When grabbing grub at a fast-food restaurant, the “combo” or “value meals” are typically less expensive and make you feel like you’re getting a better deal, but oftentimes they’re also nutritional nightmares. A study in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing shows that compared to ordering à la carte, you pick up a hundred or more extra calories by opting for the aforementioned cheap “value meals.” That’s because, when you order items bundled together, you’re likely to buy more food than you need or want, and end up overeating as a result. To keep your weight in check, order your food piecemeal instead.
“Long bouts of cardio don’t help weight loss. The body sees them as a long and uncertain search for food. [It] slows the metabolism to save calories,” explains Herbst. “Weight training raises the metabolism and builds muscle by causing tiny micro tears that the body works hard to repair over the next 48-72 hours. Additionally, the body builds additional muscle in anticipation of having to lift greater loads in the future.” The best weight-training movements that he recommends are complex multi-joint movements. These include squats, lunges, bench press, and deadlifts which use the major muscle groups.
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‘While any weight loss will require a change to eating habits, it shouldn’t mean missing out on nutrients or cutting out whole food groups. Aim for regular meals and a balanced diet but also take care with your portion sizes. You might be eating a healthy balance of foods, just too much of it. Changes to your food aren’t the only thing to consider either. The most effective weight loss approaches combine changes to diet with increased physical activity and also address some of your behaviours around food to help you understand your own eating pattern and responses to food at different times or in certain situations.
Even if you’re a sweet tooth, it’s wise to eliminate as much sugar from your diet as you can, especially if you’re trying to keep weight off. “Sugar has been linked to leptin resistance, which is the hormone that tells you when you are full,” explains Dr. Petre. “Bad bacteria also consume sugar and compromise your immune system. [This] causes cell aging and a decline in tissue function and elasticity.” Heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes are just a few additional reasons to avoid it at all costs. She recommends reading food labels closely so that you know just how much sugar you’re really consuming.
Know your why: “When you set a goal, write down why that goal is important to you. Because when you mess up — and you will — you can go back and read what you wrote and why it was meaningful and that will make you remember why you started," says Delaney. "When you fail — because everyone will fail at some point — go back to the book and remember why you set the goal in the first place.”
Though you may give yourself a pat on the back for passing on that slice of chocolate cake you’ve been craving for dessert, you’re actually doing yourself (and your waistline) a disservice in the long run. According to a study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, when you resist food, your body actually experiences more cravings for whatever it is you aren’t getting. Saying “no” to a sweet treat or slice of pizza wires our brains to view forbidden foods as rewards, setting us up for cravings that are hard to satisfy, so give yourself a break and indulge every now and again.
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.
Stop mindless munching in front of the TV. Not only do certain shows up your odds of overeating—action movies and cooking shows, we're looking at you—but you're also less aware of internal satiety cues, which is why it's so easy to polish off the whole chip bag before realizing how much you ate. Eat at the dining room table or in the kitchen only, says McGee, and you're much less likely to overeat or grab seconds.
Use weekly check-ins to celebrate small successes. Recognizing your wins keeps you motivated, says Delaney, who recommends checking in with yourself every Sunday about your progress for the week — specifically what went well. "When you did a good job, you should recognize that because that keeps you motivated,” she says. “Then you can go back and reflect. It’ll remind you of your progress and of the things that you did really well; we need that. Part of the sustenance of keeping with a goal is feeling good about yourself.” Take five minutes each Sunday to complete this journaling prompt: What did I do well this week? What didn’t go well this week? What can I do differently next week to improve?
On paper, it seems like weight loss should be so simple: Calories in through food; calories out through activity. It doesn't take a Ph.D. in nutrition or exercise science to understand this basic equation—and for some people, weight loss follows this tried-and-true path. But many dieters find themselves hitting a wall, unable to achieve their weight-loss goals through this strategy, and research increasingly shows that a one-size-fits-all approach may set us up for failure.
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The trick here is not only to avoid all obvious sources of carbohydrate (sweets, bread, spaghetti, rice, potatoes), but also to be careful with your protein intake. If you eat large amounts of meat, eggs and the like, the excess protein will be converted into glucose in your body. Large amounts of protein can also raise your insulin levels somewhat. This compromises optimal ketosis.
There’s healthy belly bacteria, and then there’s bad belly bacteria, which studies indicate overweight people have more of in their gut. To keep the fat-causing bugs at bay, you need to eat a variety of foods that support their healthy counterparts—the kind found in the bellies of slim people. Examples of probiotic-rich foods that help you lose weight by aiding digestion include kimchi, kombucha, bone broth, and kefir.
Others RDNs emphasize a focus on individual nutrients. "Oftentimes, the first place I start is to help someone get adequate protein throughout the day," says Megan Ostler, MS, RDN. "This can help with appetite control. Second, I focus on fiber." In addition to curbing appetite, Ostler says fiber helps stabilize blood sugar and improve gastrointestinal health, important factors that can correlate with healthy weight. Combine good sources of fiber and protein with choices like beans, lentils, and certain grains, such as quinoa and oats.
It may seem obvious to set realistic weight-loss goals. But do you really know what's realistic? Over the long term, it's best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week. Generally to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity.
We often make the wrong trade-offs. Many of us make the mistake of swapping fat for the empty calories of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead of eating whole-fat yoghurt, for example, we eat low- or no-fat versions that are packed with sugar to make up for the loss of taste. Or we swap our fatty breakfast bacon for a muffin or donut that causes rapid spikes in blood sugar.
Now if all you care about is just losing weight, seeing the number on the scale go down, fitting into smaller clothes and being skinnier, you’ll be fine without it. If, however, you want to maintain whatever muscle and strength you currently have or potentially gain more muscle and strength while you lose this fat, or you simply want to look strong/lean/toned/muscular/other-similar-words instead of skinny/thin… then you will NOT be fine without it. For this purpose, heavy, intelligent, strength-focused weight training is required.
Out of sight, out of mouth? Simply reorganizing your pantry staples could translate into serious calorie savings. A study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. For this reason, many nutritionists suggest keeping indulgent foods in the pantry on a high shelf so that you’re less apt to mindlessly grab them.
When you've hit a weight-loss wall, it may be time to change your thinking. "For some, I recommend focusing on forms of measurement other than the scale, such as body composition changes, energy levels, performance, etc.," Ostler says. "I personally like to have people focus on establishing healthy behaviors that can improve many aspects of health, instead of just weight, which isn't always the best measure of health."
Your body needs a certain amount of essential vitamins and minerals to function properly. What happens when you don’t get enough of them? What happens when you eat too little food, or when the food you eat isn’t sufficiently nutritious? Perhaps our bodies catch on and reply by increasing hunger levels. After all – if we eat more, we increase the chances of consuming enough of whatever nutrient we are lacking.
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.