If you can suss out your own sneaky weight-gain habits, you can completely change your life without having to, well, change your life. That’s why we uncovered the bad habits that are the root causes of why you’re gaining weight. Tweak just a few of these everyday routines and you could be on your way to a flatter belly in no time!
7. You eat dinner after 9 P.M
No, it’s not because your metabolism slows down after this time—that’s a common food myth. But it is true that late-night eaters are more likely to gain weight compared to those who take advantage of the early bird special, according to a study published in the journal Appetite. It’s not because they don’t burn those calories as rapidly; it’s because these night owls are more likely to binge eat (after starving themselves since lunch) and subsequently choose unhealthy foods high in sugar and fat to quickly put in their rumbling tummies. Not only will these high-energy foods pack on the pounds, but many of them can make it harder to fall asleep.
6. You drink most of your calories
Yes, this bad eating habit goes for everything from sodas and alcohol to juice cleanses and bottled teas. That’s because beverages often lack healthy fats and fiber: two satiating nutrients that keep hunger pangs at bay. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants ended up drinking more (and thus consumed a greater number of calories) until they felt satisfied, compared to when they ate solid food.
There are several factors at play when it comes to satiety, and experts believe that both the sound and the physical act of chewing helps monitor your consumption; they think chewing will even increase satiety better than slurping. So, take a cue from a recent study published in the same journal—which found that thick smoothies made people feel fuller than a thin drink with the same amount of calories—by adding in a generous scoop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of crunchy nuts to your protein shakes in the mornings.
5. You eat when you aren’t hungry
Just because you’re going to see a movie doesn’t mean you need to buy an extra-large popcorn. The same goes for that leftover food from the morning meeting that’s been placed in the breakroom. Just because it’s free—or because you’re bored—doesn’t mean you should eat. Whenever you see food that’s tempting you, ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry?” Test yourself by knocking back a cup of water and waiting 10 minutes. Around 60% of the time, people inappropriately respond to thirst by eating instead of drinking, according to a Physiology & Behavior study. It’s one of the reasons you’re always hungry.
4. You avoid all fats
Let’s answer the question again: does fat make you fat? No! You know that eating trans fats can increase your risk of heart disease, weight gain, and stroke, so you’re smart to stay away. But not all fats need to make your “do not eat” list. Consuming healthy fats like flax seeds and nuts can actually help you slim down and stay healthy. “Fats not only help us absorb many of the vitamins from our diets, but they also help keep us fuller longer, which can aid weight loss efforts,” explains Zanini. She suggests consuming one serving of healthy fats each time you sit down to eat. This could be 1/4 cup of almonds or walnuts, some sautéed veggies cooked with a tablespoon of olive oil or a few slices of avocado.
3. You try extreme diets
If you’ve just hopped on the Paleo or low-carb bandwagon, proceed with caution! “Often diets that cut out entire food groups do not allow for the balance and moderation we need to follow a healthy, lifelong eating plan,” warns Zanini. “Plus, dieters who follow these plans may be prone to potentially dangerous nutritional deficiencies. Or they may simply get bored with their restricted plan and end up overeating down the road,” warns Zanini.
2. You ignore nutrition advice
Good news here: By reading this, you’re already forming habits that can help you shed pounds. When Australian researchers sent diet and exercise habits to 75 people, they found that the recipients began eating smarter and working more physical activity into their daily routines. Not surprisingly, the habits (and waistlines) of the non-recipients didn’t budge.
1. You’re sleeping too little or too much
According to Wake Forest researchers, dieters who sleep five hours or less put on 2½ times more belly fat, while those who sleep more than eight hours pack on only slightly less than that. Shoot for an average of six to seven hours of sleep per night—the optimal amount for weight control.
8 Foods That Help You Live Longer
6 Ways To Make Your Hair Healthy Again
5 Diet Hacks To Help You Lose Weight
7 Healthy Hair Tips Every Girl Should Know
How To Get Glowing Skin Overnight
10 Kitchen Tips To Keep You Slim
8 Foods Every Dieter Should Eat
5 Spring Beauty Tips Every Girl Needs to Know
10 High Protein Foods that Are Good for Weight Loss
8 Common Mistakes In Relationships That You Can Avoid
Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them, we receive a small commission.