En español | It's OK to carry a bit of extra padding: Research reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that being slightly overweight may reduce your risk of dying prematurely. But being obese (having a BMI of 30 or more) raises your risk of dying by 18 percent. Check out 10 ways to fight fat and win.
1. Consider a crash
The consensus has been that dropping pounds gradually results in more permanent weight loss. A recent Australian study, however, showed that those who severely restrict calories are both more likely to achieve their target weight faster and have the same chance of keeping the weight off as those who do this over time. Before going on a radical diet, though, speak with your physician. Very-low-calorie diets are associated with a variety of health risks, including the formation of gallstones.
2. Be naturally sweet
Research finds that artificially sweetened "diet" foods and beverages tend to trigger appetite, increase cravings for empty-calorie carbohydrates and stimulate fat storage. Opt out, or go for healthy sweeteners like honey and maple syrup.
3. Trick your appetite
Eating off smaller plates or blue plates can cut how much you eat. A study from the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University determined that eating off a 10-inch plate instead of a 12-inch one resulted in 22 percent fewer calories served. Plus, a study in the Journal of Consumer Research concluded that eating off a blue-colored plate will make food appear unappetizing and that you'll be likely to eat less.
4. Make skinny friends
A study that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine found that if one person packs on the pounds, his or her close friends are more likely to gain weight, too. The dynamic works in reverse as well, so make plans with your slender pals.
5. Keep it uncomfortable
When living in constantly comfortable temperatures, the body doesn't have to work as hard to maintain its internal temp. By keeping your home a bit colder in the winter and warmer in the summer, you may force your body to burn more calories to adjust, according to an article in the International Journal of Obesity. Bonus: You save some bucks.
6. Watch your cravings
Research shows that depressed people with decreased levels of the hormone serotonin also have a tendency to overeat, leading to obesity. Overeating — especially carbohydrates (simple and complex) — may be an attempt to self-medicate to restore serotonin levels to normal. Get the same effect by having a small serving of your favorite pasta. And if you're feeling chronically sad, be sure to get a medical checkup.
7. Pick protein
A recent study found that people who ate eggs instead of a bagel for breakfast lost 65 percent more weight and had a 34 percent greater reduction in waist circumference.
8. Don't default to antibiotics
Antibiotics can be lifesaving, but don't take them for minor complaints unless you absolutely have to. The overuse of antibiotics may contribute to obesity in some. These meds have an adverse effect on digestive microbes that influence your metabolic rate.
9. Check your neck
If you're gaining weight for no discernible reason, it could be a faulty thyroid gland. Thyroid disease can slow metabolism, leading to weight gain. The good news: Medication can usually fix this.
10. Cut back
Although we're as guilty as anyone of blaming those few extra pounds on our lack of exercise time, a growing body of scientific evidence shows that exercise alone has almost no effect on weight loss. Researchers who reviewed surveys of millions of American adults found that despite their increase in physical activity between 2001 and 2009, this rise in exercise was matched by a jump in obesity in almost every area studied. If you're really trying to lose weight, focus on your food intake and quality.