Trick Yourself Thin


Long summer days can help you lose weight. "The best time to start a diet is in May, because the days are very long, which makes your energy levels go up and your food cravings go down," says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., a nutrition researcher at MIT. "You'll eat less and exercise more." So if you get home and it's still light, go for that run. Conversely, resolution-crazed January is the worst time to diet—the short days knock your serotonin levels out of whack, causing cravings. An Apollo Health goLite P1 lamp ( can help your body adjust to the dark days of winter.

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A study from Purdue University shows that eating cereal in place of meals helps you lose weight. Participants consumed an average of 640 fewer total daily calories and lost roughly 4 pounds during the 2-week intervention. According to study author Richard Mattes, M.P.H., Ph.D., R.D., the approach teaches portion control with a convenient, easy-to-use food. Stick to filling, high-fiber cereals, like All-Bran or Fiber One, and eat them with low-fat milk.


When Polish researchers examined acupuncture as a diet aid, they found that people who got needled lost 10 more pounds and ticked 2 additional points off their BMIs compared with those who merely cut calories. Marie Cargill, a licensed acupuncturist in the Boston area, explains that pressure points on the body—mostly on the ear—work as a switchboard to the brain, triggering electrical pulses that suppress appetite. "The ear system is very effective for addiction treatment," she says.

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Of dairy, that is. Reports of the benefits just keep coming. Recently, a University of Tennessee study found that people who ate a daily 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium from dairy lost an average of 24 pounds, or 11 percent of their total body weight. "When you don't have enough calcium in your diet, you're more efficient at making fat and less efficient at breaking down fat, causing a bigger, fatter fat cell," says lead researcher Michael Zemel, Ph.D. Get the just-right amount by taking in two 8-ounce glasses of low-fat milk (699 mg), a cup of low-fat yogurt (338 mg), and an ounce and a half of cheese (287 mg).

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Take a cue from the poker craze and wager against a buddy to see who can shed the most pounds. "Men do really well when they make weight loss a competitive game," says New York City nutritionist Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., author of Cooking with Joy. "Have a 6-month and a 1-year check-in—none of that 2-week garbage." Or try it in teams, as on NBC's The Biggest Loser, and you'll double the incentive—you'll want to win the bet and avoid letting down your team. "Healthy competition can bring out the absolute best in people," says the show's red-team trainer, Jillian Michaels, owner of SkySport and Spa in Beverly Hills. She recommends that the team take on a swimming relay or a 5-K run. "That way, it's not a scenario like -- Who can lift the most?'" she says. "Losing weight is ultimately about better health. For $100, somebody might do a pulldown that's way too heavy and end up tearing a rotator cuff." It'd be a shame if, after you'd lost all that weight, you still couldn't button your pants.

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