Summertime is when the livin’ is easy…and the pounds just peel off, right? Wrong! With longer days, warm weather, less work and more vacations, you’d think that toning up and slimming down would happen naturally. Problem is, there are many sneaky summer diet saboteurs that can cause you to weigh more on Labor Day than you did on Memorial Day.
Here are some of summer’s worst diet wreckers:
Reaching for a cold one–whether that’s a smoothie, slurpee or brewski —is a natural way to cool off in the summer, but you need to be smart about what you sip. Alcoholic beverages are a triple-threat to your diet: They pack in a lot of calories (400+ calories in the average summer “cocktail”), they stimulate your appetite and they reduce your inhibitions.
In fact, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that alcohol consumption is the worst lifestyle habit for trying to keep pounds from piling on as it promotes overeating.
Non-alcoholic beverages are often nothing more than liquid sugar and offer no feeling of fullness so drinking lots of liquid calories means you’ll probably exceed your daily calorie budget.
Limit liquid calories to no more than 150 per day and if you’re going to drink an alcoholic beverage, choose one of the lowest-calorie options:
Here’s a list of low-calorie Skinny-tails (under 150 calories) so you can enjoy without overdoing:
- Ultra Light Beer (55- 95 calories)
- Vodka & Club Soda with an Orange Twist (80 calories)
- Sparkling Rose (115 calories)
- Reduced Sodium Bloody Mary (118 calories)
- White & Red Wine (120 calories)
- Gin & Diet Tonic with a Lime (80 calories)
Appetite for Health’s Skinny Mojito Mocktail: Muddle 5 Blackberries with 1 T lime juice, 2 T fresh mint leaves, and 1 T Rose Water. Top with 6 oz. club soda and shake with ice! (>30 calories)
The longest day of this year is Friday June 21, the summer solstice or the official start of the summer season. Most of the continental U.S. gets 14-16 hours of sunlight in the summertime, and that means more time for nighttime noshing.
A study published in the prestigious medical journal, Obesity, revealed that eating past 8 p.m. is an predictor weight gain. Here’s why: Noshing at night is usually done while watching TV or checking out Gilt.com. It’s natural to overeat when you’re distracted. Secondly, eating a night causes a disruption in hormones that regular appetite and hunger and makes the body more likely to store calories as fat.
Eat a protein-rich breakfast in the a.m., as research shows it helps reduce cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods in the p.m. In addition, when dinner is over, try to not eat until breakfast. If you’re extremely hungry, plan a light p.m. snack of up to 200 calories, but make it something that contributes positive nutrients like half of a sandwich, whole grain crackers and a piece of low-fat cheese or piece of fruit.
Can’t live without your AC? If so, you may want to turn off your AC to turn on your weight loss.
According to researchers from Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, air conditioning may turn down your metabolism and turn up your hunger. Studies show that when the body is exposed to heat and humidity, appetite decreases.
There is also a trend to eat lower-calorie foods when the body is hot. When you sweat, your metabolic rate increases to try to cool down your core temperature.
Try turning down the AC a little and letting your body warm up until you feel a light sweat. You don’t want to be so hot that you have the threat of heat illness but a little sweat won’t hurt you. Remember to stay well hydrated with water or calorie-free beverages. When you feel uncomfortably warm, remember: Sweat is fat crying.
With kids at sleep-over camp, lighter work schedules and summer vacations, eating patterns from June-August are often very different than how you eat from September through May. Summer is synonymous with meals skipped and snacks taking a bigger bite of your daily calorie budget.
Reams of research show that meal skipping—especially breakfast—equals more calories eaten during the entire day. Why? Meal skippers snack more and when they eat a meal, they generally overeat. What’s more, traditional snack foods are usually high in calories and low in nutrients.
To lose weight, most people do best with a “normalized” eating pattern that consists of breakfast, lunch and dinner that are about 400-500 calories each with a mid-am and mid-afternoon snack that are kept to no more than 200 calories.
They key, however, is to assess your hunger and eat accordingly. If you wait too long before eating, you’ll overeat and if you snack too much, you’ll never feel real hunger or satisfaction.
Springtime Diet Success
This may sound crazy, but the hard work you put into whittling your middle in March, April and May could lead to weight gain this summer—unless you’re really careful. Why?
Research shows that losing weight is relatively simple, but keeping it off, that’s really, really hard. And the approaches that you used to peel off pounds aren’t the same as what will work to keep it off.
According to the largest study of successful losers, The National Weight Control Registry, there are four main elements to maintain a slimmer self. They include:
Eat breakfast every day, weigh yourself at least once a week, limit TV to up to 10 hours a week and strive for at least 60 minutes of exercise daily.