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.
If you’re the type of person who likes to eat a full breakfast before hitting the gym, you might want to change up your eating schedule. According to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers found getting your sweat on with an empty stomach could get rid of excess fat cells. So, give it a try: your healthy bowl of oatmeal can wait. To make the most of this technique, start with any of the 30 Workouts That Burn More Than 500 Calories An Hour.
“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.
Looks like weighing yourself is the way to go. When Cornell researchers pushed study participants to lose 10 percent of their body weight, those who accomplished this in the program’s first year were able to keep the pounds at bay throughout a second year as well. The reason for this? Researchers think stepping on the scale played a large factor, as this became a daily reinforcer for participants to continue effective behaviors like eating less and exercising more. While this was more effective in the males being studied, David Levitsky, senior author, recommends using a simple bathroom scale and Excel spreadsheet to track progress and keep things moving in a positive direction.
“Many people think that they can eat whatever they want as long as they work out. But the truth is, if you are looking to lose or maintain your weight, what you put in your body is significantly more important than hitting the gym. Exercise is important to keep your body healthy, but just because you work out for an hour or more per day, it doesn’t give you the liberty to eat whatever you want!” Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RDN, Co-Author of Should I Scoop out My Bagel tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
Constantly eating when you don’t need the fuel is a major contributor to weight gain. Before you pop something into your mouth, ask yourself why you’re eating. (We’re lookin’ at you Ms. Office Candy Bowl.) Are you actually hungry or are you just angry, stressed, anxious or board? If it’s any of the latter feelings, healthy snacks like carrot sticks and apples won’t seem appealing. If you’re not hungry enough to eat a plant, vow to not eat anything at all.
If you have a big celebration or date coming up, you might think it makes sense to “save” your calories for when it’s time to let loose, but this technique is rarely effective and could actually be hindering your ability to lose weight. “Although this makes sense in theory—consuming fewer calories total per day—it rarely works out as cleanly as we like,” Lisa Hayim spelled out for us in The 30 Worst Diet Mistakes You’re Making. “By the time you get to the date, and have a drink or two, the feelings of extreme hunger rush in, and you’re grabbing for whatever you can get your hands on, which is usually foods high in calories and fat. You’re so hungry, you may even end up consuming more than a day’s worth of calories in one sitting! Plus, with alcohol in your system, your body is less able to efficiently metabolize the calories,” explains Hayim. “Instead, consume normal meals throughout the day, arrive at your date cool, calm, and collected, and enjoy your cocktail and eat responsibly.”
Most people who want to lose weight have more than 12 pounds to lose. That’s why even the best weight loss drug in the world can only be an optional complement to other treatment. That’s why this piece of advice is number 18 out of 18. It may be a helpful addition for some people, but the advice higher on the list is what can make the biggest difference, by far.
In one four-week Spanish study, researchers found that eating a calorie-restricted diet that also included four weekly servings of legumes aided weight loss more effectively than an equivalent diet sans the pulses. Those who consumed the legume-rich diet also saw improvements in their bad LDL cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure. Next time you’re cooking something starchy for dinner, consider eating fiber and protein-packed lentils instead.
Yes, it sounds weird, but it might actually work. A study found that participants who regularly smelled peppermint reported lower hunger levels, significantly lower calorie intake, and fewer calories from saturated fat and sugar during the research period. Plus, says dietician Vanessa Rissetto, R.D., you may begin to create associations between the smell of peppermint and better self-control—as long as that minty aroma isn’t coming from peppermint candy, of course.
You may have heard the widely quoted statistic that 95% of people who lose wait on a diet will regain it within a few years—or even months. While there isn’t much hard evidence to support that claim, it is true that many weight-loss plans fail in the long term. Often that’s simply because diets that are too restrictive are very hard to maintain over time. However, that doesn’t mean your weight loss attempts are doomed to failure. Far from it.
Diet experts say that we need about one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight to aid muscle growth and weight loss. So if that’s what you’re eating each day, you’re bound to get the body of your dreams, right? Unfortunately, there’s more to it than that. According to University of Texas researchers, the timing at which you consume your protein can make or break how much lean muscle mass you pack on. If you’re like most Americans, you likely consume little to no protein for breakfast, a bit of protein at lunch and the bulk of your daily intake during dinner—which the researchers discovered isn’t ideal for muscle synthesis. Luckily, fitness-minded friends, the fix is a simple one: Just distribute your protein intake evenly throughout the day. The scientists found that those who followed this simple trick had 25 percent higher protein synthesis than those who ate the majority of the nutrient after the sun went down. To hit the mark and start leaning out, try one of these 35 Best-Ever Chicken Recipes for Weight Loss!
But if navigating these choices seems confusing, that’s where Eat This, Not That! comes in. What really works are making little lifestyle tweaks, simple moves that help you slash calories, boost nutrition and build a healthy foundation. We’ve gathered up some of the easiest, most effective new tricks and tactics to help you shed those unwanted pounds and slim down for good.
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.
To help you avoid losing muscle, or avoid seeking weight loss at the expense of muscle loss. Basically, the secondary goal of everyone trying to lose weight should be to preserve as much lean muscle as possible while that weight is lost, thus ensuring it’s primarily body fat. This is a topic I’ve covered in detail before: How To Lose Fat Without Losing Muscle
So, obviously, what is going to work for each person is different, and that’s OK. If your weight-loss practices help you identify areas for behavioral change and give you tools on how to make that happen, or just help keep your motivation up or feeling good, great. “But if you are not losing weight, then the tools you are using aren't working for you,” Fear says. “Many people keep doing the same monitoring even though it's actually not helping them. A sense of control and organization are not to be confused with efficacy.” Use this as an opportunity to try something else.
Each strategy has the potential to work, but more often than not diets fail. It can be hard to make a changes that you can stick with long enough to see long-term results. When trying to lose weight, it’s always better to take a slow, calculated approach that involves small but impactful changes that lead to a healthier lifestyle. Use these seven proven strategies to help you out along the way.
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.