Getting too little sleep, which most experts define as less than 7 hours of shut-eye per night, may increase levels of an appetite-stimulating hormone called ghrelin, and decrease levels of the hormone leptin, which makes you feel full, according to the NIH. This may lead to an increase in hunger. In addition, people who sleep less could have more time to eat. In a small study of 11 people who stayed in a sleep lab, participants ate more snacks when they slept for just 5.5 hours than when they slept for 8.5 hours. This increase in snacking occurred mostly during the late-night hours.
Yup, sounds like a good plan to me. A 2 week diet break at maintenance certainly can’t hurt (especially as you’re going lower in body fat), and then coming back to a small deficit is definitely the right idea. Getting into single digit body fat levels, you’re gonna want to lose slower now (0.5lb per week range), so a small deficit is the way to do it.
Obviously, it’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – just eat fewer calories than you burn, right? The problem with this simplistic advice is that it ignores the elephant in the room: Hunger. Most people don’t like to “just eat less”, i.e. being hungry forever. That’s dieting for masochists. Sooner or later a normal person will give up and eat, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting”.
People who are normal weight, or overweight and do not have any additional risk factors for heart disease, should focus on avoiding weight gain, rather than losing weight, the guidelines say, because there is no strong evidence that weight loss provides health benefits for these people. However, additional weight gain could lead to problems, experts said.
A body of research out of Pennsylvania State University finds that eating water-rich foods such as zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers during meals reduces your overall calorie consumption. Other water-rich foods include soups and salads. You won’t get the same benefits by just drinking your water, though (but you will get other benefits of staying hydrated). Because the body processes hunger and thirst through different mechanisms, it simply doesn’t register a sense of fullness with water (or soda, tea, coffee, or juice). Learn how to tell if you need to eat more vegetables.
“A lot of what we know in this area comes from NASA, of the bed-rest studies,” he says. “Within a couple of days of non-activity, the metabolism becomes inflexible. You start moving again, and it does start to change.” Your metabolism may not ever go back to “normal” (more on this below), but the evidence indicates that it can indeed pick up again, in large part through moving your body every day.
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. Find out if your diet doesn’t have enough fiber.
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A little garlic in your meals could mean a lot less weight around your middle. The results of a Korean study found that mice given a high-fat diet supplemented with garlic lost significantly more weight and abdominal fat than those who just ate fatty foods. Even better, they also improved their liver health, making it easier to stay healthy and burn off that excess fat in the long term. For more flavorful ways to make your food more enjoyable, turn to the 20 Spicy Recipes That Fire Up Your Metabolism and watch those pounds melt away.
If you want to lose weight you should start by avoiding sugar and starch (like bread, pasta and potatoes). This is an old idea: For 150 years or more there have been an infinite number of weight-loss diets based on eating fewer carbs. What’s new is that dozens of modern scientific studies have proven that, yes, low carb is the most effective way to lose weight.