Top 10 Weight Loss Tips (Based on Science)

By Julie Sews - 6:42:00 PM

 Photo By Mike Baird/Courtesy Flickr
I can't help but think about New Years resolutions this time of year along with the rest of the world.  And of course losing weight and getting in shape is always at the top of most peoples list.  It's on the top of mine too this year too!  Shortly after started this blog I really was eating super duper clean, taking supplements, and working out for the first time in my life.  Since then like I'm sure most of you can relate to I've had things come up in my life that has taken my focus away from that and now I find myself struggling to get back to my good habits.

I often feel weird talking about wanting to lose weight.  I'm worried I'll look like a skinny bitch who's complaining about how fat they are.  Or that I'm anorexic or something.  So I want to preference this post with the fact that I seriously only worry about my weight when I'm close to my highest weight ever or start to not fit into my clothes any more.  I'm really all about maintaining a healthy weight and maintaining my same size (which for me is the same size and weight I was in high school), not about being as skinny as I can be.  I like having curves, just not curves and a gut. There are two reasons I'm careful to maintain my weight, one after working in fashion retail for over 10 years (5 years of that at Bloomingdale's), I have a pretty awesome wardrobe.  I'm not giving my clothes away!  The other reason is if you are gaining enough weight to need to buy new clothes something in your lifestyle has changed that is causing you to gain weight.  Better to nip it in the bud when you have 10 lbs to lose then say 30lbs or more.  
In Feb of 2012 I had gained some weight slowly without realizing it, until I almost didn't fit into my pants any more.  I was also at my highest weight ever.    It use to be that all I had was little things to lose a few pounds like be slightly more active (park further away, take the stairs, cut out sugary drinks, etc.  But  as I said in my post then I actually had been living healthier so I was already doing all my old tricks permanently... so I needed some new tricks, which is what that post was pretty much about.

I tried really hard to lose some weight even doing high impact aerobics for an hour a day, and nothing happened.  I kept trying different things, learning as much as I could about hormones, nutrition, and exercise and suddenly about 3-4 months later my weight suddenly started to come off.  It was strange because even though I had been doing a ton of work researching and trying things I felt like I was actually doing less to try to lose weight (no more hour of high impact aerobics a day), and yet I was losing weight so fast I actually started to worry I would lose to much weight.  My husband even lost weight too.  After I got to my goal weight I started to slowly revert back to my old habits and slowly the weight came back on.

This summer I started to focus on losing a few pounds because I was back to my highest weight ever, although still totally fitting into my clothes this time, yea!  So I've been trying to be a little careful and luckily have survived the holidays with out gaining more weight.  double yea!  But I still am just hovering under my highest weight ever. 

So what did I do to lose weight so effortlessly 2 years ago?  Well while I can't say specifically what I did since I tried so many things at the time it's hard to say.  I wasn't exactly being scientific about it.  Fortunately I wrote a post about it at the time How I Lost 15 lbs in 3 Months By Increasing My Insulin and Leptin Sensitivity, talking about what I was doing at the time.   I have been reflecting on that time in my life to try to figure out the key to what was working then.  I believe the main reason I was losing weight is I was tapping into my fat stores because I was eating less and exercising more.  I know what your thinking well that's nothing new.  Well that's true, but it was the way I controlled my hunger and exercised that was so great.  I eat in a way to increase my leptin sensitivities (the hunger hormone) and that stretched my stomach temporarily to help curb my appetite, and exercised in a way to get the most bang for my time HIT (High intensity Training), and weight resistance.  

I plan to try to get back to exercising again (I haven't exercised in almost a year not since I wrote this post) and heating healthier again like I was then.  Here's the tips I think helped me the most that I plan to focus on first.

1. Exercise: 20-60 min of weight resistance exercise/week 
Follow this by a post work out meal with fast assimilating protein (you have an hour window to have a protein meal after a work out to boost muscle building), because an increase in muscle not only burns more calories at rest but also increases insulin, and human growth hormone HGH.  All which help you to maintain your weight loss and get your hormones working in your direction.

According to the CDC, "Strength training is crucial to weight control, because individuals who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate. Muscle is active tissue that consumes calories while stored fat uses very little energy. Strength training can provide up to a 15% increase in metabolic rate."

Moral of the story is If your pressed for time don't go crazy on cardio, do some simple body resistant exercises instead followed by a fast assimilating protein meal.  Even a few push ups a week will help, you don't need to go to a gym! 

2. Portion Control:   
Pre Plate Meals and Put Leftovers Away Before You Eat and Use Small Plates and Use Tall Skinny Glasses 

Portion Control Eating Out
I especially love this trick for eating out.  Most restaurants serve way to large of a portion for a single meal.  So instead of worrying about eating a healthy choice when eating out I just order what sounds good and ask for a take out container and put half into a take out container and save for lunch the next day.  Want a dessert while eating out that's fine to, just be sure to share it with at least one other person!  You can also use smaller plates, smaller cuts of treats like pie or bars.  I like this trick for when I'm at a pot luck and feel the need to try 4 or 5 desserts cause they all look good.  Simply cut them in half.   Potion control is the secret to how the French stay skinny drinking wine and eating croissants.

Portion Control At Home
Dateline Recently (Jan 3 2015) on "Starting Over" did an experiment with two groups of people and a buffet. one group they had healthy food first (fruit salads, etc.), and heavy pasta dishes last and smaller plates and serving spoons.  The next group had the pasta dishes first, healthy stuff first and larger plates and serving spoons.  The group with the larger serving spoons and plates and pasta meals first before the healthy stuff, ate 56% more calories, most of it pasta.

They did a similar test with beverages.  They allowed people full access to serve themselves punch in and soda pop in another one group with short fat glasses and one with tall skinny glasses (both held the same volume).  The group with the short wide glasses drank 70% more punch then the tall glass drinkers, and over 267% more oz of pop than the tall skinny pop group.

In this Episode they Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of "Mindless Eating— Why We Eat More Than We Think," and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab discuss why this happened.  He said most people pour 30% more in glasses because people judge by the height for filling.  He says, "Smaller plates, skinny glasses, smaller skinnier you."  I tried to find a clip to post here but I had no luck, I did however find a clip of more tips from Brain Wansink. In this clip he says to use a plate that's just big enough to put two items on it.  Typically what will happen is you will pick you two favorite foods, then go back for seconds with your second favs, after that you tend to be less inclined to eat more.  He says typically using the two on the plate method you will eat 30% less.  I personally think there is a psychology in it's OK to have seconds, maybe thirds but after say the forth or fifth round you start to realize wow maybe I've had enough.  Or in other words having to keep going back for food helps you to be more conscious of what you are eating.  

3.  No Sugar, Refined Flour, or Potatoes 
Eating sugar (refined flour and potatoes turns to sugar in our bodies) without fiber causes our insulin to spike signalling our body to turn those calories to stored fat.  To quote Dr Robert Lustig, "Insulin shunts sugar to fat period. Insulin makes fat period.  More insulin more fat period....insulin blocks leptin (the hunger hormone)at the brain.  So the more insulin you have the more energy you store and the hungrier you get " Or in other words makes your hormones work against you.  If you simply can't resist having sugar, refined flour, or potatoes makes sure you add fat to it and fiber if possible.  This will make your blood sugar not spike as much. Check out this short video "The Skinny on Obesity" from University of CA (UCSF) and Dr Robert Lustig in one of my past posts.  
4.  Add Extra Fiber and Protein to your Diet
Both fiber and protein have been shown in studies to suppress appetite

Fiber: Add oat bran, flax meal,or organic psylluim husks to any meals you can (no it won't send you running to the bathroom I promise), and if you eat grains eat whole grains.  According to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Americans should consume about 30 g or more of fiber every day.  Fiber also reduces blood sugar spikes as noted above which will help keep your hormones working for you (more leptin which tells you your full, and less insulin which causes your body to store fat).

  • An example would be sprinkling psyllium husk onto eggs, pasta,etc.  Just don't use in liquids or it will get gummy 
  • Another great way is to make a shake or pudding with chia seeds (which are also like a super food)
  •  My favourite baking tip is to replace up to half of your AP (all purpose) flour with oat bran or flax meal, extra bonus you'll cut down on your gluten intake and with flax meal you'll increase you omega 3's (it has ALA the plant form of omega3 fat).
Studies have shown that eating protein as opposed to fat or carbohydrates satisfies hunger the best. It also helps build muscle (if you use your muscles) which burns more calories.  The reason protein suppresses appetite is it helps to turn on leptin (the hunger hormone). If you watch the BBC Documentary series "The Truth About Food" below you can see their experiment on this.

Note however that I would not recommend going on a high protein diet, only a moderate protein diet because being on a very high protein diet can activate the mTor pathway.   I won't geek out here and go into specifics but you can read more about it here.  Also too much protein can negatively affect your insulin levels actually making you store more fat as discussed in weight loss tip number 3.

How much protein is adequate for you depends on your weight.  To give you an ideal of what your protein requirements use the below example.  Dr. Rosedale recommends 1 gram of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight, minus 10%. So for instance, if your ideal body weight is 150 pounds:

  • Divide 150 pounds by 2.2 = 68 kilograms
  • Multiply 68 x 1 = 68 grams of protein. Now subtract 10%.
  • Multiply 68 x 10% = 6.8 grams
  • 68 - 6.8 = about 61 grams of protein per day. 
So most people need about 20-30 grams of protein per meal a day if you eat three meals a day, less per meal if you eat more often.

5.  Always Have Only Healthy Snacks In Your House and Have A Salad or Soup Before Dinner
Starving yourself is not fun, sustainable, healthy, or realistic, and there really is no need for it.  

If you think about it if you only eat fruits and veggies all day, (assuming you're not eating high calorie fruit and veggies like coconuts or avocados), you could likely eat all day and not eat enough calories to maintain your weight.  So you can eat all you want but only the foods you could eat all day and still not gain weight.  So if you load up on healthy food all day, there's not much room for the high dense calorie foods.  

According to Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of "Mindless Eating— Why We Eat More Than We Think," and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab,  "The first food you see is the first food you eat."  So Put a fruit bowl on your counter in your pathway and put all snacks in one cabinet.  According to Brian, "If you have only a fruit bowl on your counter (in a high traffic area, within 2 feet of where you walk, not in a courner somewhere) you will weigh 8 lbs less than your neighbour." he also talked about filling up on good stuff like salad and vegetables first and only after every one has eaten that do you bring out dinner.   You can hear this tip and more with him on dateline's site.  a clip of more tips from Brain Wansink.  I haven't read his book yet, but I plan to it sounds interesting.

I remember once I was watching a show (I've totally forgotten which one it was years ago), and a Japanese women talked about how she gained a bunch of weight after moving from Japan to America (she was eating a typical American diet), and to lose weight she went back to the eating habits she grew up with in Japan.  And one trick from the Japanese diet that I remembered was to have soup before they eat dinner. After switching back to her Japanese diet she lost the weight she had gained.   I think it was more of a brothy soup she ate, but eating a thicker soup of puréed veggies as in trick number 7, would be even better!

Eat foods like low or no fat dairy without sugar (no flavoured yogurt), veggies with low fat no sugar dips, nuts (in moderation), veggie broth based soups (see #7), grilled veggies, salads with dressing made from veggies, fresh fruit, etc.  Make sure you don't buy any food you can snack on that's not healthy so there is nothing to tempt you.  If you do have any in the house hide it away from eye sight. 
Check out Dr Fuhrman for more ideals for low calorie high nutrition foods

6.  Don't Drink Calories
 According to the Havard School of Health, "
If you were to drink just one can of a sugar-sweetened soft drink every day, and not cut back on calories elsewhere, you could gain up to 5 pounds in a year."  So in other words if you just cut out a sugary drink a day you usually drink and do NOTHING ELSE you will lose 5 lbs in a year. 

So what should you avoid? All soft drinks, other sugar drinks, alcohol, coffee drinks with sugar and milk or cream, milk, hot chocolate, and juice.   What's left?  Well water, tea, black coffee, and flavoured carbonated water. If you really just can't stand to have some alcohol, coffee with sugar, or a sugary drink be care full to follow the Weight Watcher method of eating less calorie rich food to compensate.   According to the Washington post,"Weight Watchers assigns points to alcoholic drinks to make sure dieters are accounting for those calories."

An extra bonus of cutting out sugary drinks is your heart health will improve along with your waist line.  According to the Harvard School of Health, "A study that followed 40,000 men for two decades found that those who averaged one can of a sugary beverage per day had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack than men who rarely consumed sugary drinks.  A related study in women found a similar sugary beverage–heart disease link."

It might take awhile to get use to not always having a sugary drink or wine or beer with a meal, but it really isn't bad once you get use to it.  I still have my organic coffee I make with a french press organic pasture raised cream and stevia.  It's not perfect, but I figure it's really not that bad.  An added bonus is by not ordering a drink when you go out it's a great way to save money.

7.  Eat Thick Veggie Soup  
Eat soup made from broth and puréed veggies before lunch and dinner, or in place of a meal.   In the BBC Series, The Truth About Food Documentary series (4 of 6), they talked about how a study showed by MRI that a meal eaten in soup form versus solid form, (think of a roast (for example) being blended into soup and eaten as soup by one person and the other participant ate it in normal solid form), takes 1 hr longer to empty the stomach and stretched out longer.  Therefore thick soups (the kind that wouldn't drain fast if you put it through a strainer) make you feel fuller for an hour longer.  Water alone does not make you feel fuller.  In the documentary a women tried the soup diet, eating more protein, and portion control and was losing weight from it while they filmed and she said it was working, they also had scans showing how she lost fat around her organs.  You can watch it for yourself below.  If you don't have time to watch the whole episode (it's 59 min) and just want to watch the soup part you can skip to around the 35 min mark.

8.  Do Not Eat After 9 PM 
(aim for 8PM but I know that doesn't always work for everyone).
 In a Huffington Post article Satchin Panda, Ph.D., associate professor in the Regulatory Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California says, "Your body is more prone to burn fat at certain times of day and store fat at other times." The same article says "New studies reveal that to burn the most fat, you need to go 12 hours without eating -- say, from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m."  If you tend to stay up late and sleep late this does not pertain to you, just make sure you eat at least 3 hours before going to bed.  So if you go to sleep at 2 AM this would mean you want to eat before 11 PM. 

9.  Don't Be Afraid of Good Healthy Fat
Contrary to common diet health eating healthy fat helps improve your leptin and insulin.  According to Dr Mercola, "Eat As much highly quality healthful fat as you want (saturated and mono-saturated). Most people need upwards of 50-70 percent fats in their diet for optimal health. Good sources include coconut and coconut oil, avocados, butter, nuts, and animal fats. Also take a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fat, such as krill oil."  I was eating a lot of avocado when I was losing weight.  Some days I would eat my chocolate pudding (made from avocado and banana) for breakfast, and some days guacamole with just a few chips (I loaded a ton of guacamole per chip).  

10.  Eat Until Your Satisfied Not Full.
Remember it takes about 20 min. until your body tells your brain it's full, so wait until a half hour is passed before you decide to eat more after eating.

The Truth About Food 4 of 6 (BBC Documentary Series) 58 Min 

I highly suggest watching this video I found it very interesting.

 Well I hope this article has helped you. Look for new healthy recipes to come and feel free to check out my healthy recipes in the meanwhile.  Feel free to leave comments to share what your favourite weight loss tips and tricks are.


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I am not a doctor. I have ZERO medical training and NO formal nutritional training.  The information provided on this site, such as text, graphics, images, is for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as medical care or medical advice and is not a replacement for medical care given by physicians or trained medical personnel.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider(s) when experiencing symptoms or health problems, or before starting any new treatment.

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