“Many people think that they can eat whatever they want as long as they work out. But the truth is, if you are looking to lose or maintain your weight, what you put in your body is significantly more important than hitting the gym. Exercise is important to keep your body healthy, but just because you work out for an hour or more per day, it doesn’t give you the liberty to eat whatever you want!” Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RDN, Co-Author of Should I Scoop out My Bagel tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists.
There’s some truth to the old adage that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day,” and if you’re looking to blast belly fat, what you eat at the start of each day can make all the difference. According to a study from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast may be the most important investment you can make for your waistline. The study showed that eating breakfast triggered women’s brains to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical that helps to control impulses. In other words, eating a balanced breakfast decreases your chances of reaching for that 3 p.m. candy bar and keeps your belly slim.
Eliminate sodium in diet tips # 2: Choose fresh, natural foods over fast, commercial or packaged foods. Instead of ordering french fries (265 milligrams of sodium), have a baked potato (8 milligrams). Instead of a pickle (1,730 milligrams!), enjoy a fresh cucumber (6 milligrams). And beware of cured meats: Three ounces of ham packs in 1,009 milligrams of sodium, compared to just 48 milligrams for the same amount of roast pork. Soups are also notoriously high in sodium; some canned varieties contain more than 1,100 milligrams per cup. Read labels carefully and stick with low-sodium brands like Healthy Choice.
Believe it or not, weight loss isn’t just about exercising and eating right; research suggests what motivates you to get in shape can play a role in your success. A 2014 study in the journal Body Image looked at 321 college-age women and found that long-term, those who exercised primarily for appearance-based reasons had a harder time sticking to their fitness plans than those who worked out to maintain their health. In other words, stop envying those fit models on Instagram and instead remember that you and your loved ones are the people who really benefit when you slim down.
Unfortunately, metabolic compensation isn’t your body’s only strategy to prevent weight loss or encourage weight gain. Hunger hormones – leptin and ghrelin – are also at play. Fat cells produce leptin, which tells your brain when you’re full. Fat cells also shrink when you lose weight, producing less leptin and meaning you don’t feel as full. Strike one. Ghrelin, produced by the stomach, tells the brain it’s time to refuel. When you lose weight, ghrelin levels rise, prompting you to want to eat more frequently. Strike two. Research suggests that neither leptin levels nor ghrelin levels return to a normal baseline for at least a year.
Good news for carb lovers: Scientists discovered an easy way to slim down any bowl of rice by as much as 60 percent! And the best part is that you don’t need a fancy lab or a PhD. to make the slimmed-down dish. Here’s how to whip it up: Add a teaspoon of coconut oil and a half cup of non-fortified white rice to a pot of boiling water. Cook it for about 40 minutes, stick it in the refrigerator for 12 hours and enjoy the rice either cold or reheated. How does such a simple cooking hack—that adds fat, no less—slash calories? When the rice begins to cool, its glucose molecules form tight bonds called “resistant starch.” This type of starch, as the name implies, is resistant to digestion, meaning that the body is not able to absorb as many calories or as much of the glucose (a nutrient that’s stored as fat if it’s not burned off) from each molecule. While you may be hesitant to add the oft-vilified oil to your pot, it actually plays an integral role in the process. As the rice cooks, the fat molecules find their way into the rice and act as an additional digestion barrier. Best of all, the research team found that reheating the rice didn’t change the levels of resistant starch (as it does with pasta and potatoes), deeming this calorie-slashing cooking hack safe for leftovers, too.
Grazing is a surprisingly good idea because it helps you avoid metabolic slowdown. "Your body will be tricked into thinking it's constantly eating, so it will never slow your metabolism down," explains Bauer. Aim for five small meals (200 to 500 calories) a day rather than three large ones. Also try not to go more than four hours without eating — if you eat breakfast at 7am, for example, have a snack at 10am, lunch at noon, another snack at 3pm and dinner at 7pm.