Seven Secrets of Skinny – Lose Weight Without Dieting

By Katherine Brooking, MS, RD

Did you know there are some things you can do right now to help you lose weight without depriving yourself? Check out this list of “skinny secrets”!

You snooze, you lose
As a Registered Dietitian and sleep aficionado, I have been fascinated by recent research on the relationship between sleep and weight. (I love studies that make me feel good about my laziness). Scientists have long suspected that skimping on sleep can add extra inches to your waistline. Proof is adding up in the research that has been conducted in the last decade.

One study published in 2005 followed the sleep patterns and weights of 8,000 adults over several years. Sleeping fewer than seven hours a night corresponded with a greater risk of weight gain and obesity, and the risk increased for every hour of lost sleep. In 2009, a study conducted by the University of Chicago concluded that participants consumed more calories from snacks and carbohydrates after five and a half hours of sleep compared to eight and a half hours. Just last year, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that after a night of abbreviated sleep, adults consumed over 500 extra calories (roughly 22 percent more) than they did after eight hours of sleep. While the exact mechanism is not yet fully understood, researchers believe that the amount of time you sleep (and possibly the quality of your sleep) may influence hormonal activity tied to your appetite.

Don’t just think skinny, drink skinny
Use a tall, skinny glass instead of a short, wide tumbler to cut liquid calories for weight loss without dieting. You’ll drink 25 to 30 percent less juice, soda, wine, or any other beverage.
How can this work? Dr. Brian Wansink of Cornell University has found that visual cues can trick us into consuming more – or less. His research reveals that most people pour more into short, wide glasses than in taller, skinnier ones – even experienced bartenders.

Set your table for slim
Small is beautiful. Wansink’s research also showed that going from a 12-inch plate to a 10-inch plate can reduce how much you eat by about 22 percent. That’s right, just using a smaller plate can fool your brain into thinking you are satisfied on fewer calories.

The same is true with smaller bowls and spoons. Smaller servings spoons were found to result in a 14 percent decrease in food intake, while smaller bowls led to a whopping 50 percent decrease in eating.

Eat more soup
Start your meal with soup. Dr. Barbara Rolls, professor of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State University has been a pioneer in studying the role of “high water volume” foods on fullness and weight loss. One of her key findings were that broth-based soups can contribute to a feeling of fullness. Broth-based soups like miso or chicken noodle are most effective, while heavy, cream-based soups such as New England clam chowder defeat the purpose. And keep in mind that soup isn’t only a cold-weather food. In the summer, try chilled gazpacho or cucumber soup. Broth-based soups are the perfect appetizer and can keep you from overindulging during main courses and desserts.

Eat with your mind
Consider this: Researchers found that distracted eaters ate up to 100 percent more and that eating while watching TV increased subsequent snack intake by 20 to 100 percent. And the distracted eaters not only ate more calories, they still reported being less satisfied compared to those who didn’t do something else while eating.

In our fast-paced, multi-tasking world, one of the consequences of eating while working, texting or driving can result in eating up to twice as many calories compared to eating, tasting and appreciating your meals and snacks without distraction.

Munch in the morning
You’ve heard it before: Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. But too many of us are missing out. Over 150 million Americans do not eat breakfast. If you want to lose weight, make sure you make time for a morning meal.

There are several key reasons why you should start everyday with a nutritious morning meal. Breakfast boosts your metabolism. By starting your day with a balance of healthy carbohydrates (including fiber) and protein, you will boost calorie burning by speeding up your metabolism. So you really can eat to lose weight.

Breakfast eaters tend to be leaner. Those who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight than those who do not. In fact, research shows that some 78 percent of successful dieters almost always eat breakfast compared to just 4 percent who rarely eat it. Why? Not only does breakfast boost metabolism, what begins with skipping breakfast often builds up to an evening finale of excess portions and high calorie food. A solid breakfast can keep you from overeating later in the day.

Veg out
Fruits and veggies are probably among the best lose-weight weapons in your arsenal. High in fiber and water, they’ll fill you up without blowing your calorie budget. Aim for nine or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day. You can incorporate them into your diet in many ways. Bulk up recipes or simply include more servings in regular meals or snacks.

Katherine Brooking, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and expert contributor to numerous television programs and writer. She has appeared on The TODAY Show, Live with Regis & Kelly, The Early Show on CBS, Good Morning America Health and many others. She covers health and wellness topics in SELF Magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times and New York Daily News. For more information go to

The articles written by guest contributors are the sole responsibility of the individual writers in terms of factual accuracy and opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of this blog.

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