Have trouble eating reasonably sized portions? Try dimming the lights and cueing up some soft music. According to a study published in Psychological Reports, soft lighting and music lead noshers to eat less and enjoy their food more. That’s what we call a win-win. Looking for the perfect date night dish? Check out these 35 Healthy Crockpot Recipes.
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Plus, working out early could mean you get more sunlight, which is key to properly setting your body's internal circadian rhythm. In one study, people who basked in bright sunlight within two hours after waking were thinner and better able to manage their weight than those who didn't get any natural light, regardless of what they ate throughout the day.
A different way of viewing weight loss identifies the problem as not one of consuming too many calories, but rather the way the body accumulates fat after consuming carbohydrates—in particular the role of the hormone insulin. When you eat a meal, carbohydrates from the food enter your bloodstream as glucose. In order to keep your blood sugar levels in check, your body always burns off this glucose before it burns off fat from a meal.
Shedding pounds is tricky and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. “We all have a certain amount of calories [that] we need each day to function and not gain weight. However, this amount varies greatly from each individual depending on your size, muscle mass, hormones, sex, heredity, etc.,” says Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., Houston-based dietitian and founder of Eat Right Fitness. “One person may lose weight on 1,500 calories per day, [while] another may gain weight.” The good news is that there are plenty of solutions that do work. They ensure that both your health and your quality of life are top notch. We asked top nutrition experts to share their best tips to keep weight off for good.
Here’s your chance to splurge on those dim, overhead kitchen lights you’ve been waiting. A 2012 study published in the journal Psychological Reports: Human Resources & Marketing found those who ate in environments with soft lighting and music ate fewer calories than those who ate in bright, loud environments. So turn down the lights and turn every meal into a fine-dining experience.
“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.
In a 2014 study in the journal Public Health Nutrition, people were asked to report their food intake over the course of two days. Those who ate at a restaurant during that time took in an average of 200 calories per day more than those who prepared all their own meals, and those who ate in sit-down restaurants actually consumed slightly more calories than those who ordered from fast-food joints. When dining out, people also consumed more saturated fat, sugar, and sodium, so eating at home where you can prepare food in a healthier way is obviously the better choice.
“When you don’t have a time slot carved out for fitness, it’s all too easy for that time to quickly be eaten up by other obligations,” says Candace Seti, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist, certified personal trainer and nutrition coach at TheWeightLossTherapist. Instead, schedule workouts on your calendar before it starts to fill up, and hold yourself to it — if you wouldn’t ditch a dentist appointment, don’t ditch a workout.
If you often find yourself binge-watching your favorite reality series or catching up on emails come midnight, you may be doing your body a disservice. A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that participants who slept over seven hours a night and reported better sleep quality, longer sleep duration, and shorter latency to sleep onset were actually able to maintain their weight loss more successfully than those who got less than six or seven hours of shut-eye. Plus, those who considered themselves early birds also reported better weight-loss maintenance. If you need help clocking in more hours of beauty rest, turn to our tried-and-true 20 Ways to Double Your Sleep Quality.
"When I graduated college in 2012, I was at my highest weight ever. I was embarrassed about my weight and what I looked like, and I was terrified of being the person in the gym who didn't know what they were doing. I sat in my doctor's office and remember deciding that I was going to do whatever it took, however long it took, to change my life. I tried a variety of different diets that worked, but I felt like I was losing my mind not being able to eat certain foods, and I hated that even though I was 'losing weight', I still had a really disordered relationship with food. Food is supposed to bring joy and happiness.
Cutting carbs altogether can often cause a guilt-ridden binge that will leave you unmotivated and packing on the pounds. Instead of prohibiting yourself from eating the foods you love, set a carb curfew. “For dinner, contestants always have a high-protein, high-fat meal with plenty of fibrous veggies,” Chris Powell of ABC’s reality series Extreme Weight Loss tells us in Chris Powell’s Behind-The-Scenes Extreme Weight Loss Tips. “If they have a post-dinner snack, they stick to protein-rich, high-fat foods like almonds or 2 percent milkfat string cheese.” Nixing carbs at night flips the fat-burning switch by increasing the amount of fat-burning hormones released while we’re asleep, Powell adds.
Try counting the calories you eat. There are loads of different apps out there where you type in your current weight and how much you want to loose. It then tells you how many calories you should eat a day to reach this goal, and helps you keep track of how many you've eaten. The first few days it's a bit annoying having to weigh and note everything you eat, but it quickly becomes a habit. This has worked wonders for me, because it helps me make better choices for my meals, and tells me just how many chocolates I can eat before I've eaten too many calories :-) Good luck.
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.
We’ve already established how chewing thoroughly can ensure you eat a meal at a leisurely pace, but there are other tricks you can use to slow down, too, like giving your fork a break between bites. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that slow eaters took in 66 fewer calories per meal, but compared to their fast-eating peers, they felt like they had eaten more. While 66 calories might not sound like much, cutting that amount out of every meal adds up to a weight loss of more than 20 pounds a year!
Don't get me wrong — exercising at any time is good for you. But evening activity may be particularly beneficial because many people's metabolism slows down toward the end of the day. Thirty minutes of aerobic activity before dinner increases your metabolic rate and may keep it elevated for another two or three hours, even after you've stopped moving. What that means for you: You're less likely to go back for seconds or thirds. Plus, it'll help you relax post meal so you won't be tempted by stress-induced grazing that can rack up calories, quickly.
Not only is drinking lemon water a healthy, low-calorie alternative to soda or juice, but lemons themselves have also been shown to contribute to weight loss. Just one of the citrus fruits contains an entire day’s worth of vitamin C, a nutrient that has the power to reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that triggers hunger and fat storage. Additionally, lemons also contain polyphenols, which researchers say may ward off fat accumulation and weight gain. Believe it or not, even the peel is beneficial because it is a potent source of pectin—a soluble fiber that’s been proven to help people feel fuller for longer. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, participants who ate just 5 grams of pectin experienced more satiety.
“That first day was so tough, I almost caved and reached for the vending machine at work but I remembered a quote I had on my Facebook page that said ‘The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it’ and that was enough to make me turn away from the machine,” she says.
And some of these factors can go pretty deep. Albers says that people often don’t realize how dramatically past experiences influence our relationships with ourselves and bodies. For example, having to clean your plate as a child, getting sweet treats to “cheer up” after a bad day at school, or being called “fat” when you were 8 years old all likely have an impact. “Comments about your body or being urged to lose weight by a parent can do emotional damage for the rest of your life,” Albers says. Unless you deal with these issues, “many people spin their wheels and don't know why they feel so stuck,” she says. For this reason, Langer often refers clients to psychologists who specialize in food issues, and she won’t work with those clients on the nutrition side of things until they’ve started to unpack these fundamental emotional factors. Understanding your relationship to food is an important step in trying to change it.
"Tight glycemic control is necessary to maintain health and to prevent disease," Ellen Blaak, a professor of fat metabolism and physiology at Maastricht University, wrote in a review of studies published in the journal Obesity Reviews. Her study found links between poorly controlled blood-sugar levels and obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Alcohol isn’t exactly a weight loss ally, but using it to flavor meat when you cook it could help you drop a few pounds and stay healthy. According to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, if you marinate meat with beer for four hours, you can lower the harmful chemicals it produces when exposed to high heat by up to 68 percent.
Skipping snack time won’t necessarily lead to weight loss: Low calorie consumption can actually slow metabolism. Eating less than three times a day may benefit those who are obese, but research shows skipping meals throughout the day and eating one large meal at night can lead to some undesirable outcomes (like delayed insulin response) which may increase the risk of diabetes. Instead of forgoing breakfast or lunch, stick to a few meals a day with healthy snacks between them.
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.
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.”
One reason for this is that many products labeled "low fat," "light," and "reduced fat" (things like yogurt, ice cream, and peanut butter) are highly processed and engineered to taste like their original full-fat predecessors. To accomplish this, food manufacturers typically add extra sugar — and sugar, unlike fat, has been strongly implicated as a leading factor contributing to obesity and weight gain.
To drop serious lbs, you need the one-two punch of aerobic exercise plus strength training. Resistance helps build and preserve metabolism-boosting lean muscle while burning fat and is especially key when you hit a plateau. Amanda Green lost 15 pounds in two months doing hour-long cardio DVDs, but it wasn't until she started running outside and lifting weights three times a week that she was able to ditch the last 15 of her 30-pound goal.
Though you may think skipping a meal such as breakfast will help you lose weight because you would be consuming fewer calories, numerous studies have actually shown that bailing on breakfast is bad for your waistline. Why, you ask? It turns out that skipping breakfast not only means you’ll likely consume more calories later in the day, but eating more calories in the later part of the day is a nightmare for metabolic circadian rhythms, which help keep your weight in check.
For example, when it comes to hormones, ghrelin makes you hungry, leptin and other hormones keep you feeling full, Nadolsky says. Thyroid, cortisol, insulin, testosterone, and estrogen all influence how you metabolize and store energy. Meanwhile, genetics have a large influence on both basal metabolic rate (how many calories you burn just to live) and hormone health. While all of these things are impacted by our diet, they’re not only controlled by the way we eat. And, in fact, while sleep, stress management, and, when needed, medication can help regulate other hormone levels such as estrogen and thyroid, our hormones and other physiological processes are often out of our control. And by the way, being able to impact our hormone levels and metabolism with our diet doesn’t always work out in favor of weight loss. As a 2016 review notes, one of the reasons weight loss by way of caloric restriction isn’t efficacious is because “this strategy is countered by the body’s natural physiological response to negative energy balance.” In other words: The body fights back against caloric restriction.
I have a few tricky questions to make, but first a disclaimer of sorts: I am 5’10” and weigh 138 pounds, which means: I’m slim, verging on skinny. I have no interest whatsoever in losing weight. I only read article this because I find your articles funny, clear, and informative. And I’ve always thought that the best way to lose wait is simply eat less. (That’s what I did the only time in my life I was slightly overweight, ten years ago.) That being said…
“I wish people knew that gluten-free foods aren’t all automatically healthy,” Torey Armul, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists. “People often lose weight and feel better on a gluten-free diet, but it’s usually not because of lack of gluten. It’s because they’re paying attention to their food choices and eating more real foods and less simple carbs. Gluten-free labeled packaged foods actually tend to have more calories and extra fat or sugar for added flavor.”
Some antidepressant medications can cause weight gain, especially the older tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as Tryptizol, Saroten, and Clomipramine; as well as newer drugs such as Remeron (Mirtazapine). Lithium (for manic-depressive disorder) often causes weight gain. The most common antidepressants known as SSRI’s (for example Citalopram and Sertraline) usually don’t impact weight significantly. More on depression
Tell your family, friends, and coworkers about your weight-loss goals and ask for their support. Then check in on Facebook each time you go to the gym, and let your support system know each time you hit a goal. It'll make you feel accountable to someone aside from yourself. A 2014 study found that being accountable to someone else and receiving support is a great motivator for women who are trying to lose or maintain weight. Makes sense!
It’s always great to catch up with old pals or join your co-workers for a celebratory happy hour, but if you’re watching your weight it’s important to take note of who you choose to break bread with. According to an Eastern Illinois University study, you’re in danger of consuming 65 percent more calories if you’re eating with someone who gets seconds. In other words, while the old friend visiting from health-conscious LA may make a great dining partner, you should steer clear of the co-workers who keep ordering rounds of drinks and nachos.
Yep, it might be possible to sniff your way to weight-loss. In one study, 200 overweight participants wore different patches — which included vanilla, lemon, a placebo patch, or no patch — to find out if any affected their ability to shift the scale. It turns out that, after four weeks, those with the vanilla-scented patches significantly reduced their cravings for high-calorie sweets. Spritz on some vanilla-scented fragrance for a similar effect.
Just because you’re trying to slim down, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the occasional dessert splurge. There’s a simple solution to having your cake and eating it, too: Eat healthfully 80 percent of the time and reserve the remaining 20 percent of the time to cheat meals. Balance is key to sticking to your diet and dropping weight and maintaining it in the long run.
The recent study of more than 100,000 people, which was recently published in JAMA, reported that gaining as little as 11 pounds from early adulthood to age 55 was linked to a 30 percent increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, which is also associated with a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, cataracts and osteoarthritis. And suffering from any of these conditions can ultimately lead to an early death.
Make sure that everything you're eating is whole — as in nothing processed or packaged. Since salt is a preservative, these are the foods that are highest in sodium — something to keep in mind when planning your meals. Plan on making sure that all items you choose are fresh. That means filling up on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
Exposure to light at night doesn’t just interrupt your chances of a great night’s rest, it may also result in weight gain, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. As crazy as it may seem, study subjects who slept in the darkest rooms were 21 percent less likely to be obese than those sleeping in the lightest rooms. The takeaway here is a simple one: Turn off the TV and toss your nightlight.
Want to burn 100 more calories today? One study suggests you can do it by simply substituting whole grains for the refined kind. For example, choose wild rice instead of white rice. Researchers found that those who embraced the whole approach increased their metabolic rate and showed “greater fecal losses.” Let’s be honest, pooping more is a goal we all secretly crave.
This is were I take advantage of your knowledge though. I am new to weight training and for the last 3 month’s I’ve been cutting. This has been tough mainly because I was only 145 lbs when I started but had some belly fat and thought I should work on the theory to get lean first. I guess the cut has been going okay as I’ve dropped 11 lbs. My problem is in my damn head I keep telling myself I’m too small (because I am) and constantly feel the urge to bulk. I can’t see my abs yet and still have some belly fat…I hear it’s the last to go. If you were in my shoes would you continue the cut until the abs show or would you switch it up and start a bulk? The other thing is I don’t know how long it’s gonna take to see my abs.
“In order to truly focus on what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, why you’re eating those specific foods and, most importantly, how those foods make you feel, you need to starve the distractions,” Glazer says. That means when you eat, just eat. “Focus on your food, the process it went through to end up on your plate, where it came from and how it nourishes you.” With this technique, you’re more likely to finish a meal feeling satiated.
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.