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.”
For even more impressive effects on body composition: aim for exercise forms which elicit a positive hormonal response. This means lifting really heavy things (strength training), or interval training. Such exercise increases levels of the sex hormone testosterone (primarily in men) as well as growth hormone. Not only do greater levels of these hormones increase your muscle mass, but they also decrease your visceral fat (belly fat) in the long term.
“Oolong, or ‘black dragon,’ is a kind of Chinese tea that’s packed with catechins, nutrients that help promote weight loss by boosting your body’s ability to metabolize fat. A study in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine found that participants who regularly sipped oolong tea lost a pound a week, without doing anything else to change their diet or exercise habits,” Kelly Choi, author of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse tells us in How To Lose 10 Pounds Fast.
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.
While you're becoming hypothyroid, even before your TSH is elevated enough to warrant treatment, your metabolism can slow down significantly, causing you to burn fewer calories each day. Hypothyroidism can also make you tired, achy, and less likely to exercise, further reducing your metabolism. And, when you’re tired, you may eat more sugary foods and carbohydrates for energy.
Schedule "cheat meals" and gym breaks into your routine. “It’s hard to be consistently motivated and always be on your game. Give yourself a little bit of a reprieve," says Delaney. "Mentally, it’s not normal to constantly be on all the time, we need to unwind and relax. By doing something that’s not perfect, were allowing ourselves to revel in the moment and celebrate our success; it gives us a renewed energy to move on.” To do this, Delaney says to schedule one cheat meal a week, and to pick 1-2 days where you let your body rest. "Go out and have a slice of pizza and a glass of red wine. Your body needs that, not just physically, but mentally. Same with the gym. You don’t need to work out every day. Give your body that recoup time; physically and mentally it needs it. Give yourself a break so you can sustain that motivation. It’s an allowance instead of creating the ‘I messed up syndrome’ which causes you to get off track.”
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.
Sure, you certainly need to drink plenty of water to help expedite the process of ridding your body of excess sodium, you can (and should!) also consume high-water content foods. Reach for cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, asparagus, grapes, celery, artichokes, pineapple, and cranberries — all of which contain diuretic properties that will also help you stay full due to their higher fiber content.
According to a study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, & Biochemistry, consuming apple cider vinegar each day can lead to weight loss, reduced belly fat, waist circumference, and lower blood triglycerides. More specifically, the study of obese Japanese participants found that those who consumed just one tablespoon of ACV over a three-month period lost 2.6 pounds, and those who consumed 2 tablespoons lost 3.7 pounds in the same time frame. Go ahead and toss a tablespoon or two of this calorie, fat, and sugar-free stuff in your next salad dressing, sauce, or smoothie.
Psychologically, cheat meals make your diet more realistic and help you from engaging in dangerous and disordered eating. Scientifically, leptin is the key factor in why rewarding yourself is beneficial to your weight loss. Leptin is a protein produced by fat tissue that helps regulate body weight/fat mass by impacting appetite. A high-calorie cheat meal will help your body maintain the energy levels it needs to continue healthy exercise.
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.
We often make the wrong trade-offs. Many of us make the mistake of swapping fat for the empty calories of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead of eating whole-fat yoghurt, for example, we eat low- or no-fat versions that are packed with sugar to make up for the loss of taste. Or we swap our fatty breakfast bacon for a muffin or donut that causes rapid spikes in blood sugar.
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.
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.
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.
For many people, losing weight is only half the battle — the bigger challenge is keeping the weight off over the long term. And it's no surprise that keeping weight off is difficult — studies have shown that the brain and the body are hardwired to regain lost weight. But don't despair: Research also has revealed that people who are successful in keeping weight off share some habits. They tend to do the following:
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.
So I just began my training again after constantly training and taking a break for different periods of time because of school. So after a 6 month break I got really fat. Gained like 7-8 KGS, and I am wondering what I should do to get lean again. Have my calorie intake low, or make it stable so I burn fat and keep my muscle? I am following your muscle building workout routine with the upper and lower body split.
Then, assuming you don’t want to lose muscle/strength while you’re in this deficit (or that you’d like to gain some while you’re in this deficit), combine that deficit method with the type of heavy, intelligent, strength-focused weight training needed to ensure this second goal is taken care of, too. (Superior Muscle Growth contains workouts that fit this description.)
Ah, the über-popular “know your why” strategy. One Brown University study found that when people are motivated to lose weight for appearance and social reasons, they stick with their weight-loss habits for significantly less time than those who are motivated by their health. After all, these external motivators (like looking a certain way or fitting into a cultural ideal) aren’t going to get you going when you’re feeling down, have had a bad day, or are frustrated with a plateau, Albers says.
While overnight oats remain a healthy and trendy breakfast, there’s one healthy oatmeal trend that’s also making waves: Zoats! The funny-sounding name actually describes a very straightforward (but delicious) dish made from shredded fiber-filled zucchini, oatmeal, milk, spices and nutrient-packed add-ins such as nuts and fruit. We love how the dish makes it easy to add veggies to your morning meal—somewhere it’s rarely found. Another win: Adding zucchini to your oatmeal adds bulk to your breakfast bowl without the need for extra cereal, ultimately saving you calories.
27. Use tech and other tools to your advantage. "I started out just by cutting little things like soda out one by one so I wouldn't burn myself out mentally and give up. I then discovered counting calories on MyFitnessPal, which was [a huge help] for me in my weight loss. A few years in, I lost my way a little bit and found Renaissance Periodization diet templates, which helped me rebuild a healthy relationship with food."
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.
Out of sight, out of mouth? Simply reorganizing your pantry staples could translate into serious calorie savings. A study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. For this reason, many nutritionists suggest keeping indulgent foods in the pantry on a high shelf so that you’re less apt to mindlessly grab them.
Napping may be an easy way to catch up on some missed shut-eye, but dozing off in the middle of the day does nothing to aid weight loss. In fact, research has found that people burn fewer calories when they sleep during the day and log their waking hours after the sun’s gone down. To come to this finding, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder studied 14 healthy adults for six days. For two days, study participants slept at night and stayed awake during the day, then they reversed their routines to mimic the schedules of night owls. When participants slept during the day, researchers found that they burned 52 to 59 fewer calories than they did while catching their Zzzs in the evening—likely because the schedule messed with their circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock that plays a major role in metabolism function. If your circadian rhythm is out of whack, a separate study by University of Colorado Boulder researchers suggested spending a weekend in the wilderness to get it back on track.
There’s a reason Eat This, Not That! hired celebrity trainer Mark Langowski to develop Eat This, Not That! for Abs, our e-book system for getting a six-pack in six weeks: He said it wouldn’t include a single sit-up. “I have been a personal trainer for over 13 years—during this time, I have learned a lot about a lot, but the most important topic that I discovered was 10 years ago when I found out how damaging sit-ups are to the discs in my spine,” he told us. “It was after listening to genius professor Stuart McGill, who is head of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, that I realized I had been doing more harm to myself and my clients by having them do traditional sit-ups.” Instead, “throughout the workout section of the Eat This, Not That! For Abs, I explain how to train the entire body in a way that is activating the core muscles in every exercise you do. A squat may look like a leg exercise
Have trouble eating reasonably sized portions? Try dimming the lights and cueing up some soft music. According to a study published in Psychological Reports, soft lighting and music lead noshers to eat less and enjoy their food more. That’s what we call a win-win. Looking for the perfect date night dish? Check out these 35 Healthy Crockpot Recipes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
Check out online communities (on Facebook, Twitter or other forums) that provide support and encouragement. One study showed that overweight adults who listened to weight-loss podcasts and used Twitter in tandem with a diet and physical activity monitoring app lost more weight than those who did not go social. Sharing progress and setbacks on social media can help you feel accountable for your goals.
Instead of labeling foods as good or bad, think about which foods you can eat a lot of, and which ones you should just eat a little of. Then, plan ways to eat the foods you really like in portions that fit with your overall goals. “A good example of this would be having a slice of pizza alongside a club salad with chicken breast, avocado and a bit of dressing,” Kamp says. “This is vastly different than 3 slices of pizza, 4 breadsticks with cheese sauce and half of a liter of regular soda.”
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.
Tell your family, friends, and coworkers about your weight-loss goals and ask for their support. Then check in on Facebook each time you go to the gym, and let your support system know each time you hit a goal. It'll make you feel accountable to someone aside from yourself. A 2014 study found that being accountable to someone else and receiving support is a great motivator for women who are trying to lose or maintain weight. Makes sense!
There’s healthy belly bacteria, and then there’s bad belly bacteria, which studies indicate overweight people have more of in their gut. To keep the fat-causing bugs at bay, you need to eat a variety of foods that support their healthy counterparts—the kind found in the bellies of slim people. Examples of probiotic-rich foods that help you lose weight by aiding digestion include kimchi, kombucha, bone broth, and kefir.
“Repetition builds rhythm. Be boring. Most successful losers have just a couple of go-to breakfasts or snacks,” says registered dietitian Lauren Slayton. “Make an effort to pinpoint these for yourself. ‘Hmm, I’m starving what should I have?’ doesn’t often end well. You can change the rotation every few weeks, but pre-set meals or workouts on certain days will help tremendously.”