Almost everyone has heard the rule that it’s okay to eat anything and everything so long as you do so in moderation—but that may not be the best approach to lifelong weight maintenance, according to 2015 PLOS ONE findings. The study of 6,814 people found that the majority of the time, varied diets lead to weight gain. “Though it can be scary to imagine completely cutting out the foods that you love, eating everything in moderation is actually near impossible—especially when it comes to foods with addictive properties, like sugar. You’ll likely find yourself going back for more and more which can slow your weight loss results,” explains registered dietitian Cassie Bjork. “That’s why it’s actually more beneficial to completely cut out the foods that increase your cravings and keep you wanting more.” For example, if you know that chocolate is your #1 trigger food it’s best to cut it out altogether rather than trying to stick to a small serving. In the mood for something sweet? Check out these delicious weight loss smoothies!
Last but definitely not least, it's important to check in with yourself on a regular basis. At the beginning of the week, make a list of the meals and snacks you plan to have. Then use that as a checklist, and make sure your kitchen's stocked accordingly. It's easier to make healthy choices if you have a bowl of delicious fruit sitting on the counter and that list is what'll get it there! Then, each day, write down everything you're planning to eat and everything you do eat. Be honest, and write down everything. This will keep you accountable to yourself, and reviewing your lists will help you identify any recurring problem foods.
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.
"Order without looking at the menu. Almost every restaurant has the basics—veggies, grains, and protein. If you go in knowing what you want, I guarantee you'll be able to make a meal. If you're too uncomfortable to ask for what you need, tell a white lie: Say you're allergic. I know it's controversial to suggest this, but women in particular can really have trouble standing up for their own needs. So if you want the broccoli soup puréed without cream, tell the waiter you're lactose intolerant."
Losing weight is hard. It takes a lot of dedication, planning, and time. Rather than trying to go at it alone, recruit a friend who is also trying to beat the bulge. Research has found that people are more successful at losing weight when they do it with a partner. Not only will your weight loss buddy provide support, hold you accountable, and keep you inspired, but they may instigate your competitive side, which will provide you with the drive necessary to drop the weight.
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.
As funny as it sounds, sleep deprivation may make you fat — and not just because you're susceptible to cases of the late-night munchies (although there's that too). There's tons of research that demonstrates getting less than the desired amount — about 7 hours — of sleep per night can slow down your metabolism. Plus, when you're awake for longer, you're naturally more likely to nosh. So don't skimp on your ZZZs, and you'll be rewarded with an extra edge when it comes to shedding pounds quickly.
As for your question, this depends mostly on you. If you’re happy with your current level of BF and would rather focus strictly on building muscle for a while… then by all means do it. If however you want to get even leaner first, you can do that… although you will have to accept that fact that you’re not going to get leaner without losing more weight overall (details here).
“Many people think that they can eat whatever they want as long as they work out. But the truth is, if you are looking to lose or maintain your weight, what you put in your body is significantly more important than hitting the gym. Exercise is important to keep your body healthy, but just because you work out for an hour or more per day, it doesn’t give you the liberty to eat whatever you want!” Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RDN, Co-Author of Should I Scoop out My Bagel tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
Even if you fill up on produce, lean proteins, and whole grains, according to British Journal of Nutrition findings, when you think about the quality of your diet, you’re likely forgetting about all the unhealthy food that also finds its way to your mouth. People tend to exaggerate the good foods they eat and underestimate the bad stuff, says study author, Kentaro Murakami, PhD of Japan’s University of Shiga Prefecture. While it’s not necessarily intentional, it’s likely one of the reasons why it’s so hard for people to lose weight. For example, you might grab a handful of candy at a co-worker’s desk or a sample at the mall and then forget about it altogether. Our advice: To get a more accurate overview of your diet, keep a detailed food journal on your phone—yes, that means you should include that food court sample, too. Whether you snap photos or keep a written log is totally up to you—both tactics will work. The more food records dieters kept over the course of 30 months, the more weight they lost, a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found.
Great read, Jay! There is no escaping the FACTS and I so appreciate the time, passion, research, etc., that was put into writing this! Thank you so much for sharing with us who struggle with being ‘over fat’ (we women REALLY have a hard time with this one…oh, and being over muscled, which doesn’t happen very often either….LOL!) with the FACTS and nothing but the FACTS! With Ivory Soul, May Palmer, The Queen of Ivory Soul
We’ve all known that person who CHEWS LIKE THIS, smacking and crunching through a meal like a toddler. Rude? Sure. But maybe onto something: The sound of that chewing may be doing them a favor (but don't tell them that). In a 2016 study, researchers noted that you’re likely to eat less if you're more conscious of the sound your food makes while you’re eating.
“Every morning I drink a cup of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and a dash of cayenne pepper,” says Michelle Keough. This helps her start her day off on a healthy note while getting her hydrated after a long night. This trick, combined with eating meals built around protein and veggies, helped her lose 20 pounds and keep it off.
Just because you’re trying to slim down, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the occasional dessert splurge. There’s a simple solution to having your cake and eating it, too: Eat healthfully 80 percent of the time and reserve the remaining 20 percent of the time to cheat meals. Balance is key to sticking to your diet and dropping weight and maintaining it in the long run.
Though you may think that strong willpower is a necessary trait to overcome down-time grazing, experts say that your success is more dependent on your food environment than anything else. “If you happen to get bored and there is nothing but healthy food available in your house, you likely won’t choose to eat it unless you’re actually hungry,” says Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN of Neily on Nutrition. Most people don’t have the urge to eat celery sticks; cookies, however, are a different story. Heather Mangieri, RDN agrees, adding, “You can’t eat what’s not there, so make sure when you open the pantry, you aren’t tempted with the sugary, salty, fatty foods that most people choose when eating ‘just to eat.’ Instead, stock your refrigerator with fresh vegetable slices and healthy whole foods that will be easier to pass on if you’re not really hungry.”
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.
Good news for carb lovers: Scientists discovered an easy way to slim down any bowl of rice by as much as 60 percent! And the best part is that you don’t need a fancy lab or a PhD. to make the slimmed-down dish. Here’s how to whip it up: Add a teaspoon of coconut oil and a half cup of non-fortified white rice to a pot of boiling water. Cook it for about 40 minutes, stick it in the refrigerator for 12 hours and enjoy the rice either cold or reheated. How does such a simple cooking hack—that adds fat, no less—slash calories? When the rice begins to cool, its glucose molecules form tight bonds called “resistant starch.” This type of starch, as the name implies, is resistant to digestion, meaning that the body is not able to absorb as many calories or as much of the glucose (a nutrient that’s stored as fat if it’s not burned off) from each molecule. While you may be hesitant to add the oft-vilified oil to your pot, it actually plays an integral role in the process. As the rice cooks, the fat molecules find their way into the rice and act as an additional digestion barrier. Best of all, the research team found that reheating the rice didn’t change the levels of resistant starch (as it does with pasta and potatoes), deeming this calorie-slashing cooking hack safe for leftovers, too.
How much your close friends weigh, plays a major role in how much you’ll weigh, say Harvard School of Public Health researchers. In fact, their findings suggest that a person’s chance of becoming obese increases by 57% if a close friend is obese—and it makes sense: If your buddies all love meeting up for burgers and beers on the reg, it will be really hard to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle. Our advice? From time to time suggest getting into other types of activities like yoga or a healthy cooking class. You could also consider hosting get-togethers at your house so you can control the menu. Another tip: Try to meet new people who enjoy living the healthy lifestyle you now lead. (A gym class or hiking group is a great place to introduce yourself!) This will help add a healthy balance to your life, without kicking your long-time besties to the curb. For more ways to maintain your newfound flat abs, check out these 25 Best Foods for a Toned Body!
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.
Cutting butter and oil can slash calories, and it’s easy to swap in foods like applesauce, avocado, banana or flax for baking. But, it’s important to remember that we still need fat in our diets as a source of energy and to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Plus it helps us feel full. Get healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from olive oil, nuts, coconuts, seeds and fish. Pro tip: Combining fat with fiber has been shown to increase fat’s power to make us feel full.
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that after just two weeks, those who sipped four to five cups of the green brew daily in addition to working out for 25 minutes lost more belly fat than those who didn’t sip. We can chalk up these favorable results to the tea’s catechins, a type of antioxidant that hinders the storage of belly fat and aids rapid weight loss.
I have a few tricky questions to make, but first a disclaimer of sorts: I am 5’10” and weigh 138 pounds, which means: I’m slim, verging on skinny. I have no interest whatsoever in losing weight. I only read article this because I find your articles funny, clear, and informative. And I’ve always thought that the best way to lose wait is simply eat less. (That’s what I did the only time in my life I was slightly overweight, ten years ago.) That being said…
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.
Before you begin the habit of refilling your water bottle several times a day, make sure yours isn’t laced with BPA. A Harvard study found that adults with the highest concentration of BPA in their urine had significantly larger waists and a 75 percent greater chance of being obese than those in the lowest quartile. No wonder why drinking out of plastic bottles is one of our 40 Bad Habits That Make You Fat! To avoid weight gain, make sure your bottle is BPA-free and be particularly wary of plastics that sport a #7 recycling symbol on them, which is an indicator that BPA may be present.
If you eat a carbohydrate-rich meal (lots of pasta, rice, bread, or French fries, for example), your body releases insulin to help with the influx of all this glucose into your blood. As well as regulating blood sugar levels, insulin does two things: It prevents your fat cells from releasing fat for the body to burn as fuel (because its priority is to burn off the glucose) and it creates more fat cells for storing everything that your body can’t burn off. The result is that you gain weight and your body now requires more fuel to burn, so you eat more. Since insulin only burns carbohydrates, you crave carbs and so begins a vicious cycle of consuming carbs and gaining weight. To lose weight, the reasoning goes, you need to break this cycle by reducing carbs.
In terms of weight loss, relief of symptoms, and overall good health, for many thyroid patients, it's not enough for your doctor to diagnose hypothyroidism and hand you a prescription. More than standard treatment, you may need optimal treatment to ensure that your cells are getting the oxygen and energy they need to allow your metabolism to do its job.
Not only is this the “best” way, but the bonus here is that it’s literally the only way. Literally literally. There is no other (non-surgical) way of losing body fat. A caloric deficit is a requirement and every single smart, sane, evidence-based person agrees. That’s my nice way of saying that everyone who disagrees is either misinformed, stupid or crazy. Or all of the above. Or maybe just trying to sell you something useless (so misinformed, stupid, crazy or an asshole).
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.
“This hits me in the heart every day I wake,” he says. “It gets me on my foam roller and my Versaclimber in the morning. It allows me to choose a healthy salad over junk food because I visualize myself running on the track with my children. Moment to moment, we are faced with decisions and it’s about being mindful to the ones that follow your ‘why’ path. Sure, I may be willing to drop a cheeseburger down the gullet because I am hungry and inconsiderate of the long game. However, if I am unwilling to be a father who is out-of-shape, my short game will match my long game vision and I will opt for a cleaner meal.”
As an added bonus, your metabolism also gets a nice boost from eating these foods. It takes more energy to burn whole foods. “Avoid starchy, processed high-fat foods that are loaded with toxins that cause a buildup of inflammation. This—combined with stress—creates elevated cortisol levels and promote[s] the storage of fat in the abdomen,” Dr. Petre adds.
You might not be a morning person. But, just like the saying, the early bird gets the worm (even when it comes to weight loss). There’s plenty of research to support the idea that working out in the morning is more effective for weight loss than working out in the afternoon or evening. One study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that women who exercised in the morning had less desire for food than those who’d skipped out on an a.m. workout. Additionally, researchers found that the morning exercisers were more active overall than the group who did not work out. In addition to helping keep the weight off, morning workouts also come with a myriad of health benefits. One of them is reduced the risk of diabetes, according to a study published in the Journal of Physiology.
Your deficit can very easily be created through diet alone and not a second of cardio, metabolic training, strength training or anything else ever needs to be done at all. (Which, by the way, is a point I wish all of the “I want to lose weight so badly but I just don’t have any time to exercise” people would realize. Details here: How To Lose Weight Without Working Out)
Popping a piece of sugar-free gum won’t necessarily curb your appetite. But, a stick can keep your mouth busy when cooking a meal, or socializing among a sea of party hor d’oeuvres. While the long-term effects of gum chewing on weight loss are minimal, studies show it can lower cravings for sweet and salty snacks, and decrease hunger between meals. Plus, some studies have shown that minty gum has the ability to wake you up and lower anxiety.
I used to be 100 pounds heavier than I am now. My eating habits were out of control and pretty much the epitome of mindless. I am A.D.D., I have two kids under four, and I work full time, so eating without constant distractions just doesn't happen. But over the years I’ve learned what it takes for me to lose my weight... and most importantly, keep it off.
I’ve never been one to focus too much on “mindful eating” because the idea of meditating on a grape is not my style. But I learned it does take more than that just focusing on what's on my plate. And yes, that means to eat more consciously. Here, I'm sharing the weight-loss tips and rules that work for me (and a glimpse at what you'd find on my 2B Mindset program).
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.”
There’s some truth to the old adage that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day,” and if you’re looking to blast belly fat, what you eat at the start of each day can make all the difference. According to a study from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast may be the most important investment you can make for your waistline. The study showed that eating breakfast triggered women’s brains to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical that helps to control impulses. In other words, eating a balanced breakfast decreases your chances of reaching for that 3 p.m. candy bar and keeps your belly slim.
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.