Step far away from the TV — particularly during commercials. All the ads for high-calorie foods and snacks might not seem like they’re doing any harm, but researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute found that they can activate your brain, making you crave the sweet or fatty foods you see on your screen. And, those signals could end up making you put unhealthy foods on your own plate.
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.
DIET PLANS: Do not try a crash or fad diet that suggests you eat less than 1000 to 1200 calories each day. Keep your kitchen full of healthy foods on your diet plan. Eat healthy foods from all 5 food groups each day: breads, dairy, fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. Eat only small amount of fats, like 1 to 3 teaspoons each day of oils, nuts, dressings, and margarine. Bake, roast, or broil your food instead of frying.
So using this same example, if you eat 2500 calories per day but then burn an additional 500 calories through exercise such as cardio (e.g. steady state or HIIT) or metabolic training (which is essentially turning more strength-focused weight training into a form of high intensity cardio), that same 500 calorie deficit would exist and you would lose weight.
PROTEIN FOODS: Make sure your diet plan allows plenty of protein while you are losing weight. This will help you feel stronger while you are eating a lot fewer calories. Choose meat, fish, and poultry that is very lean before cooking. Remove all fat from meats and skin from poultry before cooking. Nuts and seeds are high in fat so limit the amount you eat. Do not eat more than 3 to 4 eggs a week. Use low fat and fat-free dairy products, salad dressings, and cheeses.
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.
Re-think date night. “It’s really hard to find time to be together. People always say 'date night,' but it’s hard to get out once a week and leave the kids and do that," says Delaney. "So what we do is rather than date night we try to have one or two days a week where we train together in the gym. We spend time as a couple together being active and doing active things with the family. One of our favorite things to do is walk around the city, we don’t take cabs, we walk the whole city, window shop and have something to eat. When it comes to exercise, have fun and don’t make it feel like it’s a chore.”
I used to be 100 pounds heavier than I am now. My eating habits were out of control and pretty much the epitome of mindless. I am A.D.D., I have two kids under four, and I work full time, so eating without constant distractions just doesn't happen. But over the years I’ve learned what it takes for me to lose my weight... and most importantly, keep it off.
Take time to toss the junk. If you’ve got favorite not-so-great items you’d like to save as a treat, tuck them in the back of the pantry with healthier items, like whole grain pasta, rice, beans and nuts up front. We know that just because the bag of lentils are right in front doesn’t mean you’ll forget about the brownie mix, but it can help. Just seeing or smelling food can stimulate cravings, and increase hunger (especially for junk food).
“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.”
Though it’s hardly realistic to keep people from moving north, there’s evidence to suggest that those living in northern latitudes may need to be a bit more careful about their gut health than the rest of us. A study in the journal Biology Letters found that living in northern latitudes encourages the growth of Firmicutes microbes, which have been linked to weight gain while decreasing the number of microbes linked with slim body types called Bacteroidetes. Generally speaking, the research showed that the number of Firmicutes increases with latitude and the number of Bacteroidetes decreases with latitude. To help ensure a healthy gut no matter where you reside, make sure your diet includes fermented and probiotic-rich foods, both of which encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Places like airports, drug stores, and even home-goods stores all sell food, but it's usually not very healthy. Instead of shopping until you feel famished then buying whatever unhealthy items are available near the checkout stand, plan ahead and pack a nutritious snack. Sliced apples and peanut butter, carrots and hummus, or Greek yogurt and nuts are all inexpensive and convenient options.
So think of any form of low carb diet plan. Or low fat diet. Or a diet that eliminates all sugar, or wheat, or grains or gluten or whatever else. Or the paleo diet, or a vegan diet, or a raw food diet, or an organic diet. Or a diet built around only eating “clean” foods. Or any diet that puts some non-calorie-based limit on when, how or what you can eat. Or 800 other similar examples.
If you eat a carbohydrate-rich meal (lots of pasta, rice, bread, or French fries, for example), your body releases insulin to help with the influx of all this glucose into your blood. As well as regulating blood sugar levels, insulin does two things: It prevents your fat cells from releasing fat for the body to burn as fuel (because its priority is to burn off the glucose) and it creates more fat cells for storing everything that your body can’t burn off. The result is that you gain weight and your body now requires more fuel to burn, so you eat more. Since insulin only burns carbohydrates, you crave carbs and so begins a vicious cycle of consuming carbs and gaining weight. To lose weight, the reasoning goes, you need to break this cycle by reducing carbs.
If stone fruits aren’t your thing, peel a banana instead and watch your belly bloat disappear. A study in the journal Anaerobe found that women who ate a banana twice daily before meals for two months reduced belly bloat by 50 percent. Researchers believe this is because bananas are packed with potassium, which can reduce water retention. The yellow fruits are also a good source of fiber, which will keep you feeling full.
Perhaps you'd like to be the same size you were in high school or when you got married, but that would mean dropping more than 50 pounds. Don't go there — not yet, at least. Set a more realistic goal of losing 5% to 10% of your weight, and give yourself plenty of time and some flexibility to reach that goal, keeping in mind that most people take at least six months to achieve that degree of weight loss.
Live Science is bringing our readers a monthly series of personal health goals, with tips and tricks we've gathered from the many health experts we've interviewed. Each month, we'll focus on a different goal, and the goal for January is Lose Weight. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to connect with other readers who are working toward these goals.
In addition, eat healthy foods throughout the day to keep your glucose, which fuels your body, at a high level so that you feel energized and satisfied. You'll also be better able to resist cravings when you snack on nutritious choices like fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and whole-grain bread topped with a little peanut butter, according to a recent study that showed that eating consistently helps us control our impulses.
There’s no denying dinner rolls are delicious, but you don’t need to take the “breaking bread” aspect of a meal so literally. Instead, steer clear of the bread basket and munch on a leafy green salad instead. If the carb-heavy starter is still too tempting to avoid, try nibbling on a high-fiber snack before sitting down to eat, such as a handful of nuts. The fiber found in nuts will keep you satiated, meaning you won’t be as easily induced to reach for the bread and butter, and you’ll be swapping out unhealthy fats for healthy ones. It’s a win-win!
When I go to big meals at family-style restaurants or people’s homes, I keep my appetizer or salad plate for the entrée course. I load up on a lot of food during both courses but using the slightly smaller plate helps. I've also learned to fill my plates with mostly veggies. I will still gladly take a spoonful of mac and cheese, but I'm careful not to take more than that because I know that if it’s on the plate, it will end up in my mouth.
As part of an eight-year study that included nearly 50,000 women, Harvard researchers tracked what happened when people either slashed their intake of sweetened drinks or started consuming more of them. Not surprisingly, the participants who raised their sugary-drink intake gained weight and increased their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In fact, the more people's sweet-drink intake increased, the more weight they gained and the more their disease risk went up.
We’ve already discussed the weight loss benefits of avocado oil, so it should come as no surprise that the mothership has its own fat-blasting properties. Though avocados get a bad rap for being high in calories, they’re actually loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that make you feel less hungry. Need proof? A study in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. What’s more? Unsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados, have been linked to preventing the storage of belly fat.
We’ve now arrived at tip number 16. If you’re still having trouble losing weight, despite following the 15 pieces of advice listed above, it might be a good idea to bring out the heavy artillery: optimal ketosis. Many people stalling at weight plateaus while on a low-carb diet have found optimal ketosis helpful. It’s what can melt the fat off once again.
Instead of gobbling down breakfast at home, eat at your desk a few hours later than you typically do. Pushing back your first meal of the day naturally reduces your “eating window”—the number of hours you spend each day grazing. Why’s that beneficial? Sticking to a smaller eating window may help you lose weight, even if you eat more food throughout the day, a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found. To come to this finding, researchers put groups of mice on a high-fat, high-calorie diet for 100 days. Half of them were allowed to nibble throughout the night and day on a healthy, controlled diet while the others only had access to food for eight hours, but could eat whatever they wanted. Oddly enough, the fasting mice stayed lean while the mice who noshed ’round the clock became obese—even though both groups consumed the same amount of calories! For more amazing weight loss insight, check out these 25 Best Foods for a Toned Body.
You probably know that strength training is important to help you retain your muscles and keep your metabolism up, but cardiovascular exercise – think walking, jogging, cycling or swimming – is important, too. “I see patients who do a lot of strength training, yoga or Pilates, but aren’t doing any cardio," Politi says. "Cardio helps you burn lots of calories, so you create a negative calorie balance that results in weight loss.” She recommends adults strive to get at least 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. And in this case, more is better.
The degree to which exercise aids weight loss is open to debate, but the benefits go way beyond burning calories. Exercise can increase your metabolism and improve your outlook—and it’s something you can benefit from right now. Go for a walk, stretch, move around and you’ll have more energy and motivation to tackle the other steps in your weight-loss program.