Obsessing over the numbers on the scale is not your standard weight-loss advice for women. But new research out of Finland shows that it may be a spot-on suggestion, since the more often dieters weighed themselves in the study, the more weight they lost. In fact, dieters who went more than a week without weighing themselves actually gained weight. These findings, of course, aren't necessarily causal: The less frequent weighers may have been less serious about their diets to begin with. Or maybe they became less dedicated (and less interested in weighing themselves) only after they'd begun to gain weight. Regardless, according to Wansink, co-author of the study: "If you want to be skinny, do what skinny people do." And skinny people, within the context of this study, weighed themselves regularly—anywhere from every day to once a week. A previous study by the same research team found that body weight naturally fluctuates throughout the week and that most people weigh the least on Wednesdays. So if you can't commit to weighing yourself daily, at least hop on the scale every Wednesday. Seeing low numbers will keep you motivated.
Based on national surveillance data, adults of all ages are drinking more alcohol, and many are binge-drinking. One of the most effective ways to get your younger physique back is to cut back on your alcohol intake – or avoid it completely. A couple of glasses of wine with dinner or a couple of beers while watching a football game is 300 extra calories, explains registered dietitian Elisabetta Politi, nutrition director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. What’s more, alcohol can increase your appetite and make you crave calorie-rich choices. In one study, researchers found that men who had one alcoholic drink before lunch ate, on average, 85 additional calories – that's 11 percent more calories – during their meal than when they did not drink wine, beer or a spirit.
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.
But don't worry: Most of the research does not suggest a need to slash meat, dairy, or fish from your diet. In fact, the best results typically appear to come from diets that combine high amounts of vegetables with healthy sources of protein, which can include seafood, eggs, and meat. Eating plans like these include the popular Mediterranean diet and MIND diet.
Ugh, I'm so fat!For many of us, that's what passes for a weight-loss pep talk. "There's this common misconception that being hard on yourself is the only way to achieve your goals," says Kristin Neff, Ph.D., associate professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Self-Compassion.But treating yourself with kindness, research shows, is a better way to bolster your commitment to healthy behaviors. "Coach yourself through your ups and downs the way you'd coach a friend—with words of encouragement and support," says Neff. "For instance, if you overeat or gain a few pounds, tell yourself, 'Losing weight is hard for everyone—I'm not the only one struggling. I'm going to take it slowly and keep at it.'" Think of every day—even every meal—as an opportunity to start over.
Dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar), which slows down weight loss. What’s more, part of the protein in milk generates a significant insulin response, which can have the same effect. Consequently, cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss. This applies especially to dairy products typically lacking in fat, such as regular milk and various yogurts, but be careful with full-fat dairy such as cream and cheese all the same. And don’t forget whey protein powder, which is pure milk protein.
As far as grains go, quinoa is a great one to have around if you’re looking to lose weight. It’s packed with protein and fiber, and contains approximately 220 calories per cup, cooked. What’s more? Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that offer a complete set of amino acids, meaning it can be converted directly into muscle by the body. It’s also incredibly versatile, and can be eaten as part of a salad, tossed in a smoothie, or on its own as a side dish.
One thing that might help you move away from food rules based on restriction is mindful eating, which is a way of eating that is centered on being present and engaged not just with your food, but why you’re eating it, and how your body feels. Mindful eating can help people learn how to eat based on what they want and need, as opposed to what they feel they should or shouldn’t eat. Mindful eating isn’t a weight-loss diet, but it can help change your orientation to food and food “rules.”
“Getting deep down to the root of why you want to lose weight is a very powerful and eye-opening experience,” she says. “I do this exercise with my clients. I give them a piece of paper and they start at the top with the initial reason they want to lose weight. Often, it starts with reasons like ‘I will look better.’ Under that, I ask them why that is important. Sometimes there are some very deep and powerful reasons that are incredibly motivating like ‘I want to lose weight to travel on an airplane with my husband on our second honeymoon’ or ‘to be able to really play with my kids.’”
The scale is not necessarily your friend. You may want to lose fat – but the scale measures muscles, bone and internal organs as well. Gaining muscle is a good thing. Thus weight or BMI are imperfect ways to measure your progress. This is especially true if you’re just coming off a long period of semi-starvation (calorie counting), as your body may want to restore lost muscles etc. Starting weight training and gaining muscle can also hide your fat loss.
“You don’t have to eat salad all the time to lose weight. There are so many ways to tweak ingredients and make food you actually love to eat—even pancakes. (Try almond flour.) That being said, the type of food you eat also defines your lifestyle. You can eat junk food and lose weight, but you will probably be hungry all the time. So give yourself an occasional cheat day or reward for sticking to your plan. In the end, you want to lose weight in a healthy way, without feeling like you’re hurting yourself.”
DIET PLANS: Do not try a crash or fad diet that suggests you eat less than 1000 to 1200 calories each day. Keep your kitchen full of healthy foods on your diet plan. Eat healthy foods from all 5 food groups each day: breads, dairy, fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. Eat only small amount of fats, like 1 to 3 teaspoons each day of oils, nuts, dressings, and margarine. Bake, roast, or broil your food instead of frying.
Close the Kitchen at Night. Establish a time when you will stop eating so you won't give in to the late-night munchies or mindless snacking while watching television. "Have a cup of tea, suck on a piece of hard candy or enjoy a small bowl of light ice cream or frozen yogurt if you want something sweet after dinner, but then brush your teeth so you will be less likely to eat or drink anything else," suggests Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, WebMD's "Recipe Doctor" and the author of Comfort Food Makeovers.
Though many believe chewing gum keeps you from mindlessly eating, the minty treat has its own drawbacks that can lead to a bigger belly. Not only does chewing gum cause you to swallow tummy-bloating air, many gums also contain sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol that can cause bloat. If you have to have something to chomp on, go for an organic variety like Glee gum or Simply gum instead. They’re still low-cal, but they don’t use those sweeteners that’ll make you puff up.
"You have to make slow and steady adjustments, that worked for me. I measured and weighed food to become more aware of portion size. I wrote down what I ate and ate more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day. I try to include protein in each meal to control hunger. I don't deprive myself, and I've gotten rid of 'all or nothing' thinking. People could still look at me and consider me overweight. You have to accept you’re never going to be a willowy model, but I am at a very good weight that I can manage."Jody Jeans, 52, lost 75 lb. over five years.
Make an effort to fill your fridge with healthy produce and proteins. And when the crisper is empty, make sure the freezer is stocked with frozen veggie mixes or berries (and don’t forget to grab the bags that are sans added sauces or sugar). You may be less apt to order out when you’ve got the makings of a healthy dinner right at home. More good news: Healthy food doesn’t always have to be pricey.
As far as spices go, saffron is one of the most expensive ones around, but it’s also a substance that preliminary research suggests can contribute to weight loss. According to a study published in the journal Antioxidants saffron extract may inhibit weight gain in a number of ways similar to how antioxidants function. The research suggests the colorful spice could decrease calorie intake by blocking dietary fat digestion, act as an antioxidant and suppress inflammation, suppress food intake by increasing satiety, and enhance glucose and lipid metabolism. Though scientists aren’t totally sure what makes saffron so weight loss friendly, they suspect it has something to do with crocetin and crocin—two antioxidant-rich compounds found in saffron that give it its distinct color.
In reality, a never-ending list of factors—including (yes) food and exercise, but also sleep, stress management, hormone health, self-esteem, past weights, and those pesky genetics—influence weight loss as well as the weight your body naturally gravitates toward at a given time in your life, Abby Langer, R.D., a Toronto-based dietitian and nutrition counselor, tells SELF. Of course, maintaining a caloric deficit drives weight loss, but so much more goes into a successful weight-loss effort than the math of calories in and calories out.
I was a fat kid, brought up by fat parents, made to eat too much - perfectly healthy, home-cooked food but in humungous portions. After decades of trying various diets, either not losing at all or losing and regaining the lot, plus a bit more, 5:2 has worked for me. It's been slow - nearly three years to lose two stone with a stone still to go - but I've not put any back on and previous hypertension has disappeared and I'm off the medication. The odd couple of pounds regained, for example on holiday, soon disappears after a few days of being extra vigilant.
My question is… How long should I stay in this deficit before making changes to my calorie intake or routine? Do you have any guides written around making changes if you aren’t seeing results? How long does it take before the body starts making changes. I worked out for 6 months and gained muscle and lost fat. Then took off 2 weeks and came into a calorie deficit to start cutting BF. My strength has come back from being off for two weeks but that fat doesn’t seem to be moving! My weekly average on the scale is about the same.
Out of sight, out of mouth? Simply reorganizing your pantry staples could translate into serious calorie savings. A study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. For this reason, many nutritionists suggest keeping indulgent foods in the pantry on a high shelf so that you’re less apt to mindlessly grab them.
There’s an idea that focusing on less helps us achieve more. Changing a habit is tough, but trying to tackle a handful may seem impossible. Instead, concentrate on changing one behavior at a time. Start small and make clear guidelines. For example, if you’d like to increase your veggie intake, decide to eat three different vegetables each day, or one cup with each meal. And remember, small changes can lead to gradual weight loss.
When you’re all gung-ho about hitting the gym, there’s nothing worse than pulled hamstrings or pesky shin splints. Read up on how to avoid the most common yoga injuries (often from over-stretching and misalignment), and running injuries (like stress fractures, pulled muscles, and blisters) to make sure you’re in tip-top shape. Make sure to get in a good warm-up, too. Studies show you perform your best and better avoid injury after warming up.
You know the kind, says Jillian: "Everyone's like: 'Give up carbs!' 'Give up fat!' 'Wait, no, now I'm taking pills!' None of them are manageable long-term—and they wreak havoc with your metabolism! Because you're either starving yourself or you're cutting out a major food group. Then you go back into weight-gain mode, but it's even worse, because your body has adjusted to all that crazy fad crap."
You may have heard the widely quoted statistic that 95% of people who lose wait on a diet will regain it within a few years—or even months. While there isn’t much hard evidence to support that claim, it is true that many weight-loss plans fail in the long term. Often that’s simply because diets that are too restrictive are very hard to maintain over time. However, that doesn’t mean your weight loss attempts are doomed to failure. Far from it.
Ilana Muhlstein, M.S., R.D.N., is the co-creator of Beachbody’s 2B Mindset program. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and dietetics from the University of Maryland, sits on the executive leadership team for the American Heart Association, and leads the Bruin Health Improvement Program at UCLA. Ilana acts as a nutrition consultant for several companies, including Beachbody and Whole Foods Market. At home, she is a wife and mother of two.
Ah, the über-popular “know your why” strategy. One Brown University study found that when people are motivated to lose weight for appearance and social reasons, they stick with their weight-loss habits for significantly less time than those who are motivated by their health. After all, these external motivators (like looking a certain way or fitting into a cultural ideal) aren’t going to get you going when you’re feeling down, have had a bad day, or are frustrated with a plateau, Albers says.