The degree to which exercise aids weight loss is open to debate, but the benefits go way beyond burning calories. Exercise can increase your metabolism and improve your outlook—and it’s something you can benefit from right now. Go for a walk, stretch, move around and you’ll have more energy and motivation to tackle the other steps in your weight-loss program.
There’s some truth to the old adage that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day,” and if you’re looking to blast belly fat, what you eat at the start of each day can make all the difference. According to a study from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast may be the most important investment you can make for your waistline. The study showed that eating breakfast triggered women’s brains to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical that helps to control impulses. In other words, eating a balanced breakfast decreases your chances of reaching for that 3 p.m. candy bar and keeps your belly slim.
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.
Weightlifting isn’t going to make you look bulky — that’s just a myth. Something it can do, though? Help you lose weight — and super effectively. In a 2017 study published in the journal Obesity, researchers found pumping some iron (along with consuming less food!) helped the participants lose more weight. And in comparison to the participants who walked as their form of exercise or didn’t exercise at all, the weightlifters dropped more fat and gained more muscle.
Most people think of their protein or meat as their meal’s main event, but that shouldn’t be the case. “Place flavorful vegetables front and center on lunch and dinner plates, accompanied by sides of protein and whole grains,” registered dietitian Cheryl Forberg said. By simply rearranging your plate, you’ll automatically consume fewer calories and take in more health-protective vitamins and nutrients.
Unlike cheat days (or weeks!) that took place in your 20s, there’s little wiggle room for parties, holidays and vacations to slip up or pig out when you’re in your 40s and beyond. “The body’s metabolism is less resistant to overeating as you age,” Peterson says. This is why so many adults over 40 complain that they feel the effects of seemingly minor slip-ups on the scale the next day. If you know you’re attending a party or will be eating out, it’s critical to account for those extra calories by either eating less or exercising more before and after to avoid weight gain.
There’s an idea that focusing on less helps us achieve more. Changing a habit is tough, but trying to tackle a handful may seem impossible. Instead, concentrate on changing one behavior at a time. Start small and make clear guidelines. For example, if you’d like to increase your veggie intake, decide to eat three different vegetables each day, or one cup with each meal. And remember, small changes can lead to gradual weight loss.
Not all fat is bad. Healthy or “good” fats can actually help to control your weight, as well as manage your moods and fight fatigue. Unsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, soy milk, tofu, and fatty fish can help fill you up, while adding a little tasty olive oil to a plate of vegetables, for example, can make it easier to eat healthy food and improve the overall quality of your diet.
We’ve already discussed the weight loss benefits of avocado oil, so it should come as no surprise that the mothership has its own fat-blasting properties. Though avocados get a bad rap for being high in calories, they’re actually loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that make you feel less hungry. Need proof? A study in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. What’s more? Unsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados, have been linked to preventing the storage of belly fat.
In November 2017, she said, she discovered an app called Aaptiv and purchased a one-year subscription. "As I began to move more, I started making healthier eating options," she said. "I eliminated all inflammatory-causing foods and stopped all supplements and pain medications with the goal of allowing my body's systems to heal and restore themselves."
At the end of the day, successfully achieving a health goal — whether it be to lose weight, tone up or feel more energized — all comes down to identifying a goal that is meaningful to you as an individual, says Delaney. "It's different for everybody. It's about creating goals based on what is important to you and really understanding yourself so that you can continue to work towards them.”
The diversity in tools and strategies that work for people is nicely illustrated by the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), which, since 1994, has collected data on people who have lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for at least one year. If you take a look at some of their findings, you’ll see some commonalities in various behaviors and strategies (such as increasing eating breakfast every day, watching fewer than 10 hours of TV per week, and weighing themselves regularly). But rather than looking at the NWCR’s data as a how-to guide—after all, these are the behaviors that correlate to weight loss, we can’t know if they’re the ones that caused weight loss—look at it as further evidence that there’s no one right way to live to lose weight and keep it off, and that finding the thing that will work for you is a personal journey, specific to you.
Each strategy has the potential to work, but more often than not diets fail. It can be hard to make a changes that you can stick with long enough to see long-term results. When trying to lose weight, it’s always better to take a slow, calculated approach that involves small but impactful changes that lead to a healthier lifestyle. Use these seven proven strategies to help you out along the way.
Cutting butter and oil can slash calories, and it’s easy to swap in foods like applesauce, avocado, banana or flax for baking. But, it’s important to remember that we still need fat in our diets as a source of energy and to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Plus it helps us feel full. Get healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from olive oil, nuts, coconuts, seeds and fish. Pro tip: Combining fat with fiber has been shown to increase fat’s power to make us feel full.
In a 2015 Orlando Health survey of more than a thousand respondents, the majority cited their inability to stay consistent with a diet or exercise plan as their primary barrier to weight loss success. Sounds common, but here’s the kicker: Only one in 10 of the survey respondents noted their psychological well-being as part of the equation—and it’s likely why nearly two out of three people who lost five percent of their total weight ended up gaining it all back. Yikes! To unlock the door to weight loss success and stop emotional eating, try keeping a journal that tracks your food choices and current mood. Then, look for unhealthy patterns, which can help you recognize specific emotional connections you have with food. Once you’re more aware of these connections, it will be easier to adopt healthier eating patterns. Do you always reach for something sugary when you’re stressed or devour fries when you’re sad? Instead, try more productive ways to cope, like going for a brisk walk or texting a friend.
In our eat-and-run, massive-portion-sized culture, maintaining a healthy weight can be tough—and losing weight, even tougher. If you’ve tried and failed to lose weight before, you may believe that diets don’t work for you. You’re probably right: some diets don’t work at all and none of them work for everyone—our bodies often respond differently to different foods. But while there’s no easy fix to losing weight, there are plenty of steps you can take to develop a healthier relationship with food, curb emotional triggers to overeating, and achieve lasting weight-loss success.
Despite the media attention and all the information that’s available, people simply aren’t losing weight. But there are some very good reasons for this: too much misinformation is available, too many people rely on fad diets, too many people look for a pill to help them lose weight and too many people just don’t want to acknowledge that it takes some work to lose the weight. Yet for those who do work to lose weight, the end result is always worth it.
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.
We’ve already extolled the benefits of green and black teas, but they aren’t the only brews that can help you get slim; research indicates goji tea is another winner. Lycium barbarum, the plant from which goji berries are harvested, boasts a slimming effect. In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, participants were either given a single dose of L. barbarum or a placebo after a meal. The researchers found that one hour after the dose, the goji group was burning calories at a rate 10 percent higher than the placebo group, and the effects lasted up to four hours. What’s more? Most goji teas are mixed with green tea, making the beverage a weight loss double whammy.
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.
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.”
And, save the bread for the end of the meal. Eating simple carbs first dramatically increases blood sugar, which causes your body to pump out insulin and store the calories as fat—the opposite of what you want if you're trying to lose weight, says obesity expert Louis Aronne, M.D., a professor of metabolic research at Weill Cornell Medical College. "Having some vegetables and protein before simple carbs blunts that unhealthy blood sugar response," he adds.
And that raises the most important point: Thinking about exercise as a way to work off food or simply allow you to eat sets up a host of unhealthy and unhelpful thought patterns and habits around food and exercise. For instance, one 2013 research review found that, not only did people generally overestimate how many calories exercise burned—when they did work out, they ramped up their food intake. And if you overeat following exercise, any caloric deficit created during your workout can become a wash. And related: thinking of food as a reward and exercise as a punishment is likely to sabotage your weight loss efforts anyway.
Looks like weighing yourself is the way to go. When Cornell researchers pushed study participants to lose 10 percent of their body weight, those who accomplished this in the program’s first year were able to keep the pounds at bay throughout a second year as well. The reason for this? Researchers think stepping on the scale played a large factor, as this became a daily reinforcer for participants to continue effective behaviors like eating less and exercising more. While this was more effective in the males being studied, David Levitsky, senior author, recommends using a simple bathroom scale and Excel spreadsheet to track progress and keep things moving in a positive direction.
By now you know that protein is a vital part of a healthy diet, but don’t let that fact fool you into thinking that all protein bars are created equal. Though a multitude of the trendy treats purport to be nutritious and low in calories, many of them are also packed with sugar but low in satiating fiber, meaning they aren’t actually very healthy at all. Before picking a protein bar to snack on, give the nutrition label a good once-over and look for something with natural ingredients and plenty of protein (obviously) and fiber. If you need help making sense of the overcrowded landscape, consult this list of 25 Best & Worst Low-Sugar Protein Bars!
In addition, eat healthy foods throughout the day to keep your glucose, which fuels your body, at a high level so that you feel energized and satisfied. You'll also be better able to resist cravings when you snack on nutritious choices like fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and whole-grain bread topped with a little peanut butter, according to a recent study that showed that eating consistently helps us control our impulses.
In terms of weight loss, relief of symptoms, and overall good health, for many thyroid patients, it's not enough for your doctor to diagnose hypothyroidism and hand you a prescription. More than standard treatment, you may need optimal treatment to ensure that your cells are getting the oxygen and energy they need to allow your metabolism to do its job.
Snacking is the key to Mary Rogerson’s 60-pound weight loss but it’s not just how often she eats but what. “I aim to eat at least seven servings of vegetables a day, along with some protein, every few hours,” she says. “And The best part is that by the time she’s loaded up on her rainbow of produce, she’s usually too full to eat much else and her cravings for sweets have gone way down.
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.
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.
“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.”
You don't really want dessert, but your friends are having some, and they're urging you to join them. So you give in and order a piece of tiramisu. Sorry to say it, but you've just committed sociotropy, aka people pleasing, a behavior that can make you gain weight. In a recent study, women and men who regularly experienced negative emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger, and were impulsive and disorganized, tended to be heavier than those who were more even-keeled. "Women score slightly higher than men on people-pleasing measures," says Julie Exline, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University. That may be because guys are raised to be assertive while women are socialized to value relationships and "basically to be nicer," Exline explains. In other words, we're inclined to go along with what the rest of the group wants to do, which includes digging into the tiramisu after dinner. If you feel pressured to pig out, "tell your friends politely but firmly that you're fine with what you have and that you're not hungry for more right now," Exline advises. Hold your ground and your pals will get the message.
You have a workout station and a driving station, so why not a dieting station? Background sound, research has shown, doesn't just set a mood, it can actually affect our perception of flavors. In a 2012 study by Unilever and the University of Manchester in England, blind-folded participants were fed an assortment of sweet and savory foods while listening to white noise and, at different times, background music they liked. The participants then rated the intensity of the flavors and how much they enjoyed them. The white noise appeared to dull the participants' perception of flavors—they tasted both salt and sugar less intensely. Whereas appealing background music enhanced their perception of flavors. And when you can actually taste your food you tend to savor and enjoy it more, and your brain registers that you have eaten, ultimately making you feel fuller quicker and eat less.
To lose weight, you'll need to consume fewer calories than you burn. The exact number will depend on your current weight and activity level, but generally, people should aim to cut 250 to 1,000 calories from their diet per day in order to lose 0.5 to 2 lbs. (0.2 to 0.9 kilograms) per week. There are calculators available to help you determine how many calories you should consume per day.