Still not convinced to make sleep a priority? A lack of sleep doesn't only affect how much and which food you eat, but also how it metabolizes that food. Insufficient sleep messes with your metabolism by making your body more insulin resistant—a condition that usually leads to diabetes and weight gain—according to a 2012 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. (And, get this, it even changes your fat cells.)
Meal prepping takes a few hours a week, but it's worth it: By getting your meals ready ahead of time, you won't be so tempted to order your go-to Chinese takeout when you're tired and hungry after work. "When you plan an entire week of dinner in advance, you're way less likely to go off course and indulge in foods that aren't good for you," says Pamela Salzman, a certified holistic health expert and cooking instructor. And since you planned things out, you'll actually get the protein, fruit, and veggies your body needs — and you'll lose weight in the process.
Grilling coaxes sweet-savory depth from endive and red onion in this delicious vegetarian side dish. Fresh figs lend a bright, jammy acidity in the summer, but don't hesitate to use dried come winter. Leave the root ends attached when trimming your onions and endive, so they hold together and don't slip through the grill grates. Serve as a salad, or eat alongside grilled chicken, steak, salmon, seared scallops or whole roasted fish.
The term “diet” simply refers to food and drink that is regularly provided or consumed. However, it can also refer to eating or drinking sparingly or according to a prescribed set of rules. A diet may be considered healthy or unhealthy, often depending on individual needs. An unhealthy diet is often referred to as a fad diet, which is designed to help one lose weight and is temporarily popular. The decision to follow a fad diet is often made without the support or recommendation of a medical professional, and considered an unhealthy practice. An example of a fad diet might include recommendations that severely restrict calories or even entire food groups in an unhealthy way. Cleanses, juice diets, and detoxification diets are all examples of fad diets. Although many fad diets promise quick weight loss, most are not recommended for long-term use and do not support a healthful and balanced diet. Though many individuals may lose weight initially, it is often easily regained. At two-year follow-ups, research demonstrates a very low success rate for many of these diets. In fact, only 5% of the individuals who go on a diet each year keep off the weight that they lose.
There are many approaches to weight loss and there is no set ideal method that works for all people, which is why so many different diets and exercise regimens exist. While some methods are more effective for each individual person, not all weight loss methods are equivalent, and studies suggest that some approaches are healthier than others. That being said, one of the most commonly effective weight loss methods is counting calories. In its most basic form, calories consumed minus calories expended will result in weight gain if the result is positive, or weight loss if the result is negative. However, this is far from a comprehensive picture, and many other factors play a role in affecting healthy, sustainable weight loss. For example, there exist conflicting studies addressing whether or not the type of calories or foods consumed, or how they are consumed, affects weight loss. Studies have shown that foods that require a person to chew more and are more difficult to digest result in the body burning more calories, sometimes referred to as the thermic effect of food. While the increase in burned calories may be marginal, foods that are more difficult to digest such as vegetables generally tend to be healthier and provide more nutrients for fewer calories than many processed foods.
“Everyone has something that’s going to be more meaningful to them, so you have to figure out what is it that’s going to drive you to actually do it. Is it time saving? Is it cost saving? Is it the ability to make things simple [so that] you don’t need to think about it?” says Delaney. “To sit down on a Sunday and think about planning takes time. How am I justifying that time? Well if I add up the cost savings and the time savings throughout the week, it may have only taken me an hour on a Sunday, but during the week without having to think about it, I just saved five hours. If you do the math, it’s worth it. You’re also giving yourself back some mental space. So instead of waking up in the morning and winging it, now you have some sort of routine so you can feel more in the present and not consistently worrying about what’s coming next.”
Giancoli also recommends finding a diet that fits in with how you really live. She notes that if you enjoy going out to eat but try to commit to a diet that forbids you from ever going to a restaurant, you’re just going to cheat. “It’s not sustainable… You’re most likely going to have a healthier meal if you’re going to cook yourself, but you’re depriving yourself of that social interaction if you never go out.” To put it another way: Your eating practices shouldn’t isolate you or keep you from having fun.
“Whether it’s an app or paper food logs, tracking what you eat will certainly be eye-opening. Almost everyone consumes more than they think. Write everything down as soon as you’re done eating so you don’t forget anything. The simple act of recording what you eat will make you eat less. When the calories are in your face, it makes you think twice!” — Martha McKittrick, RD, CDE
Real talk: It could take weeks or months to see the metabolic effects of exercise on the scale, and even then, building muscle, which is denser than body fat, could lead to weight gain. “Do what you like because it’s good for you,” Dr. Seltzer says, noting the way exercise is awesome for your heart, mental health, and more—and that not all measure of progress can be seen on the scale.
Just 10 extra pounds add 40 pounds of pressure on your knees and other lower body joints. That can wear them out quicker. Extra fat can also cause inflammation -- when chemicals in your body damage your own tissues over time, including your joints. Losing even a little weight can ease these effects. If you keep it off, you’re much less likely to get arthritis later in life.