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.
If you have a big celebration or date coming up, you might think it makes sense to “save” your calories for when it’s time to let loose, but this technique is rarely effective and could actually be hindering your ability to lose weight. “Although this makes sense in theory—consuming fewer calories total per day—it rarely works out as cleanly as we like,” Lisa Hayim spelled out for us in The 30 Worst Diet Mistakes You’re Making. “By the time you get to the date, and have a drink or two, the feelings of extreme hunger rush in, and you’re grabbing for whatever you can get your hands on, which is usually foods high in calories and fat. You’re so hungry, you may even end up consuming more than a day’s worth of calories in one sitting! Plus, with alcohol in your system, your body is less able to efficiently metabolize the calories,” explains Hayim. “Instead, consume normal meals throughout the day, arrive at your date cool, calm, and collected, and enjoy your cocktail and eat responsibly.”
We’ve already established that friends and family play a key role in motivating you to get in shape and maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it’s also crucial for you to be your own driving force. Luckily, research has shown that doesn’t need to require a tremendous amount of effort. According to a 2015 study in the Journal of Marketing Research, subtle, even subliminal, messages may be more effective at helping us stick to a healthy eating regimen than ongoing, conscious focus. The research showed that people who receive reinforcing notes urging them to eat healthily were more likely to make smarter choices than those who tried to keep their goals top of mind at all times, so grab some Post-Its and start crafting motivational messages!
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.
You already know that a perfect diet doesn't exist, but many of us still can't resist the urge to kick ourselves when we indulge, eat too much, or get thrown off course from restrictive diets. The problem: This only makes it more difficult, stressful, and downright impossible to lose weight. So rather than beating yourself up for eating foods you think you shouldn't, let it go. Treating yourself to about 200 calories worth of deliciousness each day — something that feels indulgent to you — can help you stay on track for the long-haul, so allow yourself to eat, breathe, and indulge. Food should be joyful, not agonizing!
People often complain that they don't have enough time to exercise or to shop for and prepare healthy meals. But in fact, most people spend many hours watching TV or using their computer for fun. Keep track of your screen time for a week, then try scaling back the number of hours by a quarter or a third, and devote that time to your weight-loss efforts.
It’s every chocoholic’s dream: Research now shows that eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate can reduce overall body fat and shrink your waist. A study among women with normal weight obesity (or skinny fat syndrome) who ate a Mediterranean diet that included two servings of dark chocolate each day showed a significant reduction in waist size than when on a cocoa-free meal plan. Researchers say it has to do with the flavonoids, heart-healthy compounds in chocolate that have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Just be sure you’re reaching for a bar with at least 70 percent cacao, and stay away from the “alkalized” stuff, which has a significantly reduced flavonoid content.
If you want to lose weight, you're going to need to do more exercise than you might expect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthy people of normal weight need at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (or some combination of the two) every week to maintain weight and avoid excess gain. If you're hypothyroid and want to lose weight, you may need to do more than an hour a day of exercise.
When you’re done cooking, portion out just enough for your meal and pack the rest away. Putting your food away asap will not only keep it fresh for future meals but it will also deter you from mindlessly nibbling and eating more than the desired portion size. Same goes for when you’re dining out: Ask for a to-go box along with your meal, that way you can pack away the leftovers and aren’t tempted to overeat. When noshing on the leftovers at your next meal, you can also experiment with adding some additional fiber or protein to give the dish a nutritional boost.
The CDC found that the average adult consumes about 100 calories worth of alcohol daily, but favoring a glass of wine instead of beer or sugary cocktails can drastically reduce that figure and make your waistline slimmer. Plus, wine is a healthy alternative for those who don’t want to give up booze entirely. In addition to having fewer calories than most alcoholic beverages, red wine in particular is a good source of those waist-shrinking flavonoids that are also found in red fruits. Resveratrol, a particular flavonoid found in red wine, is believed to have heart-healthy benefits because it helps prevent blood vessel damage and reduces your bad LDL cholesterol. Just remember to imbibe in moderation.
At any given time, there are dozens of weight-loss hypes in the marketplace that claim to take off 10 pounds in 10 days, or whatever. Desperation can tempt us to try anything — from "clean eating" to cutting out food groups entirely. Keep in mind: Just because an avocado-walnut-"crunchy"-kale-salad dripping in coconut oil is deemed "clean" by a so-called "expert" on your Instagram feed does not make it an unlimited food. Moral of the story? Avoid fads, eat real food, watch some Netflix, and unwind (perhaps with a glass of wine in hand). Now that's my kind of detox.
We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. All too often, we turn to food when we’re stressed or anxious, which can wreck any diet and pack on the pounds. Do you eat when you’re worried, bored, or lonely? Do you snack in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make all the difference in your weight-loss efforts. If you eat when you’re:
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!"

People tend to find one workout routine and stick to it but it’s important to switch things up every now and then, especially in terms of cardio. Instead of simply running or walking, try to vary your speeds as you go. Researchers at Ohio State University found that walking at varying speeds can burn up to 20 percent more calories compared to maintaining a steady pace, so get moving!

National guidelines recommend that, for sustainable weight loss, a reduction in calorie intake of about 600 a day is needed. This could lead to a weekly weight loss of around 0.5kg (1lb). While it may not sound a great deal next to the promises of many quick-fix diets, it allows you to incorporate healthy eating habits into your lifestyle permanently, so you’re more likely to keep it off for good.’
So, obviously, what is going to work for each person is different, and that’s OK. If your weight-loss practices help you identify areas for behavioral change and give you tools on how to make that happen, or just help keep your motivation up or feeling good, great. “But if you are not losing weight, then the tools you are using aren't working for you,” Fear says. “Many people keep doing the same monitoring even though it's actually not helping them. A sense of control and organization are not to be confused with efficacy.” Use this as an opportunity to try something else.
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.

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."
Kick the diet beverages and vitamin-enhanced sugar-water, and reach for good old H2O instead. Drinking water helps people feel full, and as a result, consume fewer calories. Drinking water also significantly elevates resting energy expenditure (basically the number of calories we’d burn if we sat around all day) and lower water intake is associated with obesity.
This one may be surprising, considering the popular concept of eating five or six mini-meals throughout the day. But according to scientists who study the hunger hormones leptin and gherlin, eating too often can mess with your body's natural signals. Plus, if you are constantly snacking, you might not realize how many calories you're really taking in and/or feel deprived from not having a "real meal."
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.
Decision fatigue is real, and it could be hindering your ability to shed some pounds. A study published in Social Science and Medicine found those who have high levels of what’s called “skill discretion”—i.e., they exercise control by getting things done themselves—tended to have lower BMIs. In contrast, those who are constantly deciding on courses of action for others may eventually come down with decision fatigue and make ill-informed choices, such as ordering that piece of cheesecake for dessert.
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But before we get into how to go about losing weight, please consider this: Weight loss isn’t a healthy goal for everyone, Susan Albers, Psy.D., a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic specializing in body image and eating issues, tells SELF. “I work in a medical facility,” she says. “I have access to people’s blood work. You can be healthy or unhealthy at every size.”

If you’re trying to decide whether to work out in the morning or at night, getting up early has some serious weight-loss potential. A 2012 study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise can reduce your appetite, decreasing your motivation for food throughout the day. Because of that, you’ll see the number on the scale drop. For tips on getting out of bed with the sun, learn The Best Ways to Become A Morning Workout Machine.
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
Kick the diet beverages and vitamin-enhanced sugar-water, and reach for good old H2O instead. Drinking water helps people feel full, and as a result, consume fewer calories. Drinking water also significantly elevates resting energy expenditure (basically the number of calories we’d burn if we sat around all day) and lower water intake is associated with obesity.
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.
When the scale won't budge, dietitians often take the focus off diet and exercise entirely, exploring issues of stress and sleep instead. "Both lack of sleep and high cortisol levels are associated with lower levels of leptin, a hormone that is key in energy metabolism, weight, and our hunger signals," says Jen Scheinman, RDN. "Individuals must tackle sleep and stress to succeed in weight loss."
The next time you eat bread, swap the butter for olive oil. A 2003 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found those who made the switch ate 23 percent less bread — and less calories — overall. So if you’re going eat bread during your next restaurant outing, this little hack can help you lose some weight. But don’t use this as an excuse to go overboard. Tempting, we know.

If you want to do a bunch of unproven, gimmicky, fad-ish, non-evidence-based, non-science-based, sometimes unhealthy, largely-if-not-entirely-unnecessary things with your dietary approach for the purpose of maybe indirectly causing the one proven, non-gimmicky, non-fad-ish, evidence-based, science-based, healthy and necessary thing (a caloric deficit) to happen… then a Group 2 diet is perfect for you.
Your purchases may not be as virtuous as you think. Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently analyzed Americans' shopping habits and found that 61 percentof the calories in the food we buy are from highly processed items like refined breads, cookies, crackers, soda and chips. These foods also provide higher-than-optimal levels of saturated fat, sugar and sodium. To healthy-up your cart and help with weight loss, the study authors suggest buying mostly single-ingredient foods and shopping the perimeter of the store, where the fresher, healthier stuff like produce and fish tends to live. Chew some gum while you're at it too. Research shows it could help you buy 7 percent less junk food when you shop (minty gum works best).
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.
Writing stuff down may be helpful, but it’s tough to accurately gauge how much you move every day (and not just on the treadmill). Invest in a wearable to monitor energy burn. You can also track your daily steps with a simple pedometer. Studies show that individuals who walk more tend to be thinner than those who walk less, and pedometer-based walking programs result in weight loss.
Let's face it: the prospect of losing 20 pounds—or more—is daunting. That's why Rachel Beller, M.S., R.D.N., author of Eat to Lose, Eat to Win, recommends setting a nearer-term goal weight that's around half of the total amount you want to lose—and focusing on that. "Having an easier-to-reach goal can help keep you motivated," she says. "And when you hit that first milestone, it gives you a chance to celebrate, re-evaluate your strategy and re-up your enthusiasm for the next stage."
For example, a 250-pound person at 5'10" would have a BMI of 35.86. People with BMIs of 25 and above are considered to be overweight. Having a body mass index over 30 places you at risk for developing obesity-related medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. A BMI over 40 indicates that a person is morbidly obese.
Find ways to stay motivated. It’s not always easy to do the things listed above, and it’s important to find ways to keep going when you are flagging. This could involve other people – for example, trying to lose weight at the same time as someone else or telling other people about your weight loss plans. You could also reward yourself when you meet your targets (with something other than food), and keep a note to remind yourself of the reasons you want to lose weight.
An American Society For Clinical Nutrition study found that avoiding periodic binging was linked to a 60 percent higher chance of maintaining weight for over a year. To help you combat the urge to dive fork-first into a guilt-ridden meal, make sure your kitchen is stocked with healthy picks and toss out any possible trigger foods. If the mere sight of a Ben & Jerry’s in your freezer usually sets off an uncontrollable course of overeating, avoiding stocking up on the pints at the supermarket and adopt these 25 Food Swaps That Cut 2,500 Calories a Week.
Writing stuff down may be helpful, but it’s tough to accurately gauge how much you move every day (and not just on the treadmill). Invest in a wearable to monitor energy burn. You can also track your daily steps with a simple pedometer. Studies show that individuals who walk more tend to be thinner than those who walk less, and pedometer-based walking programs result in weight loss.
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.”

Hiding your salt shaker in the cabinet rather than keeping it in plain sight on the kitchen table can do wonders for your long-term weight-loss goals. A study conducted by Queen Mary University of London showed that every excess gram of salt you consume daily can increase your risk of obesity by a staggering 25 percent! If your food is lacking flavor after ditching the sodium, try experimenting with different spices such as anti-inflammatory turmeric, zesty cayenne, and smoky paprika.


Though you may give yourself a pat on the back for passing on that slice of chocolate cake you’ve been craving for dessert, you’re actually doing yourself (and your waistline) a disservice in the long run. According to a study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, when you resist food, your body actually experiences more cravings for whatever it is you aren’t getting. Saying “no” to a sweet treat or slice of pizza wires our brains to view forbidden foods as rewards, setting us up for cravings that are hard to satisfy, so give yourself a break and indulge every now and again.

Throw away your peeler. It might actually be limiting your true weight-loss potential — at least when it comes to apples. In a 2012 study published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers found ursolic acid — a natural substance in apple peels — could play a role in preventing obesity, as well as increasing muscle and brown fat, which are both known as being major calorie-burners. Anyone, your peeler is one of the 20 Kitchen Tools You’re Using All Wrong.
In addition to blasting belly fat, you should also be working out and trying to build up your muscle mass. Even when you’re at rest, your body is constantly burning calories, and the “resting metabolic rate” is much higher in people with more muscle. That’s because every pound of muscle uses about six calories a day just to sustain itself. If you can pack on just five pounds of muscle and sustain it, you’ll burn the caloric equivalent of three pounds of fat over the course of a year, and be even closer to obtaining that lean physique you’ve always wanted.
Imagine each time a person goes home in the evening, they eat a snack. When they first eat the snack, a mental link is formed between the context (getting home) and their response to that context (eating a snack). Every time they subsequently snack in response to getting home, this link strengthens, to the point that getting home prompts them to eat a snack automatically. This is how a habit forms.
Who knew that fantasizing about eating your favorite candy can actually result in real-life weight loss? A study found that daydreaming about eating an entire packet of the sweet stuff before indulging may cause you to eat less of it. To come to this finding, researchers asked participants to imagine eating three M&Ms versus 30. Then, they conducted a taste test where participants were able to nosh on the chocolate orbs. The results? Those who imagined eating lots of M&Ms ended up gobbling down the least!

A review of more than 600 studies found that being married, and transitioning into marriage, are both associated with weight gain. Transitioning out of a marriage, however, is associated with weight loss. The researchers found that weight gain occurs because of increased opportunities for eating due to shared, regular meals and larger portion sizes, as well as “decreased physical activity and a decline in weight maintenance for the purpose of attracting an intimate partner,” Zero Belly Smoothies states. we’re hardly advocating staying single or getting a divorce (unless you choose to) this research clearly indicates that dieters need to be especially careful around the wedding day. To keep things in check after you take the plunge, meal prep with your partner or develop a workout routine together.
Diets that involve removing – or severely limiting – specific foods or food groups that are nutritionally important are not going to be a long-term solution. The more extreme high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets limit fruit, vegetables and fibre, particularly in the early stages, while faddy diets based on single foods (cabbage soup, anyone?) involve eating a lot of one type of food and not much of others. Some diets also drastically limit calorie intake so you get results fast. However, a very low-calorie intake can leave you tired and hungry, so you give up, regaining the weight as quickly as it came off.
If you’re accustomed to shredding muenster cheese into your eggs, try swapping it for your favorite veggie. One ounce of cheese packs in about 110 calories while a half cup of steamed broccoli boasts 15 calories. Making this morning switch will nourish your body with extra satiating fiber and nutrients, as well as save your waistline from added inches.
If you need some Meatless Monday inspiration, look for veggies that contain less starch. In addition to being excellent sources of fiber, protein, and a host of other nutrients, healthy picks such as broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes can help combat fat. In fact, one Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study found that consuming more non-starchy veggies resulted in an impressive 17 percent decrease in visceral fat in overweight kids. Although you may be all grown up, it’s safe to assume that adding more veggies can help adults trim their fat, too.
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.

Though you may give yourself a pat on the back for passing on that slice of chocolate cake you’ve been craving for dessert, you’re actually doing yourself (and your waistline) a disservice in the long run. According to a study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, when you resist food, your body actually experiences more cravings for whatever it is you aren’t getting. Saying “no” to a sweet treat or slice of pizza wires our brains to view forbidden foods as rewards, setting us up for cravings that are hard to satisfy, so give yourself a break and indulge every now and again.


Lately, we’re noticing protein-packed everything—from breads to nut butter and milk. While you don’t need to load up on weird franken-foods to amp up your intake of the nutrient, if you’re trying to drop a few pounds, then it’s wise to keep some high-protein snacks on hand. Noshing on these can prevent eating something high-calorie every time hunger strikes.


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.
There are still plenty of people who believe losing weight is solely about limiting calories, but according to a 2018 study of more than 600 participants in JAMA, that’s not the case. Researchers found that simply focusing on the quality of their food instead of counting calories — like eating mostly whole foods and scrubbing their diets of added sugar and processed junk — can lead to more weight loss. Plus, you’ll be much happier along the way. Next, don’t miss the 50 Genius Weight-Loss Motivation Tricks.

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.
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.
The average American consumes 15.5 pounds of pasta each year—and most of it is the refined white stuff. What’s the trouble with that? This type of noodle is almost completely void of fiber and protein, two vital nutrients for weight loss. To boost the belly-filling fiber and hunger-busting protein in your meal, opt for a bean-based noodle like Banza Chickpea Shells (2 oz., 190 calories, 8 grams of fiber, 14 grams of protein) or Explore Asian Black Bean Low-Carb Pasta (2 oz., 180 calories, 12 grams of fiber, and 25 grams of protein). Alternatively, whip up a batch of zoodles, or spiralized veggie noodles with the help of these 21 Mouthwatering Spiralizer Recipes.
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