Losing weight can seem overwhelming—you have to figure out how to eat healthily and fuel your body properly, plan an exercise regimen that works for you, get plenty of sleep, and ultimately make hundreds of choices each day that will either bring you closer to your goal or throw you completely off track.
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.
Put this plan into play and you won’t need any goofy new fads—just new pants.
Making your sandwich with two slices of bread is so last year. Aid your slim down efforts by opting for whole-grain bread over white and preparing your sandwich “open-faced” style—the fancy name for kicking the top piece of bread to the curb. Doing so keeps about 70 to 120 calories off your plate. If losing some bread leaves your tummy rumbling, beef up your meal by munching on a cup of baby carrots or sugar snap peas. These pop-in-your-mouth veggies are loaded with fiber and water, which can help aid satiety and weight loss efforts.
You know that hitting the recommended five to nine daily servings of fruits and veggies can make it easier to slim down, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accomplish. A simple way to make it happen? Buy a fruit bowl. You’re more likely to grab fruits and veggies over less-healthy options if they’re ready to eat and in plain sight. Katie Cavuto MS, RD, the dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers, suggests keeping washed and prepared veggies like cucumbers, peppers, sugar snap peas, and carrots in the front of the fridge so they aren’t overlooked. Bananas, apples, pears, and oranges fare well as sweet snacks and should be kept on the counter where everyone can see them.
We know you love binge-watching your favorite reality series, but it’s important to enjoy your meals sitting at your kitchen table—not in front of the television. Why? Carolyn Brown, MS, RD, of Foodtrainers, told us that in addition to commercials of unhealthy food and drinks increasing our cravings, TV is so distracting that it makes it harder to realize when we’re actually satiated. Science agrees with Brown: A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that paying attention while eating can aid weight loss efforts while distracted eating can lead to a long-term increase in food consumption.
Dieters and ETNT staffers alike fell head over heels for green tea—and it’s easy to see why: The cornerstone brew of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse is packed with compounds called catechins, belly-fat crusaders that blast belly fat by revving the metabolism, increasing the release of fat from fat cells, and then speeding up the liver’s fat burning capacity. In an American Physiological Society study, participants who combined a daily habit of 4-5 cups of green boosted their exercise endurance by up to 24 percent, revving weight loss. Make the most of the benefits from tea with The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse, by food journalist Kelly Choi and the editors of Eat This, Not That!, test panelists lost up to 10 pounds in one week!
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.
There’s a reason Eat This, Not That! hired celebrity trainer Mark Langowski to develop Eat This, Not That! for Abs, our e-book system for getting a six-pack in six weeks: He said it wouldn’t include a single sit-up. “I have been a personal trainer for over 13 years—during this time, I have learned a lot about a lot, but the most important topic that I discovered was 10 years ago when I found out how damaging sit-ups are to the discs in my spine,” he told us. “It was after listening to genius professor Stuart McGill, who is head of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, that I realized I had been doing more harm to myself and my clients by having them do traditional sit-ups.” Instead, “throughout the workout section of the Eat This, Not That! For Abs, I explain how to train the entire body in a way that is activating the core muscles in every exercise you do. A squat may look like a leg exercise,
but did you know you are also working your core muscles when done properly?” Compound exercises, such as squats and deadlifts, work muscle groups while challenging the core—giving you the rock hard abs you dream of.
Zero Belly Diet test panelist Bryan Wilson, a 29-year-old accountant, lost 19 pounds and an astounding six inches from his waist in just six weeks on the diet, and he attributes his success to the Zero Belly shake recipes in the program. “I love the shakes. I added them to my diet, and almost immediately I lost the bloat,” Bryan said. “I’m a sweet craver, and the shakes were an awesome alternative to bowls and bowls of ice cream I would have had.” Protein-enriched drinks lend you a monster dose of belly-busting nutrition in a simple yet delicious snack. But most commercial drinks are filled with unpronounceable chemicals that can upset our gut health and cause inflammation and bloat. Not to mention, the high doses of whey used to boost protein levels can amplify the belly-bloating effect. The Zero Belly solution: Try vegan protein, which will give you the same fat-burning, hunger-squelching, muscle-building benefits, without the bloat. Lose weight in less than 30 seconds, with the 100+ proven recipes in Zero Belly Smoothies!
“Repetition builds rhythm. Be boring. Most successful losers have just a couple of go-to breakfasts or snacks,” says registered dietitian Lauren Slayton. “Make an effort to pinpoint these for yourself. ‘Hmm, I’m starving what should I have?’ doesn’t often end well. You can change the rotation every few weeks, but pre-set meals or workouts on certain days will help tremendously.”
Do you consider products from specialty supermarkets to be healthier than those from other grocery stores? Or do you think that dishes from organic restaurants are all waistline-friendly? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you could be derailing your weight loss efforts. When people guess the number of calories in a sandwich coming from a “healthy” restaurant, they estimate that it has, on average, 35 percent fewer calories than they do when it comes from an “unhealthy” restaurant, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Remember that the next time you reach for that package of Whole Foods’ Organic Fruit & Nut Granola. One cup of this seemingly healthy snack contains almost 500 calories. Yikes! To stay on track at the grocery store, check out these best supermarket shopping tips ever.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee dropped their longstanding recommendation that we should limit dietary cholesterol. Decades of research have shown that it has little effect on blood cholesterol levels, and the government’s outdated recommendations have done little more than send scrambled messages about the pros and cons of eating eggs and shrimp. So go ahead and scramble up an omelet—with the yolk. Eating the entire egg is beneficial to your body because it contains metabolism-stoking nutrients, including fat-soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids, and choline—a powerful compound that attacks the gene mechanism that triggers your body to store fat around your liver.
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.”
When you place heaping bowls of food on the table, over-eating is inevitable. To avoid scarfing down extra bites, keep food on the stove or counter and spoon it out onto plates from there. When going back for seconds requires leaving the table, people tend to consider their hunger levels more carefully. And serving healthier dishes can, of course, help too. These 20 best-ever recipes for Zero Belly are all weight loss-friendly options we love.
While overnight oats remain a healthy and trendy breakfast, there’s one healthy oatmeal trend that’s also making waves: Zoats! The funny-sounding name actually describes a very straightforward (but delicious) dish made from shredded fiber-filled zucchini, oatmeal, milk, spices and nutrient-packed add-ins such as nuts and fruit. We love how the dish makes it easy to add veggies to your morning meal—somewhere it’s rarely found. Another win: Adding zucchini to your oatmeal adds bulk to your breakfast bowl without the need for extra cereal, ultimately saving you calories.
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.
According to Northwestern researchers, late sleepers—defined as those who wake up around 10:45 a.m.—consume 248 more calories during the day, as well as half as many fruits and vegetables and twice the amount fast food than those who set their alarm earlier. If these findings sound troubling to you night owls, try setting your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier each day until you’re getting out of bed at a more reasonable hour.
We’ve all been told that salmon, packed with heart-healthy omega-3s and belly-flattening protein, is a great way to get strong, lean and healthy. But not all salmon is created equal. Farmed salmon, which is what’s commonly sold in restaurants, can have the opposite effect on your waistline. Farmed salmon has over 100 more calories and nearly twice as much fat as wild-caught salmon. Plus, it’s much higher in saturated fat and lower in heart-healthy omega-3s. When dining out, you’re better off skipping the salmon altogether unless you are 100 percent sure it’s wild-caught.
Simply blasting the air conditioner, cracking a window open, or turning down the heat during the winter may help attack belly fat while we sleep, according to a study published in the journal Cell Press. That’s because colder temperatures subtly enhance the effectiveness of our brown fat stores—fat that keeps you warm by helping you burn through the fat stored in your belly. After participants spent 2 hours per day at 62.6 degrees F for six weeks, their brown fat stores increased.
Are frequent meals your ticket to a better body? Experts say so! In a Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study that sampled 2,385 adults, research participants who ate less than four times a day consumed more calories and had a higher BMI than those who sat down to eat at least six times. The scientists noticed that those who ate fewer meals consumed most of their calories at night and were more apt to drink alcohol with their meals while their ever-grazing counterparts tended to eat healthier, less calorically dense foods. To keep the weight flying off your frame, nosh on these high-protein snacks between meals.
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.
In a 2015 Orlando Health survey of more than a thousand respondents, the majority cited their inability to stay consistent with a diet or exercise plan as their primary barrier to weight loss success. Sounds common, but here’s the kicker: Only one in 10 of the survey respondents noted their psychological well-being as part of the equation—and it’s likely why nearly two out of three people who lost five percent of their total weight ended up gaining it all back. Yikes! To unlock the door to weight loss success and stop emotional eating, try keeping a journal that tracks your food choices and current mood. Then, look for unhealthy patterns, which can help you recognize specific emotional connections you have with food. Once you’re more aware of these connections, it will be easier to adopt healthier eating patterns. Do you always reach for something sugary when you’re stressed or devour fries when you’re sad? Instead, try more productive ways to cope, like going for a brisk walk or texting a friend.
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!
Dining out can kill your hard-earned weight loss wins—and so can boozing too hard. To stay on track with your better-body goals, order your glass of wine or cocktail near the end of your meal. That way, the sweetness can act as a low-cal dessert. Plus, it won’t lower your inhibitions before your meal, which may prompt you to order something unhealthy off the menu.
Think writing a grocery list before heading to the store is a waste of time? As it turns out, it may be the key to finally losing weight. A Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior study of more than more than 1,300 people discovered that shoppers who regularly wrote grocery lists also purchased healthier foods and had lower BMI’s than those who didn’t put pen to paper before heading to the store. Researchers hypothesize that shopping lists keep us organized, which in turn helps us fend off diet-derailing impulse buys (hello, candy aisle). Before heading to the supermarket to stock up, spend a few minutes taking inventory of your kitchen, and then write a list. Be sure to organize it by category to prevent zigzagging all over the place; that ups the odds you’ll walk by—and purchase—tempting treats that could derail your weight loss success.
A recent JAMA Internal Medicine study of nearly 4,000 couples found that people are more likely to stick to healthy habits when they team up with a partner. Invite your honey to a Saturday morning run and then hit the showers together—knowing you have something steamy to look forward to afterward should serve as some additional motivation. And then follow up your workout with some of the best proteins for your penis.
Are your portion control issues making it hard for you to shrink your man boobs? Stop yourself from going back for seconds by grabbing a box of mints. People often yearn for that second cookie or helping of mac and cheese because the taste of the first still lingers. To cleanse your palate, keep mints or breath strips on hand and pop them when it’s time to quit noshing. Not only will this rid the alluring taste from your tongue, it will also keep your mouth busy and act as a distraction. Drinking water or tea are also helpful tactics.
A Credit Suisse Research Institute report found that more and more of us are choosing full-fat foods over skim, light, fat-free, or other modern monikers of leanness. And while many health organizations like the American Heart Association still recommend cutting down on fat—particularly saturated fat—this full-fat trend may be a healthy rebellion against those decades-old credos, according to recent studies. In fact, people who eat a lot of high-fat dairy products actually have the lowest incidence of diabetes, according to a 2015 study of 26,930 people in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Those who ate a lot of low-fat dairy products, on the other hand, had the highest incidence. So what’s the best way to join the full-fat revolution? Eat This, Not That! polled some of the country’s top nutrition experts and asked for their favorite full-fat fat burners. Check out what they said in our exclusive report the 20 best full-fat foods for weight loss.
And speaking of eating full-fat fare, a cutting-edge review published in PLOS One discovered that when it comes to reducing cardiovascular risk and promoting rapid weight loss, low-carb diets are superior to low-fat diets. Can’t imagine fully committing to a low-carb lifestyle? Start by eliminating empty sources of carbs from your diet such as white bread, desserts, and sugary drinks.
Looking for the easiest possible way to lose weight? Grab your pajamas early and log some extra Zzzs! According to researchers in the journal Appetite, getting eight and a half hours of shut-eye each night can drop cravings for junk food a whopping 62 percent and decrease overall appetite by 14 percent! Mayo Clinic researchers note similar findings: In their study, adults who slept an hour and 20 minutes less than the control group consumed an average of 549 additional calories daily. That’s more calories than you’ll find in a Big Mac!
Instead of dragging yourself to the coffee pot when your alarm goes off, open all the blinds! A study in PLoS One found that when obese women were exposed to at least 45 minutes of morning light (between 6–9 am) for 3 weeks, it resulted in reduced body fat and appetite. Researchers think it’s because the morning sun helps synchronize your metabolism to burn fat more efficiently. For more easy ways to burn more calories, check out these 55 Best-Ever Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.
Is your obsession with Reese’s and Pringles derailing your weight loss efforts? It might be if you’re not using the self-checkout kiosks at the grocery store. Let us explain: According to a study by IHL Consulting Group, impulse purchases dipped 32.1 percent for women and 16.7 percent for men when they scanned their items and swiped their credit card on their own. Although not all impulse buys are bad for your belly, a whopping 80 percent of candy and 61 percent of salty-snack purchases are unplanned.
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. What’s more, time-restricted eating reduced excessive body weight by 20 percent and prevented further weight gain.
The average American consumes 15.5 pounds of pasta each year—and most of it is the refined white stuff. What’s the trouble with that? This type of noodle is almost completely void of fiber and protein, two vital nutrients for weight loss. To boost the belly-filling fiber and hunger-busting protein in your meal, opt for a bean-based noodle like Banza Chickpea Shells (2 oz., 190 calories, 8 grams of fiber, 14 grams of protein) or Explore Asian Black Bean Low-Carb Pasta (2 oz., 180 calories, 12 grams of fiber, and 25 grams of protein). Alternatively, whip up a batch of zoodles, or spiralized veggie noodles with the help of these mouthwatering spiralizer recipes.
Good news for carb lovers: Scientists discovered an easy way to slim down any bowl of rice by as much as 60 percent! And the best part is that you don’t need a fancy lab or a PhD. to make the slimmed-down dish. Here’s how to whip it up: Add a teaspoon of coconut oil and a half cup of non-fortified white rice to a pot of boiling water. Cook it for about 40 minutes, stick it in the refrigerator for 12 hours and enjoy the rice either cold or reheated. How does such a simple cooking hack—that adds fat, no less—slash calories? When the rice begins to cool, its glucose molecules form tight bonds called “resistant starch.” This type of starch, as the name implies, is resistant to digestion, meaning that the body is not able to absorb as many calories or as much of the glucose (a nutrient that’s stored as fat if it’s not burned off) from each molecule. While you may be hesitant to add the oft-vilified oil to your pot, it actually plays an integral role in the process. As the rice cooks, the fat molecules find their way into the rice and act as an additional digestion barrier. Best of all, the research team found that reheating the rice didn’t change the levels of resistant starch (as it does with pasta and potatoes), deeming this calorie-slashing cooking hack safe for leftovers, too.
Want to stay on track with your diet while dining out? Leave your lady at home, guys. Strange but true: When men dine with women, they eat up to 93 percent more, according to researchers at Cornell Universityresearchers at Cornell University. “These findings suggest that men tend to overeat to show off,” lead author of the study, Kevin Kniffin, explained. “Instead of a feat of strength, it’s a feat of eating.” Women, on the other hand, ate the same amount food no matter who they broke bread with.
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.
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.
Instead of depriving yourself of all your favorite indulgences or meticulously counting calories to drop a size, simply consume at least 30 grams of fiber daily. This simple, no-fuss method fuels weight loss and improves health just as effectively as more complex diet approaches, University of Massachusetts Medical School researchers discovered. “Very few people reach the goals that are recommended,” said lead study author Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD, adding that “Telling people to reduce this or reduce that is just too hard to do.” However, asking people to focus on eating more of a certain nutrient—rather than eliminating things from their diet–can help people reach their weight loss goals, he explains. Interested in giving the diet strategy a try? Incorportate high-fiber foods for weight loss into your favorite recipes and start slimming down!
Even if you’re trying to reduce your eating window, you shouldn’t go to sleep starving. In fact, going to bed with a rumbling stomach can make it more difficult to fall asleep and subsequently leave you feeling ravenous the next day. And get this: Eating the right type of bedtime snack can actually boost your metabolism and aid weight loss, registered dietitian Cassie Bjork explained. “The right snack can help keep blood sugar stable so the fat-burning hormone glucagon can do its job. I suggest pairing a natural carb with a healthy fat. Apple slices and almond butter, berries with heavy cream and carrots with guacamole all fit the bill.”
What smells like an exotic vacation and can shrink your waist faster than your favorite Zumba class? You got it: coconut oil. A study of overweight participants published in Pharmacology found that just two tablespoons per day reduced waist circumference. However, the health benefits of coconut oil are still debated—coconut oil is high in saturated fat. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which aren’t processed in the body the same way long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). A study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that when MCTs replaced LCTs in the diets of overweight women, they were less likely to gain weight.
Plus, its high smoke point makes coconut oil great for just about every dish, from eggs to stir-frys. And at roughly 117 calories per tablespoon, it’s close in calories to olive oil—just be sure you keep antioxidant-rich olive oil in your cooking rotation, too.
Not like you needed another reason to fall in love, snuggle up with your sweetie, kiss or get it on. Harvard Medical School researchers found that all of those things can aid weight loss. How? Lovey-dovey feelings cause levels of the hormone oxytocin to increase, which in turn, decreases appetite.
Though you may think that strong willpower is a necessary trait to overcome down-time grazing, experts say that your success is more dependent on your food environment than anything else. “If you happen to get bored and there is nothing but healthy food available in your house, you likely won’t choose to eat it unless you’re actually hungry,” says Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN of Neily on Nutrition. Most people don’t have the urge to eat celery sticks; cookies, however, are a different story. Heather Mangieri, RDN agrees, adding, “You can’t eat what’s not there, so make sure when you open the pantry, you aren’t tempted with the sugary, salty, fatty foods that most people choose when eating ‘just to eat.’ Instead, stock your refrigerator with fresh vegetable slices and healthy whole foods that will be easier to pass on if you’re not really hungry.”
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.
Most people think of their protein or meat as their meal’s main event, but that shouldn’t be the case. “Place flavorful vegetables front and center on lunch and dinner plates, accompanied by sides of protein and whole grains,” registered dietitian Cheryl Forberg said. By simply rearranging your plate, you’ll automatically consume fewer calories and take in more health-protective vitamins and nutrients.
Even if you fill up on produce, lean proteins, and whole grains, according to British Journal of Nutrition findings, when you think about the quality of your diet, you’re likely forgetting about all the unhealthy food that also finds its way to your mouth. People tend to exaggerate the good foods they eat and underestimate the bad stuff, says study author, Kentaro Murakami, PhD of Japan’s University of Shiga Prefecture. While it’s not necessarily intentional, it’s likely one of the reasons why it’s so hard for people to lose weight. For example, you might grab a handful of candy at a co-worker’s desk or a sample at the mall and then forget about it altogether. Our advice: To get a more accurate overview of your diet, keep a detailed food journal on your phone—yes, that means you should include that food court sample, too. Whether you snap photos or keep a written log is totally up to you—both tactics will work. The more food records dieters kept over the course of 30 months, the more weight they lost, a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found.
How would you like to take all the great weight-loss results you’ve just read about—and double them? That’s what happens when you supplement your diet with a combination of vitamin D and calcium, according to a 2008 study. Just four weeks into the 12-week experiment, subjects who had taken these two nutrients—found in abundance in some Greek yogurt—lost two times more fat than the other group!
It’s every chocoholic’s dream: Research now shows that eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate can reduce overall body fat and shrink your waist. A study among women with normal weight obesity (or skinny fat syndrome) who ate a Mediterranean diet that included two servings of dark chocolate each day showed a significant reduction in waist size than when on a cocoa-free meal plan. Researchers say it has to do with the flavonoids, heart-healthy compounds in chocolate that have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Just be sure you’re reaching for a bar with at least 70 percent cacao, and stay away from the “alkalized” stuff, which has a significantly reduced flavonoid content.
Recent research published in the journal PLOS ONE found that getting direct sunlight exposure between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon reduced your risk of weight gain regardless of activity level, caloric intake, or even age. Researchers believe that the sunlight synchronizes your metabolism and undercuts your fat-storage genes.
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.
“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.
Bad diet decisions are often made when you’re starving and have nothing healthy to eat in your kitchen. Ward off diet-derailing decisions by stocking up on frozen, deveined shrimp—one of Insanity trainer Shaun T’s! go-to proteins. Once you throw it on the stove, it’s ready to eat in just a few minutes, and it’s a great source of lean, low-cal protein. Organic, low-sodium turkey breasts, pre-grilled chicken and hard-boiled eggs are also smart meal-starters to keep on hand.
If you’re java devotee, here’s an easy way to slim down your order: Just ditch the creamer! Splashing two tablespoons of heavy cream to your cup adds 100 calories. Assuming you down two cups of Joe a day, passing up dairy can help you drop 10 pounds in just under six months!
If you’re accustomed to shredding muenster cheese into your eggs, try swapping it for your favorite veggie. One ounce of cheese packs in about 110 calories while a half cup of steamed broccoli boasts 15 calories. Making this morning switch will nourish your body with extra satiating fiber and nutrients, as well as save your waistline from added inches.
While protein-packed Greek yogurt makes for a perfect meal when paired with chia seeds, antioxidant-rich berries, and crunchy nuts, you could be sabotaging your weight loss goals if you choose the wrong tub. A plain cup of Chobani contains about 50 fewer calories than the fruity options, saving your belly from extra flab.
In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers found that noshing on half a grapefruit before each meal helped participants lose a significant amount of weight in addition to improving insulin resistance.
Before you begin the habit of refilling your water bottle several times a day, make sure yours isn’t laced with BPA. A Harvard study found that adults with the highest concentration of BPA in their urine had significantly larger waists and a 75 percent greater chance of being obese than those in the lowest quartile. No wonder why drinking out of plastic bottles is one of our 40 Bad Habits That Make You Fat! To avoid weight gain, make sure your bottle is BPA-free and be particularly wary of plastics that sport a #7 recycling symbol on them, which is an indicator that BPA may be present.
Even if you’re stocking up on fruits and veggies, buying inorganic may be doing your body a disservice, thanks to the pesticides. “They have been shown to poison the mitochondria so it cannot burn fuel,” says Walter Crinnion, N.D., chairman of the environmental medicine department at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Phoenix in Weight Loss Tricks You Haven’t Tried. “Fuel that is not burned turns to fat.” If you’re worried about breaking your budget at Whole Foods, start by stocking up on these 17 Cheap Organic Foods You Must Buy.
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.
When many of us have too many options to choose from, we often become flustered and make the wrong decision. Same goes for food. If you have a few different boxes of cereal and a handful of flavors of potato chips, you’re likely to eat more of the packaged stuff. Limiting your options to just one can cut down on your grazing habits and prevent a snack attack.
Red fruits such as watermelon, Pink Lady apples, and plums have higher levels of nutrients called flavonoids—particularly anthocyanins, compounds that give red fruits their color, which have been shown to reduce fat-storage genes.
“This seemingly-innocent food is almost always loaded with added sugar. In fact, most companies use synonyms or alternative words for plain old ‘sugar’ to disguise it. ” Lisa Hayim, registered dietitian and founder of The Well Necessities tells us in 37 Worst Breakfast Habits for Your Waistline. And she’s right: Choosing a cup of Kashi Indigo Morning Organic Corn Cereal over ¾ cup of Kashi Organic Promise Cranberry, Spelt and Flax Granola, will slash 160 calories off your breakfast!
University of Wisconsin researchers discovered that participants who wore jeans to work walked almost 500 more steps throughout the day than those who dressed up. As if we needed another reason to look forward to casual Fridays!
Who knew that fantasizing about eating your favorite candy can actually result in real-life weight loss? A study found that daydreaming about eating an entire packet of the sweet stuff before indulging may cause you to eat less of it. To come to this finding, researchers asked participants to imagine eating three M&Ms versus 30. Then, they conducted a taste test where participants were able to nosh on the chocolate orbs. The results? Those who imagined eating lots of M&Ms ended up gobbling down the least!
While appetizers seem to add more calories to your meal, a series of Penn State studies found that biting into an apple or sipping a broth-based soup before eating out can reduce your dinner’s total calorie intake by a walloping 20 percent. So before you slice into that charbroiled steak, don’t forget to pregame the protein with some soup.
“Tahini is an oft-forgotten option for nut and seed butters, but it sits front and center in my fridge because it delivers major creaminess to sauces and smoothies and packs a powerful flavor punch,” says Willow Jarosh MS, RD co-owner of C&J Nutrition. “Although some advise against eating the spread because of its high omega 3:6 ratio, the super high intake of omega-6s in the average American’s diet isn’t due to things like tahini—it’s mostly from not eating a variety of fats or consuming the majority of fats from fried foods and packaged snacks. As long as you’re also eating foods rich in omega-3s, your end-of-day ratio should be nothing to worry about. Plus, tahini is loaded with tons of healthy nutrients like copper, which helps maintain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant responses in the body. It also provides six percent of the day’s calcium in just one tablespoon.”
“Chia seeds aren’t just a pet, they’re a party in your mouth. I’m a huge fan of them because they’re chock-full of heart-healthy omega-3s, fiber, protein, and calcium,” Sarah Koszyk, MA, RD, founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. tells us in 26 Most Overlooked Ways to Lose Weight. “Chia seeds are easily absorbed by the body, so they’re very nourishing and satiating. Every day I add them to my breakfast smoothie or pair them with yogurt or cottage cheese along with some blueberries.”
Kamut, also known as Khorasan wheat, is an ancient grain native to the Middle East that packs in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and protein while remaining low in calories. In fact, a half-cup serving of the stuff has 30 percent more protein than regular wheat and only 140 calories. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that noshing on Kamut reduces cholesterol, blood sugar, and cytokines (which cause inflammation throughout the body).
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that after just two weeks, those who sipped four to five cups of the green brew daily in addition to working out for 25 minutes lost more belly fat than those who didn’t sip. We can chalk up these favorable results to the tea’s catechins, a type of antioxidant that hinders the storage of belly fat and aids rapid weight loss.
“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.
Before heading to the gym, don’t forget to reach for a handful of almonds. A study printed in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that these subtly sweet nuts are rich in the amino acid L-arginine, which can help you burn more fat and carbs during workouts.
Many commercial hummus tubs are jam-packed with waist-widening additives. To avoid the unnecessary ingredients, whip up your own hummus at home and use it as a dip for crunchy veggies such as carrots and celery. The spread’s main ingredient—chickpeas—contain satiating fiber and protein to keep hunger pangs at bay.
Rather than relying on sugary sauces and fatty dressings, try restocking your spice rack more often. Virtually calorie-free seasonings such as turmeric, black pepper, and cayenne keep you slim thanks to their anti-inflammatory and flab-fighting properties.
Forking through a bowl of leafy greens may be boring, but you can easily stick to your daily salad lunch by switching up your ingredients. Begin with a leafy green base and switch up your proteins and fats. Try adding crunchy nuts or low-fat cheese for healthy fats and lean protein such as grilled chicken or salmon.
“Just when the cooler weather has you craving warm, unhealthy comfort foods, spaghetti squash is one of the best replacements for spaghetti!” The Nutrition Twins tell us in Surprising Winter Foods That Melt Fat. “It feels like a hearty meal, but one cup only has about 40 calories—more than 75 percent fewer calories than a cup of plain pasta.”
But make sure they’ve still got their shells! In addition to these green nuts containing a winning combo of protein, fats, and fiber, de-shelling pistachios rather than noshing on the shelled version can help prevent you from popping one too many nuts and overloading on calories.
Chili peppers, jalapenos, and poblanos all have one thing in common besides making your eyes water: They’re packed with capsaicin. This compound, found in spicy peppers, has been shown to rev your metabolism and therefore helping you slim down.
Instead of drizzling your usual olive oil onto your salad, try switching things up with avocado oil. Penn State University researchers compared those who consumed avocado oil with those who consumed a flax-safflower oil blend. Those who used just three tablespoons of avocado oil daily lost nearly two percent of their belly fat in just one month.
“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!”
“They may be small, but these sweet-tasting fruits contain a hefty amount of actinidin, a natural enzyme unique to kiwifruit that aids in digestion by breaking down protein in the body. Kiwifruit also contains prebiotic fiber, which primes the gut for healthy digestion,” Scritchfield says. “Research indicates that a daily serving of green kiwifruit helps increase bowel movements. So, cut in half, scoop with a spoon, and pop into your mouth like nature’s Tums (SunGold kiwis, with a yellow flesh and tropical taste, offer three times the vitamin C of oranges and as much potassium as a medium banana).”
“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.”
Before digging into your morning meal, don’t forget to chug 16 ounces of water. When a British study put this into practice, participants lost an average of 2.87 pounds in 90 days—which translates to 11.5 pounds in a year! If you’re bored of plain ol’ H2O, try stirring up a batch of fruity detox water.
Boarding the elevator may be a mindless act, but taking the stairs instead could actually work wonders for your waistline, a PLoS One journal study found. Researchers suggest climbing one step at a time rather than skipping steps: “climbing just a 15 m high stairway five times a day represents an energy expenditure of on average 302 kcal per week using the one step strategy and 266 kcal using the two step strategy.”
“The numbers on the nutrition panel aren’t the most important part of a food product. You need to look at the ingredient list, too. If there are ingredients you cannot pronounce or if you see anything you think may not be a natural ingredient, put the product back on the shelf,” Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
“To get to the gym—when you already don’t like yourself—is really hard. So I had to make it fun. I started wearing cute outfits and putting on a little bit of makeup. And as vain as it sounds, it really helped me because eventually I stopped hating the way I looked,” Kelly Osbourne revealed to Shape.
“Fad diets and meal replacement shakes are not the answer to sustainable weight loss or better health. Sure, you can do something drastic to lose 20 pounds in a month, but chances are these actions aren’t sustainable. If you want to lose the weight and keep it off for good, target a weight loss of one to two pounds per week so you can truly see permanent, long-lasting results!” Kristen Carlucci Haase RD-N dished out in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
“You need a combination of both weight training and cardio to get fat off your body,” Mike Duffy, CPT, tells us in 17 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Back Fat, adding, “Cardio alone will only train one type of muscle fiber and you’ll only be building one part of your fat-burning furnace. I see many people doing tons of cardio every day and not lifting weights. They never change the way they look.”
Think of sweet potatoes as nature’s dessert. Not only do they satisfy your sweet tooth, these taters digest slowly and keep you feeling fuller for longer thanks to their satiating fiber. They’re also brimming with carotenoids, antioxidants that stabilize blood-sugar levels and lower insulin resistance—which prevent calories from being converted into fat.
According to a Japanese study, the timing of your workout plays a significant role in weight loss. The study found that when you exercise before breakfast, your body increases your ability to burn fat for 24 hours following your sweat sesh.
“Calorie counting is not the only game in town when it comes to weight loss. Chemical counting should also be part of our decision-making process. Processed foods, plastic bottles, lotions, non-organic dairy, and many other items in our daily lives contain endocrine disruptors that can lead to hormonal imbalance and stubborn weight gain,” Jennifer Cassetta, clinical nutritionist, personal trainer, and expert from ABC’s “My Diet Is Better Than Yours” tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
Put your free time during the weekends to good use. Prepping healthy, homemade meals and snacks can help you grab a quick meal without hitting up the drive-thru or reaching for convenient, processed foods that will cause you to pack on the pounds.
A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that dealing with work-, finance-, or relationship-related stress can pack on the pounds. When you’re stuck in a hair-pulling situation, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which stores abdominal fat. Next time you find yourself overwhelmed, try these awesome ways to strip away stress.
If you’re in dire need of a fast food burger and fries, don’t fret the drive-thru—order a Happy Meal! Kids’ portions are significantly smaller than regular-sized orders, which can help fulfil your cravings without undoing those weight loss wins.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that chewing more and eating slowly caused participants to ingest fewer calories. How so? Chewing the food more thoroughly simultaneously lowered levels of appetite-stimulating hormones and increased levels of appetite-suppressing hormones.
“There are so many amazing properties in tea and so many healthy foods that require hot water,” Emmy-award winning and author of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse, Kelly Choi says. “But I’ll swap in hot green tea instead of water for things like oatmeal and quinoa. I’ve seen so many people benefit from my tea cleanse that it inspired me to keep the tea flowing whenever I can!”
Dieters already know to steer clear of sugary cocktails and stick to vodka sodas at happy hour. But nixing booze altogether for a few weeks at a time could really help you jumpstart your weight loss efforts. A Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study found that alcohol causes people to eat an additional 384 calories per day on average, likely because booze makes us more sensitive to food aromas and less likely to resist indulgent fare.
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.
“I wish people knew that almond milk is no nutritional match to cow’s milk. In addition to being a great source of calcium and potassium, a cup of cow’s milk has eight grams of protein, which is about the same as a whole egg. Almond milk has only 1.5 grams of protein and can have added sugar when people buy the flavored or sweetened versions. Protein is important for making us feel full and energized longer, and that’s key for being able to have a productive weekday morning,” Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
“Water may just be the best pre-workout supplement when you’re looking to shed weight. Studies have shown that strength training while in a dehydrated state can boost levels of stress hormones that hinder muscle gains by up to 16 percent,” celebrity fitness and nutrition expert, Jay Cardiello tells us in The Best And Worst Celebrity Weight Loss Tips. “When a client is looking to trim down, I tell them to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day and at least 8 ounces during their workouts.”
“Music is such a big part of my workouts, you’ve really got to feel the music and get into it,” Gwyneth Paltrow told E! News. “If you don’t love the song you’re not going to work your hardest.”
Here’s a good reason to keep your devices far from the dinner table: Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that diners who were distracted at meal time consumed significantly more unhealthy snack foods later in the day than those who paid close attention to their food and avoided distractions.
“I wish people knew that there is no one-size-fits-all diet that works for everyone. Individuals have different food preferences, dining habits, schedules, body types, past experiences, and obstacles. Stop falling for restrictive diet plans, America! Start by changing one simple habit and build from there,” Stephanie Brookshier, RDN, ACSM-CPT tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
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!
If you work at a job that requires you to be chained to your desk all day, try switching things up and giving a trendy standing desk a shot. Simply standing while you toil away as opposed to sitting has been shown to contribute to weight loss. Bloomberg reports that researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that standing burns about 54 calories over a six-hour day, and although that might not sound like much, those calories accumulate quickly. At that rate, you can burn over 1,000 calories a month just by staying on your feet.
Common sense states if you want to lose weight, then you shouldn’t have a large meal not long before going to bed. And now we have additional research to back up that hypothesis. A study published in the journal Obesity followed two groups of overweight women with metabolic syndrome on identical 1,400-calorie weight loss diets for three months. While both groups consumed 500 calories at lunch, one group consumed 700 calories for breakfast and a 200-calorie dinner (the “big breakfast” group), while the other group ate 200 calories at breakfast and 700 calories at dinner (the “big dinner” group). Even though the nutrient content of the meals was exactly the same for both groups, after three months the big breakfast group lost about two and a half times more weight than big dinner group.
There’s some truth to the old adage that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day,” and if you’re looking to blast belly fat, what you eat at the start of each day can make all the difference. According to a study from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast may be the most important investment you can make for your waistline. The study showed that eating breakfast triggered women’s brains to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical that helps to control impulses. In other words, eating a balanced breakfast decreases your chances of reaching for that 3 p.m. candy bar and keeps your belly slim.
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.
Healthy midnight snacks are OK, but try not to graze in the window of time between breakfast and lunch. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found mid-morning snackers typically eat more over the course of a day than afternoon snackers. Furthermore, researchers found that dieters with the mid-morning munchies lost an average of 7 percent of their total body weight while those who did not snack before lunch lost more than 11 percent of their body weight.
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.
Beans can help boost feelings of fullness and manage blood sugar levels, making them an excellent ally in your weight loss battle. In fact, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils could contribute to modest weight loss.
New research from the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute has determined that the popular holiday spice can help fight obesity thanks to cinnamaldehyde, an essential oil that gives cinnamon its flavor. According to researchers, cinnamaldehyde improves metabolic health by acting directly on fat cells, inducing them to start burning energy via thermogenesis. To work cinnamon into your diet, try sprinkling some on oatmeal or sipping on cinnamon tea.
Decision fatigue is real, and it could be hindering your ability to shed some pounds. A study published in Social Science and Medicine found those who have high levels of what’s called “skill discretion”—i.e., they exercise control by getting things done themselves—tended to have lower BMIs. In contrast, those who are constantly deciding on courses of action for others may eventually come down with decision fatigue and make ill-informed choices, such as ordering that piece of cheesecake for dessert.
Though eating fats seems like a counterintuitive way to shrink your stomach, flat-belly-fats such as olive, canola, avocado, and walnut oils, and nut and seed butters (we like peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini) can help you slim down by helping you stay satiated.
The American Heart Association recommends that the amount of added sugar consumed in a day shouldn’t exceed 25 grams for women and 37.5 grams for men, but since the sweet stuff is in everything from bread to tomato sauce, most Americans aren’t adhering to those guidelines and they’re fatter for it. In a review of 68 clinical trials and studies, New Zealand researchers reported in the British Medical Journal that increasing sugar intake meant increasing body weight while reducing sugar meant reducing body weight. Additional research has shown that cutting back on the granular stuff is one of the fastest ways to lose weight.
As far as sugar goes, high-fructose corn syrup is the worst of the lot. The man-made substance is a combination of corn syrup (which itself is 100 percent glucose) and pure fructose, making it a unique nightmare for your waistline. In one study, researchers fed subjects beverages sweetened with either glucose or fructose. Though both groups gained the same amount of weight over a two-month period, the fructose group gained its weight primarily as belly fat because of the way this type of sugar is processed in the liver. To avoid the belly-bloating HFCS trap, make sure you look at nutrition labels carefully and ditch the processed snacks and fruit drinks.
If you just can’t shake those belly-bloating sugar cravings, try tyrosine—a building block of protein. It has been shown to prevent that yearning for the sweet stuff by encouraging the brain to release dopamine and another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine. In other words, eating more tyrosine (which can be found in eggs, spirulina, certain cheeses such as Parmesan, Gruyère, Swiss, and Romano, milk, sesame seeds, beef, and bacon) helps fend off those harmful sugar cravings that make your belly fat.
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!
While you may think you’re doing yourself and your waistline a favor by stocking up on sugar-free goodies, the well-meaning habit is likely doing more harm than good. In a 2012 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that those who drank diet beverages had higher fasting glucose, thicker waists, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, higher triglycerides, and higher blood pressure. In other words, sugar-free cookies, soda, and the like may seem like the healthier option, but they contribute to a bulging belly and negatively impact your health in multiple ways.
Meatless Monday is more than just an alliteration; it’s an easy way to drop a few pounds. Numerous studies have shown that those who eat the least amount of meat are less likely to be obese, have lower BMIs, and lower body fat levels. Though it’s perfectly fine to eat meat a few times a week, these high-protein foods tend to fill you up before you can work your way over to the veggies, which possess fat-fighting, waist-trimming powers. Try spotlighting just greens and healthy grains in your meals a few times a month.
If you need some Meatless Monday inspiration, look for veggies that contain less starch. In addition to being excellent sources of fiber, protein, and a host of other nutrients, healthy picks such as broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes can help combat fat. In fact, one Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study found that consuming more non-starchy veggies resulted in an impressive 17 percent decrease in visceral fat in overweight kids. Although you may be all grown up, it’s safe to assume that adding more veggies can help adults trim their fat, too.
In addition to being low in starch, bell peppers are also rich in vitamin C. The important nutrient has been shown to counteract stress hormones which trigger fat storage around the midsection. In other words, bell peppers act as a double belly-shrinking whammy! Veggies that pack a similar punch include zucchini, Brussels sprouts, and kale.
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.
Berries are more than just morsels of sweetness that you can toss on yogurt or work into a smoothie; they can help you lose weight, too! Raspberries pack more fiber and liquid than most other fruits, which boosts satiety. They’re a rich source of ketones, antioxidants that can make you slimmer by incinerating stored fat cells. And like other berries, raspberries are loaded with polyphenols, powerful natural chemicals that have been shown to decrease the formation of fat cells and eliminate abdominal fat. Not to be outdone, research suggests blueberries can also help blast away stubborn belly fat by engaging your get-lean genes. After a 90-day trial, University of Michigan researchers discovered rats that were fed a blueberry-enriched diet showed significantly reduced belly fat compared to those who skipped the berries.
While all fruits are healthy, a handful of them reigns supreme when it comes to frying fat and de-bloating your belly. University of Kentucky researchers found that eating watermelon can lower fat accumulation, while another group of great minds discovered that honeydew can banish water retention and bloating. Spend ten minutes chopping up these slimming fruits for the week ahead. Enjoy them solo as a snack, throw them into yogurt or add them to salads.
According to a study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, & Biochemistry , consuming apple cider vinegar each day can lead to weight loss, reduced belly fat, waist circumference, and lower blood triglycerides. More specifically, the study of obese Japanese participants found that those who consumed just one tablespoon of ACV over a three-month period lost 2.6 pounds, and those who consumed 2 tablespoons lost 3.7 pounds in the same time frame. Go ahead and toss a tablespoon or two of this calorie, fat, and sugar-free stuff in your next salad dressing, sauce, or smoothie.
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.
RELATED: Your guide to the anti-inflammatory diet that heals your gut, slows the signs of aging, and helps you lose weight.
Cilantro, though polarizing in terms of taste, contains a unique blend of oils that work much like over-the-counter meds to relax digestive muscles and alleviate an “overactive” gut. A study published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Science found that patients with IBS benefited from supplementing with cilantro as opposed to a placebo because their bellies weren’t as bloated.
Trans fats, which are typically found in processed foods with partially hydrogenated oils, should be avoided when buying, cooking, or ordering food because of the role they play in weight gain. As noted in the journal Obesity, these unhealthy substances have been found to pack on the belly fat in monkeys. As it turns out, they’re not great for humans either. “Trans fats cause inflammation in the body leading to insulin resistance and impairing the body’s ability to use glucose properly, resulting in excess fat storage around the belly,” says Tina Marinaccio, MS RD CPT in 50 Ways to Shrink Your Belly. Trans fats, which are created by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils, are beloved by manufacturers because they increase the shelf life of processed foods, but they are no friend to your waistline. “Trans fats may be lurking in any processed or fried food such as chips, baked goods, and even butter spreads,”Marinaccio warns.”To avoid them, check the ingredients for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.”
People tend to find one workout routine and stick to it but it’s important to switch things up every now and then, especially in terms of cardio. Instead of simply running or walking, try to vary your speeds as you go. Researchers at Ohio State University found that walking at varying speeds can burn up to 20 percent more calories compared to maintaining a steady pace, so get moving!
Sure, trampolines are built for kids, but as an adult, using one for rebounding is a great way to flatten your tummy and get rid of excess fat. “Not only is it a great cardio workout (which is the first step to tightening up your midsection) but it makes your core work like crazy so you are getting the cardio plus the toning: everything you need for a tight tummy!” explains Hope Pedraza, a Certified Personal Trainer through American College of Sports Medicine in 50 Ways to Shrink Your Belly. To get a comprehensive workout using a mini trampoline, Pedraza suggests jumping, lifting your knees up high, twisting, adding some light weights to move around while you’re jumping, and moving in all directions in different planes.
If you’d rather not channel your inner bunny, try dancing as a way to help shed fat on the body as a whole. “It is obviously a cardio workout, but because your body is forced to move in all different directions in different planes, it is making every single muscle in your body work,” Pedraza explains. “Similar to the benefits of a high-intensity interval training workout, you get the cardio plus toning benefit all in one.” Turn up the volume on your iPod and start moving!
Despite the common perception that you need to drop pounds slowly in order to maintain your weight loss, the exact opposite is true. In fact, you’re more than five times as likely to succeed in your long-term weight-loss goals if you start out of the gate by dropping pounds rapidly, according to a 2010 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine . To set yourself up for weight loss success, make sure you focus on diet and exercise.
Nothing beats breakfast in your PJs, but if you put a bit of effort into what you wear prior to chowing down, it could impact your physique. You can keep your goals front and center by dressing up before a meal, Clinical psychologist Katie Rickel tells us in If You Weigh Over 170 Pounds, Here’s What You Need To Do To Lose Weight. Showing that you care about your appearance is a great reminder to eat in a way that reflects that, whether you’re throwing on business attire or a pair of jeans.
In a 2015 study in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research , scientists instructed subjects to choose either a fruit salad or a chocolate cake, then eat and evaluate their snack. Those who ate the chocolate cake in the room with the mirror found it less appealing than those who didn’t have a looking glass nearby, but those who opted for the fruit salad reported no difference in taste. In other words, the presence of a mirror makes unhealthy foods less appealing. So hang one in your kitchen to discourage the consumption of cake and the like, and then use it to watch your waistline shrink each day!
Sunlight in the morning is good, the blue light emitted from your electronics at night is bad, and artificial light should be avoided whenever possible. In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that being exposed to artificial light leads to weight gain regardless of what you eat.
To help combat the negative impact of artificial light, try working close to a window. Researchers have discovered that those who sit near a window tend to be healthier than those who don’t. Per a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine , workers near a window got 46 more minutes of sleep a night on average, which is beneficial to weight loss, while workers who weren’t near a window had more sleep disturbances. Additional research has shown that those exposed to natural light during the workweek tended to be more inspired to get outside and exercise.
As far as spices go, saffron is one of the most expensive ones around, but it’s also a substance that preliminary research suggests can contribute to weight loss. According to a study published in the journal Antioxidants saffron extract may inhibit weight gain in a number of ways similar to how antioxidants function. The research suggests the colorful spice could decrease calorie intake by blocking dietary fat digestion, act as an antioxidant and suppress inflammation, suppress food intake by increasing satiety, and enhance glucose and lipid metabolism. Though scientists aren’t totally sure what makes saffron so weight loss friendly, they suspect it has something to do with crocetin and crocin—two antioxidant-rich compounds found in saffron that give it its distinct color.
The faster food gets from the farm to your plate, the higher its nutritional value, so, no matter the season, stay healthy by heading out to your neighborhood farmer’s market and stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. The walk around the market is a great way to elevate your heart rate a bit, and the beneficial finds can’t be beat. To make the most of your nutritionally-minded outing, keep an eye out for what’s in peak season whenever you go.
Since tomatoes can be grown indoors, they never really go out of season, making them a reliable weight loss staple to add to your diet. The tasty fruits have a high water content that will help keep you hydrated, and they’re also low in calories. What’s more? A study published in Nutrition Journal found that eight weeks of tomato juice consumption helps the body burn about an additional 100 calories per day—that adds up to around 3,000 calories a month!
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.
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.
While ketchup and BBQ sauce are frequently used to help flavor beef, chicken, and the like, the tasty condiments are no friend to your waistline. Ketchup, for example, typically contains around 19 calories and 4 grams of belly-bloating sugar per tablespoon, and BBQ sauce is just as unhealthy, if not worse. To avoid consuming empty calories and unhealthy added sugar, have condiments such as mustard and sauerkraut on hand. While mustard has been linked to revving your metabolism, fermented sauerkraut will help balance the bacteria in your gut.
We’ve already discussed how the color red may act as an appetite suppressant (hence the need for red dishes) but apparently that’s not the only color you should be taking note of as you prepare to eat. Per a recent study from Cornell University , diners actually serve themselves more food if the color of their food matches the color of their plate. In other words, if you’re eating from a white plate, you’re more likely to help yourself to more rice or pasta. Conversely, if your goal is to eat less, select plates that have high contrast with what you plan to serve for dinner.
In addition to coordinating with your dishes, the hues you surround yourself with while you chow down can impact your appetite. According to several studies, blue is an appetite suppressant. Scientists suspect this is because there aren’t many naturally-occurring blue-hued foods aside from blueberries and a handful of others. This behavior might also stem from our ancestors, who when foraging for food, stayed away from sources that were blue, black, and purple because they were believed to be poisonous. So buy some blue dishes, or freshen up your eating area with a blue tablecloth or placemats.
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.
Laughter may not be the best medicine for everything, but if you’re trying to slim down, feel free to let out a chuckle or two. According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, laughing can increase your basal energy expenditure and resting heart-rate by up to 20 percent, so go ahead and pull up an amusing YouTube video.
We’ve been clear on the benefits of wild salmon, but those pink creatures are quite literally not the only fish in the sea. Generally speaking, fish provide one of the best sources of fatty acids known as omega-3s, which will help fend off waist-widening inflammation and are an excellent source of high-quality, lean protein. This allows them to help you maintain muscle mass, thus reducing excess fat accumulation. Some of our favorite healthy seafood include mussels, Atlantic mackerel, and bluefish, but be sure to educate yourself on the ocean dwellers with this list of Every Popular Fish—Ranked for Nutritional Benefits!
Not only is pomegranate packed with fiber (which is found in its edible seeds) but it also contains anthocyanins, tannins, and high levels of antioxidants, which research published in the International Journal of Obesity says can help fight weight gain. A half-cup of the colorful fruit gives you 12 grams of fiber and more than half a day’s vitamin C. Snack on these fruits raw or toss ’em into a smoothie and you’re good to go!
Leaving the comforts of your gym can be difficult, but outdoor workouts have their own unique set of benefits. Research has shown that breaking a sweat outdoors may be more beneficial than burning calories inside. According to a study published in Environmental Science and Technology , exercising in a natural environment outdoors may improve energy levels and decrease stress more than working out indoors can.
As far as grains go, quinoa is a great one to have around if you’re looking to lose weight. It’s packed with protein and fiber, and contains approximately 220 calories per cup, cooked. What’s more? Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that offer a complete set of amino acids, meaning it can be converted directly into muscle by the body. It’s also incredibly versatile, and can be eaten as part of a salad, tossed in a smoothie, or on its own as a side dish.
In addition to researching avocado oil, the folks over at Penn State University conducted some research involving canola oil as well and discovered it can also stimulate weight loss. More specifically, researchers found that after one month of adhering to diets that included canola oil, participants had a quarter-pound less belly fat than they did before the diet. They also found that the weight lost from the mid-section did not redistribute elsewhere in the body. Like peanuts and avocados, canola oil’s belly-blasting abilities are thought to be a result of the monounsaturated fats it contains.
The CDC found that the average adult consumes about 100 calories worth of alcohol daily, but favoring a glass of wine instead of beer or sugary cocktails can drastically reduce that figure and make your waistline slimmer. Plus, wine is a healthy alternative for those who don’t want to give up booze entirely. In addition to having fewer calories than most alcoholic beverages, red wine in particular is a good source of those waist-shrinking flavonoids that are also found in red fruits. Resveratrol, a particular flavonoid found in red wine, is believed to have heart-healthy benefits because it helps prevent blood vessel damage and reduces your bad LDL cholesterol. Just remember to imbibe in moderation.
Coffee jumpstarts your metabolism, making the non-decaf stuff a worthy weight loss ally. According to a study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee was 16 percent higher than that of those who drank decaf. And remember, don’t ruin your fat-blasting cup of joe by adding any unhealthy creamers and/or artificial sweeteners to it, both of which are enemies of weight loss.
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.
Garlic may leave your breath smelling funky, but don’t let that stop you from incorporating it into your diet, especially since it can help you lose weight and keep you healthy. A 2016 study found that garlic powder reduces body weight and fat mass among people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Recent studies have also shown that garlic supports blood-sugar metabolism and helps control lipid levels in the blood. What’s more? Eating garlic can help boost your immune system, help ward off heart disease, fight inflammation, increase memory retention, and lower blood pressure.
Not only does zinc help protect you from the sun, but the element has also been shown to impact weight loss. One study found that obese people who consumed 30 milligrams of zinc per day—the equivalent of just six raw oysters—had lower BMIs, weighed less, and showed improvements in blood cholesterol levels. If oysters aren’t your thing, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and mushrooms are also excellent sources of zinc.
Cheese isn’t traditionally thought of as something you consume to encourage weight management, but calcium-rich Parmesan, when eaten in moderation, can help stave off sugar cravings that can easily lead to weight gain. How does that work, you ask? The native Italian cheese contains the amino acid tyrosine (remember that?) which has been shown to encourage the brain to release dopamine without any unhealthy insulin spikes. What’s more? The combination of calcium and protein present in dairy products such as Parmesan has been found to increase thermogenesis—the body’s core temperature—and thus boost your metabolism.
Calcium and vitamin C team up well to boost metabolism, and broccoli is just one of several healthy foods that contains both nutrients. What sets broccoli apart from the others, however, is that the green veggie also contains kind of fiber that’s been shown to increase the digestion, absorption and storage of food, also known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). A revved up metabolism combined with an increased TEF is a match made in weight loss heaven, so consider incorporating broccoli into a tasty stir-fry, or serving it as its own side dish.
Chances are you haven’t heard of lignans, but the plant compounds found in sesame and flax seeds been shown to play a crucial role in helping you stay slim and keep weight off. In a 2015 study, women who consumed high levels of lignans tended to weigh less and gain less weight over time when compared to women who didn’t consume these compounds in high amounts.
Spirulina is a high-protein seaweed supplement that’s typically dried and sold in powdered form. The dried stuff is about 60 percent protein, and, like quinoa, it’s a complete protein—deeming it a great weight loss tool. A tablespoon of the blue-green algae delivers 8 grams of metabolism-boosting protein for just 43 calories, plus half a day’s allotment of vitamin B12, which can encourage weight loss by giving you more energy and boosting your metabolism. Try tossing some spirulina into a smoothie and watch the pounds melt off.
If you find yourself craving something sweet during the day, ignore the impulse to eat a cookie and snack on a stone fruit instead. In addition to being more nutritious than a cookie, some stone fruits—plums, peaches, and nectarines—have been shown to help ward off weight gain. Studies by Texas AgriLife Research suggest the aforementioned fruits may help prevent metabolic syndrome, a fancy name for the combination of belly fat, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.
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.
Part of the weight loss puzzle has to do with fighting inflammation, and incorporating the spice turmeric into your diet is an excellent way to do that. Like a myriad of other spices, the Indian cooking staple contains anti-inflammatory compounds. In a 2015 study in the journal Clinical Nutrition , researchers gave 117 patients with metabolic syndrome either supplements of curcumin—the active ingredient in turmeric—or a placebo. Over eight weeks, those who received the curcumin saw dramatic reductions in inflammation and fasting blood sugar.
A study in the journal Cell found that our gut microbes are just as affected by changes to our circadian clock as we are. When we shift our sleep-wake cycles, our gut flora changes, and beneficial bacteria are replaced by the growth of bacteria that have been linked to obesity and metabolic disease. When traveling across different time zones, it’s important you travel armed with healthy, fiber-rich snacks your gut will love.
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.
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.
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.
Boredom isn’t just bad for your brain, it’s also bad for your waistline, especially if you’re trying to shed some pounds. According to a study in the Journal of Health Psychology , boredom actually strips you of your ability to make smart food choices; you become an “emotional eater,” What’s more, boredom turns you into the worst kind of emotional eater because you not only make the wrong food choices but also eat much more fattening foods than you normally would. To stave off boredom, try taking a walk or relaxing with a good book.
The next time you’re making a salad, why not throw some watercress in there? The green veggie is an excellent source of folate, which has been shown to stimulate weight loss. In fact, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those with the highest folate levels lose about 8.5 times more weight when dieting than those with the lowest levels of folate. What’s more? A separate study in the British Journal of Cancer found that higher dietary folate intake reduces breast cancer risk. In addition to watercress, other good sources of folate include spinach, asparagus, and papaya.
Tart cherries are grown exclusively in Michigan, but if you’re able to get your hands on them there is strong evidence to suggest they can help you achieve your weight loss goals. Need proof? Researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a 12-week study that found that rats fed tart cherries showed a 9 percent belly fat reduction over those fed a standard western diet. Scientists believe this is because tart cherries are especially high in anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid with strong antioxidant activity. These and other flavonoids found in tart cherries have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.
Believe it or not, weight loss isn’t just about exercising and eating right; research suggests what motivates you to get in shape can play a role in your success. A 2014 study in the journal Body Image looked at 321 college-age women and found that long-term, those who exercised primarily for appearance-based reasons had a harder time sticking to their fitness plans than those who worked out to maintain their health. In other words, stop envying those fit models on Instagram and instead remember that you and your loved ones are the people who really benefit when you slim down.
Finally decided to venture out for a run? Snack on some beets before you hit the pavement. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that runners who ate baked beets before a 5K race ran 5 percent faster. Researchers suspect this is because beets are high in nitrates, a natural chemical that increases endurance and lowers blood pressure.
Big-box stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club are great money-savers, but frequenting them to buy groceries can be bad news for your fitness goals. That’s because a 2015 study in the journal Appetite found that the larger the bottle, bag, or box the food comes in, the larger we think the serving size should be. To come to that conclusion, researchers surveyed more than thirteen thousand people and found that when confronted with larger packages of cola, chips, chocolate, or lasagna, the shoppers tended to want to serve themselves larger portions.
Just as big-box stores can be a psychologically tricky terrain for dieters, so to can healthy-sounding labels on the food that we eat. A Cornell University study printed in the Journal of Marketing Research suggests people eat more of a snack that’s marketed as “low fat.” Participants in the study ate a whopping 28 percent more M&Ms that were labeled “low fat” than when the colorful candies didn’t have the label. As we suggested earlier, avoid being fooled by simply opting for full-fat foods.
We’ve already established that friends and family play a key role in motivating you to get in shape and maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it’s also crucial for you to be your own driving force. Luckily, research has shown that doesn’t need to require a tremendous amount of effort. According to a 2015 study in the Journal of Marketing Research , subtle, even subliminal, messages may be more effective at helping us stick to a healthy eating regimen than ongoing, conscious focus. The research showed that people who receive reinforcing notes urging them to eat healthily were more likely to make smarter choices than those who tried to keep their goals top of mind at all times, so grab some Post-Its and start crafting motivational messages!
While having a scale in the house isn’t right for everyone, research has shown that it can help encourage weight loss by providing a level of accountability. When Cornell University researchers observed dieters who weighed themselves daily, they discovered that the routine of stepping on a scale helped those people lose more weight than those who weighed themselves less frequently. To avoid being thrown off by natural fluctuations in body weight, try stepping onto the scale the same time every day.
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.
One thing restaurants (and individuals) typically overdo it on when cooking is salt, and that can easily cause unhealthy bloating and weight gain. In fact, one British study found that for every additional 1,000 milligrams of sodium you eat a day, your risk of obesity spikes by 25 percent, so ditch the salt and stick to metabolism-boosting spices such as cayenne and mustard instead.
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.
Driving to work may be easy, but it’s also part of what’s inhibiting you from losing weight. According to a study in the British Medical Journal, those who drive to work gain more weight than those who take public transportation. Per the research, commuting by car slaps an extra 5.5 pounds on your body, whether you exercise or not. And a Japanese study found that people who take public transportation to work were 44 percent less likely to be overweight, 27 percent less likely to have high blood pressure, and 34 percent less likely to have diabetes. If possible, consider leaving the car in the driveway and walking, biking, or commuting to work via public transportation a few times per week.
Thanks to an increased interest in food and food trends, recipe videos are likely dominating your social media feeds. And their constant presence could be hindering your weight loss goals, especially since many of the brief clips spotlight unhealthy dishes and sweets. “The internet and social media sites are basically making you fat,” Lisa Hayim, MS, RD, and founder of The WellNecessities, told us in The 30 Worst Flat Belly Mistakes Women Make. “If it isn’t 25 ways to eat tater tots then it’s [another] national [something] day. The internet has made it basically impossible to stay away from cravings and indulgences. These are not excuses to eat unhealthy food.” Next time you see one of these videos, scroll quickly past. Or better yet, unfollow the page completely, and follow Eat This, Not That! on Facebook for healthier videos and more slimming tips.
When you’re done cooking, portion out just enough for your meal and pack the rest away. Putting your food away asap will not only keep it fresh for future meals but it will also deter you from mindlessly nibbling and eating more than the desired portion size. Same goes for when you’re dining out: Ask for a to-go box along with your meal, that way you can pack away the leftovers and aren’t tempted to overeat. When noshing on the leftovers at your next meal, you can also experiment with adding some additional fiber or protein to give the dish a nutritional boost.
When eating out or picking up a quick lunch on your break, ask for any sauce or dressing on the side. Though these emulsions often add flavor to a dish, they’re also frequently packed with empty calories, added sugar, and a whole host of other unhealthy stuff that makes shedding pounds that much harder. For example, just one three-tablespoon serving of Panera Bread’s Greek dressing has 230 calories. 3.5 grams of saturated fat, and 310 milligrams of sodium. By asking for the sauce or dressing on the side, you have more control over how much of it you eat, and you could easily save yourself a few hundred calories.
Speaking of dressing, you could even take it one step further and buck the suggested choice entirely. While we bet Panera’s Greek salad pairs well with a dressing of the same name, a splash of olive oil and vinegar will also bring out the flavors of the dish and save you a few hundred calories along the way. For a healthy, belly-blasting dressing when you’re eating salad at home, try incorporating some apple cider vinegar or a squeeze of lemon.
You may think hand sanitizer will zap germs and prevent you from getting sick, but it could also be making you fat. The germ-killing substance contains triclosan, which researchers have found to be an “obesogen,” meaning it could cause weight gain by disrupting your body’s hormones. A study published in the journal PLOS One found that people who had detectable levels of triclosan in their bodies were associated with a 0.9-point increase in their BMIs. Word to the wise for germaphobes looking to lose weight: Rely on good ol’ soap and water instead.
A review of more than 600 studies found that being married, and transitioning into marriage, are both associated with weight gain. Transitioning out of a marriage, however, is associated with weight loss. The researchers found that weight gain occurs because of increased opportunities for eating due to shared, regular meals and larger portion sizes, as well as “decreased physical activity and a decline in weight maintenance for the purpose of attracting an intimate partner,” Zero Belly Smoothies states. we’re hardly advocating staying single or getting a divorce (unless you choose to) this research clearly indicates that dieters need to be especially careful around the wedding day. To keep things in check after you take the plunge, meal prep with your partner or develop a workout routine together.
Even if you don’t typically order take-out, research suggests that just the mere presence of take-out food increases your risk of being overweight. One study printed in the British Medical Journal found that just having a lot of take-out options near your work or along your commute to work makes you twice as likely to be obese. Though you obviously have little control over what kind of establishments populate where you live and work, this is just another reason to practice healthy eating as often as you can.
Placing a bowl of fruit in your kitchen or on your dining room table does more than just add to the ambiance. As it turns out, studies have shown that taking a whiff of fresh green apples, bananas, and pears can help curb appetite and lessen cravings for sugary desserts. If it’s a no-go on the fruit bowl idea, try scented lotion instead.
Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is never a good idea because research has shown it inhibits your ability to make smart choices about what you wish to eat. In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that even short-term fasts can lead people to make more unhealthy food choices, picking a higher quantity of high-calorie foods. Fill up before you shop in an effort to avoid buying foods that won’t help you lose weight.
Of all the activities you can do in an effort to shed a few pounds, gardening is one of the most beneficial and relaxing options. Research conducted by the University of Utah shows that people who garden are about 11 to 16 pounds lighter than those who don’t, so throw on some gardening gloves and get to planting. For added weight loss benefits, consider planting herbs such as cilantro and mint, which combat bloating and suppress your appetite, respectively.
While you might not think there’s a huge difference between eating a whole piece of fruit and drinking fruit juice, nutritionally speaking, the two entities are most definitely not one and the same. Whereas whole fruit contains naturally occurring sugars and fiber that can help counteract the bad effects of too much sweet stuff, fruit juice is often loaded with added sugar (such as high-fructose corn syrup) and no fiber to speak of. According to a study led by Harvard School of Public Health researchers, eating more whole fruits, particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples, was significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, a greater consumption of fruit juices was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. To get the fruit flavor without all the bad stuff, try stirring up a batch of fruity detox water instead.
The benefits of chowing down on whole fruits are clear, and eating an apple each day can help prevent metabolic syndrome, a disorder associated with abdominal fat, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. The red or green fruits are a low-calorie, nutrient-dense source of fiber, which research has proven to be integral to reducing visceral fat. A study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great belly-blasting option for those who already feel comfortable in the gym because it helps you drop fatty tissue and build muscle simultaneously. “High-intensity interval training is when you perform an exercise at or close to your maximum ability for a short period of time and then take a brief respite and do it again. HIIT should usually be done on a 2:1 interval, meaning if you did an exercise for one minute, you rest for 30 seconds and then repeat,” explains Dr. Alex Tauberg, DC, CSCS, EMR in 50 Ways to Shrink Your Belly. To use HIIT to shrink your belly, do workouts that engage your core such as abdominal crunches or bridges. “By performing core workouts using a HIIT plan, you can burn calories and build muscle at the same time,” Alex adds. “This can be a great way to flatten that stomach when you don’t have too much time to work out.”
In addition to blasting belly fat, you should also be working out and trying to build up your muscle mass. Even when you’re at rest, your body is constantly burning calories, and the “resting metabolic rate” is much higher in people with more muscle. That’s because every pound of muscle uses about six calories a day just to sustain itself. If you can pack on just five pounds of muscle and sustain it, you’ll burn the caloric equivalent of three pounds of fat over the course of a year, and be even closer to obtaining that lean physique you’ve always wanted.
However, if a HIIT workout or piling on muscle mass seems too daunting, simply move for two-ish minutes to whittle your waistline. Why, you ask? Research printed in the journal Physiological Reports showed that people who did five 30-second bursts of max-effort cycling, followed by four minutes of rest, burned 200 extra calories that day. If you incorporate this technique into your workout routine just a few times per month, you can burn thousands of additional calories per year.
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.”
We’ve already extolled the benefits of green and black teas, but they aren’t the only brews that can help you get slim; research indicates goji tea is another winner. Lycium barbarum, the plant from which goji berries are harvested, boasts a slimming effect. In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, participants were either given a single dose of L. barbarum or a placebo after a meal. The researchers found that one hour after the dose, the goji group was burning calories at a rate 10 percent higher than the placebo group, and the effects lasted up to four hours. What’s more? Most goji teas are mixed with green tea, making the beverage a weight loss double whammy.
Napping may be an easy way to catch up on some missed shut-eye, but dozing off in the middle of the day does nothing to aid weight loss. In fact, research has found that people burn fewer calories when they sleep during the day and log their waking hours after the sun’s gone down. To come to this finding, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder studied 14 healthy adults for six days. For two days, study participants slept at night and stayed awake during the day, then they reversed their routines to mimic the schedules of night owls. When participants slept during the day, researchers found that they burned 52 to 59 fewer calories than they did while catching their Zzzs in the evening—likely because the schedule messed with their circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock that plays a major role in metabolism function. If your circadian rhythm is out of whack, a separate study by University of Colorado Boulder researchers suggested spending a weekend in the wilderness to get it back on track.
Though many believe chewing gum keeps you from mindlessly eating, the minty treat has its own drawbacks that can lead to a bigger belly. Not only does chewing gum cause you to swallow tummy-bloating air, many gums also contain sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol that can cause bloat. If you have to have something to chomp on, go for an organic variety like Glee gum or Simply gum instead. They’re still low-cal, but they don’t use those sweeteners that’ll make you puff up.
A paper-thin wrap may seem like a healthier, lower carb alternative to a sandwich, but don’t be fooled by appearances. Wraps are almost always loaded with calories, thanks to the fat that’s needed to make them pliable—and a large wrap can be the carb and calorie equivalent of four or five slices of bread. In other words, forget the wrap and go for a cold, open-faced sandwich instead. Your waistline will thank you.
You can avoid a mindless binge by adding visual traffic lights to your snack. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University gave one set of students a bowl of uniform yellow chips, while another group had their regular snack layered with differently colored chips. Students who had their snack segmented ate 50 percent less than those with a uniform bowl.
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!
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