If losing a few pounds is on your list of resolutions, you have lots of company. In fact, weight loss tops the list of common New Year’s goals year after year. But shedding some pounds doesn’t have to be painful. Here are some surprisingly effective—and often enjoyable—ways to jumpstart weight loss, backed by solid science.
Eating chocolate, cookies or cake with breakfast can help reduce cravings during the day, according to a 32-week long study published in the medical journal Steroids. In fact, study participants who added dessert to their breakfast lost around 40 more pounds than those who avoided them. Moderation is key—an ounce or two of chocolate will do the trick—so while gorging on candy bars each morning isn’t recommended, cutting sweets from your diet completely isn’t necessary.
Tightening your muscles actually firms your resolve and can help you avoid food temptations, according to multiple studies published in the Journal of Consumer Research. Strengthen our willpower by clenching your fists next time you are about to binge on a box of donuts, and you just might find yourself better able to resist the temptation.
The mere act of putting the plastic away can affect the food you eat, according to a series of studies published in the Journal of Consumer Research. Paying with credit weakens your impulse control, and makes you more likely to buy junk foods. Sticking to paying with cash, on the other hand, means you’re more likely to pick up a healthy snack or meal.
It’s not as nuts as you think. Grabbing some almonds twenty minutes before a meal can actually help slim your waistline, according to research published in the International Journal of Obesity. In fact, the participants in the study reduced their body mass index by 18 percent. Almonds and other nuts can even reduce the risk of heart disease, lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol. While almonds do contain fat, it’s the healthy monounsaturated type.
If you think dieting means giving up even a trace of alcohol, and perhaps replacing it with grape juice, think again. Obese patients who consumed moderate amounts of white wine actually fared better in weight loss than those who had a similar amount of grape juice, according to research published in the International Journal of Obesity. This isn’t to say that all-night benders are the ultimate weight loss solution. Moderation is key, so stick to just one drink a day if you’re a woman, or two drinks a day if you’re a man.
Keeping serving dishes on the kitchen stove instead of hauling them to the dining room reduces the amount of calories you scarf down by as much as 20 to 29 percent, according to a Cornell research study of 78 adults. Keeping healthier foods in plain sight and using smaller size plates (rather than large ones) are two other ways to improve eating habits without putting a lot of thought into it.
Adding a bowl of vegetable soup to your lunch is so satiating that this strategy is actually an effective weight loss tool. This simple addition will reduce the amount of food you need to feel full, at a fraction of the calories.
Capsaicin, the ingredient that gives chili peppers their zing, does more than just add flavor to your meals. It’s also effective in reducing body fat, including visceral fat—the “beer belly” fat which pads the organs. In addition, capsaicin also lowers cholesterol levels and improves heart health by improving the flow of blood through the blood vessels.
Surprisingly enough, you just might consume less food in a room painted blue than in one painted red or yellow, as I’ve reported previously. This might be because blue is associated with toxic or moldy food, so we proceed only with caution. Yellow and red—the favored colors of fast food establishments—are much more appetite stimulating. Using blue plates, napkins and tablecloths could very well have an effect on how much you eat.
Give hunger pangs the big chill by eating a flavored popsicle. A small study by the Smell & Taste Foundation in Chicago found that women felt fuller after consuming a Tropical Breeze-flavored popsicle (made with Sensa Quench, a low-cal drink mix) than they did after eating a 110-calorie slice of bread or plain ice. And even the ordinary ice helped curb the women’s appetites, suggesting that iced foods can contribute to weight loss.
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