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Category Archives: Health and Fitness

Program Your Appetite

Your appetite

Those rumblings in your tummy? They can be traced back to our Neanderthal ancestors, says Louis Aronne, MD, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. “Your body is primed to ramp up your appetite to keep you from starving,” he explains. In prehistoric times, that near-constant hunger was a useful motivator to forage for needed food. But in today’s world of 24-hour markets and drive-throughs, your appetite can easily outpace your body’s requirements. Learn how totake charge of cravings and control overeating with this updated advice.

Exercise dampens your appetite

A good sweat session works up an appetite, the thinking goes. But recent research shows that exercise may actually make you less likely to overeat. A study from the U.K. found that women who ran on a treadmill for 90 minutes had lower levels of hunger-inducing ghrelin and higher levels of appetite-suppressing peptide YY. The opposite was true for women who achieved the same calorie deficit by eating less. Later that day, when the dieters were offered a buffet meal, they ate roughly a third more than the exercisers. “If you’re engaging in vigorous exercise because you’re training for a marathon, then, yes, you will feel famished,” says Pamela Peeke, MD, clinical assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and author of The Hunger Fix. But that won’t happen after a dance class, she assures, in which you burn about 350 calories.

Slimming down makes you hungrier

“It’s a sad truism of human biology,” says Dr. Aronne. “Your body is designed to resist famine, and it will fight to make sure you get back to your previous weight.” Blame the hormone leptin: A recent study of 14 formerBiggest Loser contestants revealed that their levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone dropped steeply after they shed large amounts of weight. Over time, their leptin levels increased but didn’t return to what they were originally—which set the contestants up to feel hungry and could explain why most of them regained much of the weight they had lost. But here’s the good news: Losing a smaller amount of poundage (say, 5 percent of your body weight) doesn’t trigger the same hormone change, so keeping those pounds off is easier, says Dr. Aronne.

Certain foods can curb your cravings

Fill up on these four foods to help curb cravings.

Barley: The whole grain lowers blood sugar and insulin, found a 2016 Swedish study, and prompts a rise in hormones that regulate appetite.

Water: In research from Virginia Tech, folks who downed two cups of water before a meal ate 75 to 90 fewer calories than people who didn’t hydrate before eating.

Eggs: Overweight women who ate a 350-calorie, protein-rich breakfast snacked on fewer fatty and sugary foods than those who skipped breakfast or ate cereal, per a 2013 study.

Red pepper: Adding a dash of this spice to your meal may help manage hankerings for fatty, salty, or sweet foods, according to research out of Purdue University.

To curb your appetite, steer clear of these four foods.

Rice cakes: Like other low-fat starches and sugars, they have a high glycemic index, meaning they cause your blood sugar to spike, then plunge—leaving you ravenous.

Diet drinks: Because they’re so sweet, they lead your body to expect a burst of fuel. Your brain instructs you to eat in order to provide those missing calories.

Packaged snacks: Many processed, packaged foods are made with high fructose corn syrup; a Yale study suggests that fructose may trigger overeating because consuming it doesn’t effectively quell hunger.

Red meat: It’s OK on occasion, but red meat is high in iron, which in large amounts suppresses appetite-curbing leptin, per a 2015 study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Starving? This might be why

You’re not logging enough z’s: Skimping on sleep can make you put on pounds. “Research shows that sleep deprivation reduces leptin and increases ghrelin levels,” says Dr. Aronne. How much sleep is enough? Per Stanford University research, people who slept five hours a night saw their hunger hormones go haywire, compared with folks who slept eight.

You’re beyond frazzled: When your brain is in chronic panic mode, it craves fat-or sugar-filled foods. You would have needed them back in caveman times to replenish after, say, fighting off wild animals, explains Dr. Peeke. Alas, today’s pressures tend to suck your emotional rather than physical energy—so when you polish off a box of doughnut holes, the food just turns to fat.

You’re taking certain meds: Some SSRI antidepressants have been linked to weight gain. Same goes for the migraine meds Depakote and Depakene, as well as certain sleeping pills and blood pressure drugs, says Dr. Lazarus, who is also secretary of the Obesity Medicine Association. If you notice increased hunger or weight gain, tell your doc. She may be able to prescribe an alternative.


Lose Weight Fast?, Follow These Tips

# Enjoy high-calorie treats as the accent, not the centerpiece

Make a spoonful of ice cream the jewel and a bowl of fruit the crown. Cut down on the chips by pairing each bite with lots of chunky, filling fresh salsa, suggests Jeff Novick, director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Florida. Balance a little cheese with a lot of fruit or salad.

# Eat cereal for breakfast five days a week

Studies find that people who eat cereal for breakfast every day are significantly less likely to be obese and have diabetes than those who don’t. They also consume more fiber and calcium—and less fat—than those who eat other breakfast foods. Make oatmeal, or pour out a high-fiber, low-sugar cereal like Total or Grape Nuts.

#  Try hot sauce, salsa, and Cajun seasonings

They provide lots of flavor with no fat and few calories, plus they turn up your digestive fires, causing your body to temporarily burn more calories. Choose them over butter and creamy or sugary sauces.

# Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice

For the calories in one kid-size box of apple juice, you can enjoy an apple, orange, and a slice of watermelon. These whole foods will keep you satisfied much longer than that box of apple juice, so you’ll eat less overall.

# Drop your milk type and you cut calories by about 20 percent

If you drink regular, go to 2%. If you already drink 2%, go down another notch to 1% or skim milk. Each step downward cuts the calories by about 20 percent. Once you train your taste buds to enjoy skim milk, you’ll have cut the calories in the whole milk by about half and trimmed the fat by more than 95 percent.

# Snack on a small handful of nuts

Studies have found that overweight people who ate a moderate-fat diet containing almonds lost more weight than a control group that didn’t eat nuts. Snacking once or twice a day helps stave off hunger and keeps your metabolism stoked. You can also pack up baby carrots or your own trail mix with nuts, raisins, seeds, and dried fruit.

# Get most of your calories before noon

Studies find that the more you eat in the morning, the less you’ll eat in the evening. And you have more opportunities to burn off those early-day calories than you do to burn off dinner calories.

# Brush your teeth after every meal, especially dinner

That clean, minty freshness will serve as a cue to your body and brain that mealtime is over.

# Don’t eat with a large group

A study published in the Journal of Physiological Behavior found that we tend to eat more when we eat with other people, most likely because we spend more time at the table. But eating with your significant other or your family, and using table time for talking in between chewing, can help cut down on calories.

# Order the smallest portion of everything

If you’re out and ordering a sub, get the 6-inch sandwich. Buy a small popcorn, a small salad, a small hamburger. Again, studies find we tend to eat what’s in front of us, even though we’d feel just as full on less.

# Eat water-rich foods and you’ll eat fewer calories overall

A body of research out of Pennsylvania State University finds that eating water-rich foods such as zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers during meals reduces your overall calorie consumption. Other water-rich foods include soups and salads. You won’t get the same benefits by just drinking your water, though. Because the body processes hunger and thirst through different mechanisms, it simply doesn’t register a sense of fullness with water (or soda, tea, coffee, or juice).

# Bulk up your meals with veggies

You can eat twice as much pasta salad loaded with veggies like broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes for the same calories as a pasta salad sporting just mayonnaise. Same goes for stir-fries, omelets, and other veggie-friendly dishes. If you eat a 1:1 ratio of grains to veggies, the high-fiber veggies will help satisfy your hunger before you overeat the grains. Bonus: Fiber is highly beneficial for preventing constipation, which can make you look bloated.

# Avoid white foods

There is some scientific legitimacy to today’s lower-carb diets: Large amounts of simple carbohydrates from white flour and added sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and lead to weight gain. While avoiding sugar, white rice, and white flour, however, you should eat plenty of whole-grain breads and brown rice. One Harvard study of 74,000 women found that those who ate more than two daily servings of whole grains were 49 percent less likely to be overweight than those who ate the white stuff.

# Switch to ordinary coffee

Fancy coffee drinks from trendy coffee joints often pack several hundred calories, thanks to whole milk, whipped cream, sugar, and sugary syrups. A cup of regular coffee with skim milk has just a small fraction of those calories. And when brewed with good beans, it tastes just as great. You can also try nonfat powdered milk in coffee. You’ll get the nutritional benefits of skim milk, which is high in calcium and low in calories. And, because the water has been removed, powdered milk doesn’t dilute the coffee the way skim milk does.

# If you’re going to indulge, choose fat-releasing foods

They should help keep you from feeling deprived and bingeing on higher-calorie foods. For instance: honey has just 64 fat releasing calories in one tablespoon. Eggs have just 70 calories in one hard-boiled egg, loaded with fat releasing protein. Part-skim ricotta cheese has just 39 calories in one ounce, packed with fat releasing calcium. Dark chocolate has about 168 calories in a one-ounce square, but it’s packed with fat releasers. And a University of Tennessee study found that people who cut 500 calories a day and ate yogurt three times a day for 12 weeks lost more weight and body fat than a group that only cut the calories. The researchers concluded that the calcium in low-fat dairy foods triggers a hormonal response that inhibits the body’s production of fat cells and boosts the breakdown of fat.

# Serve food on your plate instead of on platters

If you eat your dinner restaurant style on your plate rather than family style, helping yourself from bowls and platters on the table, you’ll lose weight. Most of us tend to eat an average of 150 percent more calories in the evening than in the morning. You’ll avoid that now because when your plate is empty, you’re finished; there’s no reaching for seconds.

# Make one social outing this week an active one

Pass on the movies and screen the views of a local park instead. Not only will you sit less, but you’ll be saving calories because you won’t chow down on that bucket of popcorn. Other active ideas: a tennis match, a guided nature or city walk (check your local listings), a bike ride, or bowling.

# Hook on a step tracker, and aim for an extra 1,000 steps a day

On average, sedentary people take only 2,000 to 3,000 steps a day. Adding 2,000 steps will help you maintain your current weight and stop gaining weight; adding more than that will help you lose weight.

# Put less food out and you’ll take less in

Conversely, the more food in front of you, the more you’ll eat—regardless of how hungry you are. So instead of using regular dinner plates that range these days from 10 to 14 inches (making them look empty if they’re not heaped with food), serve your main course on salad plates (about 7 to 9 inches wide). Instead of 16-ounce glasses and oversized coffee mugs, return to the old days of 8-ounce glasses and 6-ounce coffee cups.

# Eat 90 percent of your meals at home

You’re more likely to eat more—and eat more high-fat, high-calorie foods—when you eat out than when you eat at home. Restaurants today serve such large portions that many have switched to larger plates and tables to accommodate them.

# Put your fork or spoon down between every bite

At the table, sip water frequently. Intersperse your eating with stories for your dining partner of the amusing things that happened during your day. Your brain lags your stomach by about 20 minutes when it comes to satiety (fullness) signals. If you eat slowly enough, your brain will catch up to tell you that you are no longer in need of food.

# Throw out your “fat” clothes for good

Once you’ve started losing weight, throw out or give away every piece of clothing that doesn’t fit. The idea of having to buy a whole new wardrobe if you gain the weight back will serve as a strong incentive to stay fit.

# Close the kitchen for 12 hours

After dinner, wash all the dishes, wipe down the counters, turn out the light, and, if necessary, tape closed the cabinets and refrigerator. Late-evening eating significantly increases the overall number of calories you eat, a University of Texas study found. Stopping late-night snacking can save 300 or more calories a day, or 31 pounds a year.

# Walk before dinner and you’ll cut calories AND your appetite

In a study of 10 obese women conducted at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, 20 minutes of walking reduced appetite and increased sensations of fullness as effectively as a light meal.

# You’ll lose weight and fat if you walk 45 minutes a day, not 30

The reason we’re suggesting 45 minutes instead of the typical 30 is that a Duke University study found that while 30 minutes of daily walking is enough to prevent weight gain in most relatively sedentary people, exercise beyond 30 minutes results in weight and fat loss. Burning an additional 300 calories a day with three miles of brisk walking (45 minutes should do it) could help you lose 30 pounds in a year without even changing how much you’re eating.

# Don’t buy any prepared food

that lists sugar, fructose, or corn syrup among the first four ingredients on the label. You should be able to find a lower-sugar version of the same type of food. If you can’t, grab a piece of fruit instead! Look for sugar-free varieties of foods such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressing. Also, avoid partially hydrogenated foods, and look for more than two grams of fiber per 100 calories in all grain products. Finally, a short ingredient list means fewer flavor enhancers and empty calories.

# Sniff a banana, an apple, or a peppermint when you feel hungry

You might feel silly, but it works. When Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, tried this with 3,000 volunteers, he found that the more frequently people sniffed, the less hungry they were and the more weight they lost—an average of 30 pounds each. One theory is that sniffing the food tricks the brain into thinking you’re actually eating it.

# Stare at the color blue

There’s a good reason you won’t see many fast-food restaurants decorated in blue: it functions as an appetite suppressant. So serve up dinner on blue plates, dress in blue while you eat, and cover your table with a blue tablecloth. Conversely, avoid red, yellow, and orange in your dining areas. Studies find they encourage eating.

# Eat in front of mirrors and you’ll lose weight

One study found that eating in front of mirrors slashed the amount people ate by nearly one-third. Having to look yourself in the eye reflects back some of your own inner standards and goals, and reminds you of why you’re trying to lose weight in the first place.

# Spend 10 minutes a day walking up and down stairs

The Centers for Disease Control says that’s all it takes to help you shed as much as 10 pounds a year (assuming you don’t start eating more).

# Walk five minutes for at least every two hours

Stuck at a desk all day? A brisk five-minute walk every two hours will parlay into an extra 20-minute walk by the end of the day. And getting a break will make you less likely to reach for snacks out of antsiness.

# Write down what you eat for one week and you will lose weight.

Studies found that people who keep food diaries wind up eating about 15 percent less food than those who don’t. Watch out for weekends: A University of North Carolina study found people tend to consume an extra 115 calories per weekend day, primarily from alcohol and fat. Then cut out or down calories from spreads, dressings, sauces, condiments, drinks, and snacks; they could make the difference between weight gain and loss.

# Add 10 percent to the amount of daily calories you think you’re eating

If you think you’re consuming 1,700 calories a day and don’t understand why you’re not losing weight, add another 170 calories to your guesstimate. Chances are, the new number is more accurate. Adjust your eating habits accordingly.

# After breakfast, stick to water

At breakfast, go ahead and drink orange juice. But throughout the rest of the day, focus on water instead of juice or soda. The average American consumes an extra 245 calories a day from soft drinks. That’s nearly 90,000 calories a year—or 25 pounds! And research shows that despite the calories, sugary drinks don’t trigger a sense of fullness the way that food does.

# Eat three fewer bites of your meal

…or one less treat a day, or one less glass of orange juice. Doing any of these can save you about 100 calories a day, and that alone is enough to prevent you from gaining the two pounds most people mindlessly pack on each year.

# Watch one less hour of TV

A study of 76 undergraduate students found the more they watched television, the more often they ate and the more they ate overall. Sacrifice one program (there’s probably one you don’t really want to watch anyway) and go for a walk instead.

# Wash something thoroughly once a week

Whether that’s a floor, a couple of windows, the shower stall, bathroom tile, or your car, a 150-pound person will burn about four calories for every minute spent cleaning. Scrub for 30 minutes and you could work off approximately 120 calories, the same number in a half-cup of vanilla frozen yogurt.

Slimming Tips

With regards to slimming tips, the best ones aren’t just about chiseling and conditioning your body. Each lady needs to realize that thinning isn’t just about how you sit or stand. How you move matters as well. No lady needs to look shlumpy and slump her way down the walkway. Utilize these brisk thinning tips to stand tall and look incline from the sacrificial stone to the move floor—and past.

1. Check Yourself in the Mirror
When you’re standing, you want your ears to be aligned over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, and your hips over your knees and ankles. However, when it comes to slimming tips, you don’t want to overdo this one: “You do want to maintain the natural curves in your spine,” says John R. Martinez, M.P.T., owner of Physical Therapy Experts in New York City. Pulling your shoulders back can help nix bra bulge too.

2. Stretch Regularly
Martinez recommends using these two slimming tips a few times day: Clasp your hands behind your back, arms straight, and squeeze your shoulder blades together, keeping your shoulders down. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat once or twice. Next, place your index finger against your chin. Simply pull your head away from your finger as far as you can (try not to lower or lift your chin). Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat once or twice. These moves counteract the tight chest muscles and forward head posture that result from being hunched over a desk.

3. Be Backward Thinking
While you might be focused on trying to firm your butt, don’t forget about all the other muscles back there. “Strengthening your upper, middle, and lower back (your lats, rhomboids, and erector spinae) will help stretch out the muscles along the front of your body and help you stand up straighter,” says Martinez. Aim to do resistance training for your entire body two or three times a week.

4. Get Help
Most of us don’t have our mothers around to tell us to “Sit up straight!” And that’s possibly the best slimming tip there is. The iPosture ($50;, a small disc that you wear on your bra strap, may be the next best thing to mom (as far as sitting up straight goes). Clip it on, sit up tall, and hit the button to record your “perfect” posture. Whenever you slouch for more than a minute, it vibrates, alerting you to lift your chest and pull your shoulders back.

Lose Weight Naturally?, Here Its Tips

# Green Tea & Ginger

Green tea has long been debated as a weight loss aid, and more research is needed to confirm or deny how well it works. While some studies have turned up nothing, others have identified three main components in green tea that could help manage weight-caffeine, catechins, and theanine. Caffeine is just an overall boost to your system, and speeds up a number of bodily processes, including metabolism related to weight (technically speaking, metabolism refers to any and all biological processes in a living organism needed to sustain life.)

Catechins are considered anti-oxidant flavonoids, and are superior in green tea rather than black tea due to a difference in processing (black tea is fermented.) While the mechanism is yet to be determined, in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that catechins can help lower the absorption of lipids (fats) via the intestinal track. Theanine is an amino acid in green tea that can encourage the release of dopamine, the chemical that makes you “happy” and relaxed. If you tend to eat due to stress, this may be useful. It also counters the caffeine so you don’t get all jittery. The ginger added to green tea will help improve digestion and add a little flavor-no sugar or milk in this tea!

You will need…
-1/2 inch of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped OR ½ teaspoon ground ginger
-1 teaspoon of green tea
-8 ounces of fresh water
-Raw, organic honey (optional)

Place green tea and ginger in a strainer or sieve and cover with 8 ounces of boiling water. Steeping green tea for too long can leave it with a bitter taste, so don’t exceed 3-4 minutes. You can stir in a little raw honey if you really need to sweeten it, but avoid milk or sugar at all costs. Drink 1-2 cups daily on an empty stomach.

# Rose Petal Water

The benefits of rose petal water are backed more by anecdotal evidence than anything, but that’s no reason to shrug off this mild yet refreshing drink. Rose petals act as a very gentle diuretic. Diuretics encourage your kidneys to put more sodium (salt) into your urine. This excess salt in turn draws water from your blood, decreasing the amount of water in your circulatory system. This is not “permanent” weight loss-just water weight-but the action encourages you to drink more and keep your system flushed clean and hydrated. Staying hydrated, believe it or not, can be hugely beneficial to losing weight.

You will need…

-Handful of fresh or dried rose petals
-Distilled water (roughly 1-2 cups)
-A pot with a tightly fitting lid
Note: Be sure, especially if using fresh rose petals, that they have not been treated with any sort of chemical (insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc.)

Place the pot on the stove, put in the rose petals, and add just enough distilled water to completely cover them. If some float to the top it’s not a big deal. Cover the pot with a tightly fitting lid and simmer until the petals lose most of their color, about 15-20 minutes. Strain the liquid into a glass jar and keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Drink about ½-1 cup every morning on an empty stomach.

# Cinnamon Tea

Blood sugar has a direct impact on your weight as it affects how hungry and how energetic you are (if you have energy you’re much more likely to exercise!)

If your blood sugar is balanced you are less likely to have a disproportionally large appetite, and your body will be more apt to use fat (energy) rather than storing it.

While debate about its effectiveness drags on, more and more preliminary studies are coming out showing that cinnamon can help manage blood sugar levels, so why not whip up a spicy cinnamon tea?

You will need…
-1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
-1 cinnamon stick
-8 ounces of fresh water

Place the cinnamon in a mug and cover with 8 ounces of boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes before straining. Drinking 1-2 times a day.

# Ginseng

Ginseng is any one of 11 perennial plants with fleshy roots belonging to the genus Panax. While there are different kinds of ginseng, the two that you should use –also the ones that have had the most controlled double-blind studies done on them-are American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng.) While widely known as a stimulant to speed up a sluggish metabolism, that description doesn’t do it justice. Ginseng’s greatest quality is that it can help fight fatigue and boost energy as well as mental alertness (in a randomized double-blind study in 2010 290 cancer patients at the Mayo Clinic were given ginseng daily and it was found to fight even the crippling fatigue caused by chemotherapy.) This is huge when it comes to weight loss-without energy, it’s hard to exercise. Without exercise, it’s near impossible to lose weight-at least in a healthy way. In addition to boosting energy, there is tentative evidence that it can help manage blood sugar, which also affects energy levels as well as appetite.

You will need…
-1 teaspoon of chopped American or Korean ginseng
-8 ounces of fresh water
-raw honey/lemon to taste (optional)

Roughly chop the root and measure out 1 teaspoon per cup of water. Bring water to a boil and then pour over the ginseng, allowing it to steep for 5-9 minutes. Strain, add honey or lemon if you like, and drink 1-2 times daily.

# Sip on Sage

We live in a hectic world, and most of us are stressed about one thing or another on a daily basis. The thing is, our bodies weren’t made to handle constant stress, and it can have damaging effects on a wide variety of functions-including weight gain/loss. When under stress, the body releases cortisol, a steroid hormone that is part of the fight-or-flight response. Cortisol can effect blood sugar level (therefore appetite), and cause energy to be stored more readily as fat. Neuropeptide Y is a neurochemical that is also related to stress. When released, it causes growth of fat tissue (energy is stored easily as fat around the abdomen) as well as an increase in appetite. One way to fight this underlying stress can be to ingest more sage, which has calming effects on both the body and mind. Making a calming sage tea, or even just adding it in dishes you cook, is one way to help combat your stress levels.

You will need…
-A handful of fresh sage OR 2 teaspoons of dried sage
-8 ounces of boiling water
-Lemon to taste (optional)

Pour boiling water over sage and steep for 4-5 minutes. Strain, add lemon to taste if you like, and drink 1-2 times daily.

# Dandelion and Peppermint

Dandelion and peppermint tea is a fabulous drink that will help keep your liver healthy. The liver is an incredible organ. Not only is it the only way to truly detoxify your body, it is also plays a central role in many metabolic processes-a lot of which affect weight. In terms of fat metabolism, the liver is full of cells that break down fats and turn them into usable energy. These cells are also responsible for the flow of bile, which helps breakdown and absorb fats. In the metabolism of carbohydrates, the liver helps keep your blood sugar steady, therefore keeping energy levels up and regulating appetite. The list goes on, but the point is helping your liver helps your weight, as it plays a crucial role in managing fats and their absorption. Dandelion and peppermint both help your liver. Dandelion has hepatoprotection constituents, with hepatoprotection meaning an ability to prevent damage to the liver. Peppermint and dandelion both automatically stimulate the production of bile in the liver, helping with digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Mix these two together, and you have a powerful liver protecting tea!

You will need…
-1 teaspoon of dried dandelion leaves
-1 teaspoon dried peppermint leaves
-8 ounces of boiling water
-Lemon to taste (optional)

Pour a cup of boiling water over the dandelion and peppermint and steep, covered, for 5-10 minutes. Strain, add lemon to taste if you like, and drink a cup twice daily. You can also make this with fresh dandelion leaves/roots and fresh peppermint, just use a rough handful of the fresh leaves for the amount. If you do use fresh, be absolutely certain that there have been no chemicals applied to them- this is especially important for dandelion. If you use dandelion on a regular basis, I suggest growing your own.

Wanna Lose Fat?, Follow These Strategies

Lose FatBeat your weight fate.

First, the bad news: Three-quarters of Americans have a “fat gene” associated with a 20 to 30 percent higher risk for obesity. But that doesn’t mean you’re destined to be heavy. A recent British review found that exercise can trump your genetics. Physically active people with the fat gene are 27 percent less likely to become obese than couch potatoes who have it. We’re not talking about training for a triathlon; the active people got just one hour or more of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a week. Aim for the recommended five hours a week (three days of cardio and two days of strength training) and you’ll rev your weight-loss results even more.

Green tea.

This healthy brew acts like a diet drug in a mug, but without the negative side effects. A review of studies concluded that regularly sipping green tea can help you drop pounds. This weight loss is the result of EGCG, a compound known to reduce fat absorption, according to new research from Penn State. But that’s not all this magic drink does: As it’s reducing fat absorption, “green tea also increases the amount of fat that your body eliminates,” explains study author Joshua D. Lambert, PhD, an assistant professor of food science at the university. So think about trading your usual afternoon java for green tea instead. Experts say that drinking three to five cups of the regular or decaf variety every day may help you lose weight.

Pudge-proof your cells.

Sitting around can make you flabby. No surprise there, but despite what you may think, the culprit is not just a lack of exercise. In fact, the physical act of sitting or lying down may actually speed up your body’s production of fat. When we lounge on a sofa or in a chair, we exert forces on our cells that cause them to become stretched out and to generate flab, researchers say. Glued to your desk every day for eight hours or more? You need to take action, says Richard Atkinson, MD, a clinical professor of pathology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Get up and walk around for five minutes at least once an hour. Take a stroll around the office. Go talk to a coworker rather than sending her an e-mail. Pace back and forth while talking on the phone. “Just standing — even if you’re not moving — uses significantly more muscles than sitting down,” Dr. Atkinson says. At home, when you’re watching TV, get up and jog in place or do jumping jacks during commercials. These short bursts of exercise can help you burn 148 calories an hour and keep your cells slim, not flabby.

Get back to nature.

You’re more likely to stay slim if the view out your window includes hills, water, a park, or a street that leads to one of those things. In a North Carolina study, counties with more natural amenities, including mountains and lakes, had lower obesity rates. “It could be that there’s something healing and calming about simply being outside,” says Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, PhD, an assistant professor at East Carolina University. For instance, research has shown that people tend to be happier walking outdoors than inside. They also stride faster, yet feel less exertion, than they do on a treadmill. Not only that, hoofing it outside curbs cravings along with calories: In a study, regular chocolate eaters who took a brisk 15-minute stroll consumed about half as much of their favorite treat as those who didn’t go for a walk. So take your workout outdoors. If your neighborhood isn’t made for exercising, find a park nearby and head there as often as you can to bike, run, or hike

Outsmart your appetite.

Don’t blame your chocolate craving on a lack of willpower. Turns out, there’s a physiological reason ice cream, french fries, and cupcakes are so hard to resist: Our bodies are wired to crave rich food. Studies have shown that the taste of fat can give us the munchies by triggering a release of chemicals similar to those experienced by drug addicts. “Some people are hypersensitive to food,” says Eric Stice, PhD, a senior research scientist at the Oregon Research Institute. “They find things like chocolate cake orgasmic, so they tend to overeat it.”

The trick to keeping your appetite in check is avoiding foods that make you lose control. That’s tough to do when you’re surrounded by mouthwatering choices everywhere you go, but Stice says that a technique called mindful resistance can help. “If you’re tempted to have a scone with your coffee at Starbucks, instead of thinking about how delicious it will taste, tell yourself you’ll get health benefits such as a smaller waist or a healthier heart from not having it,” he says. “Doing this actually changes your brain by strengthening the area that helps you resist things and weakening the region that makes you think of treats as a reward.”

In addition, eat healthy foods throughout the day to keep your glucose, which fuels your body, at a high level so that you feel energized and satisfied. You’ll also be better able to resist cravings when you snack on nutritious choices like fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and whole-grain bread topped with a little peanut butter, according to a recent study that showed that eating consistently helps us control our impulses

Chew on this.

Most of us eat quickly, chewing each bite just a few times, which means we consume more food than we realize. Slow down and you’ll slim down: In a recent study, people who chewed each bite 40 times ate almost 12 percent less than those who chewed just 15 times. When we chew longer, our bodies produce less ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite, and more of the peptide hormones that are believed to curb hunger. “Chewing seems to stimulate the gut to make appetite-suppressing peptide hormones,” Dr. Cypess explains. Plus, the more you chew, the more thoroughly you break down food, which may release nutrients into your blood faster and give your brain time to register that you’re full. From now on, focus on eating slowly at every meal. Put down your fork between bites and work your way up to 40 chews per mouthful of food.

Revoke your license to splurge.

Talk about a catch-22: Doing something healthy, like eating a low-cal meal, can make you less likely to exercise and more likely to gorge yourself with food later on. This is because of a phenomenon scientists call licensing, which happens when we feel that we’ve earned the right to be self-indulgent. Most people have a tendency to want to balance things out, says Kathleen Vohs, PhD, an associate professor of marketing at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. So when we do one thing that’s good for our health, which often requires exerting plenty of discipline and self-control, we like to follow it up with something that lets us indulge ourselves.

So how do you lose your license to overeat? Being alert to the fact that good choices can trigger bad behavior is a smart start. Next time you’re tempted, think of an instance in the past when you failed to resist; recent research found that you’ll want to improve on your previous performance.

Get in the mood to lose.

You don’t really want dessert, but your friends are having some, and they’re urging you to join them. So you give in and order a piece of tiramisu. Sorry to say it, but you’ve just committed sociotropy, aka people pleasing, a behavior that can make you gain weight. In a recent study, women and men who regularly experienced negative emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger, and were impulsive and disorganized, tended to be heavier than those who were more even-keeled. “Women score slightly higher than men on people-pleasing measures,” says Julie Exline, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University. That may be because guys are raised to be assertive while women are socialized to value relationships and “basically to be nicer,” Exline explains. In other words, we’re inclined to go along with what the rest of the group wants to do, which includes digging into the tiramisu after dinner. If you feel pressured to pig out, “tell your friends politely but firmly that you’re fine with what you have and that you’re not hungry for more right now,” Exline advises. Hold your ground and your pals will get the message.

Pop some vitamin D.

Taking this vitamin daily may help you drop pounds. A study at the University of Minnesota found that people who started a weight-loss program with higher levels of D lost more than those who weren’t getting enough of the nutrient. Other research suggested that vitamin D appears to boost the effectiveness of leptin, a hormone that signals the brain that you’re full. Because it’s difficult to get D from food, Shalamar Sibley, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the university, says you may need to take a vitamin D3 supplement. Many experts now recommend 1,000 international units every day.

Use fat to burn fat.

Your flab 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, MD, PhD, 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 gobble up as much as 20 percent of your body’s calories.

Exercise is one of the best ways to get your brown fat in gear. In a study, scientists at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute discovered that working out releases a hormone called irisin, which converts white fat to brown. Exercise for a half hour at least five days a week to turn up the burn.