20 Habits That Make You Fat

Bt Mens Health

Decades ago, around the time of Steven Tyler’s last haircut, a completely

wrong-headed idea started being passed around America’s dinner tables: Eating
fat makes you fat.

Wrong. Eating fat won’t make you fat, any more than
eating money will make you rich. Calories make you fat, and most “low-fat” or
“fat-free” foods actually have just as many calories as their full-fat versions,
because of added sugar and chemicals. And there’s no debate on this one: Since
we made “cut down on fat” our favorite food craze roughly 30 years ago, the U.S.
obesity rate has doubled. Among children, it has tripled. That’s a failed food
policy if ever there was one.

But it’s just one of many “get fat” habits
that can be turned into a “slim-down” habit, starting today. All you need is a
pinch of resolve and a few new routines. Here are the 20 habits you can replace
right now…

#1: Eating “low-fat”

It sounds crazy, but stop buying foods marketed as low-fat or fat-free.
Typically, they save you only a few calories and, in doing so, they replace
harmless fats with low-performing carbohydrates that digest quickly—causing a
sugar rush and, immediately afterward, rebound hunger. Researchers from the
University of Alabama at Birmingham found that meals that limited carbohydrates
to 43 percent were more filling and had a milder effect on blood sugar than
meals with 55 percent carbohydrates. That means you’ll store less body fat and
be less likely to eat more later.

#2: Not seeking nutrition advice

Good news here: By reading this, you’re already
forming habits that can help you shed pounds. When Canadian researchers sent
diet and exercise advice to more than 1,000 people, they found that the
recipients began eating smarter and working more physical activity into their
daily routines. Not surprisingly, the habits of the non-recipients didn’t budge.

#3: 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.

#4: Eating free restaurant foods

Breadsticks, biscuits, and chips and salsa may be complimentary at some
restaurants, but that doesn’t mean you won’t pay for them. Every time you eat
one of Olive Garden’s free breadsticks or Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits,
you’re adding an additional 150 calories to your meal. Eat three over the course
of dinner and that’s 450 calories. That’s also roughly the number of calories
you can expect for every basket of tortilla chips you get at your local Mexican
restaurant. What’s worse, none of these calories comes paired with any redeeming
nutritional value. Consider them junk food on steroids.

#5: Drinking soda—even diet!

The average American guzzles nearly a full gallon of
soda every week. Why is that so bad? Because a 2005 study found that drinking
one to two sodas per day increases your chances of being overweight or obese by
nearly 33 percent. And diet soda is no better. When researchers in San Antonio
tracked a group of elderly subjects for nearly a decade, they found that
compared to nondrinkers, those who drank two or more diet sodas a day watched
their waistlines increase five times faster. The researchers theorize that the
artificial sweeteners trigger appetite cues, causing you to unconsciously eat
more at subsequent meals.

#6: Skipping meals

In a 2011 national survey from the Calorie Control Council, 17 percent of
Americans admitted to skipping meals to lose weight. The problem is, skipping
meals actually increases your odds of obesity, especially when it comes to
breakfast. A study from the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who cut out the morning meal were 4.5 times more likely to be obese. Why? Skipping meals slows your metabolism and boosts your hunger. That puts your body in prime fat-storage mode and increases your odds of overeating at the next meal.

#7: Eating too quickly

If your body has one major flaw, this is it: It takes 20 minutes for your
stomach to tell your brain that it’s had enough. A study in the Journal of
the American Dietetic Association
found that slow eaters took in 66 fewer
calories per meal, but compared to their fast-eating peers, they felt like they
had eaten more. What’s 66 calories, you ask? If you can do that at every meal,
you’ll lose more than 20 pounds a year!

#8: Watching too much TV

A University of Vermont study found that overweight
participants who reduced their TV time by just 50 percent burned an additional
119 calories a day on average. That’s an automatic 12-pound annual loss!
Maximize those results by multitasking while you watch—even light household
tasks will further bump up your caloric burn. Plus, if your hands are occupied
with dishes or laundry, you’ll be less likely to mindlessly snack—the other main
occupational hazard associated with tube time.

#9: Ordering the combo meal

A study in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing shows that
compared to ordering a la carte, you pick up a hundred or more extra calories by
opting for the “combo” or “value meal.” Why? Because when you order items
bundled together, you’re likely to buy more food than you want. You’re better
off ordering your food piecemeal. That way you won’t be influenced by pricing
schemes designed to hustle a few more cents out of your pocket.

#10: Facing the buffet

Cornell researchers found that when eating at a buffet-style restaurant,
obese diners were 15 percent more likely to choose seats with a clear view of
the food. Your move: Choose a seat that places your back toward the spread. It
will help you avoid fixating on the food.

#11: Eating off larger plates

One study found that when given an option, a
whopping 98.6 percent of obese individuals opt for larger plates. Translation:
More food, more calories, and more body fat. Keep your portions in check by
choosing smaller serving dishes. If need be, you can always go back for
seconds.

#12: Putting serving dishes on the table

Resist setting out foods buffet- or family-style, and opt instead to serve
them from the kitchen. A study in the journal Obesity found that when
food is served from the dinner table, people consume 35 percent more over the
course of the meal. When an additional helping requires leaving the table,
people hesitate to go back for more.

#13: Choosing white bread

A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that
when obese subjects incorporated whole grains into their diets, they lost more
abdominal fat over the course of 12 weeks. There are likely multiple factors at
play, but the most notable is this: Whole grain foods pack in more fiber and an
overall stronger nutritional package than their refined-grain counterparts.

#14: Taking big bites

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who
took large bites of food consumed 52 percent more calories in one sitting than
those who took small bites and chewed longer. By cutting food into smaller
pieces, you can increase satiety and enjoy your food more thoroughly. A good
general rule? The smaller your bites, the thinner your waistline.

#15: Not drinking enough water

Adequate water intake is essential for all your
body’s functions, and the more you drink, the better your chances of staying
thin. In one University of Utah study, dieting participants who were instructed
to drink two cups of water before each meal lost 30 percent more weight than
their thirsty peers. And you can magnify the effect by adding ice. German
researchers found that six cups of cold water a day could prompt a metabolic
boost that incinerates 50 daily calories. That’s enough to shed five pounds a
year!

#16: Having overweight friends

Research from the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that
when a friend becomes obese, it ups your chance of obesity by 57 percent. This
probably has to do with the social norms that you’re exposed to. Rather than
ditch a friend who starts to put on a few extra pounds though, suggest healthy
activities that you can do together, and avoid letting him or her dictate the
meal (“Let’s split the cheesecake!”).

#17: Eating too late

Your body can burn flab while you sleep, but only if it isn’t too busy
processing a full stomach. A new study in the journal Obesity looked at
the sleeping and eating habits of 52 people over seven days, and it found that
those who ate after 8 p.m. took in the most daily calories and had the highest
BMIs.

#18: Not using a scale

Looking at your body weight reinforces weight-loss goals and makes it
difficult to cheat your diet. When University of Minnesota researchers observed
dieters who weighed themselves daily, they discovered that the routine of
stepping on a scale helped those people lose twice as much weight as those who
weighed themselves less frequently. Avoid being thrown off by natural
fluctuations in body weight by stepping onto the scale at the same time every
day.

#19: Drinking fruity beverages

Most restaurants and bars have ditched their fresh-fruit recipes in favor of
viscous syrups made mostly from high fructose corn syrup and thickening agents.
As a general rule, the more garnishes a drink has hanging from its rim, the
worse it is for your waistline.

#20: Eating when emotional

A study from the University of Alabama found that
emotional eaters—those who admitted eating in response to emotional stress—were
13 times more likely to be overweight or obese. If you feel the urge to eat in
response to stress, try chewing a piece of gum, chugging a glass of water, or
taking a walk around the block. Create an automatic response that doesn’t
involve food and you’ll prevent yourself from overloading on
calories.

Thanks for reading!

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