Stimulus (cue) control involves learning what social or environmental cues seem to encourage undesired eating, and then changing those cues. For example, you may learn from reflection or from self-monitoring records that you're more likely to overeat while watching television, or whenever treats are on display by the office coffee pot, or when around a certain friend. You might then try to change the situation, such as by separating the association of eating from the cue (don't eat while watching television), avoiding or eliminating the cue (leave the coffee room immediately after pouring coffee), or changing the circumstances surrounding the cue (plan to meet your friend in a nonfood setting). In general, visible and reachable food items are often cues for unplanned eating.
Growing up, Brady Golden had always been a big kid—"chubby," as he puts it. Weight gain happened steadily for most of his life: By the fourth grade, he weighed 180 pounds, and by high school, he was tipping the scale at 350. "I just ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I barely moved at all. The most active thing I did was marching band," he says.
Seriously: Your fat can help you shed pounds. How? Just as there's more than one kind of fat in food, there's more than one type in your body. White fat is the bad stuff you want to zap. But a second kind, brown fat, actually torches calories. "Up to 80 percent of adults have brown fat deposits in their bodies," says Aaron M. Cypess, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School. This good fat is powerful because it's packed with mitochondria, the parts of cells that generate heat. When activated, as little as two ounces of brown fat can burn as much as 20 percent of your body's calories.
"Caffeine causes the body to rely more on fat for fuel during a workout, rather than glucose," Aceto says. "But the caffeine effect is lessened when you eat a high-carbohydrate meal with it." Drink 1-2 cups of black coffee within two hours of working out, and emphasize healthy fats and protein if you're drinking it with a meal or snack. Skip the cream and sugar (which add unwanted calories and fat), and avoid drinking coffee at other times of the day; doing so can desensitize you to the fat-burning effects of caffeine.
This could be because the body increases insulin secretion in anticipation that sugar will appear in the blood. When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Whether this chain of events regularly takes place is somewhat unclear. Something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max though, and there are well-designed studies showing increased insulin when using artificial sweeteners.
While many people turn to artificial sweeteners in a misguided attempt to whittle their waistlines, those fake sugars are likely to have the opposite effect. According to Yale researchers, artificial sweeteners are actually linked with an increased risk of abdominal obesity and weight gain, possibly because they can trigger cravings for the real stuff and spike insulin levels in a similar fashion to real sugar.
With this eating style, you’re looking at a lot of menu planning and preparation. A review published in August 2017 in Nutrients suggests the diet could lead to weight loss, but the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics warns the plan could also cause certain nutrient deficiencies, such as in calcium and vitamin D. (3,4) And, therefore, according to an article published in the January–February 2016 issue of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, anyone at risk for osteoporosis should avoid it. (5)
If you don’t have an established exercise routine, simply walking is the best first step toward weight loss. “Walking is a pretty good entry point for people,” says Gagliardi. This is particularly true if you have been out of the gym for a while and want to ease back into a workout routine. One small study published in The Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry found that obese women who did a walking program for 50 to 70 minutes three days per week for 12 weeks significantly slashed their visceral fat compared to a sedentary control group.