Think losing weight and getting healthy has to be a struggle? Not so! These easy, scientifically-proven weight-loss secrets pull double duty, melting pounds while spiking your energy and lifting your spirits, so you look and feel your best.
Read a magazine to shed weight and slash worry.
To lose weight faster on any diet, flip through the health pages of your Woman’s World magazine! South Dakota State University investigators say regularly catching up on articles offering healthy nutrition and fitness advice helps you drop pounds 60 percent faster by keeping your motivation high.
Another perk: British researchers say relaxing with a magazine or book you enjoy sends your stress levels plunging nearly 70 percent in just six minutes!
Drink water to boost your metabolism and strengthen your immune system.
Think the only way to supercharge your ability to burn fat is by training for a marathon? Thankfully, that’s not so! German researchers discovered a surprisingly simple way to keep your metabolism humming: Simply sip 16 oz. of water, and you’ll spike your metabolic rate by 30 percent for an hour. Water fuels mitochondria, those tiny power plants inside your cells that stoke your metabolism, helping you melt fat faster.
Another reason to fill up your water bottle? British scientists say folks who drink only less than three glasses of water a day are nearly four times more likely to get the flu than those who drink eight glasses. That’s because keeping the nose’s mucous membranes hydrated allows this first line of defense to trap bacteria and viral invaders before they reach the lungs.
Use the opposite hand to feel full and enhance focus.
One easy way to effortlessly eat 30 percent fewer calories: Switch your fork to your opposite hand. According to University of Southern California scientists, eating with your non-dominant hand forces you to slow down, which allows your body more time to release appetite-taming hormones that help you register that you’re full. The best part? Researchers say because this trick boosts satiety, you’ll eat less without feeling hungry or deprived!
Another bonus: Making familiar activities seem new and different — such as brushing your teeth with your other hand or walking your usual route in reverse — causes your body to release a surge of focus-enhancing brain chemicals that British scientists say increases your mental energy, attention and multitasking ability by 45 percent in as little as 60 seconds.
Take a dance break to snack less and increase energy.
We’ve all given in to snack attacks now and then, and it’s especially easy when we’re spending more time at home. The fix: Do a little jig around your kitchen. Dancing lights up the reward center of your brain, curbing the impulse to treat yourself to “extra” food. In fact, a study in Marketing Letters shows when you truly enjoy any type of exercise, you eat 35 percent less immediately afterward and 50 percent fewer snacks that day!
Dancing has another benefit, too: Moving the large muscles in your legs increases your energy by 80 percent for 90 minutes, say Canadian scientists. Short bursts of motion help muscles soak up significantly more energizing glucose.
Do a crossword puzzle to curb cravings and sharpen your memory.
When ice cream seems to be calling your name, reach for a fun brain game like a crossword puzzle or sudoku before digging in. When you challenge your mind to a puzzle, scientists reporting in PLOS ONE found it dampens activity in the area of the brain linked to less-than-healthy addictive habits (like overeating and smoking), noticeably shoring up your willpower and making junk food seem less desirable.
Plus, it turns out bolstering your willpower is a boon for your brain. Doing puzzles regularly acts as a mental workout, helping your mind perform up to eight years younger when it comes to short-term memory, according to investigators from the U.K.’s University of Exeter.
Snack on almonds to shrink your waist and sleep more soundly.
Trimming stubborn belly fat can be a challenge. Luckily, Purdue University scientists have found a tasty way to whittle your middle. They say snacking on a handful of raw almonds daily helps folks drop more than twice as much weight — especially from the midsection — than those who eat the same number of calories but no almonds. Nuts’ healthy fats fire up your body’s fat-burning mechanisms, while protein ups satiety.
Nuts can help you sleep better, too. Do you wake up in the night with that “gotta go” feeling? Eating 1/2 cup of almonds a day can cut your middle-of-the-night bathroom visits in half, improving sleep quality by 55 percent, UCLA scientists say. The magnesium relaxes bladder muscles, preventing spasms.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.