Sure, you know the main weight-loss tactics: drink plenty of water, eat veggies, and exercise regularly. But just when you thought you had tried it all, there’s a whole new mix of methods that could help drop the number on the scale as well. Whether it’s upping your vitamin D intake, working out on an empty stomach, or eating dessert for breakfast (no, seriously!), anyone can use these surprising, fat-burning tips.
1.Keep Your Eating Window Small
If you typically wake up early and stay up late, there’s probably something you’re consistently doing throughout that entire time: eating. Your eating window is bigger, so the amount of calories you take in during the day is, too — and that’s why it’s worth keeping that window as small as possible. What’s more, a 2014 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that only eating within a 8- to 9-hour window — even without restricting your calories — was an effective way to lose weight and prevent obesity. And for more ways to shed pounds, learn the 20 Science-Backed Ways to Motivate Yourself to Lose Weight.
2.Take Vitamin D
Vitamin D doesn’t just help your body absorb calcium and regulate your immune system — it could also help you lose weight. In a 2009 study out of The Endocrine Society, researchers found that adding vitamin D to a reduced-calorie diet might help you shed more pounds. In addition, another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that vitamin D did a lot of good for burning body fat.
3.Eat on Blue Plates
Feeling blue? That’s a good thing for your weight — well, when it comes to your dinnerware. In a study published in Contact, researchers found those who ate in a blue room ate 33 percent less. Why? According to one doc, it has to do with how it alters the look of your meal — which is exactly why you should snag some blue plates, stat. “Blue lights make food look less appealing, while warmer colors, especially yellow, have the opposite effect,” said Val Jones, MD.
4.Try Carb Backloading
Carb backloading — when you eat all your carbs later in the day — is becoming a buzzy trend in the health space, and it could actually help you lose weight. It might seem surprising to load up on carbs at the end of the day opposed to in the beginning, but one registered dietitian said it can help you burn fat faster and more effectively: “The theory of carb backloading is based on the fact that insulin sensitivity is higher earlier in the day, which promotes carbohydrate absorption into your muscles and fat tissue. Carb backloading requires you to eat all your carbs later in the day to promote using fat for fuel during the day and suggests you also work out in the evening to promote better carb absorption into your muscles,” said Emmie Satrazemis, RD. And, in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, participants did indeed lose weight using the method. Just, unfortunately, not by eating spaghetti.
5.Work Out on an Empty Stomach
If you’re the type of person who likes to eat a full breakfast before hitting the gym, you might want to change up your eating schedule. According to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers found getting your sweat on with an empty stomach could get rid of excess fat cells. So, give it a try: your healthy bowl of oatmeal can wait.
Weightlifting isn’t going to make you look bulky — that’s just a myth. Something it can do, though? Help you lose weight — and super effectively. In a 2017 study published in the journal Obesity, researchers found pumping some iron (along with consuming less food!) helped the participants lose more weight. And in comparison to the participants who walked as their form of exercise or didn’t exercise at all, the weightlifters dropped more fat and gained more muscle.
7.Eat Dessert for Breakfast
Having dessert for breakfast seems like a dream come true. You’re not dreaming, though: A 2012 study from Tel Aviv University found eating a big, 600-calorie breakfast that included a dessert — like the three Cs: cookies, cake, and chocolate — lost 40 pounds more than the group that avoided sweets. It might seem backwards, but the researchers said those who had dessert first-thing were able to naturally burn off more of those extra calories throughout the day, and they were also better able to control their cravings later on.
8.Eat Chocolate on the Reg
Speaking of sweets, if you’re going to choose something for dessert, it should probably be chocolate. A 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found those who regularly ate chocolate were thinner than those who ate it less often. Just make sure what you’re eating is the antioxidant-packed dark variety of 70-percent cocoa rating or higher.
9.Drink a Cup or Two of Coffee
Coffee doesn’t just energize you — it can also help you shed some unwanted pounds. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the caffeine in the morning beverage can boost your metabolic rate for hours, helping you burn more fat. Going overboard won’t do you any good, though, and can even have adverse effects on your heart health: stick to the recommended 400 mg of caffeine per day.
10.Stop Peeling Your Food
Throw away your peeler. It might actually be limiting your true weight-loss potential — at least when it comes to apples. In a 2012 study published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers found ursolic acid — a natural substance in apple peels — could play a role in preventing obesity, as well as increasing muscle and brown fat, which are both known as being major calorie-burners.
11.Don’t Watch Commercials
Step far away from the TV — particularly during commercials. All the ads for high-calorie foods and snacks might not seem like they’re doing any harm, but researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute found that they can activate your brain, making you crave the sweet or fatty foods you see on your screen. And, those signals could end up making you put unhealthy foods on your own plate.
12.Get Some Spinach Extract
If you’re not a spinach fan, there’s still a case for sneaking it in powder-form into your food. A 2014 study published in Appetite found adding just 5 grams of the supplement into your diet each day — whether that’s with water or hidden in your smoothie — could reduce your cravings for all things sweet and fatty by 95 percent. Clearly Popeye knew what’s up.
Gum is a bad-breath and weight-loss solution? A 2011 study published in the journal Appetite seems to think so. Researchers found chewing gum for 45 minutes significantly decreased the participants’ level of hunger, appetite, and cravings. On top of that, it also made them feel more full, helping them better control their appetites to lose weight. (Just be sure to grab the sugarless varieties so you don’t rot your teeth in the process.)
14.Clench Through Your Cravings
You might have heard that tapping your forehead can reduce cravings, but how about clenching your fists? A 2010 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research discovered those who tightened their muscles — whether it was their hand, finger, calf, or bicep — had more willpower to say no to tempting foods, making it easier to shed some pounds.
15.Get Some Vanilla Perfume
Yep, it might be possible to sniff your way to weight-loss. In one study, 200 overweight participants wore different patches — which included vanilla, lemon, a placebo patch, or no patch — to find out if any affected their ability to shift the scale. It turns out that, after four weeks, those with the vanilla-scented patches significantly reduced their cravings for high-calorie sweets. Spritz on some vanilla-scented fragrance for a similar effect.
16.Turn Down the Lights
Here’s your chance to splurge on those dim, overhead kitchen lights you’ve been waiting. A 2012 study published in the journal Psychological Reports: Human Resources & Marketing found those who ate in environments with soft lighting and music ate fewer calories than those who ate in bright, loud environments. So turn down the lights and turn every meal into a fine-dining experience.
17.Eat Your Biggest Meal at Breakfast
Typically, Americans eat a small breakfast, medium-sized lunch, and big dinner, but one study of 50,000 adults published in the Journal of Nutrition found you should be doing the opposite, if you want to lose weight. By eating your most calorie-heavy meal at breakfast, you’ll be able to better decrease your BMI — and, you know, enjoy more of your favorite foods right away in the morning. Healthy pancakes, anyone?
18.Focus on Quality, Not Calories
There are still plenty of people who believe losing weight is solely about limiting calories, but according to a 2018 study of more than 600 participants in JAMA, that’s not the case. Researchers found that simply focusing on the quality of their food instead of counting calories — like eating mostly whole foods and scrubbing their diets of added sugar and processed junk — can lead to more weight loss. Plus, you’ll be much happier along the way.
19.Swap Butter for Olive Oil
The next time you eat bread, swap the butter for olive oil. A 2003 study published in the International Journal of Obesityfound those who made the switch ate 23 percent less bread — and less calories — overall. So if you’re going eat bread during your next restaurant outing, this little hack can help you lose some weight. But don’t use this as an excuse to go overboard. Tempting, we know.
20.Exercise in the Morning
If you’re trying to decide whether to work out in the morning or at night, getting up early has some serious weight-loss potential. A 2012 study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise can reduce your appetite, decreasing your motivation for food throughout the day. Because of that, you’ll see the number on the scale drop.