7 Science-Backed Weight Loss Tricks That Have Nothing to Do With Diet or Exercise

Losing weight isn't all about cutting calories and sweating it out at the gym. These weight loss tips may help you shed pounds without really trying.

Switch your dishes


“Many times, we eat with our eyes more than our stomach,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet and Walking Off The Weight For Dummies. “If you place a small portion on a large plate, you automatically assume the meal will be less satisfying. However, by placing food on a smaller plate, the plate looks filled which in turn allows you to feel more satisfied.” A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that eating food from a plate with a wide colored rim may trick your brain into thinking your meal is about 3 percent larger than it actually is. Curious about the real reasons you can’t lose weight? It’s all about changing your emotional mindset, according to the executive producer of The Biggest Loser. Check out his three-step plan.

Repaint your dining room


Good news for those who enjoy channeling their inner interior decorator: Palinski-Wade suggests painting over or getting rid of everything in your dining room (or your usual eating environment) with red and yellow tones. “These two shades can trigger an increased appetite, as well as an increased speed of eating,” she says. “If you look at the color of most fast food chains, you will see that this works! Instead, dining in a blue-colored room will help you feel more relaxed and eat at a slower pace.”

Dim the lights


“Research has shown individuals tend to eat slower in dimly lit rooms than in brightly lit ones,” says Palinski-Wade. In fact, investigators from Cornell University gathered 62 customers and divided them between two dining areas—one room contained bright lights and loud music while the other room added indirect lighting and the sounds of soft jazz. The study volunteers who ate lunch in the “fine dining atmosphere” consumed about 6 percent less food than those in the “louder” room. And while those in the quieter environment were less likely to ask for seconds, those who did took in 14 percent fewer calories than the participants in the other group.

Dine with your healthiest friends


Like the saying goes, you are the company you keep. Sociologists from the University of Texas at Austin found that social relationships have a direct affect on our health. In fact, a friend, partner or loved one’s health behaviors, such as eating habits (along with exercise routine and willingness to adhere to medical regimes), can rub off on us. Similar research published in the journal Science suggests that surrounding yourself with those of a similar weight, body mass, fitness level and diet preferences can encourage the healthier lifestyle behaviors.

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Grab a pen


Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center discovered that women who kept food journals were more likely to lose weight, regardless of the type of diet (i.e. low fat, low carb) they were following. Their results, which were published online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, indicated that the participants (overweight and obese postmenopausal women) who recorded everything they consumed—which included beverages, portion size, and details of how each dish was prepared—lost about six pounds more than the ladies who didn’t log their eating habits.

Set a strict bedtime


Hitting the hay consistently can help move the scale in the right direction. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal discovered that a lack of sleep (the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of shut-eye per night) can increase appetite-regulating hormones. “Too little sleep can lead to fatigue and increased carbohydrate cravings,” says Palinski-Wade. “In addition, when you’re exhausted, it can impact your motivation to exercise, prepare healthy meals, or even food shop.” Here are more fascinating tricks to lose weight while you sleep.

Give mindful eating a shot


According to researchers from University of California San Francisco, practicing mindful eating and stress reduction techniques can prevent weight gain without dieting. The study authors instructed 47 female volunteers—all of whom were labeled as chronically stressed and either overweight or obese—to take part in nine weekly sessions that taught strategies for stress relief and becoming more aware of their body’s signals, such as hunger, thirst, or fullness. The women who experienced the greatest reduction in stress were more likely to have lost the most deep abdominal fat—the type of fat linked to a higher risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

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