SOURCES: WebMD Feature: "With Fruits and Veggies, More Matters." 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD,author, Comfort Food Makeovers. Brian Wansink, PhD, professor and director, Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Ithaca, N.Y.; author, Mindless Eating. Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences; and director, laboratory for the study of human ingestive behaviors, Penn State University; and author, The Volumetrics Eating Plan.
While some people respond well to counting calories or similar restrictive methods, others respond better to having more freedom in planning their weight-loss programs. Being free to simply avoid fried foods or cut back on refined carbs can set them up for success. So, don’t get too discouraged if a diet that worked for somebody else doesn’t work for you. And don’t beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stick with. Ultimately, a diet is only right for you if it’s one you can stick with over time.
“Exercise should not be used to purge calories,” Albers says. “Instead, to boost your mood to keep you motivated.” The thing is, exercise is great for you and can make you feel awesome. And feeling good about yourself seems to be actually useful in weight-loss efforts. Plus, some research has shown that changes in exercise behavior can lead to changes in eating behavior. “In part, it is neurochemical. Movement and exercise you enjoy boosts your serotonin and dopamine levels, which makes you feel good all the way around,” Albers says.
“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.”
Yes, it sounds weird, but it might actually work. A study found that participants who regularly smelled peppermint reported lower hunger levels, significantly lower calorie intake, and fewer calories from saturated fat and sugar during the research period. Plus, says dietician Vanessa Rissetto, R.D., you may begin to create associations between the smell of peppermint and better self-control—as long as that minty aroma isn’t coming from peppermint candy, of course.
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.
People tend to find one workout routine and stick to it but it’s important to switch things up every now and then, especially in terms of cardio. Instead of simply running or walking, try to vary your speeds as you go. Researchers at Ohio State University found that walking at varying speeds can burn up to 20 percent more calories compared to maintaining a steady pace, so get moving!

Last but definitely not least, it's important to check in with yourself on a regular basis. At the beginning of the week, make a list of the meals and snacks you plan to have. Then use that as a checklist, and make sure your kitchen's stocked accordingly. It's easier to make healthy choices if you have a bowl of delicious fruit sitting on the counter and that list is what'll get it there! Then, each day, write down everything you're planning to eat and everything you do eat. Be honest, and write down everything. This will keep you accountable to yourself, and reviewing your lists will help you identify any recurring problem foods.
Boredom isn’t just bad for your brain, it’s also bad for your waistline, especially if you’re trying to shed some pounds. According to a study in the Journal of Health Psychology, boredom actually strips you of your ability to make smart food choices; you become an “emotional eater,” What’s more, boredom turns you into the worst kind of emotional eater because you not only make the wrong food choices but also eat much more fattening foods than you normally would. To stave off boredom, try taking a walk or relaxing with a good book.
Most people who want to lose weight have more than 12 pounds to lose. That’s why even the best weight loss drug in the world can only be an optional complement to other treatment. That’s why this piece of advice is number 18 out of 18. It may be a helpful addition for some people, but the advice higher on the list is what can make the biggest difference, by far.
To help you avoid useless nonsense that will cause some temporary weight loss, but won’t do dick in terms of causing any actual fat loss. This would be stuff like cleanses, detoxes, fasts and other similarly pointless garbage marketed as miracles to people who don’t understand the difference between fat loss and weight loss… in the hope that they’ll be so easily fooled by the fast initial decrease in body weight that takes place that they won’t actually notice there was no body fat lost… or that any weight (water) they do lose is instantly regained right after. Yes, that was a really long sentence.
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.
Ideally, it’s best to clean out your fridge and cupboards so there aren’t any junk options, but maybe that would start a civil war in your house. If you live with someone—or several someones—who don’t share your enthusiasm for healthy choices, that’s okay, just be sure to put your food where you see it first, suggests Dubost. That might be eye-level shelves, or one dedicated cupboard for you, as well as the top shelf of the fridge.
Sitting around can make you flabby. No surprise there, but despite what you may think, the culprit is not just a lack of exercise. In fact, the physical act of sitting or lying down may actually speed up your body's production of fat. When we lounge on a sofa or in a chair, we exert forces on our cells that cause them to become stretched out and to generate flab, researchers say. Glued to your desk every day for eight hours or more? You need to take action, says Richard Atkinson, MD, a clinical professor of pathology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Get up and walk around for five minutes at least once an hour. Take a stroll around the office. Go talk to a coworker rather than sending her an e-mail. Pace back and forth while talking on the phone. "Just standing — even if you're not moving — uses significantly more muscles than sitting down," Dr. Atkinson says. At home, when you're watching TV, get up and jog in place or do jumping jacks during commercials. These short bursts of exercise can help you burn 148 calories an hour and keep your cells slim, not flabby.
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.
Obviously, it’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – just eat fewer calories than you burn, right? The problem with this simplistic advice is that it ignores the elephant in the room: Hunger. Most people don’t like to “just eat less”, i.e. being hungry forever. That’s dieting for masochists. Sooner or later, a normal person will give up and eat, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting”.
Losing weight is hard. It takes a lot of dedication, planning, and time. Rather than trying to go at it alone, recruit a friend who is also trying to beat the bulge. Research has found that people are more successful at losing weight when they do it with a partner. Not only will your weight loss buddy provide support, hold you accountable, and keep you inspired, but they may instigate your competitive side, which will provide you with the drive necessary to drop the weight.
“Get off your phone for a day and escape to nature as we are human and of nature,” Nguyen suggests. “Just get out there. Disconnect from the electronics and connect to the elements.” Not only will this help reduce stress (a major factor in weight gain) by giving your mind a break from the constant stimulation we’ve all become so accustomed to, but it may also reprogram your brain to connect with yourself and what you’re feeling.
You already know that a perfect diet doesn't exist, but many of us still can't resist the urge to kick ourselves when we indulge, eat too much, or get thrown off course from restrictive diets. The problem: This only makes it more difficult, stressful, and downright impossible to lose weight. So rather than beating yourself up for eating foods you think you shouldn't, let it go. Treating yourself to about 200 calories worth of deliciousness each day — something that feels indulgent to you — can help you stay on track for the long-haul, so allow yourself to eat, breathe, and indulge. Food should be joyful, not agonizing!
In addition to researching avocado oil, the folks over at Penn State University conducted some research involving canola oil as well and discovered it can also stimulate weight loss. More specifically, researchers found that after one month of adhering to diets that included canola oil, participants had a quarter-pound less belly fat than they did before the diet. They also found that the weight lost from the mid-section did not redistribute elsewhere in the body. Like peanuts and avocados, canola oil’s belly-blasting abilities are thought to be a result of the monounsaturated fats it contains.

Enlist a workout buddy. You’re more likely to stick to a weight loss program if you have social support — after all, it’s hard to slack off when someone is counting on you. “Having an exercise partner can help you keep each other on a healthy path,” Heathman says. If you can’t find a workout buddy in your area, join an online accountability group — virtual fit-buddies are fine as long as they’ll nudge you when you need it.
If you’re not already lifting weights, you might want to incorporate some into your exercise routine. You might be worried that weights will only, well, add on weight. But this is not always true when incorporated correctly. In fact, doing the opposite, for example, only partaking in high-cardio exercises, might be causing you to hold on to weight.
Kick the diet beverages and vitamin-enhanced sugar-water, and reach for good old H2O instead. Drinking water helps people feel full, and as a result, consume fewer calories. Drinking water also significantly elevates resting energy expenditure (basically the number of calories we’d burn if we sat around all day) and lower water intake is associated with obesity.

Everyone knows that smell plays a huge part of how we taste our food—remember your fourth grade science experiment where you ate an onion and an apple with your nose pinched and couldn't tell the difference? So while it may seem a little extreme (and get you some weird looks at restaurants) clipping your nose shut during meals will help you only eat until you're full. Although it does make your favorite foods a lot less enjoyable.
The tips listed above are going to help you lose weight no matter what. There are going to be a few other factors that come into play, of course, but if you can combine these tips, you will be perfectly okay. Everyone should consider combining these tips with ones that are going to help you keep weight off no matter what. You can put yourself on the right path on your weight loss journey.
You probably wouldn’t think body maintenance has anything to do with sitting in front of your computer or looking at your phone, but it does. A little screen time goes a long way when you engage in interactive weight management websites. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, consistently logging on and recording food records, activity levels, and the number on your scale once a month for almost three years resulted in maintaining the most loss. To be more specific, these active users kept off an average of 9 out of 19 pounds they lost in the first place.
Lasting weight loss demands that you transform your eating and exercise habits. But many other choices you make each day, such as how much time you spend sleeping or surfing the Internet, can also make a difference. The seven habits described in this issue of HEALTHbeat can help you move toward your weight-loss goal. Most target the common reasons people are overweight.
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.
Weight loss is such a complex process, the only way we can really wrap our heads around it is to drill it down into a bunch of numbers. You already know these numbers, probably as well as any weight loss expert: You know that to lose one pound of fat, you have to burn about 3500 calories over and above what you already burn each day. You don't really want to burn 3500 calories in one day, but rather to cut that down into daily calorie deficits, say cutting 500 calories a day with a combination of diet and exercise.
Eating while watching television is linked to poor food choices and overeating. Getting sucked into the latest episode of “Scandal” can bring on mindless eating — making it easy to lose track of just how many chips you’ve gone through. It’s not just the mindlessness of watching television that’ll get us. Commercials for unhealthy foods and drinks may increase our desire for low-nutrient junk, fast food and sugary beverages.
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.
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.
Losing weight is hard. It takes a lot of dedication, planning, and time. Rather than trying to go at it alone, recruit a friend who is also trying to beat the bulge. Research has found that people are more successful at losing weight when they do it with a partner. Not only will your weight loss buddy provide support, hold you accountable, and keep you inspired, but they may instigate your competitive side, which will provide you with the drive necessary to drop the weight.
Just as distracted driving negatively impacts your driving ability, distracted eating can cause you to ignore satiety signals, according to Kimberly Gomer, M.S., R.D., Direction of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa. When you’re eating at your desk, in front of the TV, or even just scrolling through your social media feed, it’s harder to “hear” your body signal that it’s full, she says.
So, obviously, what is going to work for each person is different, and that’s OK. If your weight-loss practices help you identify areas for behavioral change and give you tools on how to make that happen, or just help keep your motivation up or feeling good, great. “But if you are not losing weight, then the tools you are using aren't working for you,” Fear says. “Many people keep doing the same monitoring even though it's actually not helping them. A sense of control and organization are not to be confused with efficacy.” Use this as an opportunity to try something else.
People often complain that they don't have enough time to exercise or to shop for and prepare healthy meals. But in fact, most people spend many hours watching TV or using their computer for fun. Keep track of your screen time for a week, then try scaling back the number of hours by a quarter or a third, and devote that time to your weight-loss efforts.
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.
Finally decided to venture out for a run? Snack on some beets before you hit the pavement. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that runners who ate baked beets before a 5K race ran 5 percent faster. Researchers suspect this is because beets are high in nitrates, a natural chemical that increases endurance and lowers blood pressure.
Just as distracted driving negatively impacts your driving ability, distracted eating can cause you to ignore satiety signals, according to Kimberly Gomer, M.S., R.D., Direction of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa. When you’re eating at your desk, in front of the TV, or even just scrolling through your social media feed, it’s harder to “hear” your body signal that it’s full, she says.
Ideally, it’s best to clean out your fridge and cupboards so there aren’t any junk options, but maybe that would start a civil war in your house. If you live with someone—or several someones—who don’t share your enthusiasm for healthy choices, that’s okay, just be sure to put your food where you see it first, suggests Dubost. That might be eye-level shelves, or one dedicated cupboard for you, as well as the top shelf of the fridge.
Think of the first year post weight loss as the final stretch. “If an overweight person is able to maintain an initial weight loss, in this case for a year, the body will eventually ‘accept’ this new weight and thus not fight against it, as is otherwise normally the case when you are in a calorie-deficit state,” Associate Professor Signe Sorensen Torekov from the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research explains to Science Daily. In fact, formerly overweight people had more appetite-inhibiting hormones a year after they lost weight, according to a study in the European Journal of Endocrinology.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee dropped their longstanding recommendation that we should limit dietary cholesterol. Decades of research have shown that it has little effect on blood cholesterol levels, and the government’s outdated recommendations have done little more than send scrambled messages about the pros and cons of eating eggs and shrimp. So go ahead and scramble up an omelet—with the yolk. Eating the entire egg is beneficial to your body because it contains metabolism-stoking nutrients, including fat-soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids, and choline—a powerful compound that attacks the gene mechanism that triggers your body to store fat around your liver. To learn more about the flat-belly benefits of eggs, check out these What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Eggs.
Gum is a bad-breath and weight-loss solution? A 2011 study published in the journal Appetite seems to think so. Researchers found chewing gum for 45 minutes significantly decreased the participants’ level of hunger, appetite, and cravings. On top of that, it also made them feel more full, helping them better control their appetites to lose weight. (Just be sure to grab the sugarless varieties so you don’t rot your teeth in the process.)
Evaluate the slip up: When the slip ups occur, having a check-in process in place can help identify why it happened and prevent it from happening again. Ask yourself: How did I slip up? (I ate a bunch of unhealthy snacks at the office.) How does that make me feel? (Frustrated; like I disappointed my kids.) What can I change moving forward so it doesn’t repeat itself? (Pack snacks ahead of time so that I’m not tempted by candy when I have a stressful day.) This process will help you “understand why you slipped up: maybe it’s because you were stressed out; if you find it to be a constant pattern that you’re always messing up on your diet because you’re stressed, then you need to take action on that,” says Delaney. “When you start to feel stressed out, you can go take a hot bath or read a book; whatever you need to do. And you won’t have as many slips ups because you’ve identified the source of the problem.”
Certain meds may promote weight gain or adversely react with foods that are normally part of a healthy diet. Some blood thinners, for example, are infamous for requiring patients to limit foods that contain vitamin K—the nutrient found in leafy greens and other vegetables. If you suspect medications or health conditions are hampering your efforts, it's worth a discussion with your doctor or dietitian.
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