Weight loss is about overall picture—setting goals and keeping a healthy mindset as you work to achieve them. But there are tiny tricks that can help tons along the way.
The following is a list of little known, almost secretive no-fail science backed tips you can start using immediately to lose weight and keeping it off for good.
1. Cut down on the cardio.
Don’t be a cardio queen, or you’ll risk becoming skinny-fat. The best way to boost your metabolism is to build muscle by lifting weights or doing resistance exercises. Weight lifting increases your metabolism for days, not just for an hour like cardio does. That’s because muscle burns more calories just by existing in your body.
2. Eat your meals in a quiet spot.
People tend to eat more when they’re distracted by other tasks, like reading, checking their phones, or watching TV. University of Alberta researchers have found that even noise coming from another room can make a person eat more cookies at dinner than they would have otherwise. To make sure you’re eating only what you meant to eat, and only what your hunger is really asking for, sit down for a mindful meal in a quiet place, and really pay attention—savor it.
3. Try the cabbage soup trick.
Have a bowl of cabbage (or any other vegetable) soup before your lunch and dinner and you’ll eat about 250 fewer calories. The water and vegetables fill your stomach so you end up eating less without going hungry.
4. Eat with chopsticks.
Using them instead of a fork or spoon causes you to eat more slowly and consume less food. It takes time to figure out how to put food on chopsticks—that can help you eat more mindfully. Aim for eating with chopsticks two to three meals per week, at home or at your desk, to see benefits.
5. Stick to a standard breakfast.
Rituals take the thinking out of weight loss. Have the same breakfast for seven to 10 days. You can plan your meal ahead. Get a jump on your days by prepping the ingredients for a yummy omelet with spinach and low-fat cheese, plus fresh fruit on the side – this will save you time in the morning as well.
6. Fire up with fiber.
Having foods rich in soluble fiber, such as oats, barley, beans and lentils, can help you stay full longer so you end up eating fewer calories. Fiber-rich foods help your body use those calories more efficiently, too. They provide a slow-release energy so you avoid the dreaded blood sugar/insulin peak that leads to fat storage.
7. Make your plates colorful.
When you eat the rainbow you get a wider range of vitamins and other nutrients. Maximizing your nutrition can also make your meals more beautiful and satisfying. A Columbia University study showed that adults find plates filled with three foods of three bright colors the most appealing—have you wondered why kids’ meals are so colourful? Put together a healthy veggie plate of sunny yellow peppers, zingy green broccoli, and rich, red tomato, and dig in.
8. Take a before- and an after-dinner walk.
Walk two hours a day or more if you are trying to lose weight. Getting in all of those steps isn’t as daunting as you think, though—you can start by walking 10 minutes before and after each meal that adds up to 60 minutes, and then schedule another hour on the treadmill or around your neighborhood or local trail. You can easily rack up even more benefits by taking the stairs, and strolling to and from work.
9. Fill your dish with a new kind of fish.
There’s evidence that omega-3 acids found in some kinds of fish can help you burn fat faster by stabilizing your blood sugar and insulin levels. One omega-3-packed fish that many people pass on at the market is trout. It’s yummy, and raised sustainably in the U.S., so make it a staple twice a week.
10. Go out to dinner once a week, tops.
A University of Alberta study found that people who cooked dinner at home six to seven times a week were automatically more mindful about the ingredients they used, consuming less fat and sugar, and fewer calories overall, than those who ate frequent restaurant meals.
11. Skip the artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners may make your body expect sugar, but then don’t satisfy the expectation on a molecular level, leaving you craving something sweet even after you’ve finished your low-cal treat. And studies show a broad association between using sugar substitutes and weight gain. If you do have to indulge in something sweet, might as well just got for a little bit of the real stuff—or have some fresh fruit to sate your sweet tooth with a dose of fiber and vitamins.
12. Keep a journal.
Keep a log of the your progress along your weight-loss journey. Update it each week—and read it over each morning and night. Allow yourself to feel really proud! Focus on the positive and plan for the negatives. There’s nothing like reflecting on your success, and letting how you’re getting there really sink in!
13. Get proper sleep.
Numerous studies have shown that getting less than 5–6 hours of sleep per night is associated with increased incidence of obesity. There are several reasons behind this.
Research suggests that insufficient and poor-quality sleep slows down the process in which the body converts calories to energy, called metabolism. When metabolism is less effective, the body may store unused energy as fat. In addition, poor sleep can increase the production of insulin and cortisol, which also prompt fat storage.
How long and how deep someone sleeps also affects the regulation of the appetite-controlling hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin sends signals of fullness to the brain while ghrelin tells your brain you’re hungry.
Without a properly functioning leptin and ghrelin, you’re constantly hungry and nothing you eat will ever make you full – double whammy.
So, sleep more and sleep well.