It's a one-time investment you'll never regret. Here's why: Strength training builds lean muscle tissue, which burns more calories — at work or at rest — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The more lean muscle you have, the faster you'll slim down. How do you start strength training? Try some push-ups or a few squats or lunges. Use your free weights to perform simple bicep curls or tricep pulls right in your home or office. Do these exercises three to four times per week, and you'll soon see a rapid improvement in your physique.
Finding the ideal amount of protein to eat can be tricky. The Institute of Medicine says the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)—how much you need to avoid deficiency—of protein for adults should be 0.8 g/kg body weight. To calculate it, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2, then multiply by 0.8. But when you're trying to lose weight, your protein needs may change. Some research suggests doubling lean protein intake to help assist weight loss and prevent muscle mass loss. Cederquist recommends: "For a woman of average height (which in the United States is 5'4") I recommend 110–120 grams of protein per day," or about 4 ounces at each meal. "This is the equivalent of a small chicken breast—not an enormous burger or steak!" Before doubling up on protein, talk to a registered dietitian to make sure it's safe for you.
The good news is that you don’t have to focus so much on being on a diet—nobody likes that word anyway, and it means no foods or drinks are totally off limits. Instead, it’s about encouraging a healthy eating regime, says Gans. And because portion size matters, she says it’s crucial to keep that in check as you progress toward your goal. (Here Are Easy Tricks to Guesstimate Serving Sizes.)
They should help keep you from feeling deprived and bingeing on higher-calorie foods. For instance: honey has just 64 fat-releasing calories in one tablespoon. Eggs have just 70 calories in one hard-boiled egg, loaded with fat-releasing protein. Part-skim ricotta cheese has just 39 calories in one ounce, packed with fat-releasing calcium. Dark chocolate has about 168 calories in a one-ounce square, but it’s packed with fat releasers. And a University of Tennessee study found that people who cut 500 calories a day and ate yogurt three times a day for 12 weeks lost more weight and body fat than a group that only cut the calories. The researchers concluded that the calcium in low-fat dairy foods triggers a hormonal response that inhibits the body’s production of fat cells and boosts the breakdown of fat. Add these other fat-burning foods to your diet, too.
The root of the problem is not willpower but neuroscience. Metabolic suppression is one of several powerful tools that the brain uses to keep the body within a certain weight range, called the set point. The range, which varies from person to person, is determined by genes and life experience. When dieters’ weight drops below it, they not only burn fewer calories but also produce more hunger-inducing hormones and find eating more rewarding.
The other problem with exercise-without-dieting is that it’s simply tiring, and again, the body will compensate. “If the exercise made you tired so that you become more sedentary the rest of the day, you might not experience any net negative energy,” says Klein. Some of the calories we burn come from our basic movements throughout the day – so if you’re wiped out after exercise, and more likely to sit on the couch afterwards, you’ve lost the energy deficit you gained from your jog.
Green tea isn't known only for its cancer-fighting benefits: It may help boost your metabolism, too. People who took green-tea extract three times a day saw their metabolic rate increase by about 4 percent, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (Translation: You could burn an extra 60 calories a day, which equals about six pounds a year!) It may be because green tea contains catechins, which increase levels of the metabolism-speeding brain chemical norepinephrine, says Joy Bauer, a New York City nutritionist and author of Cooking with Joy.
When it comes down to it, the things we know to be true about weight loss are relatively simple, and certainly few. They’re also extremely effective when actually carried out. So, from the researchers who have studied this stuff for decades, here’s pretty much everything we know about weight loss today, whittled down to six points about how the body actually gains, loses, and maintains its weight.
You've worked on the calorie intake part of the equation. Now what about the "calories out?" Studies show that people who exercise while dieting lose more weight, and are better able to keep it off, than people who diet and do not exercise, said Wayne Miller, programs director at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine's Center for Rural and Community Health.