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
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Lately, we’re noticing protein-packed everything—from breads to nut butter and milk. While you don’t need to load up on weird franken-foods to amp up your intake of the nutrient, if you’re trying to drop a few pounds, then it’s wise to keep some high-protein snacks on hand. Noshing on these can prevent eating something high-calorie every time hunger strikes.
Throw away your peeler. It might actually be limiting your true weight-loss potential — at least when it comes to apples. In a 2012 study published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers found ursolic acid — a natural substance in apple peels — could play a role in preventing obesity, as well as increasing muscle and brown fat, which are both known as being major calorie-burners. Anyone, your peeler is one of the 20 Kitchen Tools You’re Using All Wrong.
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.”
27. Use tech and other tools to your advantage. "I started out just by cutting little things like soda out one by one so I wouldn't burn myself out mentally and give up. I then discovered counting calories on MyFitnessPal, which was [a huge help] for me in my weight loss. A few years in, I lost my way a little bit and found Renaissance Periodization diet templates, which helped me rebuild a healthy relationship with food."
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.
It’s not rocket science: Limiting your daily caloric intake will result in the weight loss success you’ve been seeking. After all, the formula to losing weight—consuming less calories than you burn—is also the key to keeping it off. A study in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who followed a very-low-energy diet experienced significantly better weight loss maintenance five years after completing a low-calorie weight-loss program.
Sleep not only reduces stress, helps us heal faster and prevents depression, it can also help shave off pounds. That’s because sleep loss is linked to changes in appetite and the metabolism of glucose (sugar in the blood). Moral of the story: Sleep is associated with less weight gain. Take a look at our guide to sleep positions to optimize those hours spent under the sheets. And try other solutions for extra zzz’s like turning off electronics in the bedroom and avoiding large meals late at night.
I was a fat kid, brought up by fat parents, made to eat too much - perfectly healthy, home-cooked food but in humungous portions. After decades of trying various diets, either not losing at all or losing and regaining the lot, plus a bit more, 5:2 has worked for me. It's been slow - nearly three years to lose two stone with a stone still to go - but I've not put any back on and previous hypertension has disappeared and I'm off the medication. The odd couple of pounds regained, for example on holiday, soon disappears after a few days of being extra vigilant.
But don't worry: Most of the research does not suggest a need to slash meat, dairy, or fish from your diet. In fact, the best results typically appear to come from diets that combine high amounts of vegetables with healthy sources of protein, which can include seafood, eggs, and meat. Eating plans like these include the popular Mediterranean diet and MIND diet.
In other words, sticking with an exercise regimen can trigger sticking with a healthier diet, but it's best if you don't think of it as a way of burning off calories for the sake of weight loss. So, cultivate an exercise practice you actually enjoy, stick with it, and know that it’s making you healthier, and let it inspire you to make the choices you consider healthy.
If beef is your prefered source of protein, make sure you’re eating the grass-fed stuff. Ground beef, a T-bone steak, or prime rib are amongst the healthiest cuts because they’re lower in unhealthy fats than other forms of beef and actually contain more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than some fish. Just be sure to limit your red meat consumption to around two three-ounce servings per week in order to keep your cholesterol in check, and stick to low-calorie rubs and spices as opposed to sugary sauces to flavor the meal.
Your purchases may not be as virtuous as you think. Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently analyzed Americans' shopping habits and found that 61 percentof the calories in the food we buy are from highly processed items like refined breads, cookies, crackers, soda and chips. These foods also provide higher-than-optimal levels of saturated fat, sugar and sodium. To healthy-up your cart and help with weight loss, the study authors suggest buying mostly single-ingredient foods and shopping the perimeter of the store, where the fresher, healthier stuff like produce and fish tends to live. Chew some gum while you're at it too. Research shows it could help you buy 7 percent less junk food when you shop (minty gum works best).
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.
People exercise for an average of 34 minutes longer with a friend than they do when they hit the gym solo, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. And the longer you sweat, the more quickly you’ll reach your goals! Looking for a healthy way to refuel after your weight room session? Whip up a quick and delicious protein shake for on-the-go nutrition.
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!
Instead, weigh yourself once a week. Do it the same time of day each time and in similar clothes (or no clothes at all!). And remember, the numbers on the scale don't tell the whole story. It's entirely possible that your body is getting stronger or losing inches even if it's not shedding pounds every week. Pay attention to how your clothes fit, your overall appearance, and, of course, how you feel.
Friends are helpful not only because they can double as workout buddies or help hold you accountable for appropriate diet and exercise, but also because they’re a surefire way to combat gut-growing feelings of loneliness. A study in the journal Hormones and Behavior found that those who feel lonely experience greater circulating levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin after they eat, causing them to feel hungrier sooner. Over time, folks who are perennially lonely simply take in more calories than those with stronger social support networks, so be sure to fit time with pals into your busy schedule.
“This is like yogurt, but even better because it has more live active cultures to nourish your GI tract so the good bacteria thrive,” Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of the upcoming book, Body Kindness tells us in Surprising Winter Foods That Melt Fat. Worth noting: “Even though it’s dairy, kefir is 99 percent lactose-free because the kefir cultures break down lactose so you don’t have to!”
Based on national surveillance data, adults of all ages are drinking more alcohol, and many are binge-drinking. One of the most effective ways to get your younger physique back is to cut back on your alcohol intake – or avoid it completely. A couple of glasses of wine with dinner or a couple of beers while watching a football game is 300 extra calories, explains registered dietitian Elisabetta Politi, nutrition director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. What’s more, alcohol can increase your appetite and make you crave calorie-rich choices. In one study, researchers found that men who had one alcoholic drink before lunch ate, on average, 85 additional calories – that's 11 percent more calories – during their meal than when they did not drink wine, beer or a spirit.
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.
Dozens of scientific studies have tied diets high in vegetables— especially greens— to better health outcomes, including weight loss and a decreased risk of a handful of chronic diseases. Veggies like watercress, spinach, chives, and collard greens all rank highly on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's list of "powerhouse foods," so find a few you like, and start adding them to your plate.
Chances are, you read The Fat Trap in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago, in which Tara Parker-Pope demonstrated how typical weight-loss strategies backfire, leading people to regain the lost weight, usually within months. What happens is that most popular weight loss regimens trigger the body's starvation alert, which in turn triggers hormonal changes that essentially set up a rebound reaction. So forget fast-track weight loss plans and instead make small, gradual changes that allow your metabolism to adjust once and for all. Once your system is used to the new regimen, it won't react with rebound.
Losing weight seems like a pretty easy concept when you think about it. You eat less, exercise more and the weight is supposed to come off. The fact is, I'll bet you already know how to lose weight. If you're like most of us, you've probably lost weight many, many times...so many times, you're an old pro at it. You may even have your 'go-to' diet or exercise program, powering up your old Weight Watcher's account or starting back to the gym whenever the weight starts to creep up.
If you want to lose weight you should start by avoiding sugar and starch (like bread, pasta and potatoes). This is an old idea: For 150 years or more there have been a huge number of weight-loss diets based on eating fewer carbs. What’s new is that dozens of modern scientific studies have proven that, yes, low carb is the most effective way to lose weight.
Sure, you know the main weight-loss tactics: drink plenty of water, eat veggies, and exercise regularly. But just when you thought you had tried it all, there’s a whole new mix of methods that could help drop the number on the scale as well. Whether it’s upping your vitamin D intake, working out on an empty stomach, or eating dessert for breakfast (no, seriously!), anyone can use these surprising, fat-burning tips. And for more calorie-incinerating advice, learn the 20 Weight-Loss Techniques Every Successful Dieter Uses.
When the going gets tough (and it likely will from time to time along any weight loss journey), it’s important to realize that a host of non-food factors can make losing weight difficult, explains board-certified obesity medicine specialist Spencer Nadolsky, D.O., a diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and author of The Fat Loss Prescription. Hormones, genetics, and, ultimately, metabolism are three big ones, he says.
Health (both physical and mental… my breakdown of “starvation mode” and eating “1200 calories day” covers some of the lovely effects of very low calorie diets), the potential for nutrient deficiencies, the potential for disordered eating habits to develop, the potential for food and body image issues to develop, strength, performance, recovery, muscle maintenance, hunger, mood, metabolic issues, etc. etc. etc. and just your overall ability to consistently stick to your diet in the short term and then sustain it in the long term are all factors that need to be taken into consideration as well.
“The best way to stick with a diet, is for people to put the fewest restrictions on themselves as possible,” Langer says. “There shouldn't be anything in the world that they shouldn't ever eat again.” Similarly, Albers recommends ditching the “don’t” list entirely. “Instead of trying to stop an old negative habit, focus on building a positive new one,” she says. “New habits crowd out the old without the struggle of trying to stop a behavior.”
The bigger your plate, the bigger your meal, Brown reminds us. How so? While smaller plates make food servings appear significantly larger, larger plates make food appear smaller—which can lead to overeating. In one study, campers who were given larger bowls served themselves and consumed 16 percent more cereal than those given smaller bowls. Swapping dinner for salad plates will help you eat more reasonable portions, which can help the pounds fly off your frame! To kick even more calories to the curb, use small red plates. Although the vibrant hue may not match your dining room decor, the color can help you eat less, according to a study published in the journal Appetite. Researchers suggest that the color red reduces the amount we’re likely to eat by subtly instructing the mind to stop noshing.
So as you're planning new weight-loss-related lifestyle changes, make a plan to address other stresses in your life first, such as financial problems or relationship conflicts. While these stresses may never go away completely, managing them better should improve your ability to focus on achieving a healthier lifestyle. Once you're ready to launch your weight-loss plan, set a start date and then — start.
I know it's cliché, but let me get specific: When I arrive at a party, I don’t go immediately to the food. I first think about how many hours I plan on being there and try to pace myself accordingly. If I know it’s a three-hour buffet dinner, I may not start eating until an hour into being there. I’ll focus on drinking lots of water first and talk to people, so I don’t stuff my face too early and overdo it.
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.
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 her book The Naughty Diet, author Melissa Milne—whose own essay, “I Eat Slim-Shamers for Breakfast” also went viral—interviewed thousands of women about the body shaming and they all said the same thing: “They were sick and tired of feeling bad while trying to be good,” she writes in The Naughty Diet. “And here’s the secret of all secrets: You don’t feel bad about yourself when you get fat. You get fat when you feel bad about yourself.” This could be because chronic stress raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body, which can trigger belly fat storage. Try being kinder to yourself, which will reduce stress and help melt the pounds away effortlessly.
I just want to say something about cardio for the few female readers. I think for smaller women, sometimes it’s really necessary, and not just 20 minutes twice a week. Not that anything you said is wrong, but if you’re a small woman, you might literally starve if the deficit comes from the diet entirely… I am just saying that because I see so many women “bragging” about not doing any cardio, and losing fat at a normal pace while eating a decent amount of food, which usually sets unrealistic expectations…
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.
It is always easier to stick to your weight-loss goals when you have a support system in place to help motivate you to exercise and encourage you to stick to your diet goals when temptation strikes, explains Dr. Petre. This could mean enlisting the help of a gym buddy, joining a support group, or merely confiding in a close friend who will lend an ear when things get tough. Surrounding yourself with people who will help you from sabotaging your goals will go a long way.
We know you know—hydration is super important when it comes to your body and brain. Turns out, it’s also key for weight loss, according to nutrition and health coach Joan Kent, Ph.D., of Last Resort Nutrition. Not only does that standard trick of “drink water before a meal” work to lower food consumption, but staying hydrated keeps your satiety signals properly regulated, she says.
“Oolong, or ‘black dragon,’ is a kind of Chinese tea that’s packed with catechins, nutrients that help promote weight loss by boosting your body’s ability to metabolize fat. A study in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine found that participants who regularly sipped oolong tea lost a pound a week, without doing anything else to change their diet or exercise habits,” Kelly Choi, author of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse tells us in How To Lose 10 Pounds Fast.
I absolutely love your site. I am 51 years old and have spent years following the bull-shit fad diets, gimmicks, quick-fixes, etc to weight loss. I have always lost weight then just re-gained it plus some. I have been following your advice for the last 10 weeks and have lost 20 pounds by creating a calorie deficit like you have explained. I set a goal on how much I need to lose and it really has been easy sticking to it. I have cut out a lot of the high-fat/caloric foods that I used to eat and eat healthier because that is my preference, but it is foods that I love to eat and can live with eating the rest of my life. I have not began the cardio exercising yet, but do plan on it in a couple more months. I have some problems with plantar faciitis and some back problems that make weight bearing exercises painful. I believe losing weight will also help with these problems so right now my goal is to lose fat (I still have about 90 pounds to go to reach my goal). My husband decided to make some changes also, but he has also incorporated strength training in his daily routines and has already seen a huge difference in the way he feels, the way his body looks and the rise in his energy level. He is only 10 pounds away from his goal and doing great. Again, thank you so much for your publications. We think it is awesome and have recommended it to anyone who has commented our weight loss.
Fill at least half of your lunch and dinner plate with vegetables. Vegetables are nutrient-dense, high in satiating fiber, and low in calories, making them ideal weight loss tools, says registered dietitian Danielle Omar. “By eating the veggie half of your plate before anything else, you will take the edge off your hunger, eat less overall calories, and still feel full and satisfied. Keep eating this way and the pounds will painlessly melt away.” For more super easy weight loss hacks, check out these