Sometimes, making small shifts, no matter how tiny that they might seem, can move mountains. The habits that we researched for this article (and their fixes) can lead to tens of pounds lost over a year or even sooner. If you change just a few of your daily habits, you will be on your way to a slimmer stomach in no time! We are highlighting these tiny habits to show you that it’s possible to work towards your goals by taking consistent small steps. Your goals can be broken down into bite size (no pun intended) milestones, and tremendous improvements can be made at this micro habit level.
Stop digging if you find yourself standing in a deep hole with a shovel in your hands, according to an old adage. So, if you've been gaining weight but haven't changed your daily routines, you're just digging yourself a little deeper into the hole every day while still asking yourself, "why is this happening?"
In fact, as much as you might feel bad about a few of harmless indulgences—the decadent dessert you gave in to and ordered, or the extra serving you dished yourself of a recipe that you finally mastered—it's not the occasional caloric extravagances that we should be concerned about. A weekly increase of 500 or 1,000 calories won't make a difference on the scale.
Instead, it's much more likely that it’s the small things you do on a daily basis, things you scarcely notice, that influence whether your waistline is expanding or contracting.
If you can figure out your own stealthy weight-gain tendencies, you can change them. That's why we revealed the top habits that are causing you to gain weight in the first place. Change just a handful of your daily habits, and you'll be on your way to a flatter stomach in no time. Let’s break it down.
1. You eat low fat foods.
Stop purchasing items labelled as low-fat or fat-free, including weight-loss smoothies. "Does fat make you fat?" is a question that has no answer. Low-fat items typically save you only a few calories. Food companies typically substitute harmless fats with simple carbohydrates that digest faster, resulting in a sugar high followed by intense ‘rebound’ hunger - which will typically lead you to start eating again. It’s a process that has been designed in a lab to make you a bottomless customer. Following a Meal Plan that is optimized for fat loss is the fastest way to avoid eating foods that cause weight gain and belly fat.
2. You don’t check the sodium.
Although your favourite snack might contain only 150 calories, have you checked to see how much sodium is contained within the package? Those who aren't afflicted with health concerns sometimes overlook that section of the nutrition label. "The majority of the excess sodium comes from processed foods such frozen waffles, bagels, cheese cottage cheese, veggie burgers, and salad dressings," explains Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, CSSD, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and proprietor of Go Wellness in Orange County, California.
Does salt make you gain weight? Salt does not induce fat accumulation, but it does cause bloat, which makes you appear fatter. Following The Institute of Medicine's daily recommendation of 2,300 milligrammes or less per day will help you avoid bloating, high blood pressure, and other health problems.
3. You aren’t drinking enough water.
All of your body's activities require adequate hydration, and the more you drink, the greater your chances of keeping slim. Dieting individuals who were told to drink two cups of water before each meal lost 30% more weight than their thirsty peers in a University of Utah study. By adding ice, you can amp up the effect. Six glasses of cold water a day, according to German experts, can trigger a metabolic increase that burns an extra 50 calories every day. That's enough to lose five pounds over the course of a year!
4. You're not sleeping enough.
Dieters who sleep five hours or less put on 2.5 times more belly fat than those who sleep more than eight hours, according to Wake Forest University researchers. Aim for six to seven hours of sleep per night, which is the recommended amount for weight loss. For more information on weight loss sleep hacks check out this article.
5. You aren’t getting tested.
Although your yearly exam may include a scan for high cholesterol or diabetes, doctors rarely test or search for visible indicators of dietary deficiencies, which can be deadly! If nothing else, Loy recommends getting your vitamin D levels checked. "Many individuals are deficient and don't even realise it," she says, "and not receiving enough can lead to osteoporosis, heart disease, and some types of cancer."
6. You eat too fast.
Your stomach takes 20 minutes to signal your brain that it's had enough. Slow eaters consumed 66 less calories each meal than quick eaters, according to a research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, but they felt like they had eaten more. You might be wondering what 66 calories can accomplish. You'll drop more than 20 pounds in a year if you can eat 66 fewer calories at every meal! A 20 pound weight loss is enough to noticeably change your appearance.
7. You eat off large plates.
When given the choice, 98.6% of obese people choose larger plates, according to a study published in the journal Obesity Science & Practice. More food means more calories, which means more body fat. Choose smaller serving dishes to keep your portions in check.
8. You spend far too much time in front of the television.
According to a University of Vermont study, overweight people who cut their TV viewing time by half burned an extra 119 calories per day on average. That's a 12-pound weight drop every year! Multitasking while watching TV can help you burn more calories—even minor housework can help. Furthermore, if your hands are occupied with dishes or laundry, you'll be less inclined to munch mindlessly, which is the other major occupational hazard linked with watching TV.
9. You get the combo meal.
According to a study published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, ordering a "combo" or "value meal" adds a hundred or more calories to your diet when compared to ordering individual items. Why? Because when you order products in bulk, you're more likely to purchase more food than you need. You'll get more bang for your buck if you order your meals in pieces. That way, you won't be swayed by pricing strategies aimed to extract a few extra dollars from your wallet at the cost of hundreds of extra calories.
10. You ignore nutritional advice.
Here's the good news: you're already forming habits that will help you lose weight by reading this. When 75 participants were provided diet and exercise habits, Australian researchers discovered that they began eating smarter and incorporating more physical activity into their everyday routines. Unsurprisingly, the non-recipients' habits (and waistlines) remained unchanged.
The truth is, that most people are not registered dieticians or nutritionists. 80% of our adult population is now overweight or obese. The stats speak for themselves. Most people have no clue when it comes to what to eat, when to eat, or how to eat. If they did, they wouldn’t be struggling with their weight. Almost every bad habit on this list could be avoided simply by following a fat loss based Meal Plan. A meal plan is a map, with step by step instructions on how to take control of your diet in a way that will support your fitness and weight loss goals. Most people refuse to use a map, instead they drive around aimlessly getting fatter.
11. You drink Soda.
Every week, the average American consumes nearly a gallon of Coke. What's the big deal about that? Because 1-2 sodas every day boosts your odds of becoming overweight or obese by nearly 33%, according to a 2005 study. Diet soda isn't much better. Researchers in San Antonio studied a group of older people for over a decade and discovered that those who drank two or more diet sodas per day saw their waistlines grow 5X faster than those who did not. Artificial sweeteners, according to the study, trigger appetite cues, causing you to consume more mindlessly during subsequent meals.
12. You don’t give yourself time to de-stress.
You manage to stay away from sweets, which is impressive—especially on really stressful days—but you need to let off steam in some way. If you don't, you could end up with chronically high cortisol levels, which can contribute to sleep and immune issues, blood sugar imbalances, and weight gain. How should you unwind? Stress management, according to registered dietitian Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, is very individualised, so what works for your BFF might not work for you. Try out a few different strategies to find which one works best for you. Our Beginner Bootcamp workout takes just 10-15 minutes per day and delivers a solid, fat burning workout, and has also been proven to be highly effective at lowering belly fat causing stress hormones.
13. You follow fad diets and not a meal plan.
Proceed with caution if you've recently joined the Paleo or low-carb craze. "Diets that eliminate entire food groups often don't allow for the balance and moderation that we need to maintain a healthy, lifelong eating plan," Zanini says. "Furthermore, dieters who follow these diets may be at risk of dietary deficits, which can be harmful. Or they may simply become bored with their restricted diet and overeat as a result "Zanini cautions.
Get on a balanced Meal Plan that is designed with your health and weight loss goals in mind.
14. You emotionally eat.
Emotional eaters—those who confessed eating in response to emotional stress—were 13 times more likely to be overweight or obese, according to a study from the University of Alabama. If you have a stress-related impulse to eat, chew a piece of gum, drink a glass of water, or go for a walk around the block. Create an automatic response that isn't related to food, and you'll avoid consuming too many calories.
15. You eat too much of your own healthy cooking.
Just because your dinner is healthy doesn't mean you shouldn't eat in moderation. Remember that even the healthiest foods have calories! Half of your plate should be vegetables, with the other half containing a mobile phone-sized piece of lean protein, a fist-sized serving of carbohydrates, and a small amount of fat no bigger than your pointer finger. Our Meal Plan provides helpful, easy to follow guidelines like this that will help ensure that you are not overeating, and will help you exercise a level of food control that you might not imagine is even possible.
16. You eat the free stuff.
Some restaurants provide free breadsticks, biscuits, and chips and salsa, but that doesn't mean you won't have to pay for them. You're adding 150 calories to your dinner every time you consume one of Olive Garden's free breadsticks or Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits. If you eat three of these for supper, you'll consume 450 calories. That's also roughly the number of calories in a basket of tortilla chips from your neighbourhood Mexican restaurant. Worse yet, none of these calories are accompanied by any nutritious value.
The bottom line is that the free stuff on the table can represent the calories in a regular meal - and your appetizers and main haven’t even hit the table yet.
17. You avoid all fats - even the good ones.
You already know that trans fats raise your risk of heart disease, weight gain, and stroke, so you should avoid them. However, not all fats should be on your "do not eat" list. Healthy fats, such as flax seeds and almonds, can help you lose weight and stay healthy. "Fats not only help us absorb many of the vitamins in our diets, but they also help us stay fuller for longer, which can help with weight loss efforts," Zanini explains. She recommends eating one serving of healthy fats every time you eat. This may be 1/4 cup almonds or walnuts, a tablespoon of olive oil sautéed vegetables, or a couple slices of avocado. Healthy fats that can actually help you lose weight are ‘baked in’ to our quick prep recipe guide and cook book that is included with our Meal Plan.
18. You eat at your work desk.
You might believe it's good to impress your boss, but having your lunch at your desk isn't good for your waistline. You aren't the only one that does this. According to the NPD group's data, almost 62 percent of working American professionals eat "al-desko." According to a 2013 analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the problem is that you're eating while preoccupied, which can lead to you consuming up to 50% more calories. Take a break from work and eat in the breakroom, a nearby park. Eat mindfully.
19. You don’t pay attention to your food intolerances.
Do you become bloated every time you eat grains? Do you eat a lot of dairy but always feel bloated? Many of us try to get through these issues by putting them aside as if they weren't a problem. However, these could be symptoms of a food intolerance or allergy, which can lead to increased inflammation, a compromised immune system, and weight gain. Keep track of any discomforts in a food journal to help you learn to listen to your body.
20. You drink too much alcohol.
Alcohol is loaded with sugars and empty calories and often leads to poor food choices. There is a way to make better decisions around alcohol - not all wines and cocktails were created equally, and it is possible to make better decisions around alcohol that will limit the direct impact on your weight. Our Meal Plan has a section that will help you make the best decisions around how to enjoy alcohol responsibility and still lose weight.
21. You keep too many treats at home.
People typically reach for whatever food is closest to them, whether it's an apple or popcorn, so it's a good idea to get rid of any snacks that can sabotage your weight-loss attempts. According to Cornell University researchers, women who have soda on their kitchen counters weigh 26 pounds more on average, 20 pounds more with cereal boxes out, and 8 pounds more with cookies on the counter top than women who have empty kitchen countertops. The lesson is clear: to make healthier choices and reduce weight, throw your junk food in the trash can. Our Meal Plan contains loads of easy to prep, delicious snacks and deserts that won’t set you back on the scale.
22. You drink your calories.
Everything from sodas and alcohol to juice, sports drinks and bottled teas are guilty of this terrible eating habit. This is due to the lack of healthy fats and fibre in beverages, two satiating nutrients that keep hunger at bay. When opposed to eating solid food, participants in a research study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ended up drinking more (and so consuming more calories) until they were satiated.
When it comes to satiety, researchers feel that both the sound and the actual process of chewing help you keep track of how much you're eating; in fact, they believe chewing will promote satiety better than slurping. So, in the mornings, add a hefty scoop of Greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of crunchy almonds to your protein shakes, as suggested by a recent study published in the same journal, which found that thick smoothies made participants feel fuller than a thin drink with the same amount of calories.
23. You eat too late.
According to a study published in the journal Appetite, late-night eaters are more likely to gain weight than those who eat earlier. It's not because they don't burn calories as quickly; it's because night owls are more prone to binge eat (after starving themselves since lunch) and eat unhealthy, high-sugar, high-fat items to fill their growling stomachs. These high-energy foods will not only make you gain weight, but many of them will make it difficult to fall asleep. Struggling with the night eats? We have a guide for stopping this habit once and for all.
24. You order food when you are hungry.
When it comes to ordering takeout, our suggestion is to do so ahead of time. Dieters who bought lunch more than an hour before dining chose meals with an average of 109 less calories than those who ordered right before lunch, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University. What's the explanation for the calorie savings? When your mind is distracted by a rumbling stomach that demands energy-dense food, your resolve to choose healthier meals quickly deteriorates. Order your food before you get to the point where you are feeling starving.
25. You don’t speak up at restaurants.
Chefs frequently add fat and salt to enhance the flavour of their dishes, although these ingredients aren't always listed on the menu. Take the extra step of asking if your dish contains any cream or butter. If there is, request that your vegetables and meats be cooked without sauces and that sauces be served on the side so you can control how much ends up on your plate. After analysing the statistics, we determined that making one simple request can save you up to 1,000 calories every meal, regardless of the type of restaurant you're dining at!
You might feel shy about speaking up, but remember, you are the customer. You are going to pay good money to eat out, so make sure you get exactly what you need out of the experience.
How many of these bad habits touched a nerve with you? How many of these 25 bad habits represent an opportunity for you to tighten up your approach?
All of these common mistakes that are making us fatter, and frustrating our health and fitness efforts can be solved by following a proven Meal Plan and you guessed it - following the right fitness program that is the right fit for your fat loss goals and will meet you at your current level of fitness ability. These two things will change your fitness and change your life. Our workout programs were designed to support our Meal Plans, and they work together seamlessly to help you reach your fitness and weight loss goals. For a limited time, we are offering a full year of our 30 day Beginner Bootcamp Workout Program for just $69 with code: NY22. Combining the right Meal Plan and Workout program will solve 99% of the issues that have previously frustrated your efforts. If you like our vibe here at BodyRock, we hope you will come and train with us.
very guilty of many of these – mindless actions definitely have consequences