The formula for losing weight is simple: Eat fewer calories than you burn. But the methods of doing this can vary. In truth, there is no one "best" way to lose weight — what works for you might not work for someone else. To get the lowdown on the latest science on weight loss, Live Science conducted a months-long search for the best information. We contacted nearly a dozen experts who have researched weight loss, and looked at the most well-regarded studies of weight loss done to date.
Dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar), which slows down weight loss. What’s more, part of the protein in milk generates a significant insulin response, which can have the same effect. Consequently, cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss. This applies especially to dairy products typically lacking in fat, such as regular milk and various yogurts, but be careful with full-fat dairy such as cream and cheese all the same. And don’t forget whey protein powder, which is pure milk protein.
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.
There’s a good reason you won’t see many fast-food restaurants decorated in blue: it functions as an appetite suppressant. So serve up dinner on blue plates, dress in blue while you eat, and cover your table with a blue tablecloth. Conversely, avoid red, yellow, and orange in your dining areas. Studies find they encourage eating. Don’t miss these other kitchen changes to help you eat less without noticing.
“When clients come to me, many of them have been through the diet wringer. They’ve tried every fad and gimmick and, of course, they’ve failed to maintain long-term success. The key to weight loss is to never feel like you’re on a diet, because diets don’t work. If you feel deprived, you will never make it past a few weeks. The only way to achieve long-term weight loss is to learn to appreciate food as fuel and slowly replaced processed food that cannot properly energize the body with real food that can. After a while this will become second nature and won’t feel like a daily struggle.” — Laura Burak, MS, RD, CDN
Obesity is a growing problem in the United States. Over the past 15 years, the nation's obesity rate rose by 24 percent (7.2 percentage points) among adults, from 30.5 percent in the years 1999-2000 to 37.7 percent in 2013-2014, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in November 2015. The adult obesity rate in 2013-2014 was the highest ever for the nation, and equates to more than 78 million people.
The good news is that there’s increasing evidence that the brain can, in large part, “fix” itself once new behavior patterns emerge (i.e., calorie restriction, healthy food choices, and exercise). While there may be some degree of “damage” to the brain, particularly in how hunger and satiety hormones function, it can correct itself to a large degree over time. The key is that the process does take time, and like any other behavior change, is ultimately a practice. “We want to change behavior here,” says Hill. “Anyone that tells you it’s going to happen in 12 weeks, that’s bogus. We’re trying to rewire the brain. Neurobiology has told us so much about what’s going on in weight gain and weight loss. It takes a long time to develop new habits, rituals, routines. This takes months and years. But it will happen.”
Eating this way allows people to consistently eat the same amount of calories without counting them, feeling deprived or eliminating any foods, Wengel said. She estimated a woman would consume 1,200-1,800 calories a day on this plan, while a man would ingest 1,600-2,200 calories a day, producing a calorie deficit for most people. The average weight loss is about 1 to 1.8 pounds a week until it naturally stops, she said.
But the combination of the fact that I hate actually doing cardio (and hardly ever do anymore despite closing in on single digit body fat levels as we speak), rarely ever recommend it by default for fat loss or muscle growth, and think it’s by far the most overrated component of improving body composition in general… I’ve been finding it hard to actually start writing about it.
“One of the keys to long-term and sustainable weight loss is to cut total calorie intake, and there’s no better way to do that than by eating just a little bit less of what you currently eat. Once you get into a habit of reducing portions—especially of sugary, fatty and other nutrient-poor foods—you can fine tune your diet to incorporate more nutrient-rich foods. But paring portions is still the best first step.” — Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN, author of Younger Next Week
It’s stunning how often we eat out of boredom, nervousness, habit, or frustration—so often, in fact, that many of us have actually forgotten what physical hunger feels like. (Don’t miss these other common reasons you can’t stop eating.) If you’re hankering for a specific food, it’s probably a craving, not hunger. If you’d eat anything you could get your hands on, chances are you’re truly hungry. Learn how to recognize these feelings mistaken for hunger, then find ways other than eating to express love, tame stress, and relieve boredom. But talk to your doctor if you think you’re always hungry for a medical reason.
In addition, eat healthy foods throughout the day to keep your glucose, which fuels your body, at a high level so that you feel energized and satisfied. You'll also be better able to resist cravings when you snack on nutritious choices like fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and whole-grain bread topped with a little peanut butter, according to a recent study that showed that eating consistently helps us control our impulses.
Cortisone as an oral drug is another common culprit (e.g. Prednisolone). Cortisone often causes weight gain in the long run, especially at higher doses (e.g. more than 5 mg Prednisolone per day). Unfortunately, cortisone is often an essential medication for those who are prescribed it, but the dose should be adjusted frequently so you don’t take more than you need. Asthma inhalers and other local cortisone treatments, like creams or nose sprays, hardly affect weight.
Not all fat is bad. Healthy or “good” fats can actually help to control your weight, as well as manage your moods and fight fatigue. Unsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, soymilk, tofu, and fatty fish can help fill you up, while adding a little tasty olive oil to a plate of vegetables, for example, can make it easier to eat healthy food and improve the overall quality of your diet.
“This is an adaptive system,” adds David Allison, PhD. “For every action there’s a reaction; that’s a law of physics, not of biology, but it seems that it also works in biological systems. This is why we often overestimate quite radically an effect of a particular treatment.” He points out that public health campaigns that, for example, urge people to take the stairs instead of the elevator or go on a nightly stroll – or, for that matter, even eat fewer calories – are unlikely to work, since they may fail to take into account the body's compensatory mechanisms that can totally counteract the effect.
In a new study, Stanford University researchers put more than 600 overweight adults on either a healthy low-fat or low-carb diet. It turns out, participants had similar levels of weight loss success on each plan. Researchers looked for clues (such as insulin levels and gene patterns) to see if there are any factors that might make someone more successful on either diet, but after combing through the data, they were not able to make any connections. Since it may take years before scientists discover individual traits that could lead to more success on one plan compared to another, for now, we can learn a lot — and lose a lot! — by recognizing the dieting advice that all experts agree on.
If you can't or don't have time to exercise, being diligent about your diet can help you burn fat without intense workouts. Your body stores extra calories as fat, so controlling your calorie intake is the key to reducing fat. Keep in mind you still need to consume enough calories and nutrients to provide your body with the fuel it needs. Avoid sugary beverages and junk foods, control your portion sizes, and maintain a balanced diet. It might take some diligence, but keeping a close eye on what you eat can put you on the path toward better health.
The secret to a slimmer stomach in no time? A whole lot of fiber in your diet. Although many people are loath to add carbs to their diet when they’re trying to lose weight, adding the right, fiber-rich ones can have inches off your belly in a hurry. In fact, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that every 10-gram daily increase in soluble fiber was associated with a 3.7 percent decrease in dangerous visceral fat over five years. Those who were active got even leaner, shaving off twice that much fat in the same amount of time. To start ditching that extra belly fat today, add the 30 Best Foods For Fiber to your menu!
What’s your take on Gary Taubes’ work (if you’ve read it)? He hates the calorie in/out concept but from reading it that’s mainly because it doesn’t address causality (and he doesn’t believe everybody that’s obese/overweight is just lazy/stupid). As I understand it he specifically he says insulin levels regulate how easily fat is stored and available to be burned off and affects how hungry we get. Is that wrong?
"Protein is great for fat loss. It helps build and preserve lean muscle tissue and can increase the amount of calories you burn. It’s also a great source of energy that helps you feel fuller for longer, so you’re less tempted to snack. Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, eggs, milk and chickpeas. And if you’re finding it difficult to avoid snacks that are high in carbohydrates, try substituting them for protein shakes or bars. Remember also to opt for the lean sources of protein because some sources can be high in saturated fat."
With an important event coming up, you may want to get rid of your belly fat in one week. While it's impossible to lose a lot of fat in just one week, you can lose water weight, which will reduce bloating and the appearance of fat in your belly. Long-term fat loss requires a commitment, but if you need a short-term solution, be strict in your diet and exercise to reach your goals.
67. Go To Bed Before Midnight – Sleep quality is influenced by your circadian rhythm, and going to bed before midnight greatly enhances the quality and benefits of your sleep. Going to bed past midnight is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease and obesity.56 So listen to your body and go to bed when that first wave of sleepiness hits, which is usually well before midnight.
"When we’re lacking in sleep, our body’s hormones get thrown off balance which can impact our hunger levels the next day. We all have two hormones that affect our appetite: ghrelin and leptin. When we don’t get enough sleep, our ghrelin levels (the hormone that makes us feel hungry) rise, and our leptin levels (the hormone that makes us feel full) drop. This means that when we’re awake, we tend to eat more but feel less satisfied. Try going to bed a little earlier than usual to avoid this imbalance and remember to remove any distractions that might prevent you from nodding off."
Spice up your favorite foods with a few dashes of hot cayenne pepper sauce. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, an appetite suppressant; a study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate capsaicin consumed 200 fewer calories at the next meal. Not only will this help you cut back on calories and boost weight loss, but researchers have also found that capsaicin can help you lose belly fat and lose weight fast.
This healthy brew acts like a diet drug in a mug, but without the negative side effects. A review of studies concluded that regularly sipping green tea can help you drop pounds. This weight loss is the result of EGCG, a compound known to reduce fat absorption, according to new research from Penn State. But that's not all this magic drink does: As it's reducing fat absorption, "green tea also increases the amount of fat that your body eliminates," explains study author Joshua D. Lambert, PhD, an assistant professor of food science at the university. So think about trading your usual afternoon java for green tea instead. Experts say that drinking three to five cups of the regular or decaf variety every day may help you lose weight.
Make sure that everything you're eating is whole — as in nothing processed or packaged. Since salt is a preservative, these are the foods that are highest in sodium — something to keep in mind when planning your meals. Plan on making sure that all items you choose are fresh. That means filling up on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
20. Take The Stairs Every Time You Have A Choice – If you have a choice, challenge yourself to take the stairs instead of an escalator or an elevator. This gets your heart rate up and works your muscles more than idly standing on an escalator or in an elevator. Taking the stairs daily can increase your cardiovascular conditioning and decrease your waist size, weight, body fat percentage, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.25
The main advantage of the low carb diet is that they cause you to want to eat less. Even without counting calories most overweight people eat far fewer calories on low carb. Sugar and starch may increase your hunger, while avoiding them may decrease your appetite to an adequate level. If your body wants to have an appropriate number of calories you don’t need to bother counting them. Thus: Calories count, but you don’t need to count them.