Can’t shed those unwanted pounds? Try these 12 expert-recommended tricks. (iStock)

There are many conflicting diet theories when it comes to the best way to lose weight (and keep it off)…enough to make you want to dive head first into that chocolate sundae.

“We’re constantly bombarded by so much confusing information about weight loss that it can be difficult to know what to believe,” says Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, author of “Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer.”

While it likely took more than a week to gain unwanted fat, most people wish they could lose it quicker than it came on. “When it comes to losing weight, simply cutting back on your portion sizes could be the most underrated way to drop pounds. However, if you’re already eating less (and exercising more) and are still stuck, there are little tricks of the trade that can help jumpstart your efforts,” Ansel says.

Read on for twelve ways to help you naturally speed up weight loss and shed those stubborn pounds.

1. Drink water

People who drank two cups of water 30 minutes before meals for three months dropped nearly three more pounds than people who didn’t pre-hydrate. (iStock)

Water helps you feel full, so you eat less. “Consuming eight to 10 cups of plain water daily can boost weight loss because research shows that thirst can be confused with hunger,” says Misti Gueron, MS, RDN, nutritionist at the Khalili Center. “Many people reach for food because of cravings, low energy or boredom, and these habits can lead to unnecessary weight gain,” she added. In fact, it’s so powerful that one study found that people who drank two cups of water 30 minutes before meals for three months dropped nearly three more pounds than people who didn’t pre-hydrate before mealtime. To help achieve your weight loss goal, try drinking eight ounces of water when you first wake up, carrying a BPA-free water bottle or tracking your water intake on your phone.

2. Keep a food journal

Food journaling may not sound sexy, but time and time again research proves that it works. In fact, according to a study from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research, keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss. “Without this tool, many people forget the snacks and bites taken while standing, preparing food for others or munching in the car. Over time these unrecognized snacks can lead to several extra pounds gained per year,” says Gueron. If you’re not the pad and paper type, Ansel recommends keeping a running journal on your smartphone or trying an app like MyFitness Pal or Lose It.

3. Flip your portions

While it’s good to be aware of portion sizes on nutrition labels, why not flip them to your benefit? For example, instead of a bowl of ice cream with a few blueberries, have a bowl of blueberries with a spoonful of ice cream. While one cup of ice cream has more than 250 calories and not much in the way of nutrition, one cup of blueberries contains only 80 calories and is a good source of fiber and vitamin C. Or, instead of a plate of pasta with some veggies, have a plate of veggies with some pasta. A mix of steamed or roasted cruciferous vegetables works great with a smaller amount of pasta. Not only does this ingredient swap cut the calories in the dish, the additional veggies provide nutrients like fiber, potassium and vitamin A.

4. Try a HIIT workout

A 15 minute HIIT session can be equivalent to a regular 30 minute cardio workout (iStock)

“If you are looking to speed up weight loss, adding 30 minutes of cardio three times per week will certainly help burn calories and body fat,” says Amie Hoff, Certified Fitness Professional in New York City. Short on time? Hoff suggests a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout. “The idea is to push your body hard for a short burst with a period of recovery. I like to have people start with a 10 to 15 second sprint (run, bike, jump rope, run stairs or anything that gets your heart rate up) and then back off for 30 seconds to recover. As you get stronger, you will increase the sprint time and decrease the recovery period. A 15 minute HIIT session can be equivalent to a regular 30 minute cardio workout.”

5. Eat before eating

While it might sound counterintuitive to eat something before you head out to a restaurant or party, showing up famished to the event will likely make it all the harder to stick to your weight loss goals. Eating something small (about 100 calories) with fiber (two to four grams) is a great way to readjust your appetite so you can show up and mingle a bit before diving into the cheese dip. Choose a whole food to take the edge off, like an apple or handful of nuts. For example, 30 pistachios are just 100 calories and offer two grams of fiber, along with protein and healthy fats, to truly take the edge off your appetite while providing a satisfying pre-party crunch. Enjoy your mini snack with a tall glass of water before the festivities to reduce your chances of post-party weight gain.

6. Burn more calories with muscle

While cardio burns calories as you work out, strength training will help you burn more calories even while you rest. “The beautiful thing about strength training is that not only do you get sculpted and toned muscles, but the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism is,” says Hoff. A faster metabolism means more calories burned, and in turn faster weight loss. Hoff says incorporating strength training two to three times a week is ideal. “No need for heavy weights; you can build muscle by using your own body weight and exercise bands.”

7. Choose healthy snacks

Americans are snacking more than ever, so making smart snacking choices are key to achieving your weight loss goals. Aim for snacks that satisfy by choosing foods that provide a mix of protein and fiber, stabilizing blood sugar levels and keeping hunger at bay. An apple and almond butter, a plain yogurt with berries, or high-fiber crispbread crackers and hummus can all be smart snacking options. For example, two Wasa Flax Seed crispbread crackers combined with two tablespoons of hummus provide 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber for staying power. For an added boost, add a few teaspoons of hot sauce. Research shows spicy foods may help speed up metabolism and curb appetite.

8. Eat more beans

Beans are an excellent source of slow-release carbohydrates, as well as a good source of protein and fiber, which slow the digestive process to help you stay fuller, longer. (iStock)

Beans are an excellent source of slow-release carbohydrates, as well as a good source of protein and fiber, which slow the digestive process to help you stay fuller, longer. “Research finds that eating just three-quarters of a cup of beans a day for six weeks can help you lose close to six pounds. And if you’re trying to lower your cholesterol, it’s a double win as the soluble fiber in beans helps whisk cholesterol out of your body,” says Ansel. She also says you don’t necessarily need to cook dry beans from scratch. Canned beans are one of the most underrated convenience foods, so keep a rotation of all kinds – like black, pinto, chickpea and cannellini – in your pantry. Try adding beans to your soups and salads, add them minced to meat dishes, enjoy a bean dip like hummus, or toss them in a salad.

9. Cut out sugary drinks

If you make the right food choices and watch your portions but you find that you’re still struggling to lose weight, don’t forget to consider the calories consumed in your favorite sweetened beverages. “Café mocha’s or other popular coffee beverages, sweetened teas, sodas and fruit drinks can easily add 150 to 500 calories extra to your day and daily consumption can easily foster a pound or more weight gain per week,” says Gueron. Stick to water or unsweetened tea and save the sweetened stuff for a special treat.

10. Be good to your gut

Instead of doing a detox or cleanse in the hopes of resetting your GI system (and speeding up weight loss), boost your gut health naturally with fiber-filled foods. “Fiber is a carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but unlike other forms of carbohydrates, it is harder to digest. As it passes through your digestive system, it stimulates the receptors that tell your brain you’re full. People who consume more fiber tend to have healthier body weights,” says Gueron. If you’re looking for more specific fiber-filled foods to reboot your gut, eat the three P’s: prunes, pulses, and pears. Prunes help maintain good digestive health and can positively affect the bacteria living in the gut. Pulses, which include lentils, beans, and peas, improve gut health by strengthening the gut barrier. And pears contain prebiotic fiber, which help promote intestinal health by providing food for beneficial probiotic bacteria.

11. Close the kitchen

In today’s modern era of 24-hour meal delivery and extra-large food portions, many people are confused about how much and how often to eat. Gueron says one of the most common questions she gets is, “How late can I eat dinner and still lose weight?” Recently, several studies have shown that avoiding food past certain hours of the day or intermittent fasting can promote weight loss. She says a moderate approach that boosts weight loss and comes without apparent side effects for the healthy individual is the 12-hour intermittent fasting approach. An example is having your first morning meal no earlier than 7 a.m. and your last evening meal no later than 7 p.m. Thus, 12 hours without food or caloric beverages consumed gives your body time to rest from eating and promotes fat burning without unnecessary hunger that daytime fasting can cause.

12. Get more sleep

Studies show the fewer minutes you spend asleep, the more likely you are to feel hungrier and make poor food choices the next day. (iStock)

A commonly overlooked obstacle to eating better (and losing weight) is sleep. While sleep needs vary, according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults require seven to nine hours a night. Unfortunately, two-thirds of people report experiencing sleep problems at least a few nights a week, with women more prone to sleep problems than men. A review study that looked at 36 studies on sleep and weight gain found short sleep duration was independently linked to weight gain. Studies show the fewer minutes you spend asleep, the more likely you are to feel hungrier and make poor food choices the next day. Make sure you’re getting enough Zzzzs to reap the rewards of your weight loss efforts.

The Shocking Diet Tweak That Helps You Lose Weight

By the time you leave work, hit the gym, head home, and throw dinner together, it’s practically already time to hit the sack. Sound familiar? While eating a late dinner is the reality for many of our go-go-go lifestyles (hey, at least we’re eating one!), a new study published in Cell Metabolism shows it may also sabotage our waistlines, further suggesting that timing really is everything when it comes to healthy eating.

Researchers at the Salk Institute in San Diego subjected some 400 mice (at various weights) to different diets—one high in fat, one high in fat and sugar, and one high in sugar. Regardless of the diet plan, the mice that ate within a 9- to 12-hour timeframe developed less body fat than their counterparts that had the whole day to eat, even though they consumed the exact same number of calories.

“Your body clock ensures that metabolic enzymes are ready for the cycle of consuming food, storing energy, fasting, and burning energy,” says Amandine Chaix, a postdoctoral researcher at Salk Institute, and author of the study. “If you eat at an improper time, you disturb the system, and your body may not metabolize the calories you consumed as efficiently.”

The best part? The researchers even weekend-proofed their theory (when most diets get tossed to the curb), giving the time-restricted subjects two days of full access to high-fat meals. Still, these mice gained less weight than their always-free-wheeling counterparts. “The fact that it worked no matter the diet, and the fact that it worked even when taking a break on the weekend, was a very nice surprise,” says Chaix. The researchers say this suggests that the time-restricted diet can withstand some temporary interruptions (read: when life gets in the way).

Ready to test the time-restriction idea on yourself? Schedule your mealtimes as best you can, making sure your first and last meals of the day are within 12 hours of each other.

11. Break Up Your Exercise Routine

Whenever possible, slice each of your workouts into two smaller sessions. For example, do a 15-minute weight-lifting session in the morning, then do your 30-minute walk on your lunch hour or at night. You’ll burn an extra 100 to 200 calories that day, explains Kelly Tracy, M.A., fitness coordinator at Duke University Diet and Fitness Center. Don’t have time? Just add in some stair climbing or short walks throughout the day. Even small bursts of activity are enough to get your metabolism revved, according to a study in the scientific journal Nature. “I call it the mini stoke: For five minutes out of every hour, get up and do something, even if it’s just walking around your office,” says professor of medicine Peeke. “You can end up burning a couple of hundred extra calories.

12. Sweat Out Your PMS

It’s tempting to curl up on the couch the minute PMS mood swings and bloat strike, but you’ll lose more weight if you exercise during those two weeks before your period, according to a recent study at the University of Adelaide in Australia. “Women burned about 30 percent more fat for the two weeks following ovulation to about two days before menstruating,” says study coauthor Leanne Redman. Here’s why: The reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone are at their peak then — and because they promote the body’s use of fat as energy, more fat is burned off when you exercise during this time.

GETTY IMAGES

13. Get Some Shut-Eye

Skimping on sleep can derail your metabolism. In a study at the University of Chicago, people who got four hours of sleep or less a night had more difficulty processing carbohydrates. “When you’re exhausted, your body lacks the energy to do its normal day-to-day functions, which include burning calories, so your metabolism is automatically lowered,” explains Peeke.

There are easy ways to get a good night’s sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Schedule your workouts earlier in the day; exercising within two to three hours of bedtime can keep sleep at bay. And try soaking in a hot bath, since studies show that warm water makes it easier to fall asleep.

14. Chill Out

Long-term stress can make you fat, studies have found. “When you’re chronically stressed, your body is flooded with stress hormones, which stimulate fat cells deep in the abdomen to increase in size and encourage fat storage,” says Peeke. “I call this toxic weight, because fat deep within your belly is more likely to increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.” And stress hormones spark your appetite, making you likely to overeat.

So what’s a frazzled woman to do? Make a list of all the things that relax you: playing with the dog, writing in your journal, even listening to classical music. Then allow yourself 10 to 15 minutes every day to kick back and enjoy one of these activities.

15. Treat Yourself

If you’re cutting calories to lose weight, add 200-300 to your daily intake once in a while, says Amanda Bonfiglio Cunningham, a senior Yoga Medicine instructor. “The body will get used to a calorie deficit diet, adjusting by slowing the metabolic rate. By allowing yourself a day of indulgence (not overindulgence!), you’re creating a healthy balance,” she explains. “The extra calories raise leptin production, a hormone that regulates appetite and energy. This rise triggers thermogenesis, the body’s natural tendency to create heat, which results in burning calories.” Pass the dessert menu!

16. Go Green (Tea)

Before you throw a French press at someone’s head, read on. You don’t have to eliminate coffee — but throw a few cups of green tea into the rotation and you may find that your pants fit a little looser. “Research shows that the caffeine and catechin in green tea has the ability to increase your metabolic function by 4-5 percent and improve fat oxidation by 10-16 percent,” explains Bonfiglio Cunningham. Green tea comes with an extra perk, too — its antioxidant properties. “The antioxidants found in many teas fight free radicals in the body, improving the aging process and lowering the risk of disease.”

17. Joke Around

Bring on the funny cat videos — they’re good for your health, according to researchers. No, you won’t get the same calorie-burning results as you get from your spin class, but laughing does give your metabolism a small boost. Astudy published in the International Journal of Obesity found that genuine laughter increased both energy expenditure and heart rate by 10-20 percent above resting values. Another study found that watching cat videos in particular can boost your energy level. Guess you know what you’re watching on the treadmill from now on.

18. Drink Water — and Lots of It

Boosting your metabolism by drinking water might seem too easy, but it really does work. In a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers found that participants’ metabolisms increased by a whopping 30 percent just 10 minutes after drinking 16 ounces of H20.

19. Try a Low-Glycemic Diet

Instead of ditching carbs or going low-fat, try a diet that’s rich in veggies, beans, and legumes to increase your metabolism — and keep your blood sugar from spiking. “Many people think weight is all about calories in, calories out, but quality also matters,” says Aunna Pourang, M.D. “, low-carb diets showed the most increase in metabolism, but also showed an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. This is why scientists concluded that the low-glycemic diet worked the best.”

20. Add Healthy Fats to Your Meals

When you’re trying to ramp up your metabolism, eating fats might sound scary — but you just have to eat the right kind. Focus on a balanced diet of protein, carbs, and healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and olive oil to see a change. “I told my friend to start her day with high-fiber cereal, plain yogurt, and a handful of walnuts, or a hard-boiled egg and a slice of whole-grain toast topped with avocado. Then eat this same balance of protein, carbs, and fat for lunch and dinner,” says Eugenia Gianos, M.D., co-director of the Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at New York University Langone Medical Center. “She felt full between meals, had fewer cravings, and because good fats and fiber work in tandem to boost metabolism, she was able to drop the extra pounds and keep them off. It’s a strategy I’ve seen work over and over again in my practice.”

21. Limit How Much You Sit

We all know sitting around too much is really bad for our health: One meta-analysis reported that prolonged sedentary time was associated with harmful health outcomes, and many other studies have shown it can (obviously!) lead to weight gain. Limiting your time in front of the TV at night and even trying to stand more while you’re at work — perhaps with a standing desk — can increase your metabolism, helping you lose weight with minimal effort.

22. Go Organic

Buying organic fruits and veggies might cost a little bit more, but it’s worth it for your waistline. Researchers in Canada found those with the most organochlorines — AKA pollutants found in pesticides that are stored in fat cells — are more likely to experience a halt in metabolism opposed to those who eat pesticide-free organic produce. To avoid letting what you eat get in the way of burning more calories, try to at least buy organic produce when it comes to the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen”: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes.

23. Turn Down the Temperature

If you’re someone who loves being cold while they sleep, you might already be doing your metabolism some good. A small study looked at how lowering the temperature while you’re catching some zzzs may increase your levels of “brown fat” — the “good” fat that keeps you warm in cold temps by burning calories to generate heat. When the participants in the study slept at 66 degrees opposed to warmer temperatures, their amount of brown fat increased, while the opposite occurred during the months their sleeping areas were warmer. Turns out blasting the AC can really do you some good.

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IF you’re aiming to lose body fat, the chances are that you’ve tried to diet and move more.

But cutting the calories and spending hours in the gym aren’t the only ways to shave a few pounds off here and there.

5 Losing weight is about reducing your calorie intake but there are subtle and sustainable ways to do thatCredit: Getty – Contributor

Other little lifestyle tweaks can help you to burn fat or reduce the number of calorific foods you consume.

And when paired with a generally healthy lifestyle, they can help to further your gains.

1. Slow down (your chewing)

How often do you spend quite a bit of time making your dinner, only to wolf it down in five minutes?

5 Set yourself a challenge to count the number of chews you do next time you eat. You’re probably not chewing anywhere near enough!Credit: Getty – Contributor

When you eat fast, your belly can’t register how full it is – so you go back for second helpings or puddings when actually, you’ve eaten enough already.

By slowing down and really taking the time to chew every mouthful, you’ll not only appreciate what you’re eating more but you’ll also give your body a chance to register how much it’s taken on.

Start by setting a timer – say, for 20 minutes. If you finish your meal way before the timer goes off, you’ll know that you’re guzzling too fast.

A study last year of more than 60,000 people with diabetes in Japan found that those who ate slower “tended to be healthier and to have a healthier lifestyle than either fast or normal speed eaters”.

There’s no fixed number of chews that you’re supposed to take but experts tend to suggest that we should be chewing around 32 times in order to break down food properly.

2. Drink more water

5 Half the time we confuse thirst with hunger, so drink plenty of water throughout the dayCredit: Getty – Contributor

Few people drink enough water but staying properly hydrated is absolutely crucial to maintaining good health.

And it can help control appetite and weight loss too.

Drinking water throughout the day can help you to feel full easier.

We often mistake thirst for hunger, so if ensure that you’re definitely not thirsty, you can save yourself the risk of eating when you don’t actually need food.

A study has found that that drinking half a litre of water 30 minutes before a meal could reduce hunger and calorie intake.

But your best probably is to simply drink more throughout the day – which should keep any risk of a snack attack under control.

3. Hide unhealthy food

“Out of sight, out of mind”, right?

Sure, you might know that you have a tonne of biscuits in your cupboard but at least if they’re not within arm’s length, you won’t just sit there mindlessly eating.

A 2016 study suggested that just seeing junk food around the house can increase hunger and cravings while having things like fruit readily to hand makes us more likely to snack on healthy grub.

4. Sleep more

5 If you want to feel less hungry during the day, you need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep at nightCredit: Getty – Contributor

Sleep, like water, is something that experts are always telling us to get more of.

The average Brit only gets around 6 hours, 19 minutes kip a night – despite knowing that we need around eight hours a night to function well.

Multiple studies have found that poor sleep can affect our appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin.

The less sleep you get, the higher your BMI is likely to be because your hunger hormone ghrelin rises, while the chemical that makes you feel satisfied – leptin, lowers.

This is particularly the case with people who get less than 7.7 hours sleep, with one 2004 study finding that once you go below that amount, you’re bound to feel more hungry.

So, make sure you’re in bed earlier and that you’re powering down an hour or two before you get into bed to make sure that you actually fall asleep as soon as you get into bed.

That’ll also make sure that you’re not going to spend the evening snacking on the sofa.

5. Use red plates

OK, sounds odd, but apparently, the colour of your crockery really can make a difference.

Scientists conducted two studies on how the colour red affected our consumption of snack food and fizzy drinks.

They found that people tended to drink less from red cups than from blue cups, and ate less grub from red plates than from blue or white plates.

“The results suggest that red functions as a subtle stop signal that works outside of focused awareness and thereby reduces incidental food and drink intake,” they concluded.

6. Put your phone down

5 Red acts as a kind of psychological stop, so it might be worth investing in a red bowl or twoCredit: Getty – Contributor

“Mindful eating” doesn’t have to be as wellness hippy-ish as it sounds.

All it really means is concentrating on what you’re eating with no distractions.

It’s related to the idea of chewing everything properly. When you’re busy watching TV, working or playing on your phone, you’re often not concentrating on what you’re eating and how much you’re consuming.

And that tends to lead to you eating more than you need.

A review of 24 studies found that those who were regularly distracted while eating ate nearly 10 per cent more food than those who properly focused on their food.

It might be a bore and you’ve definitely heard it before, but if you want to lose weight or maintain a healthy one, you’re much better off eating at a dining table with your family, housemates or on your own, and really just concentrating and enjoying your meal. WhatsApp can wait!

7. Use smaller plates for more unhealthy food

The larger the plate, the more tempted you are to fill it up and eat everything on it.

Most of us have been brought up to finish what’s on our plates and it’s really hard to undo that thinking – particularly when you consider how big a problem food waste is.

But if you have a smaller plate, there’s less waste and there’s less subconscious pressure to overeat.

Keep your big plates for your meals when you’ve got stack loads of veg going on. You really cannot overeat on dark leafy greens and they fill you up.

But for your puddings and junk food, try to use smaller plates and bowls so that you trick yourself into thinking you’ve got a bigger portion.

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So that’s it really.
Fat loss is fundamentally about creating a calorie deficit and while that’s obvious, it can be hard to put that into practice.

But these small lifestyle hacks can help you cut the kcals without even realising.

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7 Ways to Naturally Lose Weight

Want to lose weight but not sure about the following ways. Let’s have a look into some basics logics to lose weight.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Consuming enough water keeps you hydrated and helps your internal organs function properly. When fully hydrated your body eliminates waste more effectively, which can make the digestive system more efficient and can help you in losing weight. Recommended amount of water is 10-12 glasses per day.

  1. Sleep for 7 to 8 hrs

Many studies have shown that an erratic sleeping pattern can disturb the physiology of your body. When you do not get enough sleep it may lead to cravings and an unnecessary consumption of calories. Also, lack of sleep can cause imbalance in your hormonal levels and can slow down your metabolism. Therefore, sleep for a minimum 8 hours a night to avoid cravings and empty calories.

  1. Eat your breakfast

It is the most important meal of the day. After a long night’s rest, your body needs the fuel to get your metabolism going and give you energy for the rest of the day.

  1. Follow Exercise Regime

Regular exercise helps in burning fat from your body. Make it a routine to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. It will also help you in maintaining your hormone levels, avoiding sugar cravings and keeping yourself fit.

  1. Avoid Packaged/Sodium rich foods

Sodium is a mineral which maintains the electrolyte balance of your body. But excessively consuming foods high in sodium leads to water retention in the body, thus increasing your weight on the scale. Limiting the amount of sodium in your diet can help your body to expel the retained water. Major source of sodium in diet is table salt which is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Other sources of sodium include packaged potato chips, pickled food, cured meat, salami, and various fermented sauces like soya sauce.

  1. Eat slowly

A study has found that eating slowly and having smaller bites makes us feel less hungry an hour afterwards than if we wolf down food.Try resting your fork between bites and keep sipping water in between. With this habit, digestive system will work more efficiently.

  1. Add protein to your diet

Protein takes longer to get digested and therefore keeps you full for longer. However, increasing protein intake does not mean that you have to reduce your carbohydrate intake. Your body needs carbohydrates to produce energy and protein to build muscles; therefore, it is required to keep a balance between protein and carbohydrates

7 ways to lose weight

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