Weird and Wacky Ways to Win at Weight Loss

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Did the title of this week’s posting grab your attention? If so, that was my intent. And maybe I exaggerated the title somewhat, but I did so because I know how much people struggle with losing weight. It’s not always just about eating less and exercising more. So this week, I thought I’d list a few tips on losing weight that perhaps you hadn’t known much about. If they help you, all the better.

Take a seat. Wouldn’t standing up, gulping your meal over the sink while you rush to get out the door be a better way to burn calories? Nope. Canadian researchers gave food to people either sitting at a table or standing at a counter. At the next meal, the standers ate 30% more calories than the sitters. Why? It may be that the standers didn’t consider the previous meal to be, well, a meal. It was more like a snack for them, so they compensated by eating more at the next meal. Lesson learned: Make time to eat your meal and sit down to enjoy it.

Be more mindful. A lot of people believe that succeeding at weight loss is all about willpower. Brian Wansink, PhD, a professor and researcher at Cornell and author of the book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think, attributes weight gain to our eating behaviors and our environment, not to lack of willpower. In one of his experiments, he had people eat soup from “bottomless”, or refillable, soup bowls. Not surprisingly, the bottomless soup eaters ate 73% more than folks eating out of a normal bowl. These soup eaters didn’t realize that their bowls kept filling up and as a result, they kept on eating! They ate with their eyes, not their stomachs.

Some simple tips to be more mindful and aware when it comes to your meals include using smaller plates and bowls, storing not-so-healthy foods out of sight, and eating in the kitchen instead of in front of the TV. It’s not rocket science, but changing your environment may make a big difference in whether you lose weight.

The same-old, same-old. When you stop and think about it, we truly have a huge variety of foods to choose from in our country. Some might say that we’re fortunate, but being able to pick and choose a different meal to eat every day of the week may not be doing your waistline any favors.

At the State University of New York at Buffalo, researchers gave both obese and non-obese women macaroni and cheese every day for five days, while other women were given mac and cheese just once a week for five weeks. The daily mac and cheese eaters ate less than the less frequent eaters, probably because they got so bored with eating the same food every day. This “meal monotony” may be a strategy to help dieters stick with their eating plan and lose weight. If you have too many foods to choose from, it’s likely that you’ll end up eating more.

Be a weekend warrior. When it comes to exercise, the “weekend warrior” syndrome is likely to leave you achy and sore come Monday morning, thanks to overdoing it. But when it comes to staying with your food plan, you WANT to be a weekend warrior; don’t be lulled into thinking that weekend eating doesn’t count, or that it’s license to splurge and then get back on track on Monday. Sure, you’re tired, you’ve worked hard all week and that spinach and artichoke dip is just calling to you, not to mention the frozen margarita. A splurge here and there is OK, but plan for it. Don’t undo all the good you’ve done during the week.

“Whey” (protein) to go. A few weeks ago I wrote about different types of protein supplements, including whey protein. What I didn’t mention at the time was that including whey protein may actually help with weight loss. People who were given a whey beverage to drink had higher levels of certain hormones that increase satiety, or fullness, compared to people drinking a casein drink. Whey-drinkers also may end up eating less carbohydrate, too.

Ditch the potato chips…because you really can’t eat just one. Dietitians hate to admit that there are “bad” foods. No food is really bad as long as you can control how much you eat. But if you were given a bag of potato chips, could you really just stop at a small handful? I’m not so sure I could.

Harvard researchers published their findings of foods that are linked with weight gain in a June issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. Looking at data from 120,000 men and women (who were not obese at the start and who did not have any chronic diseases), they found that potato chips, potatoes, sugary drinks, red meat, processed meats, daily alcohol intake, and television watching were linked with weight gain. On the flip side, eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and yogurt, being physically active, and getting between six and eight hours of sleep were linked with weight loss. Maybe skip the chip aisle the next time you go grocery shopping and head for the produce department, instead.

Incredible, edible eggs. Switch out two eggs for that 500-calorie, carb-laden bagel for breakfast and you might be pleased with the results. At least, that’s what women found out when they did just that. These egg-eaters (who ate two eggs daily, five days a week for eight weeks) lost 65% more weight than the bagel-eating women. And both breakfasts were equal in calories. Kicking your day off with an egg or two will keep you feeling fuller, longer, and you’ll likely eat less later in the day. Just go easy with the frying and the bacon.

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