Shedding extra pounds can cut your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and joint pain by 50 percent, so it's no wonder that more than half of us say losing weight is our top health goal. The great news: You can pare those pounds and keep them off without going hungry by using the latest research-backed steps to weight-loss success.
Double your weight loss with vitamin D. The evidence is clear: You'll lose twice as much weight on any diet if you take 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily, or pump up your body's own D3 production by spending 20 minutes outdoors each day without sunscreen, Boston University researchers say. Vitamin D3 (the most absorbable form of the nutrient) helps shuttle dietary fats into muscle cells, where they're burned for energy instead of converted into body fat. Important: Always check with your doctor before starting a new supplement.
Stop hunger pangs with salads. Salads are part of most weight loss plans, and now researchers know that's not only because they are filling for few calories. Research in the journal Appetite reveals that eating a heaping cup of leafy greens daily can help you shed up to 24 pounds in one year, thanks to the natural pigments that give those greens their colors. They increase your production of leptin, a hormone that helps you feel comfortably full for up to six hours after each serving, said study co-author Rick Kohnke, Ph.D.
Melt fat faster with water. Dozens of studies have already proven that sipping six 8-ounce glasses of water daily helps protect against kidney stones, headaches, joint pain, and fatigue. And now University of Utah researchers have discovered another benefit: It can increase your metabolic rate 3 percent or more, helping you effortlessly burn off seven pounds in six months! Your liver is more efficient at flushing out metabolism-slowing toxins and using fat for fuel when you're well hydrated!
Lose weight 33 percent faster with less exercise. The more you exercise, the more weight you'll lose, right? Not necessarily! A new City University of New York study found that sedentary women who start exercising moderately (say, walking briskly for 30 minutes) burn an extra 200 calories daily and lose weight up to 33 percent more quickly. But if they push themselves to work out longer and harder, their bodies actually adapt and start burning fat more slowly, making weight loss stall.
Steady blood sugar with berries. Eating three cups of fresh or frozen berries each week could help you shed four pounds monthly without dieting, reveals research in the British Journal of Nutrition. Berries contain nutrients (polyphenols) that block sugar absorption and help your cells burn blood sugar for fuel before it can be converted into fat, said Leo Niskanen, study co-author and M.D. Bonus: Those healthy polyphenols nourish your insulin-producing pancreas, cutting your risk of pre-diabetes by 31 percent, Yale researchers said.
Stop stress-eating with fish. Up to 66 percent of us battle diet-sabotaging cravings and hunger pangs when we're stressed, and at last Indiana University researchers have discovered how to overcome that diet saboteur: Eat 18 ounces of fish or seafood weekly! Salmon, tuna, and other fish are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which calm your brain's anxiety center, reducing the urge to eat when you're stressed, Kohnke said. Don't eat fish regularly? Try taking 1,000 milligrams of fish oil daily.
Rev willpower with one-minute breaks. Pausing every hour to give yourself a firm one-minute hand and finger massage could cut 120 calories out of your daily diet and eight pounds off your figure every year, Swedish research shows. Brief hand massages encourage the release of endorphins and serotonin, hormones that shore up willpower and reduce the urge to munch.
Wow, who knew weight loss could be so simple!