Wansink and his team found that people who sat by a window or in a well-lit part of a restaurant tended to order healthier foods than those who sat at darker tables or in booths. And diners sitting within two tables of the bar drank an average of three more beers or mixed drinks (per table of four) than those sitting farther away. Additionally, the closer a person was to a TV, the more fried food he or she ordered. Whether or not these choices are causal remains to be determined, but it can't hurt to request a table by the window, right?
As seasoned professionals, registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) have an arsenal of info at the ready to use as starting points for clients, regardless of their individual weight journey. But when these approaches don't achieve the desired results, they can also help clients explore other avenues. We spoke with several nutrition pros to get the lowdown—what general advice works for most people, and which factors might be standing in the way of weight loss? Faced with these obstacles, how do dietitians tailor their advice to the individual?
Good point: Even if a weight or body fat percentage is achievable, at a certain point, the investment required to make it happen or sustain it just isn’t worth it, Moore says. And as Albers explains, the ultimate goals are to have energy, be healthy, be able to lead the life you want, and feel that your healthy habits add to, rather than take away from, the quality of your life.
You don’t need to have some kind of apocalypse-ready jump bag ready (although, why not?), but grabbing one or two dependable snacks and throwing them in your work bag or gym tote is a good idea, says Rissetto. That’s because people tend to graze on unhealthy stuff more when they feel like they don’t have other options. Be prepared, weight-loss scout, and you’ll avoid the hangry times.
Just because you’re trying to slim down, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the occasional dessert splurge. There’s a simple solution to having your cake and eating it, too: Eat healthfully 80 percent of the time and reserve the remaining 20 percent of the time to cheat meals. Balance is key to sticking to your diet and dropping weight and maintaining it in the long run.
“Suddenly cutting calories or ramping up exercise causes the body to go into famine mode and defend its calories,” explains Robert Herbst, personal trainer, weight loss and wellness coach, and powerlifter. “That’s why people who suddenly start eating only salads on New Year’s Day are starving and miserable a week later—and their resolution diet comes to a crashing halt.” Instead, he recommends that his clients aim to lose one pound every week by cutting out calories here and there, such as snacks or sugary coffees. “The body will feel comfortable and the gradual weight loss will add up.”
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.
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.
The average American consumes 15.5 pounds of pasta each year—and most of it is the refined white stuff. What’s the trouble with that? This type of noodle is almost completely void of fiber and protein, two vital nutrients for weight loss. To boost the belly-filling fiber and hunger-busting protein in your meal, opt for a bean-based noodle like Banza Chickpea Shells (2 oz., 190 calories, 8 grams of fiber, 14 grams of protein) or Explore Asian Black Bean Low-Carb Pasta (2 oz., 180 calories, 12 grams of fiber, and 25 grams of protein). Alternatively, whip up a batch of zoodles, or spiralized veggie noodles with the help of these 21 Mouthwatering Spiralizer Recipes.
If you work at a job that requires you to be chained to your desk all day, try switching things up and giving a trendy standing desk a shot. Simply standing while you toil away as opposed to sitting has been shown to contribute to weight loss. Bloomberg reports that researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that standing burns about 54 calories over a six-hour day, and although that might not sound like much, those calories accumulate quickly. At that rate, you can burn over 1,000 calories a month just by staying on your feet.
So how does this work? A quick run-through: The first tip was to eat low carb. This is because a low-carb diet lowers your levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin, allowing your fat deposits to shrink and release their stored energy. This tends to cause you to want to consume fewer calories than you expend – without hunger – and lose weight. Several of the tips mentioned above are about fine-tuning your diet to better this effect.
“You need a combination of both weight training and cardio to get fat off your body,” Mike Duffy, CPT, tells us in 17 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Back Fat, adding, “Cardio alone will only train one type of muscle fiber and you’ll only be building one part of your fat-burning furnace. I see many people doing tons of cardio every day and not lifting weights. They never change the way they look.”
So I just began my training again after constantly training and taking a break for different periods of time because of school. So after a 6 month break I got really fat. Gained like 7-8 KGS, and I am wondering what I should do to get lean again. Have my calorie intake low, or make it stable so I burn fat and keep my muscle? I am following your muscle building workout routine with the upper and lower body split.
Sure, all fruits and veggies are healthy and low-cal, but did you know that when it comes to keeping away those waist-expanding pounds, flavonoid-rich foods like bananas, strawberries, grapes, pears, onions, peppers and celery are the best bets? In a 2016 British Medical Journal study of 124,000 middle-aged and older people, those who ate a diet rich in flavonoid-filled foods maintained their weight better than those who didn’t—and it makes a lot of sense. Earlier findings suggested that the naturally occurring plant compounds could ward off inflammation and fat absorption. Not a big fan of the fruits and veggies above? Tea is another option that’s chock full of flavonoids! To make the most of the benefits from your brew get your hands on the The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse! Test panelists lost up to 10 pounds in one week, so it’s sure to keep the pounds at bay for you, too!
“Do what works for you,” Langer says. “And if something doesn’t, change it. There’s a million other ways to go about it. There are no absolutes in nutrition.” Case in point: In a 2018 JAMA study, when more 600 adults who were classified as overweight followed a low-fat or low-carb eating plan over the course of 12 months, everyone lost about the same amount of weight.
Good news for carb lovers: Scientists discovered an easy way to slim down any bowl of rice by as much as 60 percent! And the best part is that you don’t need a fancy lab or a PhD. to make the slimmed-down dish. Here’s how to whip it up: Add a teaspoon of coconut oil and a half cup of non-fortified white rice to a pot of boiling water. Cook it for about 40 minutes, stick it in the refrigerator for 12 hours and enjoy the rice either cold or reheated. How does such a simple cooking hack—that adds fat, no less—slash calories? When the rice begins to cool, its glucose molecules form tight bonds called “resistant starch.” This type of starch, as the name implies, is resistant to digestion, meaning that the body is not able to absorb as many calories or as much of the glucose (a nutrient that’s stored as fat if it’s not burned off) from each molecule. While you may be hesitant to add the oft-vilified oil to your pot, it actually plays an integral role in the process. As the rice cooks, the fat molecules find their way into the rice and act as an additional digestion barrier. Best of all, the research team found that reheating the rice didn’t change the levels of resistant starch (as it does with pasta and potatoes), deeming this calorie-slashing cooking hack safe for leftovers, too.
While it’s possible to lose weight without doing a single pushup or burpee, in order to keep it off, physical activity is must, says James O. Hill, PhD, co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry. But not all workouts are created equal. Although cardio gets all of the glory, interval and strength training are the real heroes in the world of weight maintenance. These methods of exercise will help you replace flab with hard, sexy muscle which will boost your metabolism and make it easier to keep off those sneaky pounds. For the best results, do strength or interval training twice a week and aim for an hour of physical activity a day—that could mean walking, swimming or running errands. Just get off your tush and move! Why an hour? The majority of successful losers who have maintained their weight loss for an average of 5.5 years report moving for about an hour a day, according to the National Weight Control Registry.
So, go ahead and pat yourself on the back for all that you’ve accomplished. But while you’re at it, why not start thinking about how you’re going to maintain your new body for the long haul? To help make it possible, we’ve come with 20 easy ways to keep those sneaky pounds away from your frame for good! Pick a few from the list below, stick to ‘em like it’s your job, and we can practically guarantee you’ll stay in your skinny jeans for life. And for some extra motivation, why not check out these 30 Healthy Habits Fit People Live By?
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.
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.
Are frequent meals your ticket to a better body? Experts say so! In a Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study that sampled 2,385 adults, research participants who ate less than four times a day consumed more calories and had a higher BMI than those who sat down to eat at least six times. The scientists noticed that those who ate fewer meals consumed most of their calories at night and were more apt to drink alcohol with their meals while their ever-grazing counterparts tended to eat healthier, less calorically dense foods. To keep the weight flying off your frame, nosh on these high-protein snacks between meals.
“Family and friend support is so critical to staying accountable," says Delaney. "People may have a sincere interest to work out and eat healthy, but [it's hard if] their family is not on the same page. They buy junk food. They aren’t active. They sit in front of the TV instead of taking a walk.” But getting your family on board with your health goals is another one of those things that’s easier in theory than practice. Delaney offers up three strategies she uses in her own household:
Here’s your chance to splurge on those dim, overhead kitchen lights you’ve been waiting. A 2012 study published in the journal Psychological Reports: Human Resources & Marketing found those who ate in environments with soft lighting and music ate fewer calories than those who ate in bright, loud environments. So turn down the lights and turn every meal into a fine-dining experience.
Apart from potential eating disorders, what exactly is so bad about eating very few calories a day? Since according to your article (and science) starvation mode doesn’t kick in until you’re super skinny I don’t really understand what bad can come from it (expect said potential eating disorders). I’m not planning on severely reducing my caloric intake, I was just wondering.
This could be because the body increases insulin secretion in anticipation that sugar will appear in the blood. When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Whether this chain of events regularly takes place is somewhat unclear. Something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max though, and there are well-designed studies showing increased insulin when using artificial sweeteners.
In a 2014 study in the journal Public Health Nutrition, people were asked to report their food intake over the course of two days. Those who ate at a restaurant during that time took in an average of 200 calories per day more than those who prepared all their own meals, and those who ate in sit-down restaurants actually consumed slightly more calories than those who ordered from fast-food joints. When dining out, people also consumed more saturated fat, sugar, and sodium, so eating at home where you can prepare food in a healthier way is obviously the better choice.
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.
It's the name of a book and a weight-loss strategy promoted by hypnotherapist John Richardson, who believes that what you say to yourself—subconsciously and aloud—can help you prevent weight loss-sabotaging behaviors. For example, on a midnight fridge raid you might say to yourself, "What am I doing here? Is this really what I want?" It's a technique that Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, New York, and author of Slim By Design: Mindless Eating Solutions to Everyday Life, has found to be strongly associated with losing weight. The problem is, many of us aren't willing to do it because it's, well, strange. But it's very much worth a try. "If you're faced with a snack and you're not hungry, say to yourself out loud: 'I'm really full, but I'm going to eat this anyway,' " he advises. "We've found that when people make that statement aloud, two-thirds of the time they don't eat the food. That's all you have to do, but you do have to say it aloud."
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 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."
People often complain that they don't have enough time to exercise or to shop for and prepare healthy meals. But in fact, most people spend many hours watching TV or using their computer for fun. Keep track of your screen time for a week, then try scaling back the number of hours by a quarter or a third, and devote that time to your weight-loss efforts.
Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that's not really so difficult: "Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings," she says. "Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won't be reaching for the cookie jar."