On paper, it seems like weight loss should be so simple: Calories in through food; calories out through activity. It doesn't take a Ph.D. in nutrition or exercise science to understand this basic equation—and for some people, weight loss follows this tried-and-true path. But many dieters find themselves hitting a wall, unable to achieve their weight-loss goals through this strategy, and research increasingly shows that a one-size-fits-all approach may set us up for failure.
21. Keep it simple. "I take a minimalist approach to nutrition: My diet consists of lean protein (chicken breast, egg whites, ground turkey), complex carbs (quinoa, sweet potatoes, oatmeal), healthy fats (coconut oil, almonds, avocados), and leafy green veggies. I eat as clean as I can—locally-grown vegetables, organic when possible, and minimally-processed everything."
You might not be a morning person. But, just like the saying, the early bird gets the worm (even when it comes to weight loss). There’s plenty of research to support the idea that working out in the morning is more effective for weight loss than working out in the afternoon or evening. One study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that women who exercised in the morning had less desire for food than those who’d skipped out on an a.m. workout. Additionally, researchers found that the morning exercisers were more active overall than the group who did not work out. In addition to helping keep the weight off, morning workouts also come with a myriad of health benefits. One of them is reduced the risk of diabetes, according to a study published in the Journal of Physiology.
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.
“This seemingly-innocent food is almost always loaded with added sugar. In fact, most companies use synonyms or alternative words for plain old ‘sugar’ to disguise it. ” Lisa Hayim, registered dietitian and founder of The Well Necessities tells us in 37 Worst Breakfast Habits for Your Waistline. And she’s right: Choosing a cup of Kashi Indigo Morning Organic Corn Cereal over ¾ cup of Kashi Organic Promise Cranberry, Spelt and Flax Granola, will slash 160 calories off your breakfast!
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.
If you typically wake up early and stay up late, there’s probably something you’re consistently doing throughout that entire time: eating. Your eating window is bigger, so the amount of calories you take in during the day is, too — and that’s why it’s worth keeping that window as small as possible. What’s more, a 2014 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that only eating within a 8- to 9-hour window — even without restricting your calories — was an effective way to lose weight and prevent obesity. And for more ways to shed pounds, learn the 20 Science-Backed Ways to Motivate Yourself to Lose Weight.
Little treats keep you from feeling deprived, so every day, allow yourself a bit of something you love (aim for 150 calories each). This kind of moderation is the difference between a "diet" and a lifestyle you can stick with forever. For salon owner Caitlin Gallagher, who lost 125 pounds, that meant replacing her nightly bowl of ice cream with a square of chocolate; social worker Brittany Hicks, who lost 100 pounds, started baking mini versions of her favorite pies.
Big-box stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club are great money-savers, but frequenting them to buy groceries can be bad news for your fitness goals. That’s because a 2015 study in the journal Appetite found that the larger the bottle, bag, or box the food comes in, the larger we think the serving size should be. To come to that conclusion, researchers surveyed more than thirteen thousand people and found that when confronted with larger packages of cola, chips, chocolate, or lasagna, the shoppers tended to want to serve themselves larger portions.
It's all about positive reinforcement, people! Every time you meet one of those small goals, give yourself a little reward. But don't defeat the purpose by celebrating with half a pizza and a hot fudge sundae! Stick with non-food-based rewards. Treat yourself to a new pair of pants once you hit that smaller size. Or reward yourself with an at-home spa day, complete with a DIY facial and guilty-pleasure magazine reading. Whatever floats your boat…
So using this same example, if you eat 2500 calories per day but then burn an additional 500 calories through exercise such as cardio (e.g. steady state or HIIT) or metabolic training (which is essentially turning more strength-focused weight training into a form of high intensity cardio), that same 500 calorie deficit would exist and you would lose weight.