"Take into account your average weight loss over time and don't let weighing in make you crazy," says Anne M. Fletcher, M.S., R.D., L.D. "You need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound, which doesn't happen on a day-to-day basis." Find what works for you, because daily weighing can be misleading. For instance, if you eat Chinese food, which tends to be high in sodium, your weight might jump the next day because your body retains water when you eat a lot of salt.
A. Possibly. "You need more calories when you're active and fewer when you're sedentary," explains Jackie Newgent, R.D., a New York City based nutrition consultant. So if you're eating the bulk of your calories while you're sitting in front of the TV, you may indeed store more of them as fat. "However, what matters most when it comes to losing weight is how many total calories you take in and burn off throughout the day, not just within a limited time frame," Newgent says. If swearing off snacks after 8:00 helps you reduce your overall calorie intake, go for it, but don't forget to keep track of the whole day's tally as well.
At breakfast, go ahead and drink orange juice. But throughout the rest of the day, focus on water instead of juice or soda. The average American consumes an extra 245 calories a day from soft drinks. That’s nearly 90,000 calories a year—or 25 pounds! And research shows that despite the calories, sugary drinks don’t trigger a sense of fullness the way that food does.
A. Deprivation is a powerful thing. When you're deprived of something, which is often true on diets, you want it even more, explains Stephanie Karpinske, M.S., R.D. That's where the cheat day comes in. It's a psychological trick to satisfy your cravings for chips, pizza, donuts, and other non-diet foods so that you won't feel deprived. If that satisfaction keeps you on your diet, then yes, it can help with weight loss. But keep in mind that on your cheat days, you're eating more calories, maybe even 1,000-2,000 calories more. That can really slow down weight loss. And the cheat day could backfire -- giving into your cravings may have you saying goodbye to the diet and hello to your old ways of eating.
If counting calories helped you lose the first time, get out your food diary and calculator. "The more you can make your diet strategy second nature, the better your chances of maintaining your weight loss for life," Bell Wilson says. In a recent study published in Nursing Science Quarterly, women who were most successful at weight maintenance closely monitored their food choices, exercised regularly, and had a strong support network. For instance, participants who had used a weight loss group to lose pounds kept attending meetings, serving as mentors to other attendees even after they'd reached their goals.
25. Eat breakfast. A review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that those who eat breakfast are more successful with long-term weight maintenance. Other research has shown the same for weight loss. Grab hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, Greek yogurt, a piece of fruit and handful of nuts, or make a smoothie. It doesn't have to be fancy.
While the American College of Sports Medicine warns that women who eat less than 1,300 calories a day and men who eat less than 1,800 risk slowing down their metabolism over time. But a rev-up stage that only lasts two weeks is approved by doctors and isn’t as difficult as it seems. Our tester found the Mayo Clinic day pretty satisfying, and still had enough energy to hit the gym.
“Intermittent fasting can be really challenging if you have an ever-changing schedule,” adds Hultin. “If you're traveling and crossing time zones, it could be very difficult to follow. It might be best for people with more stability in their lives.” Intermittent fasting isn’t safe for people with type 2 diabetes, children, pregnant or lactating women, or anyone with a history of an eating disorder.
The MIND—a mix of DASH and the Mediterranean diet—is supposed to help protect the brain and prevent Alzheimer’s disease, though much more research is needed to determine whether it really helps curb brain decline. People are encouraged to eat from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine. They are also told to avoid foods from five food groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, sweets and fried or fast food.
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.
Dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar), which slows down weight loss. What’s more, part of the protein in milk generates a significant insulin response, which can have the same effect. Consequently, cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss. This applies especially to dairy products typically lacking in fat, such as regular milk and various yogurts, but be careful with full-fat dairy such as cream and cheese all the same. And don’t forget whey protein powder, which is pure milk protein.
The fad military diet consists of low-calorie, odd food pairings such as bun-less hot dogs with banana, carrots, and broccoli. “Any diet like the military diet that severely limits the amount of calories you consume or eliminates one or more entire food groups puts any individual at risk for nutrient deficiencies,” says Kyle. “This can be more harmful than holding onto those 10 extra lb you’re trying to lose.” (32)
There’s no way to sugarcoat this: Your TV is making you fat. It prevents you from being active, gives you the munchies, and makes you distracted while you’re eating. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate in front of the TV consumed 10 percent more than they normally would. Eating while distracted disrupts your satiety signals, so shutting off all your electronics while munching will help you stick to your portions, and feel full.
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.
Sure, there's your one friend who swears by the Taco Cleanse. And that other friend who ate nothing but broccoli soup for a month and dropped 20 pounds, found the love of her life, and got promoted at work. But before you start blending 80 stalks of broccoli into a cup or crunching your way through a crate of tacos, check out which diets are backed by science. Because don't you want to try one that will do the trick for you?