Nope, I am not referring to restrictive eating, the keto diet, stomach stapling, or diet pills! Discover 14 less known, easy to implement weight loss hacks that have been scientifically determined to play a role in weight loss.
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After reading Dr. Michael Greger's book How Not to Die, I anxiously awaited the release of his second book, How Not to Diet (released December 2019) and have been reading and rereading it since. Like his first book, it is packed with thousands upon thousands of references for peer reviewed studies that have been scrutinized by Dr. Greger and his team at nutritionfacts.org, and summarized for the general public to make their own informed decisions.
A large part of How Not to Diet discusses the science behind what most people already know (whether they practice it is another thing). Eat a healthy, unprocessed, plant-forward diet for both the health benefits and to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. However, the human body is not straightforward, and no two people are exactly alike. Some people are naturally thin while others work hard for it. Sometimes an underlying medical condition, medications or even something as simple as stress or lack of sleep can impede weight loss efforts, and it is important to address these first. If your weight loss progress is still at a standstill, there are a number of basic tips and tricks that have been scientifically proven to help with weight loss.
Before we get to these, it is important to note that not a single one of these will work if you do not first adopt healthy eating habits. Even if you implement each and every one of them, you cannot make up for a crappy diet.
What defines a crappy diet? A crappy diet is one devoid of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and foods that are unprocessed and package free. Eating takeout 5 nights a week, drinking a bulk of your calories (whether it is juice/soda, sugary coffees or alcohol), and indulging in salty snacks every evening is a crappy diet. The newest version of the Canadian Food guide perfectly illustrates what a healthy diet should look like. There is nothing wrong with indulging once in a while, but it shouldn't be a habit. Personally, I am a big proponent of the 80:20 rule, which depicts that at least 80% of your diet should consist of nutrient dense, healthy promoting foods.
Did you know ...
Taste bud cells regenerate approximately every 250 hours? That means that just because you have sweet or salty tooth today, doesn’t necessarily mean you will in 10.5 days! You can retrain both your taste buds and your brain to enjoy and crave healthier foods that are low in salt, sugar and fat.
14 SIMPLE, EVIDENCE BASED HACKS TO FACILITATE WEIGHT LOSS
H20 Ensure you are well hydrated throughout the day. Studies show that adequate hydration is associated with increased fat burning as well as a reduction in protein breakdown.
In addition to staying hydrated, drinking 2 glasses of cold water 3 times per day on an empty stomach (no more than 3 cups per hour), boosts your metabolism and helps with weight loss. Doing so before a meal has be found to result in fewer calories consumed.
Drink 1 tablespoon of vinegar (such as apple cider vinegar) twice a day (with meals). Vinegar increases satiety, helps burn fat, and reduces spikes in blood sugar (thus consuming it with higher glycemic foods such as bread or rice is beneficial). Make sure not to drink it straight, however, as it can damage your teeth. Vinegar also activates the enzyme AMPK, which promotes fat burning and reduces fat storage.
Barberries Antioxidant packed dried barberries have also been found to activate AMPK.
Beans have a low glycemic index and are packed full of both fibre and protein. They digest slowly (and around 20% of the starch is indigestible) and are effective at suppressing appetite when compared to meat or other carbohydrates.
As well, consuming beans with higher glycemic foods has been found to be effective in lowering the overall glycemic load of not only that meal, but the one after (even if it is the next day)! This is referred to as the second meal effect, and is due to the fermentation process in the gut that happens hours later, which produces compounds that help slow down gastric emptying and suppress the appetite at subsequent meals. In one study, a group consuming 3/4 of a cup of beans per day was compared to a group cutting 500 calories per day, and after two months, their results were comparable.
Ground flaxseed Research has found that daily consumption of ground flaxseed (ground chia seeds to a lesser benefit) suppresses the appetite and is beneficial for long term weight loss when compared to control groups.
Consuming 1 teaspoon of cumin a day was found to be effective for weight loss when compared to a control group.
Consuming 1/4 teaspoon of black cumin a day was found to be effective for weight loss when compared to a control group.
Dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens (such as kale, spinach, cabbage and lettuce) contain thylakoids which block lipase from breaking down fat until it reaches the end of the small intestine. This raises our satiety hormones (CVK and leptin) and lowers the hunger hormone ghrelin, helping us feel fuller longer and eat less. Dark leafy greens are also high in calcium (with a high bioavailability), which has been found to bind to fat cells in the intestine, and prevent them from being absorbed.
Front-load your calories
Research shows that calories consumed earlier in the day are metabolized differently (more efficiently) than those consumed later in the day, making them essentially count less. Make breakfast your biggest meal of the day and dinner your smallest. Refrain from eating after dinner, and especially right before bed. If you do time restricted intermittent fasting, front-load your calories (instead of delaying your first meal to noon as most people do) for maximal benefit.
Eat (and chew) slowly
When you eat slower it allows more time for your brain to signal to your to stomach that it is full. Research shows that this takes about 20 minutes, and can result in an average of 1/3 fewer calories consumed. As well, the oral stimulation of food sends signals to the brain, regardless of if it is swallowed or not. The longer food is chewed, the more this occurs, which plays a role in perceived fullness/hunger.
Turn down the thermostat
All humans have a small amount of brown adipose tissue (or fat cells), which functions differently than white adipose tissue. When our body temperature drops, brown adipose tissue generates body heat, which in turn burns calories. Not only does exposure to cold burn calories, it also stimulates white adipose tissue to transform into brown adipose tissue (this has been named Brite adipose tissue). There are no specific guidelines for how cold or how long the cold exposure should be, however one study demonstrated 180 extra calories burned per day by those who spent two hours per day in a 63 degree Fahrenheit room as compared to a control group.
Turn up the heat
Researchers have found that the consumption of capsaicin (found in chilli peppers) can activate brown adipose tissue in the same way that cold does. Consuming the equivalent of one jalapeño pepper per day has been found to burn up to 150 extra calories per day.
Green, white and oolong tea contain high levels of an antioxidant that has been found to boost metabolism and the rate fat is burned at rest. Hibiscus tea has also been linked to weight loss as it inhibits lipase, resulting in more undigested fat (calories). Drinking tea also helps to keep you hydrated, which is beneficial for weight loss. Looseleaf tea is recommended to avoid consuming micro-plastics found in most teabags.
What about exercise?
When it comes to weight loss, diet is the biggest contender, however, if done right, exercise can play a big role too. Research shows that for exercise to be effective for weight loss (all exercise is beneficial for health - learn more here) it needs to be close to daily, and consist of 60-90 minutes of moderate (ex. walking) or 30+ minutes of vigorous (ex. jogging) physical activity. Looking for exercise ideas? Check these out.
After dissecting the book, these are the 14 weight loss factors I found to have the most compelling research to aid weight loss efforts above and beyond consuming a healthy, balanced diet. Dr. Greger also has what he calls the "21 tweaks" which I highly recommend checking out, as well as his book.
Sustainable weight loss is not a quick fix. It also is not about eating less food, but rather better food. It requires a lifestyle change that will simultaneously result in significant improvements in your overall health and wellbeing. With that said, there is no harm in doing simple extra things, such as those outlined above, to help facilitate the process!
For help setting goals to kickstart your journey to better health and weight-loss, check out my free goal setting resource, and stay tuned for health coaching services that will be launching soon! Subscribe to my mailing list or contact me for more info!