Don't banish certain foods. Don't tell yourself you'll never again eat your absolutely favorite peanut butter chocolate ice cream. Making all treats forbidden is sure to make you want them even more. The key to long-term success is making healthy choices most of the time. If you want a piece of cake at a party, go for it! But munch on the carrots rather than the chips to balance it out.
Weight loss and weight maintenance are top concerns for most of us, but there are so many rumors and fads out there that it's hard to keep track of what really works. We've sorted through the claims by talking to registered dietitians and doctors and reading the most recent studies to give you trustworthy answers to 15 top weight loss questions, including:
Don't underestimate the role that your physician can play in your weight loss journey. Your doctor can help you to understand how weight loss can improve your health. He or she can also provide support and referrals to other professionals like a registered dietitian who can help make weight loss easier for you or a behavioral health specialist to manage emotions that affect eating. The support you get from a physician, a nurse or a registered dietitian can help you to stay motivated and on track when typical challenges arise.
Fearing all fat is a thing of the past. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) actually help you lose weight, not gain it. When researchers asked women to switch to a 1,600-calorie diet high in MUFAs, they lost a third of their belly fat in just 4 weeks. Sprinkle a handful of nuts on your salad, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over steamed veggies, or mash a quarter of an avocado onto your breakfast toast.
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.
First, when you decide to satisfy a craving, take time to enjoy the food and don't feel guilty about it. For foods you can't stop eating once you get started, try having them only in situations where the portion is controlled. For instance, eat them at a restaurant or buy single-serving items rather than a whole package. Most weight maintainers say that they avoid buying highly tempting foods but that if they do have such foods around, they keep them out of sight and therefore out of mind.
You know the kind, says Jillian: "Everyone's like: 'Give up carbs!' 'Give up fat!' 'Wait, no, now I'm taking pills!' None of them are manageable long-term—and they wreak havoc with your metabolism! Because you're either starving yourself or you're cutting out a major food group. Then you go back into weight-gain mode, but it's even worse, because your body has adjusted to all that crazy fad crap."
Try not to eat when you feel upset or bored — find something else to do instead (a walk around the block or a trip to the gym are good alternatives). Many people find it's helpful to keep a diary of what they eat and when and what they are feeling. When you have to write it down, you might think twice before eating cookies. Reviewing the diary later can also help them identify the emotions they have when they overeat.
A. It's not clear from studies whether eating slowly helps people eat less food. "It's worth a try, however, to slow down and tune in to knowing when the food has satisfied you -- especially if you are a fast eater," says Anne M. Fletcher, M.S., R.D., L.D., author of Thin for Life, Eating Thin for Life and Thin for Life Daybook (Houghton Mifflin Co.). As with any strategy, if it doesn't help, you can abandon it.
Considering that only 1 in 10 Americans meet their produce requirements, it’s pretty safe to say you need to eat more veggies. And no matter what food philosophy you subscribe to, veggies are a big part of the program. Vegetables have a lot going for them: They fill you up for very few calories, and they flood your body with the nutrients it needs to fight diseases, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
"Your specific [weight loss] program may differ from someone else’s based on climate, geography, heredity, the quality of the food you’re buying, the volume in which you’re eating that food, and so much more. A lot people take advice that doesn’t honor themselves. What works for me is not going to work for you. It’s just not. So really, it’s [about] having an honest look at who you are, what your tendencies and triggers are, and how you can build a program that revolves around that.”
Losing weight is hard. Losing weight and then keeping it off is even harder. Case in point: 74% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, and weight loss is a $20 billion industry. All that said, if you're trying to slim down, there's no reason to lose hope. Plenty of studies show that lasting weight loss is not a myth. Work some of the 57 research-backed food, exercise, and lifestyle tips that follow into your routine, and watch the pounds start to come off.
Capsaicin, the compound in chili peppers that makes them hot, may speed up your metabolism, according to a study in Physiology & Behavior. Researchers say capsaicin activates your sympathetic nervous system, and that the effect on metabolism can last for more than 4 hours after eating. For recipe ideas, check out this beginner's guide to herbs and spices.
Chronic stress may increase levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in your body. This can cause increased hunger and result in weight gain. If you’re looking to lose weight, you should review possible ways to decrease or better handle excessive stress in your life. Although this often demands substantial changes, even altering small things – such as posture – may immediately affect your stress hormone levels, and perhaps your weight.
The color of your plate may seem like the last thing you'd need to consider when it comes to losing weight, but it can play a surprisingly big role in how much you eat, according to a 2012 Cornell University study. Researchers discovered that when the food and plate color have low color contrast (like pasta with red sauce on a red plate), diners served themselves 22% more from a buffet than when there was a higher color contrast (like pasta with red sauce on a white plate).
There's a pretty dizzying amount of research backing up this regime as a solid option to enhance your health, lower cholesterol, and encourage healthy, lasting weight loss. DASH (the acronym stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has you loading up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (surprise!) and removing foods high in saturated fat from your diet. Research also shows that this diet may even ward off the onset of type 2 diabetes.