Are you like Old Faithful when it comes to your morning walk or evening jog? Know this: The more you do an activity, the more your body adapts to it, so you burn fewer calories. If you want to light a fire under your metabolism, consider cross-training. For example, if you normally walk, try biking instead. "Since you're not used to working all those different muscles, it's a more intense workout, which can translate into a greater metabolic after-burn because your body is working harder to recover and get oxygen to all your tissues," says Carol Espel, M.S., an exercise physiologist for Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York City.
If you have weight to lose, you can effectively do a fourteen-pound weight loss in four weeks. This requires focus and physical, mental, and emotional willpower. You will experience short-term stress (particularly during your cycle if you’re a woman)—but this can end up being less stressful than living with the stress of excess weight. Please keep in mind that these menus are meant for people who have unhealthy weight on them and/or are in need of weight management.
Switch to Lighter Alternatives. Whenever you can, use the low-fat versions of salad dressings, mayonnaise, dairy products, and other products. "You can trim calories effortlessly if you use low-fat and lighter products, and if the product is mixed in with other ingredients, no one will ever notice," says Magee. More smart substitutions: Use salsa or hummus as a dip; spread sandwiches with mustard instead of mayo; eat plain roasted sweet potatoes instead of loaded white potatoes; use skim milk instead of cream in your coffee; hold the cheese on sandwiches; and use a little vinaigrette on your salad instead of piling on the creamy dressing.
Find an activity that is enjoyable. If additional health problems also accompany overweight or obesity, consult with a medical professional before beginning an exercise program. Start slowly, and then work up to at least three to five 30 minute sessions of moderate exercise per week, or three to five 15 minute sessions of vigorous exercise per week. Strengthening exercises such as sit-ups or weight lifting should also be incorporated two days per week.
Do you have 20lbs to lose? 30lbs? More? The Weight Loss Target Date calculator gives you an idea of how long it will take to reach your weight loss goal. After you enter your info, the calculator estimates how many calories you need to stay at the same weight (total daily calorie needs). It then calculates 6 different calorie deficits and how long it will take you to lose those pounds.
“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
“When clients come to me, many of them have been through the diet wringer. They’ve tried every fad and gimmick and, of course, they’ve failed to maintain long-term success. The key to weight loss is to never feel like you’re on a diet, because diets don’t work. If you feel deprived, you will never make it past a few weeks. The only way to achieve long-term weight loss is to learn to appreciate food as fuel and slowly replaced processed food that cannot properly energize the body with real food that can. After a while this will become second nature and won’t feel like a daily struggle.” — Laura Burak, MS, RD, CDN
Though exercise can help correct a metabolism that’s been out of whack for a long time, the grisly reality is that it may not ever go back to what it was before you gained weight. So if you’ve been overweight or obese and you lose weight, maintaining that loss means you’re probably going to have to work harder than other people, maybe for good. “The sad thing,” says Hill, “is that once you’ve been obese or not moving for some time, it takes a little more exercise to maintain. It doesn’t come back to normal.” It’s not a pretty reality to face, but coming to grips with it is important, he says, so that you won’t get frustrated when you discover that you have to do more work over the long term than your friend who was never overweight.
There is no "best" diet because every dieter is different and has a different lifestyle with different needs. The diet that will work best for you is the diet you can stick to. For some people, a do-it-yourself program is best. But others benefit from the structured approach of a commercial weight loss program. Ask yourself key questions about your lifestyle (do you cook? how much time do you have to shop for healthy food? what is your budget?) and then make a decision that fits your needs.
Loads of research demonstrates people who log everything they eat — especially those who log while they're eating — are more likely to lose weight and keep it off for the long-haul. Start tracking on an app like MyFitnessPal when the pounds start sneaking up on you. It'll help you stay accountable for what you've eaten. Plus, you can easily identify some other areas of your daily eats that could use a little improvement when it's written out in front of you.
You already know that a perfect diet doesn't exist, but many of us still can't resist the urge to kick ourselves when we indulge, eat too much, or get thrown off course from restrictive diets. The problem: This only makes it more difficult, stressful, and downright impossible to lose weight. So rather than beating yourself up for eating foods you think you shouldn't, let it go. Treating yourself to about 200 calories worth of deliciousness each day — something that feels indulgent to you — can help you stay on track for the long-haul, so allow yourself to eat, breathe, and indulge. Food should be joyful, not agonizing!
Snacking can be a gray area for weight loss. Really think about whether a snack is necessary before eating it. A low-calorie snack can be a good option before or after a work out or if you're feeling very hungry and there's more than two hours until your next meal. To keep your metabolism moving and keep yourself full, you should be eating every three to four hours. That might mean multiple small meals or three meals with snacks in between.
If you don’t want to end up looking emaciated and flabby then you must eat at least some protein. Protein will not only help to keep your muscles smooth and working well, protein is what keeps you from feeling hungry. If you don’t believe it, try a little experiment. Next time you are hungry, try eating a chicken breast and see how long before you are hungry again.
And for energy balance, it's the number of calories that matters. Weight loss on the Twinkie Diet proves this principle: Last year, Mark Haub at Kansas State University lost 27 pounds eating junk food. And this is pretty good proof of concept, says Yale University’s David Katz, MD, who has written extensively on the futility of the “is a calorie a calorie?” debate.
At any given time, there are dozens of weight-loss hypes in the marketplace that claim to take off 10 pounds in 10 days, or whatever. Desperation can tempt us to try anything — from "clean eating" to cutting out food groups entirely. Keep in mind: Just because an avocado-walnut-"crunchy"-kale-salad dripping in coconut oil is deemed "clean" by a so-called "expert" on your Instagram feed does not make it an unlimited food. Moral of the story? Avoid fads, eat real food, watch some Netflix, and unwind (perhaps with a glass of wine in hand). Now that's my kind of detox.
Stress may contribute to abdominal fat, according to several studies, including a recent one at the University of California, San Francisco. "When you're stressed, hormones like cortisol stimulate your appetite, slow your metabolism down and encourage fat storage inside your abdomen," explains Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Clinic at the University of Utah. So what's a frazzled girl to do? "Find an activity that reduces stress for you, whether it's listening to soothing music or taking yoga, and do it daily," advises Talbott.
Realizing that eating unhealthy food is a bad habit, like smoking or biting your nails, will help you break the cycle. Going cold turkey on favorite snack foods isn't possible for everyone, and if you relapse and chow down on some chocolate, the first step is to forgive yourself for the lapse. Identify the times of day or the activities you engage in that tempt you to reach for the junk food. Being aware that it's going to happen will help you stave off the cravings and gives you the chance to substitute in a healthier option. Don't be afraid to let your friends and family know what you're doing so they can support and cheer you on, and so they can help you avoid cravings.
Another healthy change that will help you look better is to cut back on salt. Sodium causes your body to hold onto excess water, so eating a high-salt diet means you’re likely storing more water weight than necessary. Check to see if you have any of the seven clear signs you’re eating too much salt. If you’re in a rush to lose weight fast, cut out added salt as much as possible. That means keep ditching the salt shaker and avoiding processed and packaged foods, where added salt is pretty much inevitable.
Do not use the OPTAVIA Program if you are pregnant. If you have a serious acute or chronic illness (e.g., heart attack, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, anorexia, bulimia, etc.) do not use the OPTAVIA Program until your healthcare provider says you have recovered or that your condition is stabilized. The Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan™ is NOT appropriate for teens (13 to 18 years of age), sedentary older adults (65 years and older), nursing mothers, people with gout, some people with diabetes, and those who exercise more than 45 minutes per day. For special medical or dietary needs, refer to our program guides online.
Fitness-focused exercise also improves your strength and endurance, which makes activities of all kinds easier, and thus encourages you to be more active overall. And, since regular exercise also improves your energy level, confidence, emotional outlook, and self-esteem, it can help you get through weight-loss plateaus, when you’re not seeing the inches melt off as quickly as you’d like.
Caloric intake: While it is true that less calories usually means more weight loss, some diet plans are strict and can leave you feeling hungry most of the time. Additionally, some people need more calories because of metabolic issues or high activity levels, and low-calorie plans might be insufficient. Think about whether a diet plan will keep you full.
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, and it’s a great way to build muscle without spending hours in the gym. The idea is to go all out for a short period of time, followed by a slower pace that allows you to recover. Think of jogging or sprinting all out for 30 seconds, followed by a minute or two of rest, then repeat. Short bursts of high-intensity exercises keep your heart rate up while adding lean muscle. More muscle mass equals calories burned on a daily basis. Also, the more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is.
Lack of sleep doesn't just cause undereye bags, a grouchy mood, and an insane craving for coffee; studies on sleep continually show that a lack of sleep means a bigger appetite and BMI. For example, in a 2002 study of over one million people, scientists found a direct correlation between less sleep and a higher BMI for anything under seven hours/night. More recently, a 2016 study published in the journal SLEEP found that sleep-deprived people reported more hunger and had a harder time resisting unhealthy snacks—even when they had had a huge meal (that supplied 90 percent of their daily caloric intake) only two hours prior. The scientists said that sleep deprivation activated a similar system that's targeted by the active ingredient in marijuana and enhances the desire for food.
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.
A sedentary activity means little or no exercise in your daily routine. A person living a sedentary lifestyle is often sitting or lying down while engaged in an activity like working at a desk, reading, watching television and more. If this sounds like you and you get little to no exercises in your typical day, then select sedentary in the weight loss calculator.
We all might like the idea of a magic bullet, yet most experts agree with Hyman that healthy, sustainable weight loss doesn’t come from extreme measures or single-faceted diets. Nor does it come from relying on low-fat or low-carb foods and “diet” drinks — which, in fact, have been shown to hinder weight-loss efforts by messing up metabolism, contributing to cravings, and undermining energy levels.
In the UK, up to 5% of the general population is underweight, but more than 10% of those with lung or gastrointestinal diseases and who have recently had surgery. According to data in the UK using the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool ('MUST'), which incorporates unintentional weight loss, more than 10% of the population over the age of 65 is at risk of malnutrition. A high proportion (10-60%) of hospital patients are also at risk, along with a similar proportion in care homes.