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.
Setting lofty weight-loss goals may actually set you up for lasting success, according to the same American Journal of Preventive Medicine study. Researchers found that those who lost the most weight initially ended up losing the most weight long-term, too. The study authors stress that large weight losses come hand-in-hand with greater health benefits, including increased sustained weight loss overall.
Ideally, it’s best to clean out your fridge and cupboards so there aren’t any junk options, but maybe that would start a civil war in your house. If you live with someone—or several someones—who don’t share your enthusiasm for healthy choices, that’s okay, just be sure to put your food where you see it first, suggests Dubost. That might be eye-level shelves, or one dedicated cupboard for you, as well as the top shelf of the fridge.
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.
Nuts. It’s very easy to eat until the nuts are gone, regardless of how full you are. A tip: According to science, salted nuts are harder to stop eating than unsalted nuts. Salted nuts tempt you to more overeating. Good to know. Another tip: Avoid bringing the entire bag to the couch, preferably choose a small bowl instead. I often eat all the nuts in front of me, whether I’m hungry or not.
When I go to big meals at family-style restaurants or people’s homes, I keep my appetizer or salad plate for the entrée course. I load up on a lot of food during both courses but using the slightly smaller plate helps. I've also learned to fill my plates with mostly veggies. I will still gladly take a spoonful of mac and cheese, but I'm careful not to take more than that because I know that if it’s on the plate, it will end up in my mouth.
“The best way to stick with a diet, is for people to put the fewest restrictions on themselves as possible,” Langer says. “There shouldn't be anything in the world that they shouldn't ever eat again.” Similarly, Albers recommends ditching the “don’t” list entirely. “Instead of trying to stop an old negative habit, focus on building a positive new one,” she says. “New habits crowd out the old without the struggle of trying to stop a behavior.”
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?
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."
Fiber expands in your stomach and also takes time to digest, both of which help keep you feeling full for longer. Good sources include whole grains, veggies, and whole fruit (not juiced). Healthy fats like olive and nut oils—in moderation—improve flavor, give you energy, and help your body use certain nutrients. Alexandra Shipper added healthy fats, such as avocado, to protein sources like eggs and fish on her way to dropping 55 pounds.
Many dietitians begin by asking clients to access the organ with the most powerful effect on weight: the brain. "I always ask my clients to monitor their food intake by keeping a food journal," says Karolin Saweres, RDN, LD. "I often find that my clients are not aware of how many meals, snacks, nibbles, or handfuls of food they eat each day." Becoming aware of our actual intake may initially be an uncomfortable surprise but can lead to more mindful eating throughout the day.
Cilantro, though polarizing in terms of taste, contains a unique blend of oils that work much like over-the-counter meds to relax digestive muscles and alleviate an “overactive” gut. A study published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Science found that patients with IBS benefited from supplementing with cilantro as opposed to a placebo because their bellies weren’t as bloated.
Slow down, pay attention to taste, and feel the food’s texture. Tricks to avoid the temptation to gorge include counting your bites, focusing on chewing everything more thoroughly, or making sure you sit down to eat in a relaxed space (no TV allowed). By eating mindfully you will be more attentive to your body’s natural satiety cues, leaving you stomachache free and down in calorie consumption.
Friends are helpful not only because they can double as workout buddies or help hold you accountable for appropriate diet and exercise, but also because they’re a surefire way to combat gut-growing feelings of loneliness. A study in the journal Hormones and Behavior found that those who feel lonely experience greater circulating levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin after they eat, causing them to feel hungrier sooner. Over time, folks who are perennially lonely simply take in more calories than those with stronger social support networks, so be sure to fit time with pals into your busy schedule.
Sure, trampolines are built for kids, but as an adult, using one for rebounding is a great way to flatten your tummy and get rid of excess fat. “Not only is it a great cardio workout (which is the first step to tightening up your midsection) but it makes your core work like crazy so you are getting the cardio plus the toning: everything you need for a tight tummy!” explains Hope Pedraza, a Certified Personal Trainer through American College of Sports Medicine in 50 Ways to Shrink Your Belly. To get a comprehensive workout using a mini trampoline, Pedraza suggests jumping, lifting your knees up high, twisting, adding some light weights to move around while you’re jumping, and moving in all directions in different planes.
“Get off your phone for a day and escape to nature as we are human and of nature,” Nguyen suggests. “Just get out there. Disconnect from the electronics and connect to the elements.” Not only will this help reduce stress (a major factor in weight gain) by giving your mind a break from the constant stimulation we’ve all become so accustomed to, but it may also reprogram your brain to connect with yourself and what you’re feeling.
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.
Are your portion control issues making it hard for you to shrink your man boobs? Stop yourself from going back for seconds by grabbing a box of mints. People often yearn for that second cookie or helping of mac and cheese because the taste of the first still lingers. To cleanse your palate, keep mints or breath strips on hand and pop them when it’s time to quit noshing. Not only will this rid the alluring taste from your tongue, it will also keep your mouth busy and act as a distraction. Drinking water or tea are also helpful tactics.
Losing weight seems like a pretty easy concept when you think about it. You eat less, exercise more and the weight is supposed to come off. The fact is, I'll bet you already know how to lose weight. If you're like most of us, you've probably lost weight many, many times...so many times, you're an old pro at it. You may even have your 'go-to' diet or exercise program, powering up your old Weight Watcher's account or starting back to the gym whenever the weight starts to creep up.
When people tell me that they have a sugar addiction, I tell them to narrow it down. I used to eat anything and everything that looked sweet and tasty. I knew I had to cut back in that area so I realized that I am a chocolate lover, first and foremost. Berry tarts, gummy bears, and sprinkles won’t ever do it for me the same way chocolate does. Once I discovered this, I found it extremely easy to pass on these things and not be tempted by them. However, if I'm faced with good chocolate, I usually decide it’s totally worth it.
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.
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.
However, if a HIIT workout or piling on muscle mass seems too daunting, simply move for two-ish minutes to whittle your waistline. Why, you ask? Research printed in the journal Physiological Reports showed that people who did five 30-second bursts of max-effort cycling, followed by four minutes of rest, burned 200 extra calories that day. If you incorporate this technique into your workout routine just a few times per month, you can burn thousands of additional calories per year.
The reason diets don't work is that it's not about counting calories, or cutting carbs, or pounding protein, but which foods you focus on. There are plenty of fat-burning foods you can eat all you want of, and you don't have to carry around carrot sticks. Instead, boost your intake of foods that fight fat and banish those that trigger your body to store it. Then eat other foods in moderation, and you should be OK.
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.
Getting your mindset in order is important, but sometimes small habits can make a big difference. “After eating, you still have the taste of food in their mouth, which often causes people to eat more even if they are full or engage in a nibble or two of dessert,” says Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, registered dietitian and nutrition expert at Betches Media. “Brushing your teeth will remove the taste of food from your mouth, and the clean, minty freshness will serve as a cue that mealtime is over.”
If stone fruits aren’t your thing, peel a banana instead and watch your belly bloat disappear. A study in the journal Anaerobe found that women who ate a banana twice daily before meals for two months reduced belly bloat by 50 percent. Researchers believe this is because bananas are packed with potassium, which can reduce water retention. The yellow fruits are also a good source of fiber, which will keep you feeling full.
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."
Instead of caving in to that hot fudge sundae or slice of banana bread, practice your most-preached virtue. “Research shows cravings usually last between 5-10 minutes, sometimes as short as 3 minutes. So take some deep breaths and a walk around the block until it passes,” Carolyn Brown, MS, RD at Foodtrainers in New York City, tells us in How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off Long Term. Oftentimes, we also mistake thirst for hunger, so guzzling down a glass of H2O is your best bet when cravings kick in.
The diets in Group 2 don’t do this. What they do instead is ignore calories while placing various rules and restrictions on the way that you eat (e.g. special foods/food groups you can eat, special foods/food groups you must avoid, special times you can eat, special times you must avoid eating, special combinations of foods must eat or avoid, and on and on and on), thus indirectly causing you to eat less… thus indirectly causing a deficit to exist.
Then, assuming you don’t want to lose muscle/strength while you’re in this deficit (or that you’d like to gain some while you’re in this deficit), combine that deficit method with the type of heavy, intelligent, strength-focused weight training needed to ensure this second goal is taken care of, too. (Superior Muscle Growth contains workouts that fit this description.)
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.
“When you don’t have a time slot carved out for fitness, it’s all too easy for that time to quickly be eaten up by other obligations,” says Candace Seti, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist, certified personal trainer and nutrition coach at TheWeightLossTherapist. Instead, schedule workouts on your calendar before it starts to fill up, and hold yourself to it — if you wouldn’t ditch a dentist appointment, don’t ditch a workout.
If you typically wake up early and stay up late, there’s probably something you’re consistently doing throughout that entire time: eating. Your eating window is bigger, so the amount of calories you take in during the day is, too — and that’s why it’s worth keeping that window as small as possible. What’s more, a 2014 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that only eating within a 8- to 9-hour window — even without restricting your calories — was an effective way to lose weight and prevent obesity. And for more ways to shed pounds, learn the 20 Science-Backed Ways to Motivate Yourself to Lose Weight.
Certain meds may promote weight gain or adversely react with foods that are normally part of a healthy diet. Some blood thinners, for example, are infamous for requiring patients to limit foods that contain vitamin K—the nutrient found in leafy greens and other vegetables. If you suspect medications or health conditions are hampering your efforts, it's worth a discussion with your doctor or dietitian.