In the laboratory, rodents learn to binge when deprivation alternates with tasty food — a situation familiar to many dieters. Rats develop binge eating after several weeks consisting of five days of food restriction followed by two days of free access to Oreos. Four days later, a brief stressor leads them to eat almost twice as many Oreos as animals that received the stressor but did not have their diets restricted. A small taste of Oreos can induce deprived animals to binge on regular chow, if nothing else is available. Repeated food deprivation changes dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain that govern how animals respond to rewards, which increases their motivation to seek out and eat food. This may explain why the animals binge, especially as these brain changes can last long after the diet is over.
Stress may contribute to abdominal fat, according to several studies, including a recent one at the University of California, San Francisco. "When you're stressed, hormones like cortisol stimulate your appetite, slow your metabolism down and encourage fat storage inside your abdomen," explains Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Clinic at the University of Utah. So what's a frazzled girl to do? "Find an activity that reduces stress for you, whether it's listening to soothing music or taking yoga, and do it daily," advises Talbott.
Don't blame your chocolate craving on a lack of willpower. Turns out, there's a physiological reason ice cream, french fries, and cupcakes are so hard to resist: Our bodies are wired to crave rich food. Studies have shown that the taste of fat can give us the munchies by triggering a release of chemicals similar to those experienced by drug addicts. "Some people are hypersensitive to food," says Eric Stice, PhD, a senior research scientist at the Oregon Research Institute. "They find things like chocolate cake orgasmic, so they tend to overeat it."
Another way to trim carbs and calories and lose weight fast is by making your sandwich open-faced. Opting for one slice of bread instead of two will save you 70-90 calories, and leaves you more room to pile it high with healthy toppings like lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and avocado. Still hungry? Pair your sandwich with a side of baby carrots or bell pepper strips. The water and fiber in the veggies will fill you up and help with your weight-loss efforts.
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.
Most of us eat quickly, chewing each bite just a few times, which means we consume more food than we realize. Slow down and you'll slim down: In a recent study, people who chewed each bite 40 times ate almost 12 percent less than those who chewed just 15 times. When we chew longer, our bodies produce less ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite, and more of the peptide hormones that are believed to curb hunger. "Chewing seems to stimulate the gut to make appetite-suppressing peptide hormones," Dr. Cypess explains. Plus, the more you chew, the more thoroughly you break down food, which may release nutrients into your blood faster and give your brain time to register that you're full. From now on, focus on eating slowly at every meal. Put down your fork between bites and work your way up to 40 chews per mouthful of food.
Relative to chronic dieters, people who eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full are less likely to become overweight, maintain more stable weights over time and spend less time thinking about food. Mindful eating also helps people with eating disorders like binge eating learn to eat normally. Depending on the individual’s set point, mindful eating may reduce weight or it may not. Either way, it’s a powerful tool to maintain weight stability, without deprivation.
77. Get A Sit-To-Stand Desk – People who stand during the workday have been found to burn more calories than those who sit.61 There are a number of sit-to-stand desk options available these days. You can invest in an automated desk that adjusts heights based on whether you want to sit or stand, or you can build your own standing desk using Ikea furniture. Having the option to sit or stand could encourage you to move around more and be more active throughout the day.
Instead of satisfying your sweet tooth with some refined sugar, turn to berries and enjoy a slimmer waistline in no time. Berries are loaded with antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, and research from the University of Michigan reveals that rats given a berry-rich diet shaved off a significant proportion of their belly fat when compared to a control group. Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are also loaded with resveratrol, an antioxidant pigment that has been linked to reductions in belly fat and a reduced risk of dementia, to boot.
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.”
Speaking of intervals, high-intensity interval training (otherwise known as HIIT) has been shown to be incredibly effective for weight loss. Because the workouts are so intense, you don't need to put in an hour — or even 30 minutes — at the gym. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, seven minutes is all you need to get in the best shape of your life.
14. Learn Kettlebell Swings – The kettlebell swing is an incredibly effective exercise that builds power, core strength and stability, and awesome grip strength. Additionally, it induces a powerful metabolic effect making it a great exercise for weight loss, especially fat loss. Learn how to do this exercise with perfect form to get the most out of every rep. Kettlebell training can burn 20.2 calories per minute while jogging burns half the calories.20
While you wouldn’t have to be quite as restrictive to lose 10 pounds in two weeks, Gans says it would still require an extra level of dedication, and Feller recommends a diet that reduces caloric intake coupled with an exercise regimen that focuses on HIIT, strength training, and cardio. Why? “A lower ratio of carbohydrates and fats and a higher ratio of protein would help preserve lean body mass and promote the breakdown of fat mass,” she says. Your ratios might look something like 50 percent protein, 25 percent fat, and 25 percent carbs, although if you’re working out super hard, says Feller, you could decrease protein to 40 percent and increase your carbs to 35 percent for more easily accessible energy.
"It’s easy to become impatient and frustrated when you’re trying to lose weight and haven’t seen the results yet. But be realistic – you won’t see the affect overnight. Your brain’s wiring plays a huge part in resisting changes in lifestyle, and it takes time to establish new habits – up to 12 weeks. Stick with it for at least eight weeks and you should notice a change."
One study from the University of Adelaide in Australia suggests you may lose more weight when you work out towards the end of your menstrual cycle, as opposed to right when a new one begins. That’s because the hormones estrogen and progesterone tell your body to use fat as an energy source. "Women burned about 30 percent more fat for the two weeks following ovulation to about two days before menstruation," study author Leanne Redman says.
This is a large part of why exercise is critical in the maintenance phase, which is well known to be more difficult than the weight loss phase. Essentially, it buys us some wiggle room, says Michael Jensen, MD at the Mayo Clinic. “Exercise is very, very important for maintaining lost weight, and people who are not physically active are more likely to gain weight. We think it’s partly because in the extra calories burned from physical activity, you have a bit more flexibility in food intake, so you’re not so much relying on ridged changes in eating habits; it makes it more tolerable.”