Studies show that eating breakfast plays a part in successful weight loss — almost 80 percent of people who successfully keep weight off chow down on this meal, according to a study published in Obesity Research. "Your metabolism slows as you sleep, and the process of digesting food revs it up again," explains Heller. Aim for a 300- to 400-calorie breakfast, such as a high-fiber cereal (another metabolism booster) with skim milk and fruit.
Then, there’s biochemistry. In women, ghrelin — the “I’m hungry” hormone — spikes after a workout, while leptin — which tells the brain ‘I’m full!’ — plummets, according to a 2009 study in the American Journal of Physiology — Regulatory, Integral and Comparable Physiology. Not so in men. So post-workout, women tend to eat more, which puts them at risk to gain weight. Men don’t experience this same hormonal fluctuation.
So she started researching. She found something called the 21-Day Meal Plan, which seemed like it would work with their lives. The plan showed them what foods they could eat and what they should skip. They started by cutting sugar, junk and processed foods and added vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains and lean meats, such as chicken and turkey. In the first week, Parent noticed a difference.
Part of slimming down involves a simple, sensible exercise and an easy-to-follow nutrition plan. This full week of meals will take the guesswork out of grocery shopping and prepping with nutritionist-approved breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas. If you have a higher activity level, check out these 1,300-, 1,400-, 1,500-, and 1,800-calorie meal plans as well.
"Sleep is a cornerstone of weight management because of the impact it has on your hormones that control how you burn fat, how you store fat, and how you're maintaining muscle. The better your hormone balance, the better your weight management. I work my butt off to get eight hours a night, but right now I'm at six—the show is murdering me! Even if I go to bed early my son wakes up."
Many additional health issues could make it harder to lose weight directly, indirectly, and can even cause weight gain as a side effect of a medication. Thyroid disorders are one example, according to Malkani. Others include Cushing syndrome, Prolactinoma, bipolar disorder, Hashimoto’s disease, menopause, and many more. It’s important to check in with your doctor for regular checkups and blood test and discuss any weight loss plans with your provider, too.
Social conditions such as poverty, social isolation and inability to get or prepare preferred foods can cause unintentional weight loss, and this may be particularly common in older people. Nutrient intake can also be affected by culture, family and belief systems. Ill-fitting dentures and other dental or oral health problems can also affect adequacy of nutrition.
"Caffeine causes the body to rely more on fat for fuel during a workout, rather than glucose," Aceto says. "But the caffeine effect is lessened when you eat a high-carbohydrate meal with it." Drink 1-2 cups of black coffee within two hours of working out, and emphasize healthy fats and protein if you're drinking it with a meal or snack. Skip the cream and sugar (which add unwanted calories and fat), and avoid drinking coffee at other times of the day; doing so can desensitize you to the fat-burning effects of caffeine.
Many people chew gum as a way to stifle cravings or prevent mindless eating but this tactic may have an unfortunate side effect: belly bloat. Everyone naturally swallows a small amount of air when they chew but it’s magnified for people who chew gum, which causes gas and bloating. In addition, some artificial sweeteners have been shown to increase your appetite for junk food, so gum could be increasing your waistline on two fronts.