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Looking to lose weight after an overly indulgent holiday period? These 50 tips – backed by research – will see you reach your goal in no time!
Eat From Small Plates…
Research has shown that people tend to underestimate the amount they eat from large plates and bowls. When given the same portion of food, people ate less when served on a small plate instead of a large one. Scientists believe that a fuller plate tricks the mind into believing you’re eating more.
…And Make Them Blue
Strangely, when we eat from blue plates we tend to eat less than when we eat from other colors, according to 2011 research – although scientists aren’t sure why this is!
Have an Appetizer
Eat a salad or bowl of broth-based soup before your main meal and you will be more likely to eat less as these water- and fiber-rich appetizers help fill you up. Studies have found that enjoying two servings of low calorie soup daily can lead to 50% greater weight loss than consuming the same amount of calories from a snack food.
Sleep Like a Baby…
Evidence shows that a good night’s sleep can stave off excess flab. Sleep deprivation actually lowers levels of leptin – the appetite suppressing hormone, while increasing ghrelin, the hunger stimulating one. It should come as no surprise then that those who are sleep deprived have been shown to be hungrier and crave junk foods like carbs, candy and salty foods. Can’t sleep? Try adding some of these plants to your bedroom or diffusing these essential oils!
…But Don’t Sleep Late at Weekends
A recent Brigham Young University study says that women who go to bed and wake up at the same time every day have lower levels of body fat.
Eat Breakfast Daily
Researchers believe that those who skip breakfast are more likely to be obese! Frequently eating breakfast away from home was also linked with obesity. Make a healthy and nutritious breakfast every day and stay slim – here are some delicious breakfast recipes to try.
When we stress out, our bodies secrete a hormone called cortisol which, when elevated for too long, leads to an increase in the amount of visceral fat around the tummy. Why not try essential oils as an alternative way to manage your stress and anxiety?
Balance Your Hormones
Cortisol isn’t the only hormone that messes with your weight – the thyroid and adrenals can play a part too, as can the ‘hunger hormones’ mentioned earlier. Hormones that are out of whack can be a frustrating blockade to weight loss so learn how to balance yours today!
Try High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Any kind of workout can help with weight loss but HIIT, which involves alternating short periods of intense aerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods, is one of the best fat burning methods. It has been shown to be more effective than other types of cardiovascular activity in reducing body fat, particularly around the tummy.
Don’t just stick with cardio when you work out – weight lifting is important for overall health too. Not only will it help tone muscles and fire up your metabolism, but it’s vital for healthy, strong bones.
Join a Yoga Class
To de-stress and tone up in one, try a course of yoga. A 2012 study of obese post-menopausal women found that 16 weeks of yoga ‘significantly decreased’ body weight, percentage of body fat, lean body mass, body mass index, waist circumference and visceral fat!
Smell Your Food
As bizarre as it sounds, several studies have shown that smelling food can be enough to trick your brain into feeling full. Some of the foods tested for their satiating smells include extra virgin olive oil, garlic, apples, bananas, fennel and grapefruit. But unless you have extraordinary willpower, don’t try sniffing chocolate or freshly baked muffins!
Diffuse Essential Oils
Along with smelling your food, you could try using some essential oils known for aiding weight loss – like grapefruit, lemon, cinnamon, fennel and bergamot. Check out this detailed guide to essential oils for weight loss.
A Canadian study on mice found that chemicals in common pesticides have been shown to slow down metabolic function, while increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes. Buy organic and you don’t need to worry about these chemicals – here’s how to do so on a budget.
Don’t Eat when Distracted
A paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that multitasking (like eating when watching television, driving or working) and distracted or hurried eating causes you to eat more.
The simple act of slowly chewing food also helps you feel full as your brain has more time to register that the body has been adequately nourished.
Research has shown that having a cheat meal once a week can rev up the metabolism by reviving flagging levels of leptin (the appetite suppressing hormone), balancing thyroid hormones and reducing cravings. Keep it reasonably healthy though and choose high carb over high fat meals for the most leptin boosting effects.
Photographic food diaries have been shown to change the attitudes and behaviors associated with food choices. Photos are better than written diaries as they are taken before you eat (when you have the power to resist), rather than after you’ve indulged!
Foods to Eat
Now that we’ve covered some of the general lifestyle tips and food rules to help you reach your goal weight, let’s look at some specific foods you can add to your diet to supercharge your efforts. As a general guideline, 75% to 80% of weight loss is dictated by what we eat so pay attention to what’s on your plate!
This delicious and versatile oil contributes to weight loss in no less than six ways – read about them here! You can add coconut oil to your baked goods, fry with it, use it as a coffee creamer, sneak it into smoothies or spread it on your toast!
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Another versatile wonder-food, ACV is known for balancing blood sugar levels and satiety, among other benefits. When participants in one study were given varying levels of ACV along with carbohydrates in the form of white bread, blood tests showed that the higher the levels of vinegar taken, the lower the blood glucose and insulin levels of participants. Those who consumed the most vinegar also reported feeling fuller than the others.
Mushrooms are a great weight loss tool, especially when used in place of red meat (think in terms of cottage pies, lasagnas and tacos). One study found that those who ate one cup of mushrooms each day in place of meat lost an average of 7 pounds, had a smaller waist size and lower BMI; and were better able to maintain their weight loss than those who ate the meat. An earlier, 2008 study had similar results.
When you’re on a weight loss diet, a little treat now and then can be most welcome! If you feel the urge to indulge, try some dark chocolate. A study looking at the effects of white and dark chocolate found that those who ate the dark variety experienced lower blood sugar levels, which Dr. Oz claims is the key to losing and maintaining weight.
When it comes to carbohydrates like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice, white is the worst choice. Stick with the wholegrain (brown) versions and you could drop pounds without even trying. A 2008 study saw participants consume almost identical meals – with one exception: one group ate white rice while the other ate brown or black. The brown/black rice group enjoyed greater reductions in weight, body mass and body fat when compared with the white rice group.
Plus, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School say that if you are going to make one change on your journey to weight loss it should be to increase your intake of fiber – through more whole grain foods and fiber-filled veggies.
These antioxidant rich fruits are chockfull of goodness. 2011 research shows that mice who consumed the most blueberries had a 73% decrease in fat lipids. Other research, which looked at the effect of blueberry enriched meals on fat levels of obese rats, found that the animals experienced greater levels of abdominal fat loss.
Thanks to their relatively high fiber and protein content, goji berries are great for controlling appetite and blood sugar levels. They also taste so sweet that they’ll instantly curb your candy cravings. Discover more about the mighty goji berry here.
Eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast can regulate your blood sugar levels throughout the day and get your metabolism going again after a night’s rest. Just make sure you skip the instant stuff – it can contain up to 17g of sugar per serving!
Pears and Apples
Snack on these fruits to keep you full between meals. They contain a type of soluble fiber which reduces the amount of sugar and calories absorbed into the bloodstream after a meal, prevents fat storage and keeps you full.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which studies show is a powerful reducer of belly fat. Other research found that those who ate fresh avocado with their lunch had a 40% less desire to snack over the course of three hours, and a 28% less desire over a five hour period after the meal. Here are 19 more reasons to eat avocados for health!
Beans and Lentils
In-shell pistachio consumption slows down calorie intake according to two studies. The first study found that those who had to shell their nuts before eating ate 41% fewer calories than those who consumed shelled pistachios. The second showed that the mound of empty pistachio shells can remind you exactly how many nuts you have eaten! Those who could see their empty shells ate 22% less than those who couldn’t.
Research has found that eating eggs for breakfast can help weight loss by limiting calorie intake for the rest of the day by more than 400 calories. Stick with free range or backyard eggs as they have a far greater nutritional value than cruel battery eggs.
Certain types of broccoli have been produced to contain higher levels of a beneficial compound called glucoraphanin. This substance helps to rebalance our metabolic system and remove some of the damaging effects of an imbalanced metabolism. Research says that people who eat this high-glucoraphanin variety have improved metabolism and lower levels of fat in their blood.
Spice it Up
Herbs and spices are loaded with antioxidants and have many healing properties. Plenty can also aid weight loss. Try:
- Garlic – rats fed a fatty diet along with a garlic supplement were found to have reduced weight and fat levels. Their blood and liver were also safeguarded from the bad diet.
- Cinnamon – a powerful appetite suppressant, studies say adding a small amount to carbohydrates keeps you fuller for longer.
- Cayenne Pepper – a substance in cayenne, called capsaicin, has been found to suppress hunger and increase feelings fullness. It also has thermo-genetic properties which lead to increased metabolism.
- Mint – just smelling mint led certain study subjects to eat ‘significantly fewer’ total calories, calories from saturated fat, total fat and sugar.
- Ginger – a study found that those who drank 2 grams of ginger powder in hot water were less hungry three hours later than participants who didn’t drink it.
Foods to Avoid
On your weight loss kick, say no to these metabolism killers:
Sugar is one of the worst foods for metabolism and overall health. One study has even shown that, when calories are equal, those on a low sugar diet can burn 325 more calories a day than those eating a low fat diet! Take a look at how to quit sugar in two weeks as explained by a former sugar addict here.
Adding just one more gram of salt to your daily intake could increase your risk of obesity by up to 25%, say researchers at the Queen Mary University of London. However, it may be a case of prevention is better than the cure, as the study’s findings don’t prove that cutting salt will aid weight loss! Too much salt is still terrible for our health, so cutting down is always a wise choice. Make sure to avoid these high salt foods too!
Sugar Free Foods
While they may seem like a safe option, sugar free foods are loaded with artificial sweeteners to make them more palatable. Animal subjects that consumed artificial sweeteners were found to eat more, have slower metabolisms and gain 14% more body fat – in just two weeks!
Processed and Fast Foods
In a 2015 study, researchers found that people who ate a high fat diet for just five days changed their metabolism for the worse! Skip the junk food and you’ll notice a difference.
Many processed and restaurant foods are cooked in, or contain, vegetable oils so watch what you eat! An animal study investigating how various oils affect metabolism showed that those fed with sunflower oil had the worst metabolic rate, especially when compared with rapeseed oil.
Drink To Your Health
What you drink can matter almost as much as what you eat when it comes to weight loss. Here’s the lowdown on liquid calories.
Research says that drinking a spinach shake in the morning can significantly lower hunger throughout the day and promote weight loss. For ten great green smoothie recipes, and more reasons to drink them, check out this article.
Coffee has a surprising number of health benefits. In addition to boosting energy and brain function, while lowering the risk of diabetes and dementia, it has been found that coffee can increase your metabolism by up to 20% after drinking.
This favorite Asian drink has been shown in studies to aid weight loss. Thanks to a type of antioxidant in the tea, known as catechins, adding two or three cups to your daily routine could see you reduce body fat, cholesterol levels and blood pressure – and that’s without changing your diet or exercise routine. What’s more, green tea consumption has been shown to augment abdominal fat loss when coupled with exercise. Learn more about the amazing health benefits of green tea here.
Several studies show oolong can help with weight loss. In one study, 70% of those who drank the tea daily for 6 weeks lost over 1kg in body weight, while 22% lost over 3kg.
Plain Old H2O
If you drink 17oz of water before every meal, you could stand to lose 44% more weight over a 12 week period than people who don’t, according to some research. High water foods like cucumber, watermelon and celery also work to fill you up before, or between, meals.
Sodas have got to go. A recent study found that drinking soda regularly causes increases of over 100% in both liver fat and skeletal fat. When one regular gym-goer, George Prior, took on the challenge of drinking 10 cans of Coca-Cola a day for a month to demonstrate its detrimental effects, he gained 12kg in weight and his blood pressure skyrocketed! Diet sodas are no better for your health or waistline.
Even though many people look on fruit juice as a healthy alternative to sodas, researchers from the University of Glasgow warn that they are potentially just as bad for you as drinking sugar-sweetened drinks. They’re also surprisingly high in sugar and calories.
While alcohol can pile on the pounds, a little may actually be a good thing. A study, conducted over 13 years and of over 19,000 women, showed that those who enjoyed one or two alcoholic drinks daily were at least 30% less likely to gain weight during mid-life than those who completely abstained.
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