loss program, Superior Fat Loss, is now available. It’s completely designed to allow you to lose fat as quickly and effectively as realistically possible… WITHOUT losing muscle, or feeling hungry all the time, or giving up the foods you love, or doing tons of cardio, or following annoying diet rules, or experiencing excessive metabolic slowdown and plateaus, or regaining the fat after you lose it. You can learn all about it right here: Superior Fat Loss

No matter how minute your cabinet space or how kid-friendly your kitchen, cereal boxes should always be stashed out of sight and never on your countertops. Why? Because if you have even one box of cereal on your counter, you're likely to weigh a startling 21 pounds more than someone who doesn't, concludes Wansink's research. And women, who tend to spend more time in the kitchen than men do, are especially vulnerable to cereal. "It has what we call a 'health halo'," says Wansink. "Its boxes are covered with phrases like 'contains whole grain' and 'now with 11 essential vitamins and minerals.' This implies it's healthy, so we underestimate the calories and overeat it to reward ourselves for being so healthy." And that's especially true if we see it every time we enter the kitchen. The only food Wansink recommends keeping in full view on your kitchen counter? Fruit.


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.

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.
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. 
We’ve been clear on the benefits of wild salmon, but those pink creatures are quite literally not the only fish in the sea. Generally speaking, fish provide one of the best sources of fatty acids known as omega-3s, which will help fend off waist-widening inflammation and are an excellent source of high-quality, lean protein. This allows them to help you maintain muscle mass, thus reducing excess fat accumulation. Some of our favorite healthy seafood include mussels, Atlantic mackerel, and bluefish, but be sure to educate yourself on the ocean dwellers with this list of Every Popular Fish—Ranked for Nutritional Benefits!
×