Lasting weight loss demands that you transform your eating and exercise habits. But many other choices you make each day, such as how much time you spend sleeping or surfing the Internet, can also make a difference. The seven habits described in this issue of HEALTHbeat can help you move toward your weight-loss goal. Most target the common reasons people are overweight.
And please note that this isn’t me saying that nothing else matters besides calories. That’s not true at all and I’m definitely not saying that. PLENTY of other stuff matters. What I AM saying is that the deficit is always what matters most. Take that away and no fat will ever be lost regardless of everything else. On the other hand, put the deficit in place and completely screw up the rest and guess what? Fat will still be lost 100% of the time.
Perhaps you'd like to be the same size you were in high school or when you got married, but that would mean dropping more than 50 pounds. Don't go there — not yet, at least. Set a more realistic goal of losing 5% to 10% of your weight, and give yourself plenty of time and some flexibility to reach that goal, keeping in mind that most people take at least six months to achieve that degree of weight loss.
Have trouble eating reasonably sized portions? Try dimming the lights and cueing up some soft music. According to a study published in Psychological Reports, soft lighting and music lead noshers to eat less and enjoy their food more. That’s what we call a win-win. Looking for the perfect date night dish? Check out these 35 Healthy Crockpot Recipes.
Counting calories may have helped you lose weight initially, but as you might have guessed, it’s not a habit you can maintain for life. Instead, hold onto your flat belly with the help of the plate rule. “I never recommend counting calories to any of my clients,” says Smith. “ Instead, I tell them to fill 50% of their plate at each meal with non-starchy vegetables like kale, broccoli and carrots. This ensures that they’ll take in a fair amount of fiber, which promotes satiety and weight maintenance.” (Unrefined carbohydrates like beans, sweet potatoes and whole grains should make up a fourth of the plate and the last fourth should be reserved for lean proteins.) Research backs Smith’s claim: A Brigham Young University College study found that women who consume more fiber have a significantly lower risk of gaining weight than those who eat less of the nutrient, likely because they consumed fewer overall calories throughout the day.
Common sense states if you want to lose weight, then you shouldn’t have a large meal not long before going to bed. And now we have additional research to back up that hypothesis. A study published in the journal Obesity followed two groups of overweight women with metabolic syndrome on identical 1,400-calorie weight loss diets for three months. While both groups consumed 500 calories at lunch, one group consumed 700 calories for breakfast and a 200-calorie dinner (the “big breakfast” group), while the other group ate 200 calories at breakfast and 700 calories at dinner (the “big dinner” group). Even though the nutrient content of the meals was exactly the same for both groups, after three months the big breakfast group lost about two and a half times more weight than big dinner group.
So sure, if you wanna waste some time doing silly (often unhealthy) nonsense that will make it temporarily appear as though “fast weight loss” has taken place, this is how it is done (and no, I definitely don’t recommend it… at all… even a little). You’ll basically just lose a bunch of water weight and then regain it soon after all while having no effect whatsoever on the body fat you’re actually trying to lose.
We applaud you for getting off the couch and making it to your weekly spin class. But if you refuse to venture beyond stationary bikes, you might give the pounds the green light to creep back on. “If you’ve been doing the same workout for the past few months, your body isn’t being challenged anymore, meaning it’s not burning as many calories as it otherwise could,” Dr. Sean M. Wells, personal trainer and author of Double-Crossed: A Review of the Most Extreme Exercise Program, tells us in 17 Reasons Why You’re Regaining Weight. Spike your metabolism and switch things up by exploring different fitness classes or trying a HIIT routine at home.
A different way of viewing weight loss identifies the problem as not one of consuming too many calories, but rather the way the body accumulates fat after consuming carbohydrates—in particular the role of the hormone insulin. When you eat a meal, carbohydrates from the food enter your bloodstream as glucose. In order to keep your blood sugar levels in check, your body always burns off this glucose before it burns off fat from a meal.
“Water may just be the best pre-workout supplement when you’re looking to shed weight. Studies have shown that strength training while in a dehydrated state can boost levels of stress hormones that hinder muscle gains by up to 16 percent,” celebrity fitness and nutrition expert, Jay Cardiello tells us in The Best And Worst Celebrity Weight Loss Tips. “When a client is looking to trim down, I tell them to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day and at least 8 ounces during their workouts.”
The sad truth is that conventional ideas – eat less, run more – do not work long term. Counting calories, exercising for hours every day and trying to ignore your hunger? That’s needless suffering and it wastes your time and precious willpower. It’s weight loss for masochists. Eventually almost everyone gives up. That’s why we have an obesity epidemic. Fortunately there’s a better way.
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.
Napping may be an easy way to catch up on some missed shut-eye, but dozing off in the middle of the day does nothing to aid weight loss. In fact, research has found that people burn fewer calories when they sleep during the day and log their waking hours after the sun’s gone down. To come to this finding, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder studied 14 healthy adults for six days. For two days, study participants slept at night and stayed awake during the day, then they reversed their routines to mimic the schedules of night owls. When participants slept during the day, researchers found that they burned 52 to 59 fewer calories than they did while catching their Zzzs in the evening—likely because the schedule messed with their circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock that plays a major role in metabolism function. If your circadian rhythm is out of whack, a separate study by University of Colorado Boulder researchers suggested spending a weekend in the wilderness to get it back on track.
"When you have a deep and emotional 'why' — mine was my daughter — you have something much stronger than willpower: You have commitment," he said. "My daughter, Bekah, was getting into CrossFit and mud runs, and I was getting less and less fit (I was around 40% body fat and getting fatter). I realized I was going to miss out if I didn't do something, plus, I didn't want to watch her from the sidelines — I wanted to be in it with her."
“Calorie counting is not the only game in town when it comes to weight loss. Chemical counting should also be part of our decision-making process. Processed foods, plastic bottles, lotions, non-organic dairy, and many other items in our daily lives contain endocrine disruptors that can lead to hormonal imbalance and stubborn weight gain,” Jennifer Cassetta, clinical nutritionist, personal trainer, and expert from ABC’s “My Diet Is Better Than Yours” tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
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.
Get this: Nearly 80 percent of National Weight Control Registry members—who have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years—regularly eat breakfast. Though researchers haven’t discovered a definite connection between the morning meal and weight loss, one theory is that when you start your day with something healthy and satiating it helps set a healthy tone for the rest of the day. To get on board, whip up one of these 50 Best Overnight Oats Recipes or enjoy an omelet with some Ezekiel bread and some berries.
3. Be realistic about which habits need to go. "When I was heavy, I'd eat French fries every single day, plus carbs at almost every meal—like a sandwich for lunch or bread with pasta for dinner. A diet so heavy in fried food and carbs just isn't conducive to weight loss. To lose the weight, I went from three large meals a day to six small meals, mostly made of fresh vegetable salads with lean meats and nuts. And no more bread!"
Eating cake first thing in the morning may sound like the worst diet advice ever (or the best!), but Israeli researchers found that "obese participants who ate a breakfast high in protein and carbohydrates that included a dessert were better able to stick to their diet and keep the pounds off longer than participants who ate a low-carb, low-calorie breakfast that did not include sweets." The scientists hypothesize that allowing yourself a treat in the a.m. helps curb your cravings for sweets later in the day.
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."
We’ve already established how chewing thoroughly can ensure you eat a meal at a leisurely pace, but there are other tricks you can use to slow down, too, like giving your fork a break between bites. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that slow eaters took in 66 fewer calories per meal, but compared to their fast-eating peers, they felt like they had eaten more. While 66 calories might not sound like much, cutting that amount out of every meal adds up to a weight loss of more than 20 pounds a year!
5. Start with one small change. "I realized that a lot of sugar and calories that I consumed came from drinks, so I challenged myself to drink only water—no sugary drinks!—for 30 days. After just one successful week, I decided to add another challenge: to cut back on the carbs I was eating. When I did eat bread, I switched to wheat bread and when I wanted rice, I used brown rice."
While you might not think there’s a huge difference between eating a whole piece of fruit and drinking fruit juice, nutritionally speaking, the two entities are most definitely not one and the same. Whereas whole fruit contains naturally occuring sugars and fiber that can help counteract the bad effects of too much sweet stuff, fruit juice is often loaded with added sugar (such as high-fructose corn syrup) and no fiber to speak of. According to a study led by Harvard School of Public Health researchers, eating more whole fruits, particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples, was significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, a greater consumption of fruit juices was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. To get the fruit flavor without all the bad stuff, try stirring up a batch of fruity detox water instead.
We’ve all been told that salmon, packed with heart-healthy omega-3s and belly-flattening protein, is a great way to get strong, lean and healthy. But not all salmon is created equal. Farmed salmon, which is what’s commonly sold in restaurants, can have the opposite effect on your waistline. Farmed salmon has over 100 more calories and nearly twice as much fat as wild-caught salmon. Plus, it’s much higher in saturated fat and lower in heart-healthy omega-3s. When dining out, you’re better off skipping the salmon altogether unless you are 100 percent sure it’s wild-caught.
You'll need to think about whether to have RAI versus other hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease treatments. Weight gain after RAI is common. One study on patients who had a thyroidectomy found that those who did the surgery as their first line of treatment were less likely to become overweight or obese than those who had undergone RAI first. Talk to your doctor about your Graves’/hyperthyroidism treatment options.
“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.
Fun fact: National Weight Control Registry members, who have all lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for at least a year, eat 2.5 meals per week at a restaurant—and only 0.74 meals per week at fast food joints like Burger King and McDonalds. And we have to say, it’s a smart move. Limiting the number of times you dine away from home is an easy way to keep excess calories, salt, sugar and fat off of your plate without a second of thought. Dine out no more than three times per week—and stick to these 25 Restaurant Meals Under 500 Calories—to keep your waistline trim and lean!
In November 2017, she said, she discovered an app called Aaptiv and purchased a one-year subscription. "As I began to move more, I started making healthier eating options," she said. "I eliminated all inflammatory-causing foods and stopped all supplements and pain medications with the goal of allowing my body's systems to heal and restore themselves."
To help you avoid useless nonsense that will cause some temporary weight loss, but won’t do dick in terms of causing any actual fat loss. This would be stuff like cleanses, detoxes, fasts and other similarly pointless garbage marketed as miracles to people who don’t understand the difference between fat loss and weight loss… in the hope that they’ll be so easily fooled by the fast initial decrease in body weight that takes place that they won’t actually notice there was no body fat lost… or that any weight (water) they do lose is instantly regained right after. Yes, that was a really long sentence.
While you're becoming hypothyroid, even before your TSH is elevated enough to warrant treatment, your metabolism can slow down significantly, causing you to burn fewer calories each day. Hypothyroidism can also make you tired, achy, and less likely to exercise, further reducing your metabolism. And, when you’re tired, you may eat more sugary foods and carbohydrates for energy.
Rather than relying on the drive-thru when hunger strikes, prep your meals in advance so that you have healthy grub on hand. “Identity three meals you can prepare with pantry staples and start cooking. Store the meals in your freezer so you always have something healthy on hand when hunger strikes,” Dietitian Christine M. Palumbo, RD, explains in 20 Ways to Lose Weight Forever. “For example, my go-to meals include risotto with frozen shrimp and asparagus, vegetable barley and a red lentil soup. Your goal should be to replace the meals whenever your stash starts running low.”