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.
There’s healthy belly bacteria, and then there’s bad belly bacteria, which studies indicate overweight people have more of in their gut. To keep the fat-causing bugs at bay, you need to eat a variety of foods that support their healthy counterparts—the kind found in the bellies of slim people. Examples of probiotic-rich foods that help you lose weight by aiding digestion include kimchi, kombucha, bone broth, and kefir.

While some people respond well to counting calories or similar restrictive methods, others respond better to having more freedom in planning their weight-loss programs. Being free to simply avoid fried foods or cut back on refined carbs can set them up for success. So, don’t get too discouraged if a diet that worked for somebody else doesn’t work for you. And don’t beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stick with. Ultimately, a diet is only right for you if it’s one you can stick with over time.
Diet experts say that we need about one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight to aid muscle growth and weight loss. So if that’s what you’re eating each day, you’re bound to get the body of your dreams, right? Unfortunately, there’s more to it than that. According to University of Texas researchers, the timing at which you consume your protein can make or break how much lean muscle mass you pack on. If you’re like most Americans, you likely consume little to no protein for breakfast, a bit of protein at lunch and the bulk of your daily intake during dinner—which the researchers discovered isn’t ideal for muscle synthesis. Luckily, fitness-minded friends, the fix is a simple one: Just distribute your protein intake evenly throughout the day. The scientists found that those who followed this simple trick had 25 percent higher protein synthesis than those who ate the majority of the nutrient after the sun went down. To hit the mark and start leaning out, try one of these 35 Best-Ever Chicken Recipes for Weight Loss!

Shedding pounds is tricky and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. “We all have a certain amount of calories [that] we need each day to function and not gain weight. However, this amount varies greatly from each individual depending on your size, muscle mass, hormones, sex, heredity, etc.,” says Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., Houston-based dietitian and founder of Eat Right Fitness. “One person may lose weight on 1,500 calories per day, [while] another may gain weight.” The good news is that there are plenty of solutions that do work. They ensure that both your health and your quality of life are top notch. We asked top nutrition experts to share their best tips to keep weight off for good.

If this cycle has occurred more times than you'd like to admit, you’re not alone. Setting a weight-loss goal is easy to do, but following through on it is a different story. Which is why losing weight is consistently one of the most popular resolutions, but few of us actually accomplish it. In fact, one survey found that at the end of the first week of January, 30 percent of people have already called it quits.
The final possible culprit behind stubborn weight issues may be the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol will increase hunger levels, bringing along subsequent weight gain. The most common cause of elevated cortisol is chronic stress and lack of sleep (see tip #10), or cortisone medication (tip #9). It’s a good idea to try your best to do something about this.

Lately, we’re noticing protein-packed everything—from breads to nut butter and milk. While you don’t need to load up on weird franken-foods to amp up your intake of the nutrient, if you’re trying to drop a few pounds, then it’s wise to keep some high-protein snacks on hand. Noshing on these can prevent eating something high-calorie every time hunger strikes.
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.
Adding whole, natural, and anti-inflammatory foods to your diet is a great start for better health and to keep weight off. “People who consume natural, whole foods have lower rates of diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease,” says Luiza Petre, M.D., NYC-based cardiologist and weight management specialist. “Anti-inflammatory foods in particular, such as low-fat dairy, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, poultry, and fish, can make a significant difference when trying to shed pounds and belly fat. They are easily digested, keep you satiated, and boost energy levels.”
It doesn’t take much convincing to wake up to a plate of over-easy eggs and whole-grain toast. In fact, munching in the morning—rather than saving your appetite for lunch time—can help you fight off weight gain for good. A study published in the journal Obesity Research discovered that out of participants who lost an average of 70 pounds and kept it off for six years, 78 percent ate breakfast daily.
Gum is a bad-breath and weight-loss solution? A 2011 study published in the journal Appetite seems to think so. Researchers found chewing gum for 45 minutes significantly decreased the participants’ level of hunger, appetite, and cravings. On top of that, it also made them feel more full, helping them better control their appetites to lose weight. (Just be sure to grab the sugarless varieties so you don’t rot your teeth in the process.)
“In order to truly focus on what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, why you’re eating those specific foods and, most importantly, how those foods make you feel, you need to starve the distractions,” Glazer says. That means when you eat, just eat. “Focus on your food, the process it went through to end up on your plate, where it came from and how it nourishes you.” With this technique, you’re more likely to finish a meal feeling satiated.
Tell your family, friends, and coworkers about your weight-loss goals and ask for their support. Then check in on Facebook each time you go to the gym, and let your support system know each time you hit a goal. It'll make you feel accountable to someone aside from yourself. A 2014 study found that being accountable to someone else and receiving support is a great motivator for women who are trying to lose or maintain weight. Makes sense! 
Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is never a good idea because research has shown it inhibits your ability to make smart choices about what you wish to eat. In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that even short-term fasts can lead people to make more unhealthy food choices, picking a higher quantity of high-calorie foods. Fill up before you shop in an effort to avoid buying foods that won’t help you lose weight.
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.
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