Thinking about your clothes might seem more like a post-weight loss celebration than a weight loss strategy, but research and experts actually suggest otherwise. "Ample room and elastic waistbands are not your friends, because they let you get away with ignoring your body, along with the warning signs that you may be eating too much," says weight loss and fitness expert Jenna Wolfe in her book Thinner In 30. "Instead, stick with non-stretch jeans and clothes with enough room to spare but snug enough to remind you of your goals."
Sure, you certainly need to drink plenty of water to help expedite the process of ridding your body of excess sodium, you can (and should!) also consume high-water content foods. Reach for cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, asparagus, grapes, celery, artichokes, pineapple, and cranberries — all of which contain diuretic properties that will also help you stay full due to their higher fiber content.
For even more impressive effects on body composition: aim for exercise forms which elicit a positive hormonal response. This means lifting really heavy things (strength training), or interval training. Such exercise increases levels of the sex hormone testosterone (primarily in men) as well as growth hormone. Not only do greater levels of these hormones increase your muscle mass, but they also decrease your visceral fat (belly fat) in the long term.
Fat contains 9 calories per gram, which is more than twice the calories of protein and carbohydrates (4 calories per gram each). Limiting one’s fat intake will not only lower overall dietary fat and calories, but also reduce a critical risk factor for cardiovascular disease. A healthy goal for fat intake includes obtaining 20-35% or less of total calories from dietary fat (specifically receiving less than 10% of calories from saturated fat, and eliminate trans-fat completely). For more information on dietary fat, Dietary Fat and Cholesterol.
If you drink regular, go to 2%. If you already drink 2%, go down another notch to 1% or skim milk. Each step downward cuts the calories by about 20 percent. Once you train your taste buds to enjoy skim milk, you’ll have cut the calories in the whole milk by about half and trimmed the fat by more than 95 percent. One disclaimer: There are times when fat-free dairy isn’t the best option.
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.
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.
Keeping track of your weight also helps you remain aware of any bad habits that may have led to small gains. Did you skip the gym or partake of the donuts during a work meeting last week? While gaining a few pounds isn't a big deal, and is easily fixable, you don't want it to become more than that. At the same time, don't beat yourself up if you did gain a few pounds back because it happens to everyone, and you can do something about it. Weight management will be different from week to week, so it's important to keep up a good attitude. Feeling good about yourself and how you look will make getting on that scale every week easier.
How does a calorie counter work? After you input data, it uses a formula called the Mifflin St. Jeor equation to calculate your resting metabolic rate. That's the number of calories your body needs to function when it is at rest. Then, based on your personalized lifestyle information, the calculator adds the number of calories you need to fuel your body for daily activity. Finally, it either adds calories to gain weight or subtracts calories to help you lose weight.
This popular plan recently underwent a rebranding to create a more balanced program, changing its four-phase approach with the help of a science advisory board. The Atkins Diet is still low-carb, but you won't be chowing down on steak and eggs all the time to promote weight loss. Lean protein is still key, but there's more of a spotlight on fiber, fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats.
You’ve heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? If you keep focusing on things you can’t do, like resisting junk food or getting out the door for a daily walk, chances are you won’t do them. Instead (whether you believe it or not) repeat positive thoughts to yourself. “I can lose weight.” “I will get out for my walk today.” “I know I can resist the pastry cart after dinner.” Repeat these phrases and before too long, they will become true for you.
At the heart of its flexible system: SmartPoints. SmartPoints derive primarily from number of calories; sugar and saturated fat drive the number up, protein brings it down. Getting a feel for the number of points that different foods typically “cost” in order to stay on your daily “budget” is a great way to cultivate healthy decision-making: A fried chicken wing is 7 points, while 3 oz. of chicken breast without the skin is 2 points. A sugar-laden Coca-Cola is 9 points, but so is a dinner-sized serving of Moroccan chicken rice and potatoes. Some foods are zero points: fruits and vegetables, skinless chicken and turkey breast, seafood, eggs, nonfat yogurt. Being encouraged to eat certain items in this way helps to restructure your mindset around food.
The OPTIFAST® program, which usually lasts 26 weeks, is a medically-supervised weight-management program that closely monitors and assesses progress towards better health and emotional well-being. The program utilizes a meal replacement plan that transitions to self-prepared ‘everyday’ meals, in conjunction with comprehensive patient education and support.
The best plan for you is dependent on your overall health and preference, as determined by such factors as BMI (Body Mass Index), slowing metabolism, menopause, hormone imbalance, blood pressure and other medical conditions. Additional factors include personal life, such as eating habits, exercise routines, cooking styles and stress. Professional life also plays a role and is inclusive of hours worked and travel requirements.
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.
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.
If you're still feeling confused about how to manage your portions and how much of which types of food you should eat, a nutritionist can help. A nutritionist will give you information specific to your body and your dietary needs. Nutritionists are also great for telling you what foods you should absolutely cut out all together and where you might have room to cheat a little for favorites once in a while. They can also direct you on moderation. Dark chocolate and red wine, for example, have health benefits when consumed in moderation, even though chocolate and alcohol in general aren't very conducive to dieting. If you spike your blood sugar then when it crashes you will once again be hungry quickly. This is one of the reasons many nutritionists recommend low glycemic index diets with limited carbohydrate consumption.
One of the great things about gyms is trial memberships. You do not have to join the first gym you try, and you want to find somewhere you're comfortable returning to. Different gyms have different atmospheres, and feeling comfortable while you work out is important. Take advantage of trial memberships, single-visit fees, or free classes to try out your options before you settle on something.
The above steps are an attempt at the most basic form of calorie counting. Calorie counting is not an exact science, and can be as complex as you want to make it. The above does not consider proportions of macronutrients consumed. While there is no exactly known, ideal proportion of macronutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates) some balance is certainly advisable, and different foods have been found to have different effects on health, feelings of hunger, and number of calories burned. Generally, minimally processed plant and animal foods tend to be more conducive to healthy weight loss and maintenance.
This is a large part of why exercise is critical in the maintenance phase, which is well known to be more difficult than the weight loss phase. Essentially, it buys us some wiggle room, says Michael Jensen, MD at the Mayo Clinic. “Exercise is very, very important for maintaining lost weight, and people who are not physically active are more likely to gain weight. We think it’s partly because in the extra calories burned from physical activity, you have a bit more flexibility in food intake, so you’re not so much relying on ridged changes in eating habits; it makes it more tolerable.”
Talking with a health care professional about your weight is an important first step. Sometimes, health care professionals may not address issues such as healthy eating, physical activity, and weight during general office visits. You may need to raise these issues yourself. If you feel uneasy talking about your weight, bring your questions with you and practice talking about your concerns before your office visit. Aim to work with your health care professional to improve your health.
A new player in the weight loss program space, Noom packs a lot of behavioral psychology into one sophisticated app. It aims to help you identify and break bad habits, and have some fun doing it. The powerful app echoes Weight Watchers’ successful community approach, but outleagues that program in terms of learning resources. While it’s the more expensive of our two favorite programs, it’s the richer when it comes to virtual experience — with personalized lessons, tasks, and support that made us look forward to opening up the app.
The size of your plates and bowls may also have a lot to do with portion control. If you have large dinner plates, the temptation is there to fill them up. Try dining from a side plate instead, and eat slowly so your body has a chance to register that you're no longer hungry. Measuring cups are also useful. If you want a snack, allow yourself half a cup. Measure it into a bowl and don't refill. It's a lot easier to manage portions when you measure them.
Another frontrunner on the U.S. News and World Report 2016 list (it came in at number two in the weight loss category), the HMR Weight Management program is used in over 200 medical facilities around the U.S. Dieters embark on two phases, the first centered around HMR's products (meals, shakes, snacks) and the second transitioning towards a sustainable plan emphasizing fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
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.
Harvie, M. N., Pegington, M., Mattson, M. P., Frystyk, J., Dillon, B., Evans, G., … Howell, A. (2011, May). The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: A randomized trial in young overweight women. International Journal of Obesity (London), 35(5), 714–727. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017674/
“A lot of what we know in this area comes from NASA, of the bed-rest studies,” he says. “Within a couple of days of non-activity, the metabolism becomes inflexible. You start moving again, and it does start to change.” Your metabolism may not ever go back to “normal” (more on this below), but the evidence indicates that it can indeed pick up again, in large part through moving your body every day.