What to Eat for Dinner If You're Trying to Lose Weight, According to a Nutritionist

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Many of my clients tell me they eat pretty healthfully … until dinnertime rolls around. Tired and famished, they put in a takeout order, then wolf down cheese crackers until it arrives. Or they open a bottle of wine, which leads to a night of continuous nibbling in front of the TV. If you find yourself in a similar rut, there is a way to break the pattern: The trick to consistently eating a healthful, balanced dinner—especially one that supports your weight-loss goals—is to think about your evening meal in advance. Here are five easy options.

When you're in no mood to cook …

Call you local Chinese restaurant and order a double portion of steamed vegetables with steamed shrimp, and a side of brown rice. Then, while you’re waiting for it, make your own sauce so you can skirt the sugar- and starch-laden version that typically comes with takeout. In a small bowl, stir together two tablespoons of unsweetened almond butter, a tablespoon of brown rice vinegar, and a teaspoon of honey. Add a half teaspoon each of fresh grated ginger and minced garlic, and one-eighth teaspoon of crushed red pepper. When your dinner arrives, toss the warm veggies and shrimp in the almond mixture to coat well, and serve over a half cup of brown rice.

RELATED: This Healthier Sesame Chicken Tastes Just Like Takeout

If you need to snack first  …

When you've already gone hours without food, it can be tough to wait to eat till dinner is ready. Try portioning out a quarter cup of almonds, and pop them in your mouth one at a time while you make a quick, simple soup.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, sauté a quarter cup of minced yellow onion in two tablespoons of low-sodium vegetable broth until onions are translucent. Add a half cup of additional broth, a cup of chopped kale, a teaspoon each of garlic and Italian seasoning, a one-eighth teaspoon each of sea salt and crushed red pepper, and a one-sixteenth teaspoon of black pepper.

Stir in one cup of chopped veggies of your choice, like sliced grape tomatoes and cauliflower florets. Bring to a brief boil, covered, and then reduce to a simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Add a portion of lean protein, like three ounces of extra-lean ground turkey or a half cup of white beans, and if desired, a teaspoon of fresh dill. Stir to heat through, and serve.

RELATED: 17 Snacks Packed With Protein

If you're into meal prepping …

On Sunday whip up a veggie frittata you can reheat (or enjoy cold) during the week. Whisk a half dozen eggs, and then add a quarter cup of unsweetened almond milk, a half tablespoon of Dijon, a half teaspoon each of minced garlic and Italian seasoning, and an eighth teaspoon each of black pepper and sea salt. Set aside.

In a medium sauté pan over low heat, combine a tablespoon of EVOO, a cup of chopped kale or spinach, and a cup of chopped veggies of your choice, such as broccoli florets, onion, and bell pepper. Pour egg mixture into frittata pan. Evenly spoon in veggies, along with a cup of black beans. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 40-45 minutes.

Sign up for our 30-Day No Takeout Challenge with Giada de Laurentiis!

If you prefer to graze throughout the evening …

Try this combo you can eat at your leisure: Rinse three ounces of pre-cooked ready-to-eat frozen shrimp under cold water to thaw, and dip into a tablespoon of dairy-free pesto. Make a quick salad from baby spinach or chopped romaine, dressed with a combo of one tablespoon balsamic mixed with a teaspoon each of fresh lemon juice and Dijon mustard, and a half teaspoon of Italian seasoning. For dessert, reach for a cup of loose fruit you can eat one piece at a time with your hands (like grapes or berries) or use a fork to eat a cup of chopped fresh fruit, like kiwi, apple, or pear.

When you need dinner NOW …

Mix three ounces of canned wild salmon with one teaspoon of Dijon mustard and two tablespoons of olive tapenade. Slice a bell pepper in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and stuff with the salmon mixture. Dinner done!

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

Source: Health bests

4 Reasons It’s Harder to Lose Weight in Winter—and What You Need to Do Differently

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There's no question it's easier to make healthy choices in spring and summer: There's an abundance of produce in season. The sun is shining, the days are long—and you feel naturally motivated to head outdoors and get active! But come the cold, harsh months of winter, eating clean and slimming down can seem a whole lot more challenging. Read on for a few common weight-loss hurdles that pop up when the temperature drops, plus experts tips on how to dodge them.

Temptation is everywhere

Hot chocolate, creamy soups, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese—'tis the season for comfort foods, which can seem so unfair given you're doing your best to stay hyper-focused on what you "should" be eating. These circumstances can put you in a tough spot, says health and lifestyle coach Sheila Viers. If you're not careful, you may slip into the mindset that all indulgences are "bad," she explains—and once you start labeling your food choices as "good" and "bad," every decision becomes a loaded one.

Any time you stray from your rigid eating plan, you might experience guilt or shame, emotions that can trigger the body's stress response, says Viers. And stress only sets you up for more trouble: When you're not feeling your best, it's even harder to stay on track with your goals, she points out.

Instead of sweating over all the dietary "shoulds," try making food choices that are right for you. "Maybe you plan ahead," Viers suggests, so you are deciding in advance when you want to indulge (like at the Friday night potluck, for example). Or maybe you choose one small indulgence per day (say, a few squares of high-quality dark chocolate) to satisfy your sweet tooth. “The important thing is that the decision feels good to you.”

RELATED: 57 Ways to Lose Weight Forever, According to Science

You're fighting the urge to hibernate

Between the snow and ice, and shorter, darker days, winter is enough to tank your motivation to exercise. Who wants to venture out into the freezing weather to go for a run, or to the gym when it's so cozy at home? Luckily, you don't have to leave your living room to get in a killer sweat sesh (promise). There are tons of great workout videos online. "You can put a couple together," says Viers, "or split them up, with 10 minutes before work and 10 minutes in the evening." Keeping up a fitness routine will help with more than weight loss, she adds. “The benefit of working out is that it gets oxygen to the cells,” says Viers. “This keeps your body working optimally, and keeps you energized."

Need some fitspo? We've rounded up our favorite online workouts for yogadance cardio, and HIIT. Only got a few minutes? Check out these super-efficient routines you can do anywhere. 

Sign up for our 30-Day Love Your Strength Challenge With Emily Skye!

You’re loading up on salt

If you're eating less fresh food in the winter months, you're probably eating more packaged and processed foods, which can be sneaky sources of sodium. Think canned veggies and soups, pasta, bread, chips and crackers—they can all cause you to retain water.

Even if you’re keeping your calorie intake in check, water weight can make you feel bloated and sluggish. Viers' advice: Hydrate as much as you can. "It really is the best way to get rid of that water weight," she says. Adding potassium-rich foods to your diet may help, too, because they regulate sodium levels in your body. Great sources include avocados, bananas, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and coconut water.

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Raw veggies seem so unappealing

Let’s face it: When you’re feeling cold, your belly isn't exactly rumbling for kale. You’re probably more inclined to opt for a savory lunch over a salad, right? Soups and stews are a great way to get vegetables too, you just have to choose wisely, says Viers. “A soup with a cream base is more likely to contain more calories, for example, so you can opt for broth-based soups." And if you're turned off by salad, try eating your veggies warm: Roasted sweet potatoes, peppers, parsnips, carrots, asparagus and Brussels sprouts are great as a side, thrown into soup, or even tossed over greens for a hunger-crushing meal.

Don't forget about warm fruits either. They can be a delicious and healthy winter treat. You can bake or roast peaches, pears, plums, or even cherries, and eat with a little drizzle of honey or cinnamon, or a dollop of whipped cream.

Source: Health bests

The Sneaky Weight-Loss Mistakes All Women Make

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You're familiar with the biggie weight-loss mistakes everyone makes (like skipping breakfastOD'ing on protein, and skimping on veggies). But it turns out there are a few sneakier dietary flubs to avoid, too. Over time, these seemingly small mistakes can really add up, and may even cause you to put on pounds, says dietician Keri Gans, RDN, author of The Small Change Diet. Here's how to steer clear of the lesser-known traps, and set yourself up for slim-down success.

You've been telling yourself you're "on a diet"

When you clean up your eating habits to shed weight, it’s tempting to think of it as a diet. However, that word can send you down the wrong path: Using the term "diet" implies that once you reach a certain goal, or a specific number on the scale, you will stop eating healthy. “A diet in most people’s minds is something that you go on and off,” Gans says, and not something you stick with for the long haul. To lose weight forever, it's better to reframe your new habits as a "lifestyle change," says Gans—and make sure you're following a balanced plan that truly feels sustainable (read: doesn't leave you hangry).

Your lunch salad is weak

Many women make the mistake of replacing one meal with a whole lot of greens, says Gans. That can backfire in more ways than one. “If [a salad] is not thoughtfully put together, this isn’t always enough for everyone," she explains. "Then you end up starved for the rest of the day." And that could lead you to make poor food choices later (say, during 3 p.m. vending machine raid), or binge at your next meal.

If you're going to have a salad, make sure it includes enough belly-filling substance: The bowl should have one serving of protein (such as lean meat or nuts) and a healthy fat (like avocado). It's also okay to mix up your lunch routine with sandwiches, says Gans. Just be aware of calorie counts—sammies in the 300 to 400 calorie range are safe bets, she says.

Eat clean (and save money!) with our 21-Day Healthy Lunch Challenge

You're eating too much of a good thing

There are a few foods that have become healthy-diet staples: Think nuts and seeds, avocado (which can be added to nearly anything for a “good fat” fix), and peanut or almond butter (which supply a delicious dose of fat and protein to smoothies, sandwiches, and fruit). All of these foods are great nutritional choices, says Gans. The trouble is, people often eat way too much of them.

Even with healthy eats, it's important to pay attention to serving sizes, says Gans. “For instance, one serving of avocado is a quarter of an avocado. Restaurants sometimes use a half or whole on a single salad.” It's easy to overdo it with nuts and nut butters, too: A serving size of nuts is just one ounce (picture 23 almonds); while a serving size of nut butter is two tablespoons.

Got any other go-to foods? Gans recommends measuring out the serving size at least once, "just so you’re aware,” she says.

RELATED: 12 Foods You Need to Stop Buying—and 17 You Should Eat More

You've sworn off the foods you love

Maybe you adore chocolate ice cream, or spaghetti—and to avoid overeating your beloved food, you've decided to give it up entirely. "I hear this a lot," says Gans. “People will tell me, ‘I’m never going to eat pasta!’ Meanwhile, they are overlooking the ways you can create the dish in a healthy way.”

The fact is, almost any food can fit into your new healthy lifestyle, if you do it right. For example, rather than buying a gallon of double fudge, pick up single-portion ice cream cups or fro-yo bars that contain 100 calories or less. “With pasta, you can do a half-cup cooked with a bit of olive oil, steamed veggies, and grilled shrimp,” says Gans—and you've got an easy, balanced meal.

Simply swearing off a favorite food could lead to even more intense cravings. Or you may end up filling the gap with another indulgence that doesn't deliver the same satisfaction.

RELATED: 10 Nutritionists and Health Editors Share What They Actually Eat for Dessert

Your save your calories for alcohol on the weekend

This is a risky mindset, says Gans: If you're restricting yourself to prepare for a night out, you may end up binge drinking (that's four drinks or more for women), which "hurts on multiple levels," she explains. “Not only is binge drinking unhealthy in itself, you’re looking at the calories from the alcohol, plus perhaps the fries and pizza you had while you weren’t thinking about your eating decisions, plus the carb-heavy breakfast you ate the next morning because you were feeling terrible.” Yikes.

While you're trying to slim down, it's key to set a one- or two-drink limit, Gans urges—and again, pay attention to the serving size. “For instance, it’s totally fine to have a glass of wine each night with dinner, but a one-glass serving is five ounces,” she says. “People can drink almost double that, easily.”

Source: Health bests

North Carolina Couple in Their 70s Loses Nearly 400 lbs Together

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Becky and Donnie Hensley of Weaverville, North Carolina, once weighed about 370 pounds each.

In an interview with WLOS, Becky recalled being barely able to walk, and in need of divine intervention. "I was praying, and the Lord spoke to me, and said, 'Go find Donnie, and ask him to go to Weight Watchers with you.'"

That was seven years ago. Since then, Donnie has lost 165 pounds, while Becky has lost 208 pounds. Now, both in their seventies, the Hensleys are proud to show off the pants they used to wear.

"It hurts me when I see folks that are big like this. Because it's just been such a tremendous journey that God has blessed," Becky told the local news station.

"I can't imagine going back and being that big," added Donnie.

The Hensleys say they helped push each other to change their diets and start going to the gym. Now, at nearly half her former size, Becky is thankful just to be able to walk. Donnie relishes the ability to tie his shoes.

“But the important thing is not what we've lost, it's what we've gained, and how we have learned how to keep it off," Becky told WLOS. "My husband and I have a much better lifestyle now. We have fun with different recipes. Also more fun smooching."

The Hensleys still attend Weight Watchers and now they’re working towards a new goal: maintaining the weight loss.

Source: Health bests

Make the Diagnosis: Soldier’s Scaly Face

(MedPage Today) — Case Findings: A 22-year-old man enlisted in the military was undergoing some additional training when he visited the doctor for treatment of a fine scaly plaque on his face. It had started as an annular, pruritic, erythematous lesion and was now starting to get a little bit of crusting on the border. He was always clean-shaven with a short military brush cut, so he could see that he did not have any other lesions on his head. They had recently been practicing hand-to-hand combat, so he had been in close contact doing maneuvers and wrestling with other soldiers.

Can you diagnose the patient?
Source: Dermatology

Here’s What to Eat for Lunch If You’re Trying to Slim Down, According to a Nutritionist

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Breakfast gets all the glory as the most important meal. But lunch plays a key role in your day too, especially for anyone trying to slim down. If your midday meals are too skimpy, you may overeat at dinner; while too-heavy lunches can make you sleepy and sluggish—not the ideal mindset for your ongoing weight-loss efforts. Below are five options that strike just the right balance, to help you power through your afternoon and drop pounds healthfully. Each contains plenty of nutrient-rich veggies, lean protein, and beneficial fat, along with a small portion of good carbs (enough to energize you but not enough to keep you from losing weight). 

If you're all about efficiency …

One of the simplest strategies I recommend is making a double portion of dinner, and packing the leftovers for lunch the next day. Include two baseball-sized portions of green veggies, prepped with EVOO and seasonings. (Think leafy greens dressed with EVOO, balsamic, and herbs; or EVOO and herb sautéed or oven-roasted spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, or zucchini.) Add a portion of cooked lean protein, such as a half cup of pulses, like lentils or beans, or three ounces of poultry or seafood. And include a half cup of a nutrient-rich starch, such as yam, sweet potato, skin-on fingerlings, quinoa, brown, or wild rice. To keep it interesting, change up the combos, herbs, and spices while maintaining the same overall proportions.

RELATED: 57 Ways to Lose Weight Forever, According to Science

If you're into meal prepping …

You can’t go wrong with a simple stir-fry. In a medium pan over low heat, sauté a quarter cup of minced yellow onion in one-third cup of low-sodium vegetable broth until translucent. Add a cup of broccoli and a half cup each of chopped red bell pepper and shredded purple cabbage. Stir in a teaspoon of minced garlic, a quarter teaspoon of fresh grated ginger, one-eighth teaspoon each of crushed red pepper and black pepper, and sauté until veggies are slightly tender. Add a serving of cooked lean protein to heat through, such as three ounces of chopped chicken breast or a half cup of black-eyed peas. Serve over a half cup of cooked brown or wild rice, and garnish with a quarter cup of sliced almonds.

If you appreciate an Insta-worthy meal…

It’s true that we eat with our eyes as well as our stomachs. Many of my clients say that beautifully crafted meals help them stay on track with healthy eating, and feel more satiated. One trend that hasn’t fizzled out is mason jar salads: Fill the bottom with a half cup of oven-roasted sweet potato or purple potato. Add layers of dark leafy greens, alternating with sliced grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, and yellow bell pepper; and top with three ounces of canned wild salmon or a half cup of cooked red lentils. Just before you’re ready to eat, top the salad with a dressing made from two tablespoons of tahini, thinned with one and a half tablespoons of water, and seasoned with a teaspoon each of fresh lemon juice and minced garlic, and one-eighth teaspoon each of sea salt and cayenne pepper. Post your Instagram pic, then dive in.

Eat clean (and save money!) with our 21-Day Healthy Lunch Challenge

If you're grabbing takeout …

It's a common misconception that sushi is a healthy and slimming lunch. The truth is, sushi rolls are generally packed with white rice, and include a scant amount of protein and veggies. A better Japanese takeout option is a salad with ginger dressing, three ounces of sashimi or seared tuna, a side of avocado, and small side of brown rice. Craving Mexican? Order an entree salad (no fried shell), made from a base of greens and grilled veggies, dressed with pico de gallo, topped with black beans, chicken or fish (or just beans for a veg option), and sliced avocado or guacamole.

If you prefer to graze…

No time to sit down to an actual meal? Nibble on finger foods that add up a balanced lunch. Include a few handfuls of raw veggies (like sliced cucumber, red bell pepper or celery) with a quarter cup of olive tapenade or guacamole, or a few tablespoons of seasoned tahini or almond butter for dipping. For protein, include a half cup of oven-roasted chickpeas, a few hard-boiled eggs, or three ounces of chilled, sliced grilled chicken breast. Round it out with a serving (about three cups) of popped popcorn. Munch away at your leisure.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

Source: Health bests

This Diet Was Ranked Number 1 for Fast Weight Loss—and You May Not Have Heard of It

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Earlier this week U.S. News & World Report released their rankings for 2018’s best diets, and one of the top spots went to a lesser-known plan, called the HMR Program—it tied with Weight Watchers in the “Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets” category.

So what is the HMR Diet? It’s not as new as you might think.

Formerly known as Health Management Resources—though now titled “The Healthy Solutions Diet,” the HMR program was developed over three decades ago by behavioral psychologist Lawrence Stifler. The program involves two phases.

Phase one is the “Quick Start” phase: participants aim to lose weight as quickly as possible, eating lots of fruit and vegetables, as well as HMR-branded food that are shipped every two weeks. Phase one is based on a “three-two-five” structure: a minimum of three HMR shakes, two HMR entrees, and five 1-cup servings of fresh, canned, or frozen produce.

Participants can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds each week, with an average weight loss of about 23 pounds in the first 12 weeks.

New Year. New Food. Healthy Eating Starts Here, With the Cooking Light Diet.

When participants reach their goal weight, or want less structure, they move on to phase two, which lasts for 4 to 8 weeks. In phase two, participants receive HMR-approved foods monthly and slowly work in other healthy, low-calorie food options. The goal in this phase is to wean off the HMR program and begin to make healthy choices.

Participants are also encouraged to exercise and burn 2,000 calories each week. To foster accountability, users have weekly phone calls and counseling with registered dietitians and exercise psychologists.

In a 2015 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers took a look at multiple commercial weight-loss programs, including Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Atkins, and HMR. HMR participants lost 4 percent more weight in the short-term than those in the other diet programs, but longer-term results were mixed.

The bottom line: This diet can work for people who don’t enjoy meal prepping—the HMR diet delivers all the low-cal, heat-and-eat entrees and shakes; all you have to do is add in your favorite produce. This is also convenient for when you need to pack lunch for work, or whip up dinner in a hurry. Bonus? You can have as much fruit and veg as you want, so you’ll never feel famished.

The downside? Phase one encourages participants to avoid restaurants and most social situations altogether to “avoid temptation”. You also can’t drink any alcohol in phase one, so if you’re a social butterfly you may want to choose another plan.

Also, the plan can be pricey: The 3-week HMR starter kit costs $271.50, and the standard 2-week reorder kit costs $185. Individual shakes, cereals, and soups can be purchased online and run between roughly $2 and $2.50 per serving, and entrees cost $3.70 per serving.

Source: Health bests

The Top 5 Diets to Try in 2018, According to Experts

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It’s a new year, which means that many people are pledging to slim down or eat healthier in 2018. Now, new annual rankings from U.S. News & World Report reveal that the best diets for 2018 is a tie, with the Mediterranean Diet and DASH Diet in first place.

U.S. News enlisted the help of a panel of food and health experts to rank 40 diets on a variety of measures, like how easy it is to follow, the diet’s ability to help a person lose weight in the short and long term, safety and more. The company then converted the expert’s rankings into scores that allowed them to determine the top diets. Beyond best overall diet, the experts also ranked the best diets for weight loss, healthy eating and more.

The lowest ranking diets were the Keto Diet and the Dukan Diet, which tied for last place. People who follow the Keto Diet slash carbs and fill up on fats in order to help the body enter of state of “ketosis,” where the body breaks down fat. The Dukan Diet is a rule-heavy plan that goes in stages, including a phase of eating a lot of protein. The experts rated both diets as hard to follow

Here’s what U.S. News calls the best diet plans for 2018:

#1: DASH Diet

The DASH diet was designed to help people lower their high blood pressure, and it’s characterized by a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. People on this diet are told to avoid saturated fat, sugary beverages, sweets, full-fat dairy and some oils—and to eat less salt overall.

#1: Mediterranean Diet

The diet gets its name from the eating habits of people living in Mediterranean countries and has been linked to better health and longevity. The Mediterranean Diet meal plan is high in fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fatty foods like fish, nuts and olive oil.

#3 Flexitarian Diet

A blend of the words flexible and vegetarian, the Flexitarian diet encourages people to eat vegetarian most of the time for better health, but doesn’t call for cutting out meat entirely.

#4 Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers is an especially popular diet, promoted by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey. It works on a points system, where each food is given a number of points, and people are told a total number to aim for each day. Foods that are high in nutrients and are filling have fewer points overall. Sweets, on the other hand, are high in points.

#5 MIND Diet

The MIND—a mix of DASH and the Mediterranean diet—is supposed to help protect the brain and prevent Alzheimer’s disease, though much more research is needed to determine whether it really helps curb brain decline. People are encouraged to eat from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine. They are also told to avoid foods from five food groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, sweets and fried or fast food.

#5 TLC Diet

Tied for fifth place, the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) diet is meant to help people cut down on high cholesterol. Adherents cut down on fat overall, especially saturated fat. They are also encouraged to eat more fiber.

#5 Volumetrics

People who follow the volumetrics diet—also tied for fifth place—are told to pay attention to the energy density in foods, which is the number of calories in a certain amount of food. Foods that have high energy density will have lots of calories for a little amount of food, whereas low energy density foods have fewer calories for more food.

Source: Health bests

7 Easy Breakfast Recipes That Can Help You Lose Weight (Even If You Have No Time in the Morning)

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I’m a big believer in breakfast, especially if you’re trying to shed pounds. Among the people I counsel, I find that those who skip the morning meal tend to overeat in the evening, when they’re less active and can't burn off those unneeded calories. So I advise my clients to “eat breakfast like a king," as they say. And there's plenty of research to back that habit up.

One 12-week study showed that folks who ate their biggest daily meal at breakfast were much more likely to lose weight and shrink their waistlines compared to people who ate a large dinner. And a solid a.m. meal is good for your health, too: A recent study published in the Journal of Physiology tracked breakfast eaters and those who fasted until mid-day for six weeks. Researchers found that the genes of breakfast eaters were impacted in ways that may help protect against diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

What's more, breakfast is a good opportunity to fit in key nutrients many people don't get enough of. But if you’re trying to slim down, you may be confused about what (and how much) to eat when you wake up. Below you'll find a range of balanced and weight-loss friendly meals I recommend to my clients. Pick one that suits your food preferences, morning time constraints, and eating style—and commit to eating it daily for at least a month.

A note for coffee drinkers: There's no need to give up your beloved cup of Joe if you're trying to lose weight. In fact, there are health benefits tied to including it. Simply curb the calories in your mug by doctoring it up with a splash of unsweetened almond or coconut milk, one packet of raw sugar, and a dash of cinnamon; and replace the second cup with a tall glass of H2O.

RELATED: The 20 Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast

If you're a grazer…

Prefer to nibble all morning rather than sit down for a meal? Pack the following nutrient-rich finger foods to bring to the office, and take your time enjoying them: one cup of raw veggies (such as sliced cucumber, red bell pepper, or broccoli florets); a single-serve container of guacamole for dipping; two hard-boiled eggs or a half cup of EVOO oven-roasted chickpeas; one piece of fresh fruit the size of a tennis ball, or a cup of loose fruit like berries or grapes. If you need a sweet treat to cap it all off, add a square of antioxidant- and mineral-rich 70% dark chocolate.

If you're hooked on smoothies…

The trick to a slimming smoothie is to strike the right balance of protein, fat ,and carbs—so you feel satisfied without creating a surplus of calories you can’t burn off. Start with a handful of greens, like kale or spinach, and a half cup of zucchini. Combine with one cup of frozen fruit (such as blueberries), or half of a banana with a half cup of frozen fruit. For protein add a scoop of a plant-based powder, or a single-serve container of plain grass-fed Greek yogurt. For a  dose of satiating, heart healthy fat, toss in half of an avocado. And for an anti-inflammatory, metabolism, and immune-supporting boost, include a one-inch cube of peeled fresh ginger root. Finish with one cup of unsweetened almond milk and blend. To maximize how full you feel, sip your smoothie slowly over a 20-minute period.

RELATED: 57 Ways to Lose Weight Forever, According to Science

If you love eggs…

Try this scramble: Over low heat, sauté one cup of chopped veggies (such as sliced yellow onion, tomato, cucumber, and green bell pepper) in a quarter cup of low-sodium vegetable broth, along with a quarter teaspoon of minced garlic, half teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and an eighth teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper. When veggies are slightly tender, add two whole pastured eggs, and a dash of turmeric, and scramble until eggs are cooked thoroughly. Serve over a bed of fresh leafy greens, along with half of an avocado and one cup of fresh fruit.

If have no time in the mornings…

Your best bet may be to pack a clean ingredient protein bar, like Rx—or for a vegan and nut-free alternative like Amrita’s protein options. But if you can prep a ready-to-eat breakfast the night before, whip up protein-bolstered overnight oats. In a small bowl stir together a quarter cup each of dry old-fashioned rolled oats and plain (unflavored) protein powder. Add a half cup of hot water and stir to dissolve the powder evenly into the oats. In a separate small bowl whisk together a half tablespoon each of virgin coconut oil and honey, and a half teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Stir in a half cup each of shredded raw zucchini and finely chopped kale, and one small chopped or shredded green apple. Combine veggie and apple mixture with oat mixture until thoroughly mixed. Transfer to a sealable container, top with a tablespoon of sliced almonds and another dash of cinnamon, and refrigerate overnight.

Rather have eggs? Here's a simple recipe you can prep ahead: Combine one cup of chopped raw veggies (such as spinach, tomato, cucumber, and red onion) with two chopped hard-boiled eggs, and a tablespoon of dairy-free pesto. Chill in the fridge overnight and pair with a piece of fresh fruit.

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If you're just not a breakfast food person…

Why not make a traditional lunch or dinner meal your morning go-to? Some of my clients plate a second helping of their dinner to stash in the fridge for breakfast. (If you try this trick, be sure to include a generous portion of veggies, so they make up the bulk of your morning meal.) Other people love savory salads for breakfast. If that sounds tempting, try combining one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar with a teaspoon each of fresh lemon juice and either Dijon or stone ground mustard and a half teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Add a can of wild salmon, or a half cup of cooked lentils. Serve the mixture over two cups of kale or spinach massaged with one tablespoon EVOO, topped with a half cup of cooked, chilled quinoa.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

Source: Health bests

This Couple Dropped 395 Lbs. Together: 'We Fell in Love with Taking Care of Ourselves'

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It was a daunting New Year’s resolution: In January 2016, Lexi and Danny Reed — who weighed a combined 765 lbs. – decided to ditch their unhealthy lifestyle once and for all. “We would spend most nights just sitting on the couch watching television and mindlessly eating junk food,” says Lexi, 27, a blogger who has 492,000 followers on her Instagram @fatgirlfedup. “We would order a whole pizza, bread sticks, wings and a liter of soda,” she says. Soon her weight had ballooned to 485 lbs.

“A friend challenged us to 30 days of no eating out, cheat meals, soda or alcohol,” says Lexi. “We started cooking, meal prepping, tracking our calories and reading nutrition labels.” The Terre Haute, Indiana couple swapped fried foods for chicken, salmon and lean meats, and also learned to make healthy versions of their favorite dishes.

They started going to the gym, too. Lexi says she would work out on the elliptical for 30 minutes, five times a week.

“When I walked into the gym at 485 lbs., I told myself that it was basically going to be the first day of the rest of my life,” she says. “And if people were going to stare at me because of my weight, I was going to give them a reason to stare by being the hardest worker in the room.”

Danny, 29, says he had his own reservations initially. “At first the idea didn’t sound great because it was always good going home, sitting down, eating and not having to worry about anything,” says the lab manager who went from 280 lbs. to 190 lbs. “But I the more I thought about it, I said, ‘It’s a new year and something to work toward while helping Lexi out as well.’ ”

That doesn’t mean the two of them didn’t have difficult days, especially in the beginning. “We would be tired and sore because our bodies weren’t used to it,” says Lexi. “But we had a buddy system, so every step of the way, every pound, we were there to motivate each other. We kept each other accountable.”

Without any gimmicks — just through healthy eating and exercise — our 2018 Half Their Size stars shed hundreds of pounds. For more on their stories and weight loss tips, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

And soon they begin to see an unexpected benefit to losing weight together: an increase in their quality time. “Before we lost weight we weren’t talking, we were just watching TV,” says Lexi, who now weighs 180 lbs.  “Then we started going on walks, being active, hiking, riding bikes — all these activities that we weren’t able to do when we were living on our couch.”

In fact, last summer they took a “bucket-list trip” to do things that were previously off limits because of how heavy they were, like canoeing and riding roller coasters. They even revisited Panama City Beach, where Lexi had not been able to participate in the beach shell tour on their honeymoon because she couldn’t manage to walk down the shore. “We returned to that beach and ran down that beach!” she says.

These days the two of them are closer than ever. Says Lexi: “It wasn’t about the weight that we lost but the life we gained.”

Source: Health bests

Overindulged During the Holidays? 6 Health Influencers Reveal How They Get Back on Track

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The holiday season has come and gone, and you probably feel like you’ve overeaten, over-drank, and under-exercised for weeks. You're not the only one. But before you start beating yourself up for veering away from your usual healthy food and fitness habits, give yourself permission to move on and start anew.

Regret isn’t going to make those extra few pounds you may have gained magically disappear. Eating well and sweating often, on the other hand, will—as these six health influencers can attest. Here's what they do to get back on track and how you can start the first week of January on a strong, healthy note.

RELATED: 20 Nutrition and Fitness Experts Reveal Their New Year’s Resolutions

Eat clean, train mean

“There are a couple of things I like to do in order to kickstart my training after the holidays. As far as diet goes, I try to start eating as clean as I can. That means no sugar, lots of lean protein, and vegetables. I’m also a fan of hitting cardio first thing in the morning. A little bit of boxing is a great way to start the day, not to mention it jump starts my metabolism and warms up my body for a bigger workout later on.” —Joe Ferraro, founding trainer at Rumble Boxing

Stock your fridge with healthy eats

“Post-holiday season, I make sure my fridge and freezer are stocked with all my favorite healthy foods, like coconut yogurt, sprouted hummus, almond milk, kombucha, pasture-raised eggs, gluten-free sourdough, and a whole host of fruits and veggies. Being able to make last-minute easy dinners like my arugula caesar salad, a simple macro bowl, or breakfast tacos makes it way less tempting to pick something up on my way home.” —Lily Kunin, founder of Clean Food Dirty City 

RELATED: How to Do a Post-Holiday Party Detox

Start your day with a sweat session

“In the new year, I start every weekday with a workout—even if it means getting up extra early! A few reasons I like to exercise first thing in the morning: It boosts your metabolism, prevents you from skipping it later, improves your physical and mental energy (which will improve your mood and productivity all day), keeps you goal-oriented, and strengthens your self discipline. And it doesn’t have to be two hours of your life. Even 30 to 40 minutes will make all the difference!” —Jessica Schatz, personal trainer and Pilates instructor

Zero in on just one goal

“Use the whole month of January as a reset month. Sit down and think about your overall health goals for the coming year and pick one area to focus on for the month of January. That could mean a booze-free month if the holidays were a little extra buzzy, running or walking a mile every day to refocus on being active, or focusing on mindfulness and meditation to bring more awareness into the way you approach your health. The sky's the limit!” —Lauren Williams, personal trainer and founder of Chisel Club 

WATCH THE VIDEO: Jen Widerstrom’s Superset Workout Fast-Tracks Your Toning Goals

Don't overpack your schedule 

"Just like with any goal, having a plan is key. After the holidays, set your schedule to return to normal. Try not to pack your planner with more engagements and new goals than you can realistically handle. If you add one new thing to your regimen,  take something that has become too routine out. —Kira Stokes, personal trainer and creator of The Stoked Method

Have no regrets about indulging

“Make the transition back to reality as minimally loaded as possible, meaning resist the urge to rehash meals past. Hopefully you enjoyed every morsel you ate, but regardless . . . think onward and upward. The shame and guilt will not do you any favors, in fact, they make it much harder to get back on track.” —Shira Lenchewski, RD, author of The Food Therapist

Source: Health bests

How One Woman Went From Drinking 5 Cans of Soda a Day to Losing 170 Lbs.

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Megan Rachow remembers the exact day she decided it was time for a change.

“I had been living a life of obesity for a few years and was exhausted both physically and mentally,” the 30-year-old physical therapist tells PEOPLE. “I felt like I had gained so much weight that I would never get it back off. I still remember the day that the switch flipped for me — July 19, 2014 — and I decided I was done living like this.”

The Medina, Ohio, resident says until that point she was drinking five or more cans of soda a day, eating large quantities of food and stopping at the drive-thru daily.

“Exercise was out of the question as I could barely walk up the stairs to my apartment,” she says.

RELATED: How This Woman Has Maintained Her 125 Lbs. Weight Loss for Over 7 Years

Spurred into action, Rachow says she started small, first cutting out soda and only eating food she cooked at home.

“The weight starting coming off,” she says. “I remember I lost 9 lbs. my first week. After I had lost 100 lbs., I started trying more adventurous exercise. I became fascinated by fitness and seeing what new things I could accomplish with my body. I do things that I never dreamed were possible like running races, lifting heavy weights, and completing a sprint triathlon.”

Rachow, who shared her weight loss journey on both Instagram and Facebook, says she now eats clean foods like salad, quinoa and lots of veggies. She also packs her diet with a lot of high-protein foods like chicken and turkey.

After losing a total of 170 lbs., Rachow says she hit her goal weight of 155 lbs. but was left with excess skin. In December 2016, she underwent a circumferential body lift and brachioplasty to remove the excess skin from her abdomen and arms. She is now in the process of having excess skin removed from her thighs.

“I am now living a life that I love and feel as though I am a completely different person,” she says. “The most important thing I have gained is being comfortable in my own skin.”

Source: Health bests