Positively stay away from fast food. In addition to cooking everything in trans fat, fast food burgers, fries, and shakes (or burritos, mac 'n' cheese, or sandwiches) are whoppers when it comes to salt and sugar. They are essentially empty carbs, with no real nutrients to them. If you're serious about shedding those pounds and getting your weight back on the right path, you'll stay away from fast food.
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 trick to keeping your appetite in check is avoiding foods that make you lose control. That's tough to do when you're surrounded by mouthwatering choices everywhere you go, but Stice says that a technique called mindful resistance can help. "If you're tempted to have a scone with your coffee at Starbucks, instead of thinking about how delicious it will taste, tell yourself you'll get health benefits such as a smaller waist or a healthier heart from not having it," he says. "Doing this actually changes your brain by strengthening the area that helps you resist things and weakening the region that makes you think of treats as a reward."
Until then, *assuming* your goal is fat loss, you only need whatever amount of cardio that’s needed to ensure the optimal deficit is created. So if you’re not making it happen through you’re diet (by eating less calories), you’ll need more cardio. But if you ARE making it happen through (or at least partially through) your diet, you’ll need less cardio, or even none whatsoever.
“The one trick I use now, which I should have been using all along, is the make dinner a no-carb meal. I’ll do a vegan protein and vegetables, and no bread. I think carbs are important and good energy, but when I don’t eat them at night, I wake up and I feel like my belly’s flat first thing in the morning.” — Carrie Underwood, who lost 30 pounds of baby weight in less than a year
Like protein, fiber slows the rate at which your body plows through carb calories so you feel full for longer and maintain steadier blood sugar levels, one reason why research consistently links fiber intake to weight loss. That means fibrous whole grain bread tends to be a better choice than white bread and also explains why fruits, which contain fiber and valuable vitamins in addition to sugar, beat straight-up candy every time.
Add a cup of low-fat milk, a part-skim mozzarella stick, or a half cup of low-sodium cottage cheese to breakfast, and you may have a belly-busting win. While lots of research links calcium with lower body weights, results from a 2014 study suggest that calcium-containing foods may reduce waist circumference in those genetically predisposed to carrying weight in their midsection.
"Protein is great for fat loss. It helps build and preserve lean muscle tissue and can increase the amount of calories you burn. It’s also a great source of energy that helps you feel fuller for longer, so you’re less tempted to snack. Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, eggs, milk and chickpeas. And if you’re finding it difficult to avoid snacks that are high in carbohydrates, try substituting them for protein shakes or bars. Remember also to opt for the lean sources of protein because some sources can be high in saturated fat."
That sour cherry is pretty sweet when it comes to your health. The results of a study conducted at the University of Michigan found that rats given high-fat foods along with tart cherries ditched nine percent more body fat than those in a control group over just 12 weeks. Cherries are also a good source of antioxidant pigment resveratrol, which has been linked to reductions in belly fat, dementia risk, and lower rates of macular degeneration among the elderly.
We now know that this type of fat, called visceral fat, is metabolically active and churns out stress hormones like cortisol and inflammatory substances called cytokines that affect you body’s production of insulin. The result is worse than just being generally overweight; you’re looking at increased risks of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and even dementia.
2. Get Bitter about Food. Bitter greens like kale, arugula, mustard greens, collards and escarole are summer diet staples that aid in digestion and de-bloating. Bitter foods are also known to stimulate and support better digestion, as recently outlined in a study by the European Herbal and traditional Medicine Practitioners Association. These dark greens are low calorie (about 36 calories in a cup for greens), and are packed with vitamins and fiber that your body needs to stay lean. For instance, kale is high in iron (per calorie, it has more than beef!), vitamins A, C and K, is great for your liver and for lowering your cholesterol levels. Most bitter greens are also great anti-inflammatories, which can help fight bloating and get you down to your fighting weight.
Instead, these tips involve eating good-for-you foods, staying adequately hydrated, exercising for a reasonable amount of time, and breathing deeply -- all stuff that we should be doing anyway to help our bodies thrive in the midst of our stressful, busy, and emotionally exhausting lives (funny how these are the factors that contribute to a lot of weight gain in the first place). And while each tip is designed to make an impact on its own, combining a few of these can only help you lose weight more quickly.
3. Plan ahead. Everyone has their weak moments—situations where they find it tough to make healthy choices. Make a list of those occasions and settings where your diet tends to take a detour. No healthy lunch options at work? Pack your own. Devour everything in the fridge in the 10 anxious minutes after you walk in from work? Snack on the way home, and have a pre-cooked dinner that you can reheat right when you get home.
Studies have found that overweight people who ate a moderate-fat diet containing almonds lost more weight than a control group that didn’t eat nuts. Snacking once or twice a day is one of the ways to lose weight that helps stave off hunger and keeps your metabolism stoked. You can also pack up baby carrots or your own trail mix with the healthiest nuts you can eat, plus raisins, seeds, and dried fruit. If trail mix isn’t calling your name, try these healthy snacks for every craving.
You're more likely to stay slim if the view out your window includes hills, water, a park, or a street that leads to one of those things. In a North Carolina study, counties with more natural amenities, including mountains and lakes, had lower obesity rates. "It could be that there's something healing and calming about simply being outside," says Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, PhD, an assistant professor at East Carolina University. For instance, research has shown that people tend to be happier walking outdoors than inside. They also stride faster, yet feel less exertion, than they do on a treadmill. Not only that, hoofing it outside curbs cravings along with calories: In a study, regular chocolate eaters who took a brisk 15-minute stroll consumed about half as much of their favorite treat as those who didn't go for a walk. So take your workout outdoors. If your neighborhood isn't made for exercising, find a park nearby and head there as often as you can to bike, run, or hike.
Eat a variety of veggies every week. Each day, you should eat about 2 1⁄2 to 3 c (590 to 710 mL) of vegetables. Go for all the veggie groups, which include leafy greens, starchy vegetables, legumes, and red and orange vegetables. You don’t have to eat vegetables from each group every day, but you should consume a minimum amount of each group weekly.
Choose Liquid Calories Wisely. Sweetened drinks pile on the calories, but don't reduce hunger like solid foods do. Satisfy your thirst with water, sparkling water with citrus, skim or low-fat milk, or small portions of 100% fruit juice. Try a glass of nutritious and low-calorie vegetable juice to hold you over if you get hungry between meals. Be careful of alcohol calories, which add up quickly. If you tend to drink a glass or two of wine or a cocktail on most days, limiting alcohol to the weekends can be a huge calorie saver. /injects>