15 Simple Weight-Loss Tricks for All Ye Willpower-Challenged

Little girl reaching for cookiesBy Brenda Kearns

These study-proven strategies can make losing weight a little less painful.

Have an Afternoon Snack
Women who have a snack in the afternoon lose 57 percent more weight compared to women who snack in the morning, according to a study at Washington's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "There's often a big gap -- five hours or more -- between lunch and supper, so afternoon snacks are a great way to steady blood sugar and prevent overeating in the evening," explains lead researcher Anne McTiernan, M.D. "The gap between breakfast and lunch tends to be smaller -- so morning snacks often just add calories, without dampening your appetite later in the day."

Be Realistic About Your Slip-Ups
In a University of Pennsylvania study, women who admitted to weak willpower and a fear of slipups (overeating at parties, skipping workouts due to laziness) lost 26 more pounds compared to women who felt confident that they could shun temptations. But admitting to those fear actually proves beneficial: When you picture the occasional slipup, you're actually being honest with yourself about how hard it is to fight temptations, says Michelle May, M.D., author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. "And that makes it possible to prepare for setbacks, and to bounce back quickly when they do happen."

Head Outside
Women with the highest blood levels of vitamin D lose nearly twice as much weight -- and lose it twice as quickly -- compared to women who are deficient, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. When vitamin D latches onto fat cells, it forces them to release their stored fatty acids so they can be burned for energy, the study authors say.

And the best way to get that Vitamin D is to simply step outside! Spend at least 20 minutes outdoors (without sunscreen) each day. And if the weather tends to be dreary in your area -- or you're the indoorsy type -- take 2,000 IUs of vitamin D in supplement form daily instead.

Munch With the "Wrong" Hand
It's hard to stick to a healthy diet when cookies, chips and other tasty treats seem to crop up at every gathering. Instead of avoiding social events, try using your non-dominant hand to nibble. In a study at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, simply switching hands to eat unhealthy snacks helped women cut their calorie intake by one-third without leaving them feeling hungry or deprived. Eating with your clumsier hand forces you to slow down, so you notice the first twinges of fullness and stop noshing before you overshoot your body's needs, study authors say.

Pile On the Flavor
Try seasoning your meals with bold flavors, like pepper, hot sauce, spicy mustard, flavored vinegars, cinnamon or nutmeg. According to research at Chicago's Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, when meals are packed with flavor, people feel genuinely full on 200 fewer calories daily -- and they can effortlessly shed up to 18 pounds per year. "When a rich aroma reaches the hypothalamus -- your brain's satiety center -- it shuts down the urge to eat in as little as five minutes," explains study author Alan Hirsch, M.D.

Buy It, but Hide It
In a Cornell study, women who stored their favorite treats in the refrigerator crisper, on higher shelves in the cupboards or in opaque containers snacked 41 percent less but felt just as satisfied. "People are naturally food suggestible, which means that seeing a particular food makes them feel genuinely hungry for it," says Tom Kersting, Ph.D., author of Losing Weight When Diets Fail. "Some people fight cravings for years, not realizing that simply placing the 'bad' stuff out of sight will often make those feelings go away in as little as one week."

Click here to read the ten other simple weight-loss tricks!

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