The idea that lifestyle choices can add or subtract pounds is no surprise: Sitting too much, eating too much, scarfing the wrong types of food all lead to weight gain. But changing your lifestyle to encourage weightloss can be surprisingly simple, thanks to new research. Check out these 5 tricks for shedding pounds:
1. Make your dairy whole.
Talk about a counter-intuitive strategy: Whole milk? Regular cheese? A huge study out of Tufts University suggests this might be a great way to control your carbohydrate intake. The research, published in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tracked 120,000 men and women for more than 18 years. First, the researchers found that eating plenty of dairy products had no impact on weight. When they looked closer, the researchers discovered that the more low-fat dairy products people ate, the more carbs they devoured.
“This suggests that people compensate, over the years, for the lower calories in low-fat dairy by increasing their carb intake,” says study co-author Jessica Smith, PhD, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. That can spell trouble thanks to the links between carbohydrate consumption and increased inflammation—a risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
2. Recruit your spouse.
That’s what researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found. An exercise regimen begun by one spouse can significantly impact the habits of his or her significant other. Looking at doctor interviews of nearly 16,000 people that were conducted roughly six years apart, the researchers found that when a wife or husband reported a high level of activity at the first visit, the spouse was up to 70% more likely to be a regular exerciser at the subsequent visit.
3. Turn off Food TV.
You—and everyone you know—understand the links between too much TV and a thick midsection. But who is really going to turn off the tube entirely? So try this modification: Give up your food-oriented programming. Turns out that cooking shows are linked to being overweight, according to a new study published in the medical journalAppetite. After querying 500 women between the ages of 20 and 35 about their viewing and cooking habits, researchers discovered that women who watched food programming and cooked from scratch weighed about 10 pounds more on average than women who home-cooked but relied on recipes from family, friends, cookbooks or cooking classes.
4. Don’t rely on exercise to lose weight.
Too much sugar and carbs are behind the rocketing increase in obesity, according to experts in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Although regular exercise can be key in preventing serious chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, the researchers point out that “sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger,” and this is the most dramatic contributor to weight gain. “Let’s bust the myth of physical activity and obesity,” the researchers write. “You can’t outrun a bad diet.”
5. Walk at least two minutes every hour.
Yes, we all know the sitting too much expands waistlines. But standing all day isn’t always possible—or even recommended given the toll it can take on your joints and back. So try adding a brief, hourly stroll to your sit/stand regimen, suggests a new study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. After combing through activity data on more than 3,200 adults, the researchers found that adding this tiny amount of hourly activity led to greater calorie burn throughout the day, which added up to an extra 400 calories burned weekly. Plus, the two-minutes-per-hour group saw their mortality risk drop by a third. The researchers say all you need to achieve these benefits is an hourly stroll around the office or block, or plan to do some light chores like gardening or vacumming.