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1 year ago
7 Ways to Weight Gain-Proof Your Body This Winter

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Even though the temperature can drop into bitingly low territory, winter has its benefits, like cold-weather wardrobes, ski trips, and the holidays. Unfortunately, winter also has a sneaky way of making you pack on the pounds as you bide your time until spring. Here are a few research-backed ways to prevent winter weight gain so you don't undo all your hard work over the next few months.

MORE: What to Eat for Dinner if You Don’t Want to Pack on Pounds

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Wake Up at the Same Time Each Day

You already know sleep is crucial to weight loss, but did you realize it's not just about how many hours you clock? Women who don't rise and shine at the same time every day tend to have more body fat, according to research out of Brigham Young University. Researchers followed the sleep habits of 330 young women and discovered that those who had the least stable wake-up times, like getting up at 6 a.m. one day and 8 a.m. the next, had 30.6 percent body fat. Those who had less than 30 minutes variability in when they woke up only had 24.7 percent. Researchers think waking up at the same time helps regulate your circadian clock, keeping your hormones and body composition steady. So try to stay on track, and when you’re tempted to hit snooze, remind yourself of the potential payoff.

MORE: The Amount of Sleep You Need to Keep Your Appetite Under Control

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Stock Your Pantry with Pulses

One serving per day of beans, peas, lentils, or chickpeas (a.k.a. pulses) can make you feel full and potentially boost weight loss, according to a study in the journal Obesity. Researchers combed through nine clinical trials of 126 participants. When people ate an average of 160 grams per day of dietary pulses, they felt 31 percent more satisfied than those who didn’t. That’s just a little over a cup a day! These items have a low glycemic index, so they take some time to digest. They’re also full of protein and fiber, which help increase feelings of fullness and have been connected to weight loss.

MORE: How to Make Lentil Salad

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Be Mindful

Mindfulness doesn't just benefit your brain! Being mindful can help you eat less, according to research in the journal Appetite. Researchers divided 110 college students into two groups. The first did a mindfulness intervention including a body scan, during which participants were told to "simply observe and accept all thoughts and sensations in a nonjudgmental way." The second group listened to an introduction to an audio book. Then study authors presented half of each group a small portion of cookies and the other half a large one, then asked participants to rate their hunger levels. Those in the mindfulness group consumed 66 fewer calories when they were hungry, but either way, participants ate 83 more calories when they were offered a large portion instead of a small one! Here's a primer on how to get started with mindfulness.

MORE: What's Actually the Difference Between Mindfulness and Meditation?

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Choose a High-Protein Snack

What you eat during the hours between lunch and dinner can help you fuel weight loss. One good choice? Science says a high-protein, low-fat snack like yogurt can help you take in less when you eventually tuck into your dinner. Study authors had 20 female subjects eat a 160-calorie snack in the middle of the afternoon: nonfat yogurt with 14 grams of protein, like a typical Greek yogurt, high-fat, carby crackers with no protein, or chocolate with a bit of protein but tons of fat. Each participant had each snack for four days before moving onto the next one. In the end, women were less hungry after eating yogurt than chocolate and ate about 100 fewer calories at dinner than when they had crackers or chocolate, even though fullness levels were the same. Yogurt has a wealth of health benefits, so grab a spoon and get snacking.

MORE: 7 High-Protein Snacks That Can Help You Lose Weight

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Put Less Food on Your Plate

In a study in the Journal of Obesity, researchers analyzed the results of 14 studies that had asked 1,179 participants to serve themselves food and eat however much they wanted. In general, people ate more than 90 percent of what was on their plate. Interestingly, people who ate "healthy" food like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains ate 10 percent more than those who ate "less healthy" ones like fried chicken or ice cream. And people who ate foods you can’t take in one at a time—such as pasta or applesauce—consumed about three percent more than people who went for items like cookies or carrot sticks. Bottom line: Start out with small portions because you can almost always go back for more.

MORE: 19 Ways to Measure Perfect and Healthy Portion Sizes

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Cook Up Some Soup

It's a well-known fact: as it gets colder, people's hankering for soup skyrockets. Luckily, the right kind can help you lose weight, according to research in the British Journal of Nutrition. The researchers polled more than 20,000 people and realized that on average, those who ate soup weighed less and had smaller waists than those who didn't. It turns out people who eat soup take in fewer calories and grams of fat per day, and also happen to consume more protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They did have a higher sodium intake, though, so be sure to check out a few recipes to get your fill of liquid-y goodness and still keep off the pounds.

MORE: The 9 Best Soups for Weight Loss

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Avoid Background TV

Research published in the online journal PLOS One suggests that people eat more when they watch boring shows than when they're tuned in to engaging ones. For the study, researchers had 18 women watch two TV programs—either a popular comedy or a televised art lecture—while they had access to grapes and M&Ms. Turns out, the women ate more than 50 percent more food while watching the snooze-worthy lecture. Moral of the story? If you're going to turn on the tube, save it for a show you’re really into—like The Mindy Project—and skip the Kardashians marathon you're not actually paying that much attention to.

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