Steer clear of simple carbohydrates.
Simple carbs are the white stuff—white bread, most pastries, refined sugars (the kind in soda and candy). What makes them simple? These foods provide energy, but lack the same nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and fiber) as complex carbohydrates. The body also breaks down simple carbs quickly—meaning your blood sugar will spike, and your tummy might be rumbling sooner than you imagined. Choose whole grains instead, which may reduce potentially dangerous excess abdominal fat buildup (which can lead to diabetes). Switch to whole-wheat pasta, whole grain bread, or try grains like brown rice, quinoa, or millet.
Ditch the added sugar.
Adding sugar to food may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity. Stick to sugar that comes in its natural form (think: fruits, veggies, and whole grains) and scrap that spoonful on your cereal or in your coffee.
Make simple substitutions.
Simple swaps—like Greek yogurt for sour cream, prunes for butter, or an Americano for a latte—can cut calories and sugar. Even a grilled cheese can get a healthy revamp by making a few smart subs.
Skip frying, and cut down on oil.
Even healthy food can go bad when it’s been dropped in a fryer. Instead, pan fry or pop a dish in the oven. Use non-stick spray to sauté foods, or rub oil onto a pan with a paper towel for a light coating. You can even whip up a batch of healthier chips.
Science-Backed Ways to Lose Weight
Eat fruit, instead of drinking fruit juice.
Juices (which are often not 100 percent fruit) provide some vitamins, but without the same fiber and phytonutrients as a real piece of fruit. Take an apple for instance: The average apple juice box has nearly double the sugar and seven times less fiber than the apple itself.
Chew minty gum.
Popping a piece of sugar-free gum won’t necessarily curb your appetite. But, stick can keep your mouth busy when cooking a meal, or socializing among a sea of party hor d’ouevres. While the long term effects of gum chewing on weight loss are minimal, studies show it can lower cravings for sweet and salty snacks, and decrease hunger between meals. Plus, some studies have shown that minty gum has the ability to wake you up and lower anxiety.
Add spice with cayenne pepper.
Cayenne pepper can not only boost metabolism, but it can also cut cravings for fatty, sweet, or salty foods. Some studies even suggest the hot stuff can increase fat oxidation, meaning the body can better use fat as fuel. Sprinkle some on scrambled eggs, or spice up a stir-fry.
Science-Backed Ways to Lose Weight
Give in to your cravings—occasionally.
We love this tip. Cravings are OK! Acknowledge those cravings instead of pushing them away completely (which may lead to binge-eating later). Forbidding a food may only make it more attractive. Still want more of that chocolate cake after a couple of bites? Try thinking of your favorite activity—dancing in the rain, getting a massage, playing with a puppy. Research shows that engaging in imagery can reduce the intensity of food cravings. You can also try smelling something non-food related. One study found that smelling jasmine (still pretty pleasant!) helped to reduce cravings.
Save some for later.
Like we’ve already mentioned, restaurant meal portions are usually heftier than what we cook at home. Make a conscious decision to bag up half of the meal before taking the first bite. The added benefit? You’ve got lunch for tomorrow.