“I’ve been overweight my entire life. I’d try different diets, lose a few pounds and then gain it back. When I turned 25, I was 485 lb. and I knew I was fighting for my life. I want to have kids one day and be more active with my husband. I wanted to stop sitting on the sidelines of my own life. At the beginning of 2016, I started tracking my calories, working out and making healthier versions of the foods I loved. Ultimately, I fell in love with taking care of myself. My advice is to focus on each day, not how far you have to go. Weight loss is a journey, not a sprint.”
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.
Jenifer Tharani, MS, RD, also encourages mindful eating as a general strategy. Eating slowly, bringing attention to flavors and textures of foods, and checking in frequently for fullness all promote a feeling of satiation—even when cutting back on portion sizes. "I ask patients during follow-up weight management sessions whether they felt satisfied with eating smaller portions, and they always say yes," she says.
In contrast to supplements, weight-loss drugs (including prescription pills) have more scientific evidence supporting their use. The makers of these drugs must conduct studies showing that the drugs can lead to weight loss before they can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, these drugs still need to be used along with diet and exercise measures for people to achieve a meaningful amount of weight loss. You should also keep in mind that the long-term safety of these drugs has not been well studied.
There's no magic pill for weight loss, and people should be wary of any over-the-counter supplements that claim to help you shed pounds. These supplements can be dangerous because they can contain ingredients not listed on the label. A 2015 study found that weight-loss supplements send more than 4,600 people to the ER every year in the United States.
“They may be small, but these sweet-tasting fruits contain a hefty amount of actinidin, a natural enzyme unique to kiwifruit that aids in digestion by breaking down protein in the body. Kiwifruit also contains prebiotic fiber, which primes the gut for healthy digestion,” Scritchfield says. “Research indicates that a daily serving of green kiwifruit helps increase bowel movements. So, cut in half, scoop with a spoon, and pop into your mouth like nature’s Tums (SunGold kiwis, with a yellow flesh and tropical taste, offer three times the vitamin C of oranges and as much potassium as a medium banana).”
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.
An additional factor that should also be taken into consideration is the amount of weight that needs to be lost. For example, someone with 100lbs to lose will be able to use a larger deficit with a much lower risk of any potential downsides (and the more fat you have to lose… the faster you can and arguably should lose it), whereas someone who is already lean and looking to get REALLY lean will often do best with a smaller deficit (and thus a slower rate of progress).
You're more likely to stay slim if the view out your window includes hills, water, a park, or a street that leads to one of those things. In a North Carolina study, counties with more natural amenities, including mountains and lakes, had lower obesity rates. "It could be that there's something healing and calming about simply being outside," says Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, PhD, an assistant professor at East Carolina University. For instance, research has shown that people tend to be happier walking outdoors than inside. They also stride faster, yet feel less exertion, than they do on a treadmill. Not only that, hoofing it outside curbs cravings along with calories: In a study, regular chocolate eaters who took a brisk 15-minute stroll consumed about half as much of their favorite treat as those who didn't go for a walk. So take your workout outdoors. If your neighborhood isn't made for exercising, find a park nearby and head there as often as you can to bike, run, or hike.
Think writing a grocery list before heading to the store is a waste of time? As it turns out, it may be the key to finally losing weight. A Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior study of more than more than 1,300 people discovered that shoppers who regularly wrote grocery lists also purchased healthier foods and had lower BMI’s than those who didn’t put pen to paper before heading to the store. Researchers hypothesize that shopping lists keep us organized, which in turn helps us fend off diet-derailing impulse buys (hello, candy aisle). Before heading to the supermarket to stock up, spend a few minutes taking inventory of your kitchen, and then write a list. Be sure to organize it by category to prevent zigzagging all over the place; that ups the odds you’ll walk by—and purchase—tempting treats that could derail your weight loss success.
When many of us have too many options to choose from, we often become flustered and make the wrong decision. Same goes for food. If you have a few different boxes of cereal and a handful of flavors of potato chips, you’re likely to eat more of the packaged stuff. Limiting your options to just one can cut down on your grazing habits and prevent a snack attack.
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.
Trying yet again to lose those last 10 pounds? We hear you. In fact, 50 percent of women say that within six months they gain back any weight they've managed to ditch. And more than a quarter have dieted so many times they've lost track of the number. Well, get ready to stop the endless yo-yoing: Science has finally come up with simple, groundbreaking solutions for lasting weight loss. We checked in with the top experts in the field and scoured the latest research to bring you the skinny on everything you need to reach your slim-down goals and stay there.
There’s no denying dinner rolls are delicious, but you don’t need to take the “breaking bread” aspect of a meal so literally. Instead, steer clear of the bread basket and munch on a leafy green salad instead. If the carb-heavy starter is still too tempting to avoid, try nibbling on a high-fiber snack before sitting down to eat, such as a handful of nuts. The fiber found in nuts will keep you satiated, meaning you won’t be as easily induced to reach for the bread and butter, and you’ll be swapping out unhealthy fats for healthy ones. It’s a win-win!
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.
While you might not think there’s a huge difference between eating a whole piece of fruit and drinking fruit juice, nutritionally speaking, the two entities are most definitely not one and the same. Whereas whole fruit contains naturally occuring sugars and fiber that can help counteract the bad effects of too much sweet stuff, fruit juice is often loaded with added sugar (such as high-fructose corn syrup) and no fiber to speak of. According to a study led by Harvard School of Public Health researchers, eating more whole fruits, particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples, was significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, a greater consumption of fruit juices was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. To get the fruit flavor without all the bad stuff, try stirring up a batch of fruity detox water instead.
There’s more: According to a 2017 review that looked at and analyzed more than 70 studies of over one million people, 42 percent of adults reported having tried to lose weight some time in the previous 12 months. So, lots of people are trying to lose weight, and lots of people are gaining it back. But we also all know someone (or several someones) who have lost weight and kept it off. So, what gives?
There's one piece of advice every weight loss guru now agrees on: getting plenty of sleep is one of the biggest secrets to losing weight and keeping it off. (Try these effective sleep-boosting strategies if insomnia is responsible for your lack of sleep.) Research now shows that the body is most metabolically active during sleep, so the longer we sleep, the more we rev up our fat-burning engines. Lack of sleep also plays havoc with two key metabolic hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control hunger and satiety. Deprive yourself of sleep, and ghrelin levels increase while leptin levels decrease. The result: more craving, less feeling full. Even worse, when you're weary you crave "energy" foods, which usually means chips, sweets, baked goods, or soda. Put the two together and you can see how the typical type-A lifestyle gradually puts on the pounds.
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.
And some of these factors can go pretty deep. Albers says that people often don’t realize how dramatically past experiences influence our relationships with ourselves and bodies. For example, having to clean your plate as a child, getting sweet treats to “cheer up” after a bad day at school, or being called “fat” when you were 8 years old all likely have an impact. “Comments about your body or being urged to lose weight by a parent can do emotional damage for the rest of your life,” Albers says. Unless you deal with these issues, “many people spin their wheels and don't know why they feel so stuck,” she says. For this reason, Langer often refers clients to psychologists who specialize in food issues, and she won’t work with those clients on the nutrition side of things until they’ve started to unpack these fundamental emotional factors. Understanding your relationship to food is an important step in trying to change it.
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.