Listen up: Skipping meals will not make you lose weight faster. If a hectic day makes a sit-down meal impossible, stash an energy bar or a piece of fruit in your car or tote, keep snacks in your office desk drawer, and make a point of getting up to grab a nosh — anything that will keep you from going hungry! Going long periods of time without food does double-duty harm on our healthy eating efforts by both slowing down your metabolism, and priming you for another binge later in the day. (Think: You've skipped breakfast and lunch, so you're ready to takedown a whole turkey by dinner!) Make it your mission to eat three meals and two snacks every day, and don't wait longer than three to four hours without eating. Set a "snack alarm" on your phone if needed.
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.
Not long ago, Traci Mann and her colleagues showed study subjects a sad movie, then allowed some of them to eat their favorite feel-better food—such as brownies, cookies and ice cream. Others were given a granola bar, while a third group ate nothing at all. When the researchers assessed their subjects' moods afterward, there was no difference among the three groups. In other words, brownies aren't the surefire pick-me-up we think they are. Mann's takeaway: "When you feel bad, you're far better off calling a friend or going for a walk—both of which are proven to lift mood." These options also have zero calories.
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.
Places like airports, drug stores, and even home-goods stores all sell food, but it's usually not very healthy. Instead of shopping until you feel famished then buying whatever unhealthy items are available near the checkout stand, plan ahead and pack a nutritious snack. Sliced apples and peanut butter, carrots and hummus, or Greek yogurt and nuts are all inexpensive and convenient options.
We’ve already discussed how the color red may act as an appetite suppressant (hence the need for red dishes) but apparently that’s not the only color you should be taking note of as you prepare to eat. Per a recent study from Cornell University, diners actually serve themselves more food if the color of their food matches the color of their plate. In other words, if you’re eating from a white plate, you’re more likely to help yourself to more rice or pasta. Conversely, if your goal is to eat less, select plates that have high contrast with what you plan to serve for dinner.
If this cycle has occurred more times than you'd like to admit, you’re not alone. Setting a weight-loss goal is easy to do, but following through on it is a different story. Which is why losing weight is consistently one of the most popular resolutions, but few of us actually accomplish it. In fact, one survey found that at the end of the first week of January, 30 percent of people have already called it quits.
Seriously: Your flab can help you shed pounds. How? Just as there's more than one kind of fat in food, there's more than one type in your body. White fat is the bad stuff you want to zap. But a second kind, brown fat, actually torches calories. "Up to 80 percent of adults have brown fat deposits in their bodies," says Aaron M. Cypess, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School. This good fat is powerful because it's packed with mitochondria, the parts of cells that generate heat. When activated, as little as two ounces of brown fat can gobble up as much as 20 percent of your body's calories.
Sure, it’s packed with vitamin C, contains natural sugars, and tastes great in a cocktail, but that shouldn’t grant you a free pass to sip on fruit juice every day. Just one 8-ounce cup of your leading orange juice brand packs in 110 calories and 22 grams of sugar. To put that into perspective, drinking two glasses every day can add over a pound to your frame in just three weeks! Whether you’re used to pairing a drink with dinner or rather quench your thirst with something flavored, NWCR members reported maintaining weight loss and limiting total calorie intake by swapping out their regular beverages with water or low-calorie and calorie-free sips. Just remember to forgo drinks spiked with artificial sweeteners and choose one of our favorite healthy sodas instead.
Do-overs: They’re what your parents use to give you when you missed an easy hole on the mini golf course. But sadly, with adulthood, comes “grown-up” responsibilities, leaving little to no time for second shots—especially when it comes to your long-term happy weight. Shedding pounds takes countless hours of dedication, so if you’ve already gone through the grind to reach your goal weight, do you really want to do it again? We didn’t think so.
“Long bouts of cardio don’t help weight loss. The body sees them as a long and uncertain search for food. [It] slows the metabolism to save calories,” explains Herbst. “Weight training raises the metabolism and builds muscle by causing tiny micro tears that the body works hard to repair over the next 48-72 hours. Additionally, the body builds additional muscle in anticipation of having to lift greater loads in the future.” The best weight-training movements that he recommends are complex multi-joint movements. These include squats, lunges, bench press, and deadlifts which use the major muscle groups.
Hold your horses; we’re not giving you the go to order a bubbling skillet of mac and cheese three times a day, but taking a break from your diet may be the secret weapon you need to ward off pesky pounds. An eye-opening study in the International Journal of Obesity found that participants who deviated from their low-calorie diets for two weeks ended up weighing 18 pounds than those who didn’t ditch their diet—even six months later! Although, there is a catch: During your double cheat week, you should be eating enough calories to maintain your current weight—not increase it. (Use a calorie calculator can help you find your caloric maintenance level.)
Dining out can kill your hard-earned weight loss wins—and so can boozing too hard. To stay on track with your better-body goals, order your glass of wine or cocktail near the end of your meal. That way, the sweetness can act as a low-cal dessert. Plus, it won’t lower your inhibitions before your meal, which may prompt you to order something unhealthy off the menu.
“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.”
If beef is your prefered source of protein, make sure you’re eating the grass-fed stuff. Ground beef, a T-bone steak, or prime rib are amongst the healthiest cuts because they’re lower in unhealthy fats than other forms of beef and actually contain more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than some fish. Just be sure to limit your red meat consumption to around two three-ounce servings per week in order to keep your cholesterol in check, and stick to low-calorie rubs and spices as opposed to sugary sauces to flavor the meal.
A paper-thin wrap may seem like a healthier, lower carb alternative to a sandwich, but don’t be fooled by appearances. Wraps are almost always loaded with calories, thanks to the fat that’s needed to make them pliable—and a large wrap can be the carb and calorie equivalent of four or five slices of bread. In other words, forget the wrap and go for a cold, open-faced sandwich instead. Your waistline will thank you.
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.
The faster food gets from the farm to your plate, the higher its nutritional value, so, no matter the season, stay healthy by heading out to your neighborhood farmer’s market and stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. The walk around the market is a great way to elevate your heart rate a bit, and the beneficial finds can’t be beat. To make the most of your nutritionally-minded outing, keep an eye out for what’s in peak season whenever you go.
Though it’s hardly realistic to keep people from moving north, there’s evidence to suggest that those living in northern latitudes may need to be a bit more careful about their gut health than the rest of us. A study in the journal Biology Letters found that living in northern latitudes encourages the growth of Firmicutes microbes, which have been linked to weight gain while decreasing the number of microbes linked with slim body types called Bacteroidetes. Generally speaking, the research showed that the number of Firmicutes increases with latitude and the number of Bacteroidetes decreases with latitude. To help ensure a healthy gut no matter where you reside, make sure your diet includes fermented and probiotic-rich foods, both of which encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
To drop serious lbs, you need the one-two punch of aerobic exercise plus strength training. Resistance helps build and preserve metabolism-boosting lean muscle while burning fat and is especially key when you hit a plateau. Amanda Green lost 15 pounds in two months doing hour-long cardio DVDs, but it wasn't until she started running outside and lifting weights three times a week that she was able to ditch the last 15 of her 30-pound goal.
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.
Dozens of scientific studies have tied diets high in vegetables— especially greens— to better health outcomes, including weight loss and a decreased risk of a handful of chronic diseases. Veggies like watercress, spinach, chives, and collard greens all rank highly on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's list of "powerhouse foods," so find a few you like, and start adding them to your plate.
Great article and thanks for sharing. So if my RMR is 1850 and I burn between 800 -1,000 calories per workout a day 5 times a week according to my heart rate monitor. My maintenance then would be 2,650 – 2,850. So I should eat between 2,120, 2,280 to cut on my workout days. Then on my rest days, should I eat 20% below my RMR which would be 1,480 calories? I am currently at 18% body fat and trying to get to 10-12 % then bulking.
Pumping iron not only gives us muscles, but it can boost resting metabolism (meaning you burn more calories outside the gym) plus improve mood and confidence. Lifting a little weight can also help you sleep, another factor in effective weight loss. If we haven’t convinced you to take to dumbbells quite yet, there’s also this: Strength training takes just a few weeks to see results.
She recommends setting aside time on Sunday to plan out the week ahead. “Planning is so important from an organization perspective,” says Delaney. “When it comes to organizing you really need to think about what’s important to you. I always tell people, don’t over-schedule. You don’t have to say yes to every single invitation. Think about what your week is going to look like and how you’re going to find time for what’s important.”
Within three years of dieting, Nearly 65 percent of dieters gain back the weight they lost within three years, say University of Pennsylvania researchers. The reason? They all slimmed down with the help of a diet, which by definition is short term and doesn’t produce life long results. To hit your goal weight and stay there, you need to make permanent changes to your lifestyle. Not sure how? Check out these 10 Daily Habits That Keep Away Belly Fat for some inspiration.
I’m a little confused about heavy, strength focused workout with caloric deficit. I was thinking that anaerobic exercises such as heavy workouts or HIIT would make your body use carbs as the first choice energy source, which may cause the glycogen inside the muscles to be used next as you are already low on carbs because of the diet. Should we go heavier on carbs on workout days?
Whether or not you’re specifically aiming to cut carbs, most of us consume unhealthy amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and sweetened breakfast cereals. Replacing refined carbs with their whole-grain counterparts and eliminating candy and desserts is only part of the solution, though. Sugar is hidden in foods as diverse as canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, and many reduced fat foods. Since your body gets all it needs from sugar naturally occurring in food, all this added sugar amounts to nothing but a lot of empty calories and unhealthy spikes in your blood glucose.
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.