Your micro and macronutrients might be bite-for-bite perfect, but you can use these small, yet wildly effective lifestyle and dietary tweaks to yield dramatic results. Together they’re a powerful catalyst for positive change.
1. Beware of healthy restaurants
That organic hipster café can make you more likely to order beverages, side dishes and desserts with 131% more calories if your main is positioned as healthy, found research in the University of Chicago Press Journals. At least you know what you’re getting into at the dirty rotten fast food joint.
2. Eat sugar
No, not straight from the pack. New-age artificial sweeteners disrupt the link between sweetness and high calories, so you get sweet sans the calories. However, research at Purdue University found that makes your body tell you to hunt out even more calories. Diet soda might not live up to its name if it makes you crave more fuel. Deal with your sweet craving once and for all with a little real sugar.
3. Set aside one hour
Spending less than an hour a day preparing your foods means you’re more likely to make poor food choices that can lead to obesity, according to research in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Set aside at least an hour to fix your three meals each day to find yourself on the path to weight loss.
4. Green-light your brew
A simple switch could make all the difference. Unroasted green coffee beans helped people lose an average 10.5% weight and 16% body fat in just five months as part of an American Chemical Society study. Such significant results were achieved with a concentrated extract, but a switch to the unroasted variety should also help make the difference over time.
5. Watch just two hours of TV a day
People who watch too much TV make poor snacking choices that can lead to obesity, according to a study at the University of Houston. Further research in Psychology and Health said this was largely because TV inundates you with advertising images of junk foods. Skirt around this by recording your favorite shows and skipping past the ads.
6. Spice up your life
If you can handle the heat, you could reduce the negative effects of a high-fat meal with some antioxidant spices. For a study at Pennsylvania State University, researchers added a blend of rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika to test meals. They provided the equivalent amount of antioxidants contained in 5oz of red wine or 1.4oz of dark chocolate, which could be enough to help prevent chronic disease.
7. Don’t fall for the organic halo
Organic doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. Research in Food Quality and Preference found people automatically thought foods with an organic label were healthier, more nutritious and lower in calories than regular varieties – even when a closer look revealed they were exactly the same as their “regular” equivalents. This perception is called the “health halo effect.” Make sure you scrutinize organic foods labels so you don’t fall into that trap.
8. Eat an apple a day
Stop yourself going pear shaped by eating apples. They’re rich in ursolic acid, which increases muscle growth according to research in Cell Metabolism. Cook it in the same pot as your oats to add flavor.
9. Fix allergies naturally
Springtime can be a nightmare for hay fever sufferers, but grab a tissue instead of a pill. A study in the journal Obesity found men who took antihistamines to combat hay fever were 55% more likely to be overweight during summer through overeating. Researchers think suppressing histamine reduces fat metabolism and boosts appetite, so go for antihistamine-rich food like onions, capers, plums, chilies and blueberries. They’re also packed with vitamin C and quercetin.
10. Add vinegar to your meals
This fermented wonder reduces the accumulation of body fat and weight gain by 10%, found research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. It’s rich in acetic acid, which fights fat by churning out proteins involved in breaking down fats. Soak veggies in a diluted teaspoon of it before you steam them, marinade meats in it before you throw them on the grill or make a simple dressing with it to drizzle over your meals.
11. Rate your neighborhood’s food outlets
Men’s eating habits are tightly linked to the number of health-food outlets in their area, so more fruit and vegetable stores meant healthier diets, said research in Preventive Medicine. Get a map of your hood, stick it on your fridge and circle the healthy stores to make sure you don’t take a detour to the dark side of unhealthy foods.
12. Eat dessert with breakfast
A sweet treat in the morning could help you keep lost weight off easier than if you avoid the sweet stuff altogether. That’s what happened when dieters ate a cookie, chocolate or doughnut after a high-protein breakfast for a study by the Endocrine Society. Treat yourself early on so you’re more likely to burn it off throughout your day.
13. Food shouldn’t be at arm’s reach
Make your healthy snacks healthier by keeping them in the kitchen and away from your desk draw. Research at the Mayo Clinic found that people who regularly fidget, change posture or just move around more during daily life were the leanest. Small movements count, so drink from a small water bottle that requires regular refills rather than a gallon jug.
14. Grapes of wrath
Keep a bunch handy to snack on or carry some with you for a mid-exercise snack. Research at the University of Alberta found that a compound in grapes called reservatrol can increase exercise performance by 21% when it’s taken regularly.
Find nutrition advice and more in every issue of TRAIN magazine.