The easiest way to lose weight and improve your health? Ditch the white stuff! Most white foods (bread, rice, pasta, sugar, flour) are primarily made up of refined carbs and empty calories, so cutting them out of your diet is one of the quickest ways to shed pounds and improve your well-being, Dr. Oz says.
There are a few exceptions to the rule, including egg whites, cauliflower, and fish, he says. Those are the only white foods you should have on hand.
They may be chock-full of nutrients, but exotic vegetables like celeriac and Jerusalem artichokesdon’t always appeal to more traditional pallets. And that’s fine, according to Dr. Oz, who says broccoli is his all-time favorite produce.
“Broccoli is the best produce option because it cleanses the liver and helps to fight cancer,” he says. To reap the most rewards, the doctor suggests cleaning and slicing cruciferous veggies (like broccoli) five to 10 minutes before cooking, and then steaming or microwaving them (instead of boiling) to help retain the most cancer-fighting compounds.
Get Your Daily Dose of D
“New research says that vitamin D may play a crucial role in weight loss by controlling appetite and helping fat cells become more metabolically active,” Dr. Oz says. The sunshine vitamin also helps your body better absorb bone-boosting calcium, improves immunity, reduces inflammation, and may even protect against some forms of cancer. Nearly 75 percent of Americans are vitamin-D deficient, so there’s a good chance you’re not getting your recommended daily dose of 400 IU (some people may need as much as 1000 IU, so check with your doctor to find out what’s right for you).
“The best sources [of vitamin D] are salmon, tuna, and mackerel (especially the flesh),” Dr. Oz says, adding that “fish liver oils, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks also contain small amounts.”
And don’t forget the most convenient source of all: sunlight. “Vitamin D is actually produced in your body when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike your skin; the UV rays trigger synthesis of vitamin D, which then gets converted in your liver into its active form.”
Drink More Water
There’s a reason Dr. Oz can’t omit this expected tip from the list. Drinking water is so imperative for staying healthy, energized, and even losing weight. There are so many reasons to stay hydrated—hunger is often disguised as thirst, it boosts your metabolism, and water is the best energy drink available, he says.
To find out exactly how much water you should be drinking, divide your body weight (in pounds) by two and aim to drink that many ounces of water every day.
Trade Supplements for Tea
Drinking all-natural green tea is an excellent way to boost your weight loss and your health. Not only does it have the power to stoke your metabolism, but it also contains the highest concentration of catechins, antioxidants found in plants that have been found to protect against heart disease and even some cancers. Sip on a few cups of green tea throughout the day to get all of its amazing benefits.
Not a fan of tea? You can still reap the rewards! Try one (or all) of these creative ways to work green tea into your diet.
Focus on Nutrients, Not Calories
While the amount of calories you consume is crucial for weight loss, the quality of your food is often more important (and often ignored). “Losing weight isn’t all about cutting calories. Your brain is looking for nutrients, not calories, and [your brain] will prod you to eat until you’re satisfied,” says Dr. Oz, who cites a recent landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found specific foods, not just their calorie content, influence weight gain.
“After adjusting for age, baseline body mass index, and lifestyle factors such as exercise and sleep duration, the authors found that the foods most associated with adding pounds over a four-year period were French fries, potato chips, sugary drinks, meats (unprocessed red meat and processed meats), sweets, and refined grains; the foods most associated with shedding pounds were yogurt, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.”
These results aren’t exactly ground-breaking, but they confirm what weight-loss experts have been recommending for years. To stay slim and healthy, fill up on high-fiber, nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats (Dr. Oz always eats a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts prior to a large meal). This will help you avoid overloading on empty calories later, when you’re starving.
You don’t need to completely eliminate dessert (Dr. Oz says it’s perfectly okay to indulge your sweet tooth in moderation), just try not to indulge immediately after dinner.
“Avoid sweets directly after a meal since sugar disrupts the absorption of nutrients,” Dr. Oz says. The best time for a sweet treat is about two hours after you finish your meal. And when it comes to what you eat, try the good doctor’s go-to dessert: dark chocolate.
“The flavonols found in cocoa improve circulation and increase blood flow to the brain, which helps you see more clearly,” he says. (We also love these amazingly delicious—and nutritious—gluten-free goodies).
Sleep More to Slim Down
The old saying ‘you snooze, you lose’ couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to shedding pounds. According to Dr. Oz, depriving your body of sleep can speed up the aging process and deter your weight-loss efforts. “The brain craves carbohydrates when you’re tired, so you could unknowingly sabotage even the best laid plans,” he says. Aim for a good seven hours (minimum) of shuteye every night to allow your body to restore and to protect vital organ functions.
Make Breakfast Mandatory
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day! “Skipping the first meal of the day can increase risk for obesity more than fourfold,” Dr. Oz says. “If you don’t eat right when you wake up, your body senses a famine is coming and slows your metabolism to compensate. Then, when your body is presented with food later, it’s ravenous and wants to pack it in, leading to bingeing with a slow metabolism—a recipe for weight gain.”
Your plan of action: Dr. Oz suggests automating your first meal of the day by eating the same breakfast (like an egg-white omelet or steel-cut oatmeal), or cycling through a small variety of breakfast foods each and every morning. If eating breakfast is a challenge for you, try some of these healthy grab-and-go breakfast ideas).
WORKING OUT TOO MUCH CAN MESS WITH YOUR PERIOD
By now you know that exercise can help alleviate your biggest PMS issues. While that’s still true, experts now say that overdoing it on the treadmill can actually do the opposite and lead to hormonal imbalances, irregular bleeding, and excessive spotting. Now, this doesn’t mean you get to write off your period as an excuse to skip the gym, says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., associate clinical professor at Mount Sinai. Instead, she says to aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, and get plenty of rest in between.
YOU STORE A LOT OF YOUR STRESS IN YOUR PELVIC FLOOR
It’s not something that’s widely discussed—well, at least it wasn’t until Gwyneth Paltrowmade it cool—but the truth is good pelvic health is crucial to curing urinary incontinence, and it can help you let go of tension and unwanted stress. Even if you seem to be showing no signs of problems down there, maintaining a strong pelvic floor can help alleviate lower back pain, says Amy Stein, an NYC-based physical therapist.
YOUR EYES REVEAL A LOT
Don’t take any burning sensation or discomfort in your eye too light-heartedly, says Joseph A. Eviatar, M.D., an oculo-facial, cosmetic and reconstructive eye surgeon. While it may seem like NBD, eye pain could be pointing to a much larger problem—for instance, dry eye can be associated with inflammatory diseases like arthritis. So if you’re not sure about what’s going on, schedule a visit with the eye doc asap to avoid any unnecessary discomfort and potentially solve underlying issues.
EVEN HEALTHY FOODS CAN PREVENT A TONED BUTT
It’s no secret that sugar-packed sweets don’t exactly do us any favors when it comes to fighting cellulite and fat. But manyseemingly healthier foods wreak havoc on our buns, too. “A lot of yogurts have tons of added sugar in them and can contain anywhere from 15 to 29 grams of sugar per serving (that’s the equivalent of some candy bars),” says Amy Shapiro, M.S., R.D. Thankfully, others have around 11 grams per serving, which Shapiro says you should opt for instead.
YOUR BODY STRUGGLES TO BREAK DOWN ALCOHOL AS YOU GET OLDER
Even if you’re a one-glass-of-red-per-night kind of gal, you might still feel that buzz as you get into your forties. “An enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase helps us metabolize what we drink; women have fewer of those enzymes than men in the first place and we all lose them as we age. That’s why your tolerance goes down,” says David L. Katz, M.D., director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Connecticut. To avoid nasty hangovers, Dr. Katz recommends sticking to one drink per day, or spreading out your cocktails on girls’ night over a longer period of time.
YOUR HOO-HA CAN CHANGE COLORS
Yep, you read that right. Just because your vagina is one hue doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever. “During sexual arousal or pregnancy, blood flow to the genitals changes and can result in color change,” usually turning it a deeper, darker color, says Michael Krychman, M.D., gynecologist and executive director of Southern California Center for Sexual Health. Not to worry, though. Dr. Krychman insists that this is normal and just one of the many cool things your vagina can do.
YOUR BODY CRAVES MILK AFTER A WORKOUT
After spending a good ‘n sweaty hour at the gym, the last thing on your mind is probably rehydrating with a cold glass of milk. Shockingly, though, science says that’s actually the first thing you should grab when rummaging through the fridge. Research found that drinking milk is the best way to recover, as the additional energy, protein, and sodium you get is better than a traditional sports drink.
NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER CAN MAKE YOUR BOOBS SAG
Just like with the rest of your body, your breast skin needs to stay hydrated in order for it to look fresh. If you skip out on water and don’t replenish with a moisturizer, you may be causing your breasts to appear rough and shrunken, says Dr. James C. Grotting, M.D., president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
SOME HEALTHY FOODS ACTUALLY MAKE YOU MORE HUNGRY
It feels like the right choice reaching for a piece of fruit at snack time. But there are certain foods—even healthy ones—that tell your body to store them as fat rather than use them as fuel, says David Perlmutter, M.D., a board-certified neurologist. Some not-so-obvious culprits: whole-grain bread, smoothies, and even yogurt. While you shouldn’t nix those foods forever, you should try eating them with healthy fats and protein, which research shows keeps you fuller much longer.
THE FOOD YOU EAT COULD BE ALTERING YOUR BRAIN
You might want to rethink ordering that burger and fries combo for lunch after all. Researchers wanted to find out whethera high-fat diet changes how your brain interprets hunger, and the results were pretty shocking. There’s actually bacteria from high-fat foods that can cause inflammation in the nerve cells that communicate between your gut and brain, leading you to not feel full even when you are…which means you’ll keep on eating. Salad, anyone?
YOUR DIGESTIVE TRACT AND COFFEE DON’T ALWAYS GET ALONG
While coffee can help move things along when you’re feeling constipated, it may not always be the best antidote. “Not only is coffee acidic, but it also contains caffeine, which speeds up the digestive tract and may cause diarrhea,” explains Katie Cavuto, M.S., R.D., a nutritionist and chef in Philadelphia. Caffeine is a diuretic, and is one of the sneakyreasons coffee can lead to dehydration and even nausea. Knowing this, it’s best if you try to limit yourself to one cup per morning, says Cavuto.
YOUR GUT NEEDS MORE THAN “DIET” FOODS
Despite what all the diet plans say, you can lose weight, curb your appetite, and improve gut bacteria eating non-boring foods, like your favorite movie-night snack, says Samantha Hiller, M.S., R.D., an exercise physiologist. Just make sure you’re buying pre-popped kernels filled with fiber and whole grain. You do not want the microwavable kind, as it often contains hydrogenated oil and trans fat that’s not so good for your cholesterol levels.
With the right foods, it doesn’t require much effort to take in the recommended 1,000 mgof calcium needed per day. Take tofu: One block contains a whopping 1,624 mg. Add it to a smoothie, stir-fry or scramble it (just like you would eggs).
All it takes is one large artichoke to get 71 mg of calcium. And if you use it to make a creamy, slimmed-down dip for your friends, you’ll reap even more benefits — and become their favorite hostess, ever.
By tossing a cup of kale into your juicer every morning, you’ll automatically take in 101 mg of calcium. “Add a squeeze of vitamin C — like lemon juice — to optimize your calcium absorption,” Cady says.
One large carrot has 12,028 IU of vitamin A, more than double the recommended 5,000 IU a day. “With fruits and vegetables, we get vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, which is converted in to vitamin A in the body,” Cady says.
BRAZIL NUT AND FIGS
Ready for a powerhouse snack? Nuts and figs make for an easy — and crazy-nutritious — mix. “Brazil nuts contain high amounts of selenium, which supports immune function and boosts metabolism. And seasonal figs provide a textural satisfaction containing high levels of magnesium,” Kubyk says.
MANGO WITH CHILI POWDER
Adding spice to something so sweet might seem weird, but this fiery snack is worth trying. “Simply slice a mango and dust a cup of slices — about half a mango — with chili powder for a kick,” Gorin says. “Eating spicy foods may temporarily give your metabolism a slight boost.”