On the face of it, skipping meals seems like a path to losing weight — if you don’t eat as much, you’ll drop fat. But in practise, it doesn’t work out like that. A 2015 study from Ohio State University found that skipping meals messes up your metabolism and your hormones (specifically insulin), which results in an increased likelihood of abdominal weight gain. Researchers recommended eating several small meals throughout the day as opposed to one or two big ones.
Since it was established in 1994, The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) in the United States, has tracked over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. The study has found that participants who’ve been successful in maintaining their weight loss share some common strategies. Whatever diet you use to lose weight in the first place, adopting these habits may help you to keep it off:
1. Bicycle Crunches are a great ab exercise and work the abs from every angle. It’s a combination of the regular crunch, a side-to-side motion that hits the oblique muscles and a reverse crunch that targets the lower abs. You can change the difficulty level by increasing or decreasing the range of motion used and the speed of movement as well as the intensity of the crunch by holding and squeezing.
6. Fast once a week: While regularly underfeeding your body completely messes with your hormone balance, there’s sufficient research to suggest that intermittent fasting (IF)—or going without any food for set intervals—can actually help your insulin sensitivity and burn more fat. Researchers at LSU, for example, found that when people fasted all day, every other day, their fat oxidation increased and they actually lost 4 percent of their body fat in just 22 days. There are a lot of ways to go about IF, from fasting for 12 to 16 hours every day, to going 24 hours once a week. (Learn more about it here.)
The popular "flat belly diets"embrace much of the wisdom found in eating a Mediterranean diet, which helps everything from brain health to hearth health. The basic premise for both diets is eat foods rich in monosaturated fatty acids (MUFA) that may help reduce your belly fat storage. MUFA-rich foods include olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocodos, and fish. Eating yogurt regularly has also been found to be helpful in reducing belly fat.
Fast forward to our second wedding (we were both previously married to less than fit minded partners), two new jobs, new city, new house, new life - racing took a back burner but Lee and I continued to run together, swim occasionally and he finally took up cycling. We would go to the gym together or separate so I could body pump or spin, and I picked up barre, but the nutrition was waning since my mind thought I was still on a pass but my body wasn't agreeing. 3 years after working from home and a reduced "training" schedule, half my wardrobe no longer fit. A clear sign something needed to change. Add on turning 39 and that photo from our first 1/2 marathon that kept reminding me we needed to shape up.
Going for a jog before a night out is a great way to crush calories, but if you strength train, you’ll continue to fry fat post-workout. To maximize the afterburn, do “weight-bearing exercises involving the most muscle mass,” such as mountain climbers, push-ups, and lunges, advises Len Kravitz, PhD, program coordinator of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.
During low-intensity workouts like steady-state cardio, your body realizes the demand for energy isn’t urgent, so it taps into fat metabolism. The fats in your body (which contain vastly more energy than carbs) exist as triglycerides that float through your bloodstream and hang out within adipose or fat tissue. Because fat offers a slow-and-steady stream of energy, you’ll feel like you can sustain that effort for a long time, says Alex Zimmerman, CSCS, Los Angeles-based director of Equinox’s Tier X program.
Useful goals should be (1) specific; (2) attainable (doable); and (3) forgiving (less than perfect). "Exercise more" is a great goal, but it's not specific. "Walk 5 miles every day" is specific and measurable, but is it doable if you're just starting out? "Walk 30 minutes every day" is more attainable, but what happens if you're held up at work one day and there's a thunderstorm during your walking time another day? "Walk 30 minutes, 5 days each week" is specific, doable, and forgiving. In short, a great goal!
The easiest way to cut calories? Eliminate excess dietary fat—meaning no butter, oils, or salad dressings (low-fat or fat-free dressings are OK); remove the skin from chicken; substitute egg whites for most of your whole eggs; avoid whole-milk dairy products; and ditch marbled red meats such as rib-eye for lean cuts such as flank. Keep some healthy fats in your diet, such as salmon, mixed nuts, peanut butter, and avocados.
“Poor sleep quality or quantity can make it difficult to lose or even maintain your weight,” says Darria Long Gillespie, MD, a clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at The University of Tennessee. When you are sleep deprived, your body becomes less sensitive to the effects of leptin, the hormone that usually signals that you’ve had enough to eat. At the same time, the amount of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, increases, so you want to eat more. Together, it’s a recipe for overeating.
Eating sugary foods might be satisfying in the moment, but they can increase your cravings for more sugary foods in the future — and that only leads to trouble. "Many foods high in added sugar are also higher in calories and fill you up less than lower-calorie, still-sweet alternatives like fruit," says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. But there are still ways to satisfy your sweet tooth without ODing on sugar. "When you're baking, cut out some of the sugar in recipes by adding in vanilla extract or cinnamon, blend unsweetened cocoa powder into a smoothie instead of honey, top your French toast with unsweetened frozen fruit instead of syrup, and nosh on a slab of watermelon instead of cookies."
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These are essential fatty acids you have to get from food or supplements because your body cannot produce them. Since you'll be reducing fat early in your dieting phase, supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids will make sure you get the essential fats you need to optimize your recovery, heart health, and cognitive function. Research suggests regular omega-3 fatty acid consumption can even enhance fat loss, as long as you're eating and exercising properly.
If losing weight is your 2019 resolution, you may be priming yourself to fail just by labeling it as such. That's because almost 80% of resolutions are kaput by February. A big part of why they’re unsuccessful is due to mental whiplash. In December, everyone is saying, "Gorge on cookies and cheese plates and eggnog!" But come January 1st, all of a sudden it's "DIET! DETOX! CLEANSE!"
Your body needs protein to maintain lean muscle. In a 2006 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers argued that the current recommended daily intake for protein, 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, is woefully inadequate for anyone doing resistance training and recommend that women get between 0.54 and 1 gram per pound of body weight. (If you want to lose weight, use your goal body weight as your guide.)
Usually work out for 30 minutes? Exercise for a third of that—but go hard! "An intense 10 minutes jump-starts your metabolic furnace and equals about 20 or 30 minutes at a moderate intensity," says Jordan Metzl, MD, author of Dr. Jordan Metzl’s Workout Prescription. If you can’t spare the full 10 minutes, you can sweat for even less time: According to a 2013 study from Colorado State University, exercising for just 2 ½ minutes at a high intensity (think running or biking sprints) can help you burn 200 more calories over the rest of the day.
2. Eat smaller meals more frequently: “Insulin is probably the single most important factor that contributes to fat storage,” Seedman explains. This hormone is activated when you eat and responsible for shuttling nutrients into cells, either fat or muscle. A quick biology lesson: Every time you eat a meal, your blood glucose spikes, and when this goes up, so do your insulin levels. More calories at once means a larger spike in both. When these levels are sky high, it signals to your body to put nutrients into fat cells instead of muscle, causing an accumulation of fat, Seedman explains. The same thing happens when your insulin stays elevated for a prolonged period of time, which is why it’s important to let yourself become hungry before eating again, he adds. Aim for five to six meals throughout the day.