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If you're mostly sedentary (and let's face it—with 9-to-5 desk jobs being the norm, it's hard to avoid), you'll start to see noticeable results with just a slight increase in your activity level. Break up the hours in front of the computer by using your lunch break to move around. "I started walking for 45 minutes during my lunch break," says Melissa Leon, who ultimately dropped 53 pounds. "The area was super hilly, but feeling the burn in my butt and quads as I powered up those hills let me know I was making progress."
Also some research shows that the human body is primed to consume most of its calories during daylight hours. But the lifestyle is problematic for many: Because family meals and dinners with friends often are scheduled for after sunset, "people who try to stop eating after 7pm can’t do it every day for the rest of their lives," says Dr. Seltzer, who supports an alternative strategy: Eating a hearty meal at your regular dinnertime.
Do you see crumbs or smudges on your computer keyboard, the touch screen of your phone, or your TV’s remote control? That’s a telltale sign that you’re doing other things while you’re eating. Researchers in Ireland interviewed a group of 66 adults on what made portion control difficult. The eating environment plays a big part in how much you pay attention to your food. This includes distractions like watching TV or working on a computer. A review of two dozen studies showed that being distracted at one meal per day may even cause people to eat more later in the day.
Dr. Apovian notes another common reason people have trouble losing weight they don’t understand the body is fighting this process because it doesn’t want to get rid of the weight. “One way it fights you is to secrete a hormone that reduces the resting metabolic rate so that you need fewer calories to maintain your weight,” she says. “Even if you lose the weight you cannot keep it off if you need fewer calories suddenly.” That’s where exercise comes into play. The antidote to this issue is resistance exercise training which builds muscle mass and increases your resting metabolic rate forever as long as you keep said additional muscle, Dr. Apovian says. These are the 18 weight loss secrets from around the world that are totally worth stealing.
If you have Celiac disease, of course you can and should eat gluten-free foods. But for those who choose gluten-free options because they think it’s healthier, think again. “As alternative grains are more bitter than their wheat-, barley-, and rye- gluten-containing counterparts, the most common means to mask bitterness is…wait for it…by adding high levels of sugar,” says Alvin Berger, MS, PhD, nutritionist, lipid biochemist and co-founder of Life Sense Products. “The sugar is added in its plethora of alternative forms and names, to provide cover. The bottom line is that many gluten-free foods are higher in total sugars and high glycemic-carbs than their gluten-containing counterparts.”
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.
If you ever needed an excuse to eat more avocados, this is it. People tend to steer clear of healthy fats when they're trying to lose weight, but they might just be the solution. Studies show that by simply adding some avocado to your lunch every day, it'll fill you up enough that you won't be mindlessly munching on junk food later. "Slice one in half, sprinkle a little sea salt, and eat the inside with a spoon," says Alexandra Samit, a Be Well Health Coach at Dr. Frank Lipman's Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC.
It’s wise to want to eliminate sugary drinks from your diet, but replacing them with “diet” versions or drinks with artificial sweeteners is not the solution. One study conducted by researchers from Marquette University and the Medical College of Wisconsin showed that artificial sweeteners could actually contribute to weight gain in a way that does not happen with natural sugars. Other studies have shown that drinking artificial sweeteners was highly correlated to an occurrence of dementia and stroke.
You can eat twice as much pasta salad loaded with veggies like broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes for the same calories as a pasta salad sporting just mayonnaise. Same goes for stir-fries, omelets, and other veggie-friendly dishes. If you eat a 1:1 ratio of grains to veggies, the high-fiber veggies will help satisfy your hunger before you overeat the grains. Bonus: Fiber is highly beneficial for preventing constipation, which can make you look bloated.
Lifting weights is essential for gaining and preserving muscle mass. Research on individuals with fatty liver diseases and type 2 diabetes has revealed that resistance training assists in the loss of belly fat. One study carried out on obese teenagers resulted in the highest decrease in visceral fat after a combination of weight lifting and cardio.
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."
Losing belly fat shouldn’t mean strict dieting or deprivation. “People often think that you have to eat certain foods or avoid certain foods [to lose weight] and in reality, it comes down to eating more of a balanced diet that is portion- and calorie-controlled,” says Zeratsky. “This allows your body to have enough energy to do what it wants to do while managing weight.”
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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.
The modern-day Atkins program no longer emphasizes ketosis as necessary for weight loss, but it does appear that for some people it’s a very effective way to lose weight and control appetite. But with or without ketosis, the modern-day Atkins Nutritional Approach™ continues to be shown to be effective at keeping weight under control while supporting good health. Remember, even in the “moderate carbohydrate” diet used in the research, carbohydrates were only 35% of calories, protein was 30% and fat made up the rest. With a diet of adequate protein, good fat, high-fiber vegetables, low-glycemic fruit and a little whole grain in lifetime maintenance, you can’t go wrong!
Stop treating your kitchen like an all-night diner and you’ll stop seeing those unwanted pounds piling onto your frame, too. The results of a study published in Cell Metabolism found that mice who only had access to food during an eight-hour period stayed slim over the course of the study, while those who ate the same number of calories over a 16-hour period gained significantly more weight, particularly around their middle. When you’re finished with dinner at night, shut the fridge and don’t look back until morning — your belly will thank you. When you do head back to the kitchen in the A.M., make sure the 40 Things Healthy Cooks Always Have in Their Kitchen are there waiting for you.
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.