Speaking of sweets, if you’re going to choose something for dessert, it should probably be chocolate. A 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found those who regularly ate chocolate were thinner than those who ate it less often. Just make sure what you’re eating is the antioxidant-packed dark variety of 70-percent cocoa rating or higher.
Your workouts aren’t the only things you need to plan ahead to stay fit for life, you’ll also need to map out your meals. “People have a much better chance of having a slim waistline if they plan when they are going to eat and what they are going to eat,” says Mark Langowski, celebrity trainer and author of Eat This, Not That! For Abs. “Before I go to bed, I look at my schedule for the next day and plan out what I am going to eat and where I will eat it. If you let the day begin without planning, it will be 3 p.m. before you know it and you’ll wind up making an unhealthy decision.” Registered dietitian Christine M. Palumbo agrees, but takes a slightly different approach meal prep: “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. 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”.
It’s true that a caloric deficit—burning more calories per day than you take in—is a requisite of weight loss. But creating a deficit doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) involve deprivation. That goes for calories, carbs, sugar, fat, or any other commonly demonized nutrient. “No one food is responsible for your weight,” Langer says, explaining that a good vs. bad mentality sets people up for disordered eating and exercise habits. In fact, caloric deprivation increases how the brain responds to food, setting you up for binge-eating down the line, according to research from the Oregon Research Institute.
And beyond that, weight-loss efforts can take an emotional toll. “It can destroy your relationship with food. It can lead you to feel obsessed and frustrated,” Albers explains. For some people, quitting dieting is better and healthier than continuing to try to lose weight. And whatever a person’s weight-loss goal, the priority should be first and foremost on health. “Eating for health frees you up emotionally and is based on improving your body rather than rejecting your body,” she says.
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.
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.
Trans fats, which are typically found in processed foods with partially hydrogenated oils, should be avoided when buying, cooking, or ordering food because of the role they play in weight gain. As noted in the journal Obesity, these unhealthy substances have been found to pack on the belly fat in monkeys. As it turns out, they’re not great for humans either. “Trans fats cause inflammation in the body leading to insulin resistance and impairing the body’s ability to use glucose properly, resulting in excess fat storage around the belly,” says Tina Marinaccio, MS RD CPT in 50 Ways to Shrink Your Belly. Trans fats, which are created by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils, are beloved by manufacturers because they increase the shelf life of processed foods, but they are no friend to your waistline. “Trans fats may be lurking in any processed or fried food such as chips, baked goods, and even butter spreads,”Marinaccio warns.”To avoid them, check the ingredients for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.”
What may come as some consolation is that even the fittest among us know the struggle is real: “Many know me from social media as the jump rope queen and fitness trainer who is always smiling while coming up with difficult and creative workouts. What they may not know is that like everyone else, I too struggle with finding ways to keep my motivation up when it comes to diet and exercise,” says Janine Delaney, psychologist and fitness expert whose social media platform has amassed almost 2 million followers. “As a full-time psychologist, wellness influencer and mom of two teenage girls I have an awful lot going on. Sometimes it would be easier to head for the couch with a bag of chips than plan a healthy meal and fit in a workout. Still, I make it happen.”
If you’re interested in doubling your weight loss, keep a notebook and a pencil on hand at all times. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research found that even though 1,700 participants exercised 30 minutes a day and ate diets rich in fruit and veggies, the more food records people kept, the more weight they lost in the long run. Those who didn’t keep a record at all only experienced half as much loss. So start this healthy habit and hold onto it even after you’ve hit your mark to stay mindful of your munching.
SUPPORT: Meet with a weight loss support group or friends who are also trying to lose weight. Sharing with others will help you stay excited about your weight goals. Other people can give you good feedback on your progress. Talk to your caregiver monthly to be sure your diet is working. Tell him or her if your diet is too hard to follow or makes you too tired.
If you’re not sure if you need to lose weight, calculating your BMI can be a good starting point and help you work out whether you are at an appropriate weight for your height. Check your waist circumference too as your body shape is also important. Carrying too much weight around our middle increases risk, even if your BMI is within the healthy range.
Consult your physician and follow all safety instructions before beginning any exercise program or using any supplement or meal replacement product, especially if you have any unique medical conditions or needs. The contents on our website are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose any medical condition, replace the advice of a healthcare professional, or provide any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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.
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.
YES, 60 IS THE NEW 40 and 50 may be the new 30, but your scale has yet to receive the memo. Many middle-aged and older adults complain of expanding waistlines, along with the fact that weight loss becomes increasingly difficult as the years go by. But there’s good reason to stop only complaining about not fitting into your favorite pair of jeans and start doing something about it: New research shows avoiding weight gain with age is one of the best ways to help you live a longer and healthier life.
“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.
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.
And, save the bread for the end of the meal. Eating simple carbs first dramatically increases blood sugar, which causes your body to pump out insulin and store the calories as fat—the opposite of what you want if you're trying to lose weight, says obesity expert Louis Aronne, M.D., a professor of metabolic research at Weill Cornell Medical College. "Having some vegetables and protein before simple carbs blunts that unhealthy blood sugar response," he adds.
We’ve already discussed the weight loss benefits of avocado oil, so it should come as no surprise that the mothership has its own fat-blasting properties. Though avocados get a bad rap for being high in calories, they’re actually loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that make you feel less hungry. Need proof? A study in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. What’s more? Unsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados, have been linked to preventing the storage of belly fat.
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.
Typically, Americans eat a small breakfast, medium-sized lunch, and big dinner, but one study of 50,000 adults published in the Journal of Nutrition found you should be doing the opposite, if you want to lose weight. By eating your most calorie-heavy meal at breakfast, you’ll be able to better decrease your BMI — and, you know, enjoy more of your favorite foods right away in the morning. Healthy pancakes, anyone?