Simple carbs are the white stuff — white bread, most pastries, refined sugars (the kind in soda and candy). What makes them simple? These foods provide energy, but lack the same nutrients (vitamins, minerals and fiber) as complex carbohydrates. The body also breaks down simple carbs quickly—meaning your blood sugar will spike, and your tummy might be rumbling sooner than you imagined. Choose whole grains instead, which may reduce potentially dangerous excess abdominal fat buildup (which can lead to diabetes). Switch to whole-wheat pasta, whole grain bread, or try grains like brown rice, quinoa or millet.
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.
Another mindfulness trick is to pause for a moment before eating to smell your food, which releases digestive enzymes that improve digestion, Rissetto says. This is also another reason to skip that extra cocktail. A study published last year found that alcohol consumption changes how your brain perceives the aroma of food—specifically, it makes everything smell pretty tasty. As a result, people tend to eat more than they would sober.
Loads of research demonstrates people who log everything they eat — especially those who log while they're eating — are more likely to lose weight and keep it off for the long-haul. Start tracking on an app like MyFitnessPal when the pounds start sneaking up on you. It'll help you stay accountable for what you've eaten. Plus, you can easily identify some other areas of your daily eats that could use a little improvement when it's written out in front of you.
Kick the diet beverages and vitamin-enhanced sugar-water, and reach for good old H2O instead. Drinking water helps people feel full, and as a result, consume fewer calories. Drinking water also significantly elevates resting energy expenditure (basically the number of calories we’d burn if we sat around all day) and lower water intake is associated with obesity.
When I was at my highest weight, I had a full-blown peanut butter addiction. I would eat jars at a time, and my favorite food was Reese’s peanut butter cups. I had absolutely no control of myself when I ate any of it. When I decided that I no longer wanted to be heavy, I made a point to completely stop eating anything with peanuts or peanut butter in it.
Throw away your peeler. It might actually be limiting your true weight-loss potential — at least when it comes to apples. In a 2012 study published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers found ursolic acid — a natural substance in apple peels — could play a role in preventing obesity, as well as increasing muscle and brown fat, which are both known as being major calorie-burners. Anyone, your peeler is one of the 20 Kitchen Tools You’re Using All Wrong.
Bad diet decisions are often made when you’re starving and have nothing healthy to eat in your kitchen. Ward off diet-derailing decisions by stocking up on frozen, deveined shrimp—one of Insanity trainer Shaun T’s! go-to proteins. Once you throw it on the stove, it’s ready to eat in just a few minutes, and it’s a great source of lean, low-cal protein. Organic, low-sodium turkey breasts, pre-grilled chicken and hard-boiled eggs are also smart meal-starters to keep on hand.
Too much variety in your diet can mess with your satiety cues and make you overeat, so add some (tasty) monotony to your routine. One easy way: Eat the same healthy breakfast and/or lunch each day during the week, and savor new tastes on the weekend. The best thing about that plan, says 69-pound-loser (er, winner?) Melanie Kitchen: "I didn't have to keep coming up with new recipes!"
All meals are important, but breakfast is what helps you start your day on the right track. The best, heartiest breakfasts are ones that will fill you up, keep you satisfied, and stave off cravings later in the day. Aim to eat anywhere between 400 and 500 calories for your morning meal, and make sure you're including a source of lean protein plus filling fat (e.g., eggs, beans, unsweetened Greek yogurt, nuts, or nut butters) and fiber (veggies, fruit, or 100% whole grains). Starting your day with a blood sugar-stabilizing blend of nutrients will help you slim down without sacrifice.
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.
We probably don’t have to tell you that heavy boozing will pack on the pounds. And you’ve likely heard the phrase “drink in moderation.” The point is, alcohol houses a lot of sneaky calories and has the ability to inhibit healthy eating decisions (midnight pizza delivery, anyone?). Even after you’ve sobered up, alcohol can have negative impacts on strength and may leave you lagging in the weight room days later.
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate from plant-based foods like bran flakes and strawberries that absorbs water and helps us eliminate waste as it travels through the digestive system. According to a review published in Journal of American College of Nutrition, fiber may increase satiety to keep you fuller longer and dietary fiber intake is associated with lower body weight. Mayo Clinic recommends that women should aim for at least 21 to 25 g of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 g a day.
Even if you’re stocking up on fruits and veggies, buying inorganic may be doing your body a disservice, thanks to the pesticides. “They have been shown to poison the mitochondria so it cannot burn fuel,” says Walter Crinnion, N.D., chairman of the environmental medicine department at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Phoenix in Weight Loss Tricks You Haven’t Tried. “Fuel that is not burned turns to fat.” If you’re worried about breaking your budget at Whole Foods, start by stocking up on these 17 Cheap Organic Foods You Must Buy.