Keep in mind that a number on a scale won't give you the full picture. The scale does not discriminate between fat and muscle, nor will it tell you about the health of your heart or your increased endurance. If you are burning fat while gaining muscle, your weight may not change. Instead of giving up, consider non-weight-related goals, such as how many laps you can swim in one go.
Eating sugary foods might be satisfying in the moment, but they can increase your cravings for more sugary foods in the future — and that only leads to trouble. "Many foods high in added sugar are also higher in calories and fill you up less than lower-calorie, still-sweet alternatives like fruit," says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. But there are still ways to satisfy your sweet tooth without ODing on sugar. "When you're baking, cut out some of the sugar in recipes by adding in vanilla extract or cinnamon, blend unsweetened cocoa powder into a smoothie instead of honey, top your French toast with unsweetened frozen fruit instead of syrup, and nosh on a slab of watermelon instead of cookies."
You’ll be less likely to overeat the next day. Eating right and exercising regularly help ward off both stress and belly fat, but only if you’re getting enough sleep. Skimping on sleep causes levels of the stress hormone cortisol to rise, along with levels of deep abdominal fat. "There’s a definite association between lack of sleep, increased stress hormones, and weight gain," says Auburn University exercise researcher Michele Olson, PhD. In a 6-year study, Canadian researchers found that adults who averaged just 5 or 6 hours of shut-eye a night were 35% more likely to gain 10-plus pounds and were nearly 60% heavier around the middle than those who slept 7 to 8 hours. Now that’s a reason to skip Leno.
Not much of a coffee drinker? Tea is also a natural diuretic, and types of herbal tea such as dandelion or fennel root can also lend a hand. In fact: When a recent study compared the metabolic effect of green tea (in extract) with that of a placebo, researchers found that the green-tea drinkers burned about 70 additional calories in a 24-hour period.
A well-stocked pantry can be a great tool for healthy eating. Most items found in your pantry will be shelf stable and easy to keep on hand over longer periods of time. Try keeping items like these for quick and healthy meals: canned beans, no-salt-added canned vegetables, canned tuna or chicken, 100% whole grains (like quinoa, 100% whole wheat pasta, or brown rice), nut butters, and low-calorie and low-sodium soups.
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”.