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.
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.
“Fad diets and meal replacement shakes are not the answer to sustainable weight loss or better health. Sure, you can do something drastic to lose 20 pounds in a month, but chances are these actions aren’t sustainable. If you want to lose the weight and keep it off for good, target a weight loss of one to two pounds per week so you can truly see permanent, long-lasting results!” Kristen Carlucci Haase RD-N dished out in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
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.
Those who have achieved successful weight loss report making substantial changes in eating and exercise habits in order to lose weight and maintain their losses. On average, registrants report consuming about 1400 kcal/day (24 percent calories from fat) and burning about 400 kcal/day through physical exercise. Walking is the most frequently cited physical activity.
Loads of research demonstrates people who log everything they eat — especially those who log while they're eating — are more likely to lose weight and keep it off for the long-haul. Start tracking on an app like MyFitnessPal when the pounds start sneaking up on you. It'll help you stay accountable for what you've eaten. Plus, you can easily identify some other areas of your daily eats that could use a little improvement when it's written out in front of you.
Within three years of dieting, Nearly 65 percent of dieters gain back the weight they lost within three years, say University of Pennsylvania researchers. The reason? They all slimmed down with the help of a diet, which by definition is short term and doesn’t produce life long results. To hit your goal weight and stay there, you need to make permanent changes to your lifestyle. Not sure how? Check out these 10 Daily Habits That Keep Away Belly Fat for some inspiration.
Since tomatoes can be grown indoors, they never really go out of season, making them a reliable weight loss staple to add to your diet. The tasty fruits have a high water content that will help keep you hydrated, and they’re also low in calories. What’s more? A study published in Nutrition Journal found that eight weeks of tomato juice consumption helps the body burn about an additional 100 calories per day—that adds up to around 3,000 calories a month!
“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:
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Who knew that fantasizing about eating your favorite candy can actually result in real-life weight loss? A study found that daydreaming about eating an entire packet of the sweet stuff before indulging may cause you to eat less of it. To come to this finding, researchers asked participants to imagine eating three M&Ms versus 30. Then, they conducted a taste test where participants were able to nosh on the chocolate orbs. The results? Those who imagined eating lots of M&Ms ended up gobbling down the least!
Healthy fats certainly play an important role in keeping your belly trim, but these satiating foods—and, more importantly, their less healthy counterparts—must be noshed on in moderation. For example, less-healthy foods like pizza are among the top sources of saturated fat in the U.S. diet. According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, The National Weight Control Registry participants maintained the majority of their weight loss when they stuck to a low-fat diet. What’s more, increases in fat intake were linked to increased weight regain during the study’s 10-year follow-up period.
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.
Carb backloading — when you eat all your carbs later in the day — is becoming a buzzy trend in the health space, and it could actually help you lose weight. It might seem surprising to load up on carbs at the end of the day opposed to in the beginning, but one registered dietitian said it can help you burn fat faster and more effectively: “The theory of carb backloading is based on the fact that insulin sensitivity is higher earlier in the day, which promotes carbohydrate absorption into your muscles and fat tissue. Carb backloading requires you to eat all your carbs later in the day to promote using fat for fuel during the day and suggests you also work out in the evening to promote better carb absorption into your muscles,” said Emmie Satrazemis, RD. And, in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, participants did indeed lose weight using the method. Just, unfortunately, not by eating spaghetti.
If this cycle has occurred more times than you'd like to admit, you’re not alone. Setting a weight-loss goal is easy to do, but following through on it is a different story. Which is why losing weight is consistently one of the most popular resolutions, but few of us actually accomplish it. In fact, one survey found that at the end of the first week of January, 30 percent of people have already called it quits.
“I wish people knew that there is no one-size-fits-all diet that works for everyone. Individuals have different food preferences, dining habits, schedules, body types, past experiences, and obstacles. Stop falling for restrictive diet plans, America! Start by changing one simple habit and build from there,” Stephanie Brookshier, RDN, ACSM-CPT tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
The baseline portion sizes of our snacks and meals have ballooned over the past 40 years. The average size of many of our foods — including fast food, sit-down meals, and even items from the grocery store — has grown by as much as 138% since the 1970s, according to data from the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of Nutrition, and the Journal of the American Medical Association
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.
Thanks for the great article. I always knew that eating the right balanced diet is the key to losing weight and that’s how I was able to get some good results. I have recently decided to lose some weight and I was able to succeed too due doing research on these foods. What also really helped was reading “The Fat Burning Kitchen”. I am sure it will provide tremendous value to anyone who is looking forward to losing some weight by eating the right kinds of food. You can check it out here: http://bit.ly/2nnzWjV
Mounting research suggests that eating the majority of your daily calories earlier in the day makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight and tempers blood sugar and inflammation. “To help with weight loss, eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper,” recommends Courtney Peterson, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center. One study reported that dieters who ate a 700-calorie breakfast, 500-calorie lunch and 200-calorie dinner lost nearly 18 pounds in 12 weeks, compared to seven pounds lost among subjects who ate a 200-calorie breakfast, 500-calorie lunch and 700-calorie dinner.
The American Heart Association recommends that the amount of added sugar consumed in a day shouldn’t exceed 25 grams for women and 37.5 grams for men, but since the sweet stuff is in everything from bread to tomato sauce, most Americans aren’t adhering to those guidelines and they’re fatter for it. In a review of 68 clinical trials and studies, New Zealand researchers reported in the British Medical Journal that increasing sugar intake meant increasing body weight while reducing sugar meant reducing body weight. Additional research has shown that cutting back on the granular stuff is one of the fastest ways to lose weight.
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.
Are frequent meals your ticket to a better body? Experts say so! In a Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study that sampled 2,385 adults, research participants who ate less than four times a day consumed more calories and had a higher BMI than those who sat down to eat at least six times. The scientists noticed that those who ate fewer meals consumed most of their calories at night and were more apt to drink alcohol with their meals while their ever-grazing counterparts tended to eat healthier, less calorically dense foods. To keep the weight flying off your frame, nosh on these high-protein snacks between meals.
There’s a new therapy in town and, according to a study published in Obesity, it helps people lose more weight and keep it off longer. While standard behavioral treatment (SBT) is the norm for encouraging patients to decrease caloric intake and increase physical activity, acceptance-based behavioral treatment (ABT) has all the same behavioral skills but links weight loss efforts to a larger personal value. People who tried ABT didn’t just experience 36 percent more loss than SBT patients, they also had a higher likelihood of maintaining 10 percent weight loss 12 months later. Worth looking into, right?
It doesn’t take much convincing to wake up to a plate of over-easy eggs and whole-grain toast. In fact, munching in the morning—rather than saving your appetite for lunch time—can help you fight off weight gain for good. A study published in the journal Obesity Research discovered that out of participants who lost an average of 70 pounds and kept it off for six years, 78 percent ate breakfast daily.
Many dietitians begin by asking clients to access the organ with the most powerful effect on weight: the brain. "I always ask my clients to monitor their food intake by keeping a food journal," says Karolin Saweres, RDN, LD. "I often find that my clients are not aware of how many meals, snacks, nibbles, or handfuls of food they eat each day." Becoming aware of our actual intake may initially be an uncomfortable surprise but can lead to more mindful eating throughout the day.
Think of sweet potatoes as nature’s dessert. Not only do they satisfy your sweet tooth, these taters digest slowly and keep you feeling fuller for longer thanks to their satiating fiber. They’re also brimming with carotenoids, antioxidants that stabilize blood-sugar levels and lower insulin resistance—which prevent calories from being converted into fat.
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.
To ensure you fit in those 60 minutes and fit in more daily steps, rethink your commute. On the days that I have to skip the gym, I force myself to walk home from work instead of hopping in a cab or taking the bus. If you drive to work, cycle to the office once a week or park your car further away from the entrance. However you decide to do it, the more steps you take, the better. The majority of people (76%) who have lost weight and kept it off report walking for an hour a day so fit in those steps wherever you can! And to get more out of each and every stride, check out these 30 Tips for When You’re Walking for Weight Loss!
Typically, Americans eat a small breakfast, medium-sized lunch, and big dinner, but one study of 50,000 adults published in the Journal of Nutrition found you should be doing the opposite, if you want to lose weight. By eating your most calorie-heavy meal at breakfast, you’ll be able to better decrease your BMI — and, you know, enjoy more of your favorite foods right away in the morning. Healthy pancakes, anyone?
If you find yourself craving something sweet during the day, ignore the impulse to eat a cookie and snack on a stone fruit instead. In addition to being more nutritious than a cookie, some stone fruits—plums, peaches, and nectarines—have been shown to help ward off weight gain. Studies by Texas AgriLife Research suggest the aforementioned fruits may help prevent metabolic syndrome, a fancy name for the combination of belly fat, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.
“You don’t have to eat salad all the time to lose weight. There are so many ways to tweak ingredients and make food you actually love to eat—even pancakes. (Try almond flour.) That being said, the type of food you eat also defines your lifestyle. You can eat junk food and lose weight, but you will probably be hungry all the time. So give yourself an occasional cheat day or reward for sticking to your plan. In the end, you want to lose weight in a healthy way, without feeling like you’re hurting yourself.”
When you’re all gung-ho about hitting the gym, there’s nothing worse than pulled hamstrings or pesky shin splints. Read up on how to avoid the most common yoga injuries (often from over-stretching and misalignment), and running injuries (like stress fractures, pulled muscles, and blisters) to make sure you’re in tip-top shape. Make sure to get in a good warm-up, too. Studies show you perform your best and better avoid injury after warming up.
Calcium and vitamin C team up well to boost metabolism, and broccoli is just one of several healthy foods that contains both nutrients. What sets broccoli apart from the others, however, is that the green veggie also contains kind of fiber that’s been shown to increase the digestion, absorption and storage of food, also known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). A revved up metabolism combined with an increased TEF is a match made in weight loss heaven, so consider incorporating broccoli into a tasty stir-fry, or serving it as its own side dish.