Healthy habits can quickly go out the window when we’ve got a tight deadline, no time for the gym, and few options but take-out food. Losing weight is no easy task, and doing it the healthy way can be even harder. We’re advocates for making small changes each day, rather than making drastic changes all at once. But it’s important to remember that just because a weight-loss strategy works for some (even if it’s backed by scientific studies) it may not work for everyone. From drinking more water to eating from blue plates, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite weight-loss tips to add to your daily routine.
Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be a comprehensive weight loss guide. Each entry may not be right for every individual. We at Greatist believe in providing readers with the information to make their own healthy choices based on a variety of weight loss techniques. What’s appropriate for one person may not be best for his or her friend, mom, cousin, etc. As always, consult with a healthcare professional before starting any weight loss program.
1. Get the blues
“I got the blues” may conjure up memories of those macaroni and cheese commercials from the ‘90s, but we’re talking about blue dishware. The color blue can act as an appetite suppressant because it has the least appealing contrast to most food. Research says to avoid plates that match the food served on them (like white plates and fettuccini Alfredo), because there is less of a contrast, which may prompt us to eat more. A small but potentially useful trick!
2. Eat snacks!
Skipping out on snack time won’t necessarily lead to weight loss, since low calorie consumption can actually slow metabolism. Eating less than three times a day may benefit those who areobese, but research shows skipping meals throughout the day and eating one large meal at night can lead to some undesirable outcomes (like delayed insulin response) which may increase the risk of diabetes. Instead of forgoing breakfast or lunch, stick to a few meals a day with healthy snacks in between.
3. Peruse the perimeter
Next time you need groceries, circle the perimeter of the store before going in. This isn’t a way to stalk out your prey, but actually a tactic to load up on the healthy stuff first. The edges of grocery stores generally house fresh produce, meat, and fish, while the inner aisles hold more pre-packaged, processed foods. Browsing the perimeter can help control how many unwanted additives are in the grocery basket.
4. Stock the fridge
Make an effort to fill the fridge with healthy produce and proteins (from perusing the perimeter!). Keep lots of fresh fruit and veggies on hand. And for when the fruit basket goes barren, make sure the freezer is stocked with frozen veggie mixes or berries (grab the bags full of just veggies, not the ones with butter-laden sauces). You may be less apt to order out when you’ve got the makings of a healthy dinner right at home. And the good news is, healthy food doesn’t always have to bepricey.
5. Eat in the A.M.
Skipping breakfast in order to “save your appetite” for dinner probably isn’t a safety shield for late-night noshing. While there’s still debate on how important breakfast really is, not eating until the afternoon may lead to binging later on (ie. four servings of mashed potatoes). Make sure to stick a reasonably sized breakfast with plenty of protein; we tend to eat the same sized lunch and dinner regardless of how many calories we eat in the morning.
6. Get busy in the kitchen
We promise cooking doesn’t take long! Restaurants often use larger plates than the ones we have at home, and studies show that increased portion sizes result in increased energy intake, even if there’s a doggy bag involved. Why not start by making these healthy meals in just 12 minutes or less (quesadillas, stir-fry, and burgers, oh my!).
7. Prioritize the pantry
Take a little time out to toss the junk. If you’ve got some favorite not-so-great items you’d like to save as a treat, tuck them in the back of the pantry with healthier items, like whole grain pasta, rice, beans, and nuts up front. We know that just because the cans of tuna and a bag of lentils are right in front doesn’t mean you’ll forget the brownie mix altogether, but it’ll help keep the brownie mix out of sight, out of mind. Just seeing or smelling food can stimulate cravings, and increase hunger (especially true for junk food).
8. Serve “restaurant” style
Instead of lining up the breadbasket, entire casserole, and salad bowl, right on the table, leave food on the kitchen counter (away from reach). When you’ve cleaned your plate, take a breather then decide if you really want those seconds. Changing up the environment, like by leaving food by the stove, can help reduce food intake.
9. Use smaller plates
History shows plate sizes have increased over the past millennium. When it’s time to sit down for dinner, choose a size-appropriate plate or bowl. Using a smaller plate (8-10 inches) instead of a tray-like plate (12 inches or more) can make us feel fuller with the same amount of food. How does this magic trick work? The brain may associate the white space with less food, plus smaller plates generally lead to smaller portions.
55. Pump up the jam
Pack your playlist with upbeat tunes. Research shows music that has 180 beats per minute — like, say, “Hey Ya” by OutKast — will naturally prompt a quicker pace. Plus, music serves as a distraction, which can help take attention off a grueling gym sesh.
56. Avoid injuries
Right when you’re all gung-ho about hitting the gym and getting fit, there’s nothing worse than a pulled hammy or pesky shin splints. Read up on how to avoid the most common yoga injuries (often from over-stretching and misalignment), and running injuries (like stress fractures, pulled muscles, and blisters) to make sure you’re in tip-top shape to get in shape. Make sure to get in a good warm-up, too. Studies show we perform our best and better avoid injury after warming up.
57. Choose Free Weights
We’ve already praised strength training, but it gets even better when you set yourself free. And by that, we mean step off the leg-press and start squatting with a pair of dumbbells. Working out with free weights can activate muscles more effectively, and as we’ve learned, muscle can torch calories.
58. Get functional
Functional exercise has been shown to increase strength and balance and reduce risk of injury all while working multiple muscle groups at the same time. All that movement promotes muscle gain, which can increase metabolism, which can over time help shed fat. Added bonus: Functional exercises can help make real life tasks, like hauling groceries up the stairs, a lot easier.
59. Swig some caffeine
Getting a morning jolt from java may be a part of your daily routine, but sipping some coffee before a workout can actually boost endurance during exercise. How’s it work? Caffeine slows glycogen depletion (the starch our bodies turn to for energy during exercise) by encouraging the body to use fat for fuel first.
For even more exercise tips, go to Greatist.com.
10. Chew slowly
Eating slowly may not fit into a busy workday, but it pays to pace your chewing: the quicker we eat, the less time the body has to register fullness. So slow down, and take a second to savor.
11. Deep Freeze
Once meal prep is over, serve yourself a reasonable portion, then package up the rest and stash it in the fridge or freezer for a later date. When the food is out of sight, studies show you’ll be less likely to reach for a second helping.
12. Wait before grabbing seconds
The quicker we shovel down a meal, the less time we give our bodies to register fullness. Since it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to get the message that dinner’s been served, it’s best to go for a walk or play cards before dishing up seconds or tackling the dessert table.
13. Snack before dining
Grabbing an apple or a small cup of yogurt before meeting friends for dinner can help ensure you’ll eat a reasonable amount of that enormous entrée (rather than overdo it). And be sure to reach for the protein — research shows that an afternoon snack of Greek yogurt can lead to reduced hunger, increased fullness, and less eating come dinner time.
14. Turn off the tube
Eating while watching television is linked to poor food choices and overeating. Getting sucked into the latest episode of Snooki and JWoww can bring on mindless eating and it can be easy to lose track of just how many chips we’ve just thrown down the hatch. It’s not just the mindlessness of watching televsion that’ll get us. Commercials for unhealthy foods and drinks may increase our desire for low-nutrient junk, fast food, and sugary beverages.
15. Turn your back on temptation
The closer we’re situated to a food that’s in our line of vision, chances are the more we’ll actually eat of it. If we face away from food that might tempt us when we’re not all that hungry (like an office candy bowl), we may be more likely to listen to cues from our gut rather than our eyes.
16. Hands off
When snack time hits, our brains can be pretty unreliable. It’s tempting to reach for a bag of chips, but instead, grab a handful (or measure out the serving size) then seal the bag up and put it away. Odds are, you’ll be more mindful of how much you’re polishing off when you see it right in front of you. And next time there’s a between-meal tummy rumble, try one of these healthy, satisfying 100-calorie snacks.
17. Pack the protein
Protein can help promote a healthy weight because high protein diets are associated with greater satiety, plus it’s important for healthy muscle growth. Animal sources aren’t the only option — try alternatives like quinoa, tempeh, and lentils.
18. Fill up on fiber
Eating more vegetables and other high-fiber items like legumes can help keep us fuller, longer. Look for at least five grams or more of the stuff per serving. Snack on some of our favorite high-fiber picks like stuffed baked apples or jazzed up oats.
19. Make room for (healthy) fats
Cutting butter and oil can slash calories, and it’s easy to swap in foods like applesauce, avocado, banana, or flax for baking. But, it’s important to remember that we still need fat in our diets as asource of energy and to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Plus it helps us feel full. Get healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from avocadoes, olive oil, nuts, coconuts, seeds, and fish. Bonus tip: Combining fat with fiber has been shown to increase fat’s power to make us feel full.
20. Steer clear of simple carbs
Simple carbs are the white stuff — white bread, most pastries, refined sugars (like in soda). What makes it so simple? These foods provide energy, but lack the same nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and fiber) as complex carbohydrates. The body also breaks simple carbs down quickly, spikes blood sugar (insulin), and leaves your tummy might rumbling sooner than you imagined. Choose whole grains instead, which may reduce potentially dangerous excess abdominal fat buildup (which can lead to diabetes). Switch to whole-wheat pasta or whole grain bread, or try grains like brown rice, quinoa, or millet.
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Go to Greatist.com for information on all works cited.