A commonly overlooked obstacle to eating better (and losing weight) is sleep. While sleep needs vary, according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults require seven to nine hours a night. Unfortunately, two-thirds of people report experiencing sleep problems at least a few nights a week, with women more prone to sleep problems than men. A review study that looked at 36 studies on sleep and weight gain found short sleep duration was independently linked to weight gain. Studies show the fewer minutes you spend asleep, the more likely you are to feel hungrier and make poor food choices the next day. Make sure you’re getting enough Zzzzs to reap the rewards of your weight loss efforts.
“Use a VersaClimber or take a VersaClimber class. These machines are still not that common, but in my opinion they are far more effective for weight loss than other forms of cardio. They require you to use a large portion of your muscles and it’s functionally better for you than other forms of cardio like spinning. Everyone is talking about Rise Nation in LA at the moment as they are the first dedicated VersaClimbing studio. There’s no harder cardio workout I have tried. To lose fat you have to put in the work. — Dan Roberts, celebrity trainer and creator of Methodology X
The problem is that when you rely on exercise alone, it often backfires, for a couple of reasons. This is partly because of exercise’s effects on the hunger and appetite hormones, which make you feel noticeably hungrier after exercise. “If you walk briskly for an hour and burn 400 kcal,” says Klein, “and then have a beer and a slice of pizza afterwards because the exercise made you feel hungry…you will eat more calories than you have burned.” It may not always be beer and pizza, but people do tend to naturally compensate for the calories they expend.
As you age, it’s especially important not to become complacent about including too many treats in your diet, studies show. People who gained a moderate amount of weight (5 to 22 pounds) before the age of 55 increased their risk of premature death, chronic diseases and decreased the likelihood of achieving healthy aging. And the higher the weight gain, the greater risk of chronic diseases.
5. Increase Protein and Fiber - It is not about just reducing your calorie intake! Know the difference between eating right and eating less! Reduce the fat and carbohydrate content in your food, increase the proteins and fibres. Carbohydrates are not totally bad for you. Here are some examples of fiber: apples, broccoli, asparagus, strawberries, any fruit, any vegetable, oatmeal, whole grains, etc. The carbs you want to avoid are the ones that turn straight into sugar, like white bread, white rice etc.
Food journaling may not sound sexy, but time and time again research proves that it works. In fact, according to a study from Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research, keeping a food diary can double a person's weight loss. “Without this tool, many people forget the snacks and bites taken while standing, preparing food for others or munching in the car. Over time these unrecognized snacks can lead to several extra pounds gained per year,” says Gueron. If you’re not the pad and paper type, Ansel recommends keeping a running journal on your smartphone or trying an app like MyFitness Pal or Lose It.
The final possible culprit behind stubborn weight issues may be the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol will increase hunger levels, bringing along subsequent weight gain. The most common cause of elevated cortisol is chronic stress and lack of sleep (see tip #10), or cortisone medication (tip #9). It’s a good idea to try your best to do something about this.
At breakfast, go ahead and drink orange juice. But throughout the rest of the day, focus on water instead of juice or soda. The average American consumes an extra 245 calories a day from soft drinks. That’s nearly 90,000 calories a year—or 25 pounds! And research shows that despite the calories, sugary drinks don’t trigger a sense of fullness the way that food does.
This exercise will help you increase the strength of the muscles along the lower back and gluteus. In order to perform this exercise, Lie on your stomach and gently raise your legs and upper body at the same time. Always keep your head straight in this position. Hold it there for 2 – 3 seconds and repeat it for 10 – 12 times daily to increase your leg power.
… that lists sugar, fructose, or corn syrup among the first four ingredients on the label. You should be able to find a lower-sugar version of the same type of food. If you can’t, grab a piece of fruit instead, especially if you show signs you’re eating too much sugar. Look for sugar-free varieties of foods such as ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and these other foods with way more sugar than you realize. Also, avoid partially hydrogenated foods, and look for more than two grams of fiber per 100 calories in all grain products. Finally, a short ingredient list means fewer flavor enhancers and empty calories. Sounds impossible, but you can actually learn how to give up sugar without missing it.
“Stepping on the scale frequently makes you aware of small changes and helps you quickly react to those changes. The National Weight Control Registry, a large group of people who have successfully lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for 5 years, found that successful ‘losers’ weigh themselves often and make adjustments accordingly. When you begin to understand that sodium, carb intake, hormones and alcohol intake can impact weight and that it isn’t possible to gain 2 pounds of fat overnight, you will begin to better understand your body. The key is to pay attention to overall trends; don’t obsess over day-to-day numbers! — Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, food and nutrition expert
Who doesn’t want a flat belly, stat? Yet hours of crunches, cardio, and super strict dieting aren’t realistic—or a whole lot of fun—for many of us. Luckily, it is possible to flatten your belly and look slimmer almost immediately. “Your stomach is the one part of your body that reacts quickly to dietary changes—good and bad. If you want to look thinner fast, avoid gassy veggies, chewing gum, salt, carbonated beverages, and any foods with sugar alcohols,” says Erin Palin ski, RD and certified personal trainer. These foods will lead to water retention and bloating, she explains. If you normally eat three larger meals a day, Palin ski recommends cutting those portions in half and eating smaller meals every two to three hours.
"Refined grains like white bread, crackers, and chips, as well as refined sugars in sweetened drinks and desserts increase inflammation in our bodies," says Patton. "Belly fat is associated with inflammation, so eating too many processed foods will hinder your ability to lose belly fat." Natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are full of antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may therefore actually prevent belly fat, Patton says.
The options for spin today are growing to be more intense and more entertaining at that, with options like SoulCycle, Flywheel, CYC fitness, and your local gym’s trusty spin class. Locking into a bike will not only skyrocket your fat burn, but the pack mentality may cause you to work harder in an effort to keep up with and surpass your fellow riders. “I definitely would put spinning up there as one of the best fat-burning workouts. First of all, you have that great social scene and music coming together [to boost drive and motivation]. Weight training can sometimes be boring alone, but adding spinning makes things more interesting,” says White. Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Department of Preventive Medicine found that when you work out with others, you’re more likely to enjoy your sweat session. When you enjoy something, you’re more likely to stick to it long-term. It’s a simple concept, but when it comes to losing belly fat it’s particularly important because fat loss is a marathon, not a sprint.
Try interval training. Interval training is where you do really intense activity for only a short period of time, and then moderate or light intensity work for the majority of the time. Scientists have found, in several studies, that people who do interval training actually end up exercising for shorter periods of time and burning more calories than people who go at medium intensity for their whole workout.
As the obesity rate is expected to hit 50% by 2030, many health gurus say the best approach is a low-sodium, low-fat diet that mostly includes fresh fruit and vegetables, and the warn that variety only serves as a temptation. Americans should consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day, the Centers for Disease Control recommends, but most people don’t.
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.
“It’s far more difficult to eat a healthier diet and fit in exercise if you don’t plan ahead. Plan out your meals for the week ahead and go grocery shopping over the weekend to ensure you have the ingredients you need on hand. If you can, do some meal prep in your down time—cut fresh veggies, marinate your protein, cook up a batch of whole grains in advance. When you’re prepared you’re far less likely to order takeout. — Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, culinary-nutrition consultant and founder of Nutritioulicious
This is one of the hardcore exercises that targets leg power. The first thing you need to do in this exercise is to balance on your left leg and lean forward at the waist by keeping your body straight. Now extend your right leg towards the ceiling. You should maintain a slight bend in your left knee. Then raise your upper body to the initial position. Repeat it a few times for a better workout. If you found this balancing difficult, hold your back leg for support initially.
You already know to get your dressing on the side because restaurants tend to drown salads with too much. (Learn more ways a salad can make you fat.) But instead of pouring it on or even dipping the leaves in, do the “fork dip.” Stick the tongs of an empty fork into the dish of dressing before skewering any salad. You’ll be surprised by how much flavor you’ll get, but with way fewer calories. Next, check out some more weird ways to lose weight that sound odd, but totally work.
Squats are really great exercises for your buttocks and legs. Squat is a position in which you couch or sit with knees bent close to the heels with your thighs parallel to the floor. It is a full body work out that primarily targets hips, thighs and buttocks. If you find this exercise routine difficult then try the same sitting on a chair and standing up, now repeat this process a number of times to tone your body and provide some benefit to it.
A study published in the Journal of Physiological Behavior found that we tend to eat more when we eat with other people, most likely because we spend more time at the table. But eating with your significant other or your family, and using table time for talking in between chewing, can help cut down on calories. Don’t miss these other tricks to start eating better in just one day.
When Tufts University researchers studied the waistlines and diets of 459 people, they found that even in men of similar age and activity level, those who ate white bread frequently weighed more than those who didn’t. “The calories from white bread and refined grains just seem to settle at the waistline more than calories from other foods,” says Katherine Tucker, Ph.D., the study author.
Capsaicin, the compound in chili peppers that makes them hot, may speed up your metabolism, according to a study in Physiology & Behavior. Researchers say capsaicin activates your sympathetic nervous system, and that the effect on metabolism can last for more than 4 hours after eating. For recipe ideas, check out this beginner's guide to herbs and spices.
Repeat after us: It’s time to start eating clean. She recommends a combination of veggies, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, low-fat dairy and lean protein like poultry, eggs and fish for a dose of omega-3 fatty acids. And drop the added sugar while you’re at it. “Studies show that when you have a diet rich in whole grains — and calorie-controlled — that you can reduce the belly fat,” she says. But remember to watch your portions, too. “A lot of people eat very healthy and don’t eat junk, but their portions are too large.”
Conversely, the more food in front of you, the more you’ll eat—regardless of how hungry you are. So instead of using regular dinner plates that range these days from 10 to 14 inches (making them look empty if they’re not heaped with food), serve your main course on salad plates (about 7 to 9 inches wide). Instead of 16-ounce glasses and oversized coffee mugs, return to the old days of 8-ounce glasses and 6-ounce coffee cups. Try these other tricks for eating in moderation.
You don't really want dessert, but your friends are having some, and they're urging you to join them. So you give in and order a piece of tiramisu. Sorry to say it, but you've just committed sociotropy, aka people pleasing, a behavior that can make you gain weight. In a recent study, women and men who regularly experienced negative emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger, and were impulsive and disorganized, tended to be heavier than those who were more even-keeled. "Women score slightly higher than men on people-pleasing measures," says Julie Exline, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University. That may be because guys are raised to be assertive while women are socialized to value relationships and "basically to be nicer," Exline explains. In other words, we're inclined to go along with what the rest of the group wants to do, which includes digging into the tiramisu after dinner. If you feel pressured to pig out, "tell your friends politely but firmly that you're fine with what you have and that you're not hungry for more right now," Exline advises. Hold your ground and your pals will get the message.
Add another belly fat-fighting component to your meal by packing in protein-rich foods. In a Danish study of 60 men and women, those following a diet that included 25% of calories from protein lost nearly twice as much fat after 6 months than those eating a diet with 12% protein. Include a serving of lean protein with each meal and snack—eggs for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch, low-fat or fat-free yogurt or milk for a snack, and grilled fish and vegetables for dinner.
Want to lose that belly fat? In your dreams! Seriously, though: a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to get rid of that extra fat around your waist for good. Among the 60,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, those who snoozed for fewer than five hours a night were at the greatest risk of becoming obese and gaining 30 or more pounds over the course of the 16-year study period when compared to those who slept for seven or more hours.