Whom would you rather take financial advice from: a money coach, or a self-made billionaire?
Whose take on love and happiness is most appealing: a friend who’s built a close, successful family, or a marriage counselor who specializes in other people’s dysfunctional relationships?
When it comes to getting it done, we trust the people who’ve gotten it done. That’s why, when we went in search of the most authoritative ideas for staying lean, we sought out people who actually do it. And we discovered exactly the kind of outside-the-box secrets and strategies you won’t hear from nutrition gurus and weight-loss doctors. Here are the rule-breaking tricks that work for skinny people. Why not join their ranks?
They’d Rather Be Healthy Than Thin
Maria Menounos lost 40 pounds. “Let’s face it,” she says, “the entire diet industry as well as the messages we get from Hollywood, the media, and pretty much our entire country revolve around weight and size. Lose more pounds. Fit into smaller clothes. Get thin!…The main thing I want to convey, though, is that thin cannot compete with healthy. Health is the most important thing in your life.”
“Hey, if you can be healthy and thin, then more power to you,” she continues, “but risking everything to be thin is not worth it and makes no sense in the big picture. I know more than a few thin people who are unhealthy. They smoke cigarettes, starve themselves, live on gallons of diet soda and energy drinks, or use drugs or other such unhealthy means to stay thin. As a result, some of them will not live long lives, and those who do may not live quality lives. Many, if not most, are also unhappy. Keep health your goal and it will naturally result in being trim.”
They Know It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint
Continues Maria: “When I was forty pounds heavier and decided to lose the weight, I took a long-term, gradual approach. I didn’t have the willpower to go on an extreme diet and drop all the foods I loved. And with work, paying bills, my family and friends and my relationship, I certainly didn’t have the time to exercise two hours a day. It took a year or so, but I lost the forty pounds. Little did I know that slow and steady was not only the most realistic way to lose weight, but also the smartest. It’s the main reason I never gained the weight back…The changes you make in your lifestyle can be slow and gradual and still get you where you want to go!”
They Drink Tea Every Morning
“I always start with ginger tea, which is black tea with milk, honey, ginger, and cardamom,” Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi tells about her breakfast ritual. “Then I’ll have a green juice with kale, beets, mint, apple, carrots, and ginger or a three-egg-white, one-yolk scramble. If I’m hungry, I’ll add half a cup of 1 percent cottage cheese to the eggs.”
They Crack The Colour Code
The pigment of produce can provide you with information about its nutritional value. Check out how each of the five different color categories of fruits and vegetables can benefit your health. Then mix and match for a total of five servings every day. One serving equals 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked.
Blues and Purples: Blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, plums, raisins, eggplant. Benefits: Keep memory sharp and reduce risk of many types of cancer, including prostate cancer
Greens: Kiwi, honeydew, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, brussels sprouts, cabbage. Benefits: Protect bones, teeth, and eyesight
Whites: Pears, bananas, mushrooms, cauliflower, onions, garlic. Benefits: Lower LDL cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease
Yellows and Oranges: Oranges, grapefruit, peaches, cantaloupe, mangoes, pineapple, squash, carrots. Benefits: Boost immune system and help prevent eye disease
Reds: Watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries, tomatoes, radishes, red apples. Benefits: Help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and improve blood flow to the heart.
They Go Wild
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin suggest that people who want to cut down on calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol–while still indulging their inner carnivores–might want to prey on game. Meats like ostrich, bison, venison, and elk typically contain as much protein and iron as beef or pork, but have less fat and fewer calories. According to the USDA, while a 90% lean hamburger may average 10 grams of fat, a comparatively sized buffalo burger rings in at two grams of fat with 24 grams of protein, making it one of the leanest meats around.
They Pour Pinot Noir
Multiple studies have demonstrated that Pinot Noir consistently contain the highest levels of resveratrol among wines, and resveratrol has been shown to blast fat. One study found that Pinot had more than five times the amount found in California cabernet sauvignon. While it has the lightest body and tannins of the classic red grapes, Pinot can possess a haunting variety of flavors: berries, cola, tea, mushroom, even hints of barnyard.
They Skip Fruity Sodas
Wait…but aren’t all sodas equally terrible? It’s true they all earn 100 percent of their calories from sugar, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still varying levels of atrocity. Despite the perception of healthfulness, fruity sodas tend to carry more sugar than their cola counterparts, and none make that more apparent than tooth-achingly sweet fruity drinks like Sunkist. But what seals fuity soda’s fate on our list of worsts is its reliance on the artificial colors yellow 6 and red 40, two chemicals that may be linked to behavioral and concentration problems in children.
They Power Up Their Pastas
Pasta dishes falter most often not because of an excess of calories, but because of a lack of substantive nutrition. To get more out of red sauce dishes like this, consider adding any of the following ingredients to the mix to power up your next plate of pasta.
8 ounces of grilled or shredded rotisserie chicken
8 ounces of sliced button or cremini mushrooms added to the pan along with the onions and garlic at the beginning of cooking
8 cups of baby spinach in place of the basil, stirred in with the pasta and sauce at the final moment until just wilted.
They Know Organic Isn’t Always Healthy
When it comes to packaged and processed foods, “organic” does not equal “healthy.” For example, Organic Oreos are not a health food, they’re still heavily processed cookies filled with fat and sugar, and your body metabolizes organic fat and sugar the same way it does conventional. In fact, some clever companies use organic as a marketing smoke screen, only to load up a cup of yogurt or a box of crackers with unhealthy amounts of organic high-fructose corn syrup (yes, HFCS made from organic corn fits under the FDA guidelines for organic).
They Don’t Just Count Calories
Calories fuel our bodies, right? Actually, they don’t. A calorie is simply a unit of measure for heat; in the early 19th century, it was used to explain the theory of heat conservation and steam engines. The term entered the food world around 1890, when the USDA appropriated it for a report on nutrition, and its definition evolved. The calorie we now see cited on nutrition labels is the amount of heat required to raise 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree. Here’s the problem: Your body isn’t a steam engine. Instead of heat, it runs on chemical energy, fueled by the oxidation of carbohydrates, fats, and protein that occurs in your cells’ mitochondria. You could say mitochondria are like small power plants, says instead of one central plant, you have several billion, so it’s more efficient.
Your move: Track carbohydrates, fats, and protein, not just calories, when you’re evaluating foods.
They Divide And Dine
Until all restaurants become BYOP (bring your own plate), you’ll need to shrink your serving in a different way: When your entree arrives, dive in and eat half, then wait at least 10 minutes before coming out for round 2. While you chat and sip water, your stomach will have a chance to digest and decide whether you’ve had enough, no matter what the plate’s saying.
They Work The Perimeter
Supermarkets are designed like casinos: clockless and nearly windowless expanses flooded with artificial light, places where time stands still. Casinos force guests to navigate a maze of alluring gambling opportunities before they reach essential destinations: restaurants, bathrooms, exit doors. Same goes for the supermarket: The most essential staple foods, produce, bread, milk, and eggs, are placed in the back and along the perimeter of the supermarket to ensure that customers travel the length of the store, and thus are exposed to multiple junk-food temptations along the way. work the perimeter, and only dip into the middle when necessary.
They Scan For New Brands
As with the music and movies, sometimes the best stuff is the most obscure. Not only can bigger manufacturers afford better real estate, but they often pay to keep smaller manufacturers off the shelf or in disadvantageous locations. In California, independent bakers filed a lawsuit accusing Sara Lee of paying supermarkets to relegate local bagelmakers to only the top and bottom shelves. Sadly, these lesser-known brands are often healthier and more affordable than their big-name counterparts.
They Drink Away Heart Attacks
Visceral fat around your internal organs unleashes compounds within your body that cause inflammation and higher triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels, the bad stuff that leads to heart disease and stroke. So, how do you start reaping all these benefits? Remember that almost all sodas, bottled teas, energy drinks, sports drinks, juice drinks, and “vitamin” waters contain sugar. Your goal is to replace these sparetire-pumping potations with lean liquids. So, what should you be drinking?
Water. You’ll burn more calories and boost overall energy and concentration. Keep a pitcher by your bed and at your desk, and you’ll drink up naturally.
Coffee. But not the sweet, syrupy specialty drinks. Coffee can rev up your metabolism in moderation, but gourmet coffee drinkers consume 206 more calories on average than folks who drink regular joe.
Tea. It not only contains antioxidants that may help protect against heart disease and cancer, but also is nearly calorie free, as long as you don’t fall for the sugary kind.
Milk. About 73 percent of the calcium in the American food supply comes from dairy foods, and calcium is critical for fending off weight gain and keeping bones and muscles healthy.
They Recognize Salad Decoys
Restaurants have discovered a brilliant way to get you to order cheaper, more caloric food, they give you the option to order something else. It’s called “decoy marketing” in the restaurant trade. The idea is that punctuating a menu with healthy items like salads gives customers permission to order larger, junkier, more caloric meals than they would otherwise. A study at Boston University demonstrated how this worked; researchers saw French fries orders triple when salad was also an option. It’s a phenomenon experts have dubbed “vicarious goal fulfillment.” In other words, by simply acknowledging a healthy option, diners feel they have satisfied their dietary goals and can order whatever they want. Remind yourself before you look at the menu that you’re on a mission to eat well. Remember that a burger has the same calorie count whether it’s next to the spring salad or the spring lamb.
They Make Sure Grilled Means Grilled
“Grilled” chicken at your local chain may be healthier than the breaded and fried option, but it’s nowhere near as healthy as the same version made on your own backyard grill. Most restaurants use a “grill” that’s actually a griddle, basically a giant frying pan, which requires a generous oil slick to prevent sticking; often it’s the bacon fat saved from breakfast. If you’re on a strict diet and “flame grilled” options aren’t available, ask for your food to be prepared to your liking. Best Defense: Ask if “grilled” means “flame grilled.” If not, ask for it broiled, which will give you a similar effect, with less of the grease.
They Do Curry
At the heart of Indian curry powder is one of the world’s most potent elixirs: curcumin, an antioxidant known to fight cancer, inflammation, bacteria, cholesterol, and a list of other maladies, large and small, too long to publish here. Curcumin resides in turmeric, the bright yellow spice that gives curries their characteristic hue. Don’t limit the healing powers to recipes like this, though. Stir curry powder (one of these 5 Healthiest Spices on the Planet) into yogurt for a vegetable dip, slip it into mayonnaise for a powerful sandwich spread, or rub directly onto chicken or white fish before grilling.
They Use Harissa
The hot sauce of choice in Northern African is a fiery red paste made from piri piri chiles, garlic, and, depending on who’s making it, a variety of spices like cumin and coriander. As addictive as the burn may be, it’s also good for you: Research has shown that capsaicin, the chemical in chiles that gives them fire, actually increases metabolism. Mix with yogurt and use as a dip, a sandwich spread, or a meat marinade; stir into curries or stir-fries.
They Take A Walk Before Breakfast
Zero Belly Diet panelist Martha Chesler did just this as part of a Zero Belly program, and the results were astonishing. “I saw changes immediately,” she reports. In less than six weeks on the program, Martha dropped over 20 pounds and an astonishing 7 inches from her middle by combining the Zero Belly Foods with a pre-breakfast walk.This easy a.m. ritual works on two levels. First, a recent study found that exposure to sunlight in between the hours of 8 am and noon reduced your risk of weight gain regardless of activity level, caloric intake, or age. Researchers speculate that the morning light synchronizes your metabolism and undercuts your fat genes.
They’re Never Thirsty
“Since thirst is often mistaken for hunger, I never go anywhere without a bottle of water,” says Chef Devin Alexander, of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. “I also always carry a healthy snack. Walnuts and low-sugar protein bars are two of my go-tos. These tactics have helped me maintain my 70-pound weight loss.”
They Need Their Cheese
“My philosophy on healthy eating is to enjoy everything in moderation,” says Fabio Viviani, chef and Top Chef alum. “For instance, I love cooking with fresh herbs and spices instead of heavier cheeses and butter, but I can’t live without my favorite Grana Padano Cheese. Cooking and eating should be fun; add your own personality, flavor and twist to it, but make sure it aligns with your lifestyle.”
They Have A Carb Curfew
Though starchy and sugary carbs, like quinoa, potatoes and fruit, aren’t totally off limits, participants on Extreme Weight Loss never consume them after dark. “For dinner, contestants always have a high-protein, high-fat meal with plenty of fibrous veggies,” trainer Chris Powell tells us. “If they have a post-dinner snack, they stick to protein-rich, high-fat foods like almonds or 2% milk-fat string cheese,” he explains. This is because, he adds, axing carbs at night flips the fat burning switch by increasing the amount of fat burning hormones released while we’re asleep.
They Meal Prep
We asked Chris Powell to tell us his number one diet tip. His response: Basically, meal prep is everything. “Prep your meals in advance, and always have ready-to-eat healthy snack foods with you,” he suggests. Chris and his Extreme Weight Loss participants bulk-prep their proteins (chicken, turkey, fish) and starches (potatoes, whole-wheat rice and noodles) every four days and store them in plastic containers. This prep allows them to grab healthy eats quickly before they leave the house.
“We always carry protein powder with us,” he says about snacks, adding, “You’ll never catch us without almonds in our bags! They’re filled with healthy, satiating fats and protein and don’t need to be refrigerated, so they’re really easy.”
They Keep It Clean
Whether you have ten pounds to lose or 100, the first thing you should do is create an environment for success. That requires removing all temptation from your kitchen. Collect all of the processed, sugary and fatty foods from your house, and bring them to a local food bank for donation. Then restock your kitchen with healthy groceries, real, natural, whole foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, almonds and lean proteins like turkey, chicken, fish and eggs.
They Log Off
With laptops, smartphones, and iPods aplenty, we’ve become accustomed to round-the-clock entertainment. But your mealtime may be one time of day we should fight our addiction to amusement. Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that diners who were distracted at mealtime consumed significantly more unhealthy snack foods later on than those who paid close attention to what they ate. One possible explanation: When you don’t pay attention to the meal you’re eating, your brain doesn’t fully register the experience. That leaves you less satisfied and more vulnerable to overeating.
Learn To Take A Joke
A 2006 study in the International Journal of Obesity found that laughing for 15 minutes each day can help you burn 10 to 40 calories, depending on your body size and the intensity of your laughter. This adds up to about one to four pounds of fat lost per year. That may not sound like much, but there’s also been plenty of research linking happy people to all-around healthier lifestyles, and you, my friend, have an excuse to make laughter part of your daily diet routine.