7 Quirky Weight-Loss Strategies That Really Work
When The Shangri-La Diet author Seth Roberts, PhD, a professor of psychology, pioneered the role of "flavorless calories" in weight loss, everyone thought he was crazy. Roberts didn't let that affect his research and now a decade later, his diet has quite the success rate.
The Shangri-La Diet says you can lose weight by drinking 1-3 tablespoons of sugar water and/or 1-2 tablespoons of extra-light (not virgin) olive oil twice daily between meals. According to Roberts, the diet curbs your appetite and dramatically lowers your body's "set point" (the weight at which it naturally wants to settle).
His theory: If you eat a variety of familiar, flavor-rich foods, the brain stimulates hunger, raising the set point and causing weight gain. But if you consume foods with little or unfamiliar taste, the brain thinks the body must be starving (why else would you eat tasteless food?), thus lowering the set point and causing weight loss.
Spice Up Your Life
Adding a wide variety of flavorful spices to your foods can help you control portion sizes and lose weight. Research shows that people eat less when their food tastes new and spicy (perhaps because we're forced to pay attention to it?). The crazier the blends of spices, the more novel the food will taste and the more benefits you'll reap, so don't be afraid to mix spices and go out of your comfort zone. Plus, traditional spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin are chock-full of powerful antioxidants.
This one may be surprising, considering the popular concept of eating five or six mini-meals throughout the day. But according to scientists who study the hunger hormones leptin and gherlin, eating too often can mess with your body's natural signals. Plus, if you are constantly snacking, you might not realize how many calories you're really taking in and/or feel deprived from not having a "real meal."
Worried about tanking your metabolism? Scientists say that our metabolisms are a lot more resilient than we give them credit for. A popular method is called the "No S Diet" for "no snacks, no sweets, and no seconds, except for on days that start with 'S'."
Eating Sweets While Cooking
For the cook who loves tasting as they go, licks, sips, and nibbles can add up fast, leaving you feeling as if you've already eaten a meal before it actually ends up on the table. To quell the tasting urge, some experts recommend sucking on a highly flavored hard candy while you cook. The potent taste—think mint, cinnamon, or sour—will keep your taste buds busy, and the act of sucking will keep your mouth occupied.
Everyone knows that smell plays a huge part of how we taste our food—remember your fourth grade science experiment where you ate an onion and an apple with your nose pinched and couldn't tell the difference? So while it may seem a little extreme (and get you some weird looks at restaurants) clipping your nose shut during meals will help you only eat until you're full. Although it does make your favorite foods a lot less enjoyable.
One Meal a Day
Intermittent fasting (IF) is the hottest ticket in the nutrition world right now, with reported benefits ranging from improved immunity, faster metabolism, better insulin sensitivity, lower cancer risk, and of course, weight loss. While we'd all love these rewards, not eating for 24 hours or more can feel like a marathon of deprivation. A way to ease into IF is to try to eat just one meal a day. People often find that once they get past the habit of eating all the time, they really don't miss the extra meals.
Cake for Breakfast
Eating cake first thing in the morning may sound like the worst diet advice ever (or the best!), but Israeli researchers found that "obese participants who ate a breakfast high in protein and carbohydrates that included a dessert were better able to stick to their diet and keep the pounds off longer than participants who ate a low-carb, low-calorie breakfast that did not include sweets." The scientists hypothesize that allowing yourself a treat in the a.m. helps curb your cravings for sweets later in the day.
We're big fans of the "everything in moderation" mantra, but it's important to remember that just because a weight-loss strategy works for one group of people doesn't mean it's the best plan for you. If you typically have trouble stopping after just one sweet treat, you're better off skipping this slim-down strategy to avoid undoing any progress you've already made.