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.
Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that's not really so difficult: "Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings," she says. "Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won't be reaching for the cookie jar."
So you’ve “banned” chocolate cake, but decide to have a small taste. Instead, you polished off two slices. It’s easy to go overboard on an old habit. Instead of beating yourself up if you fell short, think of the big picture. Focus on the change rather than what’s being eliminated (think: it’s not about the chocolate cake, it’s about not overdoing unhealthy sweets). Live in the moment to successfully make new healthy habits.
Instead of depriving yourself of all your favorite indulgences or meticulously counting calories to drop a size, simply consume at least 30 grams of fiber daily. This simple, no-fuss method fuels weight loss and improves health just as effectively as more complex diet approaches, University of Massachusetts Medical School researchers discovered. “Very few people reach the goals that are recommended,” said lead study author Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD, adding that “Telling people to reduce this or reduce that is just too hard to do.” However, asking people to focus on eating more of a certain nutrient—rather than eliminating things from their diet–can help people reach their weight loss goals, he explains. Interested in giving the diet strategy a try? Check out these 11 Best High-Fiber Foods for Weight Loss and start slimming down!
“[These tools’] potential benefit is awareness,” Fear says. “Knowledge can be power, but these things can be counterproductive when they simply create alarm without any clear course of action to take. Seeing your weight rise doesn't necessarily provide you with any action steps you can take. It's just upsetting, like a fire alarm going off with no exit routes identified.” Langer notes that “in people who have a history of or are at risk for an eating disorder or compulsiveness, tracking anything should be off limits.”
Wansink and his team found that people who sat by a window or in a well-lit part of a restaurant tended to order healthier foods than those who sat at darker tables or in booths. And diners sitting within two tables of the bar drank an average of three more beers or mixed drinks (per table of four) than those sitting farther away. Additionally, the closer a person was to a TV, the more fried food he or she ordered. Whether or not these choices are causal remains to be determined, but it can't hurt to request a table by the window, right?
When you've hit a weight-loss wall, it may be time to change your thinking. "For some, I recommend focusing on forms of measurement other than the scale, such as body composition changes, energy levels, performance, etc.," Ostler says. "I personally like to have people focus on establishing healthy behaviors that can improve many aspects of health, instead of just weight, which isn't always the best measure of health."
You may have convinced yourself that you can overhaul your diet and start exercising every single day, but that's kind of like hopping on a plane to Antarctica with no itinerary. "You need a plan," says John Norcross, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Scranton, who has studied New Year's resolutions. "What, specifically, are you going to do differently?" Experts recommend doing a brain dump of all the changes you want to make, then starting with one tiny, doable tweak—packing a healthy lunch or walking 20 minutes a day. Once that's a comfortable part of your routine, put a bold checkmark on your list, then add another small change. Sure, baby steps take longer, but they work: a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicinefound that people who made one small change a week lost nearly twice as much weight as those who followed broader "eat less, move more" guidelines. And imagine how gratifying it will feel to see those checkmarks add up as the pounds fall off.
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.
“Every morning I drink a cup of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and a dash of cayenne pepper,” says Michelle Keough. This helps her start her day off on a healthy note while getting her hydrated after a long night. This trick, combined with eating meals built around protein and veggies, helped her lose 20 pounds and keep it off.
If you want to lose weight, you're going to need to do more exercise than you might expect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthy people of normal weight need at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (or some combination of the two) every week to maintain weight and avoid excess gain. If you're hypothyroid and want to lose weight, you may need to do more than an hour a day of exercise.
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.
You're more likely to stay slim if the view out your window includes hills, water, a park, or a street that leads to one of those things. In a North Carolina study, counties with more natural amenities, including mountains and lakes, had lower obesity rates. "It could be that there's something healing and calming about simply being outside," says Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, PhD, an assistant professor at East Carolina University. For instance, research has shown that people tend to be happier walking outdoors than inside. They also stride faster, yet feel less exertion, than they do on a treadmill. Not only that, hoofing it outside curbs cravings along with calories: In a study, regular chocolate eaters who took a brisk 15-minute stroll consumed about half as much of their favorite treat as those who didn't go for a walk. So take your workout outdoors. If your neighborhood isn't made for exercising, find a park nearby and head there as often as you can to bike, run, or hike.
‘While any weight loss will require a change to eating habits, it shouldn’t mean missing out on nutrients or cutting out whole food groups. Aim for regular meals and a balanced diet but also take care with your portion sizes. You might be eating a healthy balance of foods, just too much of it. Changes to your food aren’t the only thing to consider either. The most effective weight loss approaches combine changes to diet with increased physical activity and also address some of your behaviours around food to help you understand your own eating pattern and responses to food at different times or in certain situations.
For anyone trying to lose weight, you’ll know that lots of people have advice on what to do. There are websites, TV shows, books, apps, friends, and friends of friends who will all give different advice. There is also research, but a lot of it is done on people who receive a lot of support to lose weight. This doesn’t necessarily translate to the real world where most people trying to lose weight are doing so on their own.
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.
Next time you need groceries, circle the perimeter of the store before going up and down every aisle. Why? You’ll load up on the healthy stuff first. The edges of grocery stores generally house fresh produce, meat,] and fish, while the inner aisles hold more pre-packaged, processed foods. Browsing the perimeter can help control how many unwanted additives are in your basket.
Counting calories may have helped you lose weight initially, but as you might have guessed, it’s not a habit you can maintain for life. Instead, hold onto your flat belly with the help of the plate rule. “I never recommend counting calories to any of my clients,” says Smith. “ Instead, I tell them to fill 50% of their plate at each meal with non-starchy vegetables like kale, broccoli and carrots. This ensures that they’ll take in a fair amount of fiber, which promotes satiety and weight maintenance.” (Unrefined carbohydrates like beans, sweet potatoes and whole grains should make up a fourth of the plate and the last fourth should be reserved for lean proteins.) Research backs Smith’s claim: A Brigham Young University College study found that women who consume more fiber have a significantly lower risk of gaining weight than those who eat less of the nutrient, likely because they consumed fewer overall calories throughout the day.
Part of the weight loss puzzle has to do with fighting inflammation, and incorporating the spice turmeric into your diet is an excellent way to do that. Like a myriad of other spices, the Indian cooking staple contains anti-inflammatory compounds. In a 2015 study in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers gave 117 patients with metabolic syndrome either supplements of curcumin—the active ingredient in turmeric—or a placebo. Over eight weeks, those who received the curcumin saw dramatic reductions in inflammation and fasting blood sugar.
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!
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.
In contrast to supplements, weight-loss drugs (including prescription pills) have more scientific evidence supporting their use. The makers of these drugs must conduct studies showing that the drugs can lead to weight loss before they can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, these drugs still need to be used along with diet and exercise measures for people to achieve a meaningful amount of weight loss. You should also keep in mind that the long-term safety of these drugs has not been well studied.
This could be because the body increases insulin secretion in anticipation that sugar will appear in the blood. When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Whether this chain of events regularly takes place is somewhat unclear. Something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max though, and there are well-designed studies showing increased insulin when using artificial sweeteners.
Finally, some of us may simply not be emotionally ready to take on a weight-loss journey. Hang-ups from our past, stress in our home or work environment, and other lifestyle or psychological issues may crop up as roadblocks on our journey. "It's not about the food," says Lauren Artise, RDN. "I've found that individual challenges and perceived barriers most often keep patients from reaching their health goals."
“Family and friend support is so critical to staying accountable," says Delaney. "People may have a sincere interest to work out and eat healthy, but [it's hard if] their family is not on the same page. They buy junk food. They aren’t active. They sit in front of the TV instead of taking a walk.” But getting your family on board with your health goals is another one of those things that’s easier in theory than practice. Delaney offers up three strategies she uses in her own household:
When you’re done cooking, portion out just enough for your meal and pack the rest away. Putting your food away asap will not only keep it fresh for future meals but it will also deter you from mindlessly nibbling and eating more than the desired portion size. Same goes for when you’re dining out: Ask for a to-go box along with your meal, that way you can pack away the leftovers and aren’t tempted to overeat. When noshing on the leftovers at your next meal, you can also experiment with adding some additional fiber or protein to give the dish a nutritional boost.
This one may be surprising, considering the popular concept of eating five or six mini-meals throughout the day. But according to scientists who study the hunger hormones leptin and gherlin, eating too often can mess with your body's natural signals. Plus, if you are constantly snacking, you might not realize how many calories you're really taking in and/or feel deprived from not having a "real meal."
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.”
Looking for the easiest possible way to lose weight? Grab your pajamas early and log some extra Zzzs! According to researchers, getting eight and a half hours of shut-eye each night can drop cravings for junk food a whopping 62 percent and decrease overall appetite by 14 percent! Mayo Clinic researchers note similar findings: In their study, adults who slept an hour and 20 minutes less than the control group consumed an average of 549 additional calories daily. That’s more calories than you’ll find in a Big Mac!