THE BEST WEIGHT LOSS TIPS OF ALL TIME
Losing weight is hard. Losing weight and then keeping it off is even harder. Case in point: 74% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, and weight loss is a $20 billion industry. All that said, if you’re trying to slim down, there’s no reason to lose hope. Plenty of studies show that lasting weight loss is not a myth. Work some of the 56 research-backed food, exercise, and lifestyle tips that follow into your routine, and watch the pounds start to come off.
EAT A BIG BREAKFAST
Yeah, yeah–you’ve heard a million times that you must start your day with a balanced breakfast. This advice bears repeating, however.
An Imperial College London study found that when people skipped breakfast, the reward centers in their brains lit up when they were shown pictures of high-calorie foods. That means if you skip breakfast, you’ll be more tempted by bad-for-you snacks later in the day.
What’s more, a 2013 study found that women who enjoyed a large morning meal had a larger drop in ghrelin, the hunger hormone, than those who ate a small breakfast.
FINISH BREAKFAST WITH SOMETHING SWEET
Wrap up your morning meal with dessert–yes, really. In a Tel Aviv University Medical Center study, one group had a 304-calorie breakfast with 10 grams of carbs, while the other group ate a 600-calorie breakfast with 60 grams of carbs, which included a small sweet, such as chocolate, a doughnut, a cookie, or cake. Halfway through the 8-month study, both groups had lost an average of 33 pounds per person.
At the end, however, the low-carb group regained 22 pounds, while the dessert group dropped an additional 15. Researchers say the dessert-eaters reported dealing with fewer cravings, and had a better chance of sticking to their calorie requirements for the rest of the day.
EAT 30 GRAMS OF FIBER A DAY
Try upping your fiber intake–it may work just as well as following a strict diet.
In an American Heart Association study, one group was instructed to follow a diet with strict nutrient goals and limits on calories, sugar, and saturated fat, while the other group was given one goal: consume 30 grams of fiber a day.
At the end of the 3-month study, both groups lost weight and improved their heart health, showing that losing weight may be as easy as filling up on more fiber.
WEAN YOURSELF OFF ANY BEVERAGE THAT’S NOT WATER, TEA, OR COFFEE
Sodas and juices are essentially liquid candy: They contain up to 18 teaspoons of sugar and upwards of 240 calories per 20-ounce serving, and provide zero nutritional value.
Experts point to soda as one of the top contributors to the obesity epidemic. Diet drinkers aren’t off the hook, either. A study in the journal Obesity found that diet soda drinkers were more likely to have a high percentage of fat in their bellies. Researchers believe diet drinkers may overestimate the calories “saved,” and then overeat.
STOCK YOUR FREEZER WITH VEGGIES
Fresh, in-season produce gives you the biggest nutritional boost, but frozen veggies come in a close second. Very shortly after being picked, these fully ripe veggies are frozen, allowing them to lock in many of their nutrients. Having a stash of veggies in your icebox makes healthy eating on the fly oh-so-easy–and reduces the chance you’ll order in a pizza.
REDUCE YOUR MEAT INTAKE
Vegetarians are generally thinner and healthier than meat-eaters, according to a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics.
While going totally vegetarian may not be realistic for you, one way to slim down your meals is to replace some meat with plant protein. Black beans, for example, give you 15 grams of protein per serving, and mushrooms are rich in umami flavor, and can be used to replace half the ground beef in most recipes.
MAKE DAIRY A DO
A dairy-rich diet loads you up with calcium and vitamin D, nutrients that help build muscle–and boost your metabolism as a result. Plus, the hormone calcitriol helps conserve calcium for stronger bones while instructing your fat cells to convert less sugar to fat and burn more body fat.
PUMP UP YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE (BUT NOT TOO MUCH)
Women need about 46 grams of protein a day (56 for men), and it’s important to hit that goal if you want to keep your weight in check. Your body needs more time and energy to digest protein than fat or carbs, so you feel full for longer and also burn more calories absorbing the nutrients in the process.
That said, you don’t want to OD on protein, either–if you have too much, the excess gets stored as fat.
DRINK BLACK COFFEE
Your morning java jolt doesn’t just wake you up. Having a cup of coffee may also jumpstart your metabolism by 12% for 3 hours, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Just don’t overdo it–experts recommend no more than 3 cups a day for the average woman.
MEASURE OUT YOUR WINE
A heavy-handed pour will negate any of the health benefits you get from sipping a glass of wine. One serving of wine racks up 125 calories, and many of today’s fishbowl-sized glasses hold three servings. (For the math-challenged, that’s 375 calories–the size of a small meal.) Here, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD demonstrates how to pour the perfect serving of wine.
SNACK ON PISTACHIOS
Foods that require peeling, shelling, or individual unwrapping–like pistachios–force you to slow down your eating, and may help you consume less overall. Plus, a 1-ounce serving of pistachios provides 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber for just 159 calories.
BEWARE OTHER BOOZE-RELATED CALORIES
A single serving of beer, wine, or spirits clocks in at about 125 calories, and it’s obvious that those calories can add up if you overindulge. Thing is, it doesn’t end there.
Ever notice that during a night of drinking, a plate of chicken wings or nachos suddenly appears in front of you? A recent study published in Obesity helps explain why. Researchers found that alcohol makes women’s brains more sensitive to the smell of food, leading them to eat more.
HAVE A MUFA AT EVERY MEAL
Fearing all fat is a thing of the past. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) actually help you lose weight, not gain it. When researchers asked women to switch to a 1,600-calorie diet high in MUFAs, they lost a third of their belly fat in just 4 weeks. Sprinkle a handful of nuts on your salad, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over steamed veggies, or mash a quarter of an avocado onto your breakfast toast.
WATCH OUT FOR ADDED SUGAR
You’re probably eating more sugar than you realize. The average person takes in 22 teaspoons of sugar a day–more than three times the amount suggested by the American Heart Association.
The white stuff is added to foods that don’t even taste sweet, such as breads, condiments, and sauces. Read food labels carefully: ingredients are listed in the order of how much is in the food, so if sugar is near the top, put it back on the shelf.
STOCK UP ON CANNED TUNA
This pantry staple is a dieter’s dream food. A 3-ounce serving racks up an impressive 25 grams of satiating protein for just 157 calories. Use it to beef up salads or pasta dishes, or pair it with a few crackers for a healthy snack that will keep you full until your next meal.
DON’T SKIMP ON SPINACH
Spinach and other dark leafy greens are rich in magnesium, which regulates more than 300 functions in the body. A 2013 study revealed that people who consumed more magnesium had lower blood sugar and insulin levels, which can play a role in weight.
FILL UP ON FISH
The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, tuna, herring, and other fish may help amp up your body’s fat-burning power. These heart-healthy fats balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation, which helps regulate metabolism.
HAVE SOUP BEFORE YOUR SANDWICH
In a 2007 study published in Appetite, people who ate soup before the rest of their lunch reduced their total calorie intake by 20%. The type of soup didn’t matter in the study–all kinds led to consuming fewer calories. That said, your best bet is a broth-based, veggie-heavy soup for an extra dose of fiber. Try this recipe: Chicken-Noodle Soup With Spinach
PAIR PROTEIN AND FRUIT
Apples, bananas, strawberries–they’re all good for your body and your waistline. But to take this snack from good to great, pair it with a bit of protein to make it more satisfying.
An apple and cup of skim milk is one easy option that provides 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber for 200 calories. Half an avocado filled with 2 ounces of cottage cheese is another 200-calorie fruit-and-dairy combo that fills you up with 9 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.
SWAP WHITE BREAD FOR WHEAT
Better yet, replace all refined grains with whole. People who eat a lot of whole grains are more likely to keep their weight down than those who eat refined grains. In one study, women whose diets contained the most wheat germ, brown rice, dark bread, and popcorn had a 49% lower risk of major weight gain over time.