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A Good Night’s Sleep Could Help You Lose Weight

Trucker-turned-fitness-instructor Siphiwe Baleka is sleeping better and getting his body in shape for the long haul. The founder of Fitness Trucking discovered his niche training truck drivers to get in shape and improve their health.

Devastated after failing to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials when he was a competitive swimmer at Yale University, Baleka dropped out of school and spent the next 15 years traveling the world. In 2008, the athlete became a long-haul truck driver. The job allowed him to make a steady income while satisfying his urge to travel. But the sedentary occupation caused the former swimmer to put on 15 pounds in just two months.

“For most of my life I was very fit and [had] great abs,” Baleka told NBC News BETTER. “[I] would look in the mirror [and] was very proud of my body. Now all of a sudden I’ve got love handles.'”

Siphiwe Baleka

Siphiwe Baleka

To get back in shape, the trucker worked out at rest stops, gas stations and parks on his downtime.

“I started to think, ‘Hey, there is a fitness and nutrition program for everyone in America except long-haul truck drivers,” he said.

Getting back in shape inspired Baleka to found Fitness Trucking, an award-winning fitness program for truck drivers. Baleka knew from experience that truckers are faced with a unique set of challenges. According to him, not only are they sedentary for long periods of time, but they lack one of the most vital components of a healthy metabolism: sleep.

RELATED: 10 Amazon Prime Workouts You Can Do Anywhere

The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 and 9 hours of sleep for adults. Truckers are among the country’s most sleep deprived, getting less than five hours a night on average, according to Baleka.

“You have all these severe limitations and restrictions and with your schedule always changing it throws off your circadian rhythms, [which] has an effect on your hormone production and in particular the hormones that regulate your metabolism,” explained the fitness instructor.

The hormones that regulate hunger are produced while we sleep, according to Baleka. When you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t get enough of the hormones that maintain a healthy, efficient metabolism, he explained.

RELATED: The Nighttime Routine That’ll Make You More Productive Tomorrow

“Ultimately the result is the circadian rhythms are disrupted, the hormone production is thrown out of whack, and drivers literally lose the ability to regulate their metabolism or their hunger,” he said.

The sleep-deprived put on pounds as these hormonal imbalances throw the metabolic system out of whack, causing them to overeat or skip meals entirely, Baleka said.

Six Steps to Rev Up Your Metabolism While You Sleep

According to the former trucker, you can speed up your metabolism by taking the right steps to improve your night-time habits.

1. Track your sleep

Baleka recommends purchasing a wearable sleep tracker that can help you track your sleep and measure fatigue levels throughout the day.

“Just by being aware of them, you can start to correct and normalize them,” he explained.

2. Create a sleep routine

Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning establishes a routine for a normal sleep pattern, Baleka said.

“You want to set a routine where you condition your body ahead of that time to know that that’s what’s coming,” he instructed.

3. Power off electronic devices an hour before bedtime

Light-stimulation from electronic devices trick the body into thinking it’s still daylight, according to Baleka. He said it’s important to wean yourself off about an hour before bed.

“The light stimulation is one of the things that can cause people to have difficulty falling asleep. So by turning off the electronic stuff you’re not exposing yourself to those light rays that can keep you up,” he said.

4. Respect the sleep environment

Baleka recommends a zero-electronics policy in the bedroom.

“Take the electronic stuff out of your bedroom and only use your bed for sleeping or sex,” he advised.

5. Keep a book on your nightstand

The fitness instructor recommended a cup of camomile tea —known for its calming effects —and reading a book before hitting the sack.

“For a lot of people you can get one to two pages into a book and you’re knocked out,” he said.

6. Keep it consistent

“You do all of [these steps] and you do them consistently, you will train your body [to think] ‘Hey, when I enter this environment, that’s the signal for me to go to sleep,'” Baleka concluded.

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A vibrating smart fork might not help you lose weight after all

Once upon a time, the tips and tricks of weight loss were basically free: use smaller plates! Drink a glass of water before every meal! Use blue light bulbs in your fridge so your food looks moldy and less appetizing! But in the new era of “smart” everything, people have come up with a smart fork that vibrates when you eat too quickly. Perhaps, if we just stop mindlessly scarfing down our food and instead eat slowly and deliberately and really luxuriate in every bite of that plain oatmeal, we’ll eat less and lose weight.

Unfortunately, it’s not clear this works. A study published in the journal Appetite found that a vibrating smart fork made people eat more slowly — but it didn’t make them feel more full or eat less, which is really what people care about. The researchers randomly assigned 114 people to either eat with a normal fork or a vibrating fork (the Slow Control 10s Fork, which vibrates and flashes red every time you eat faster than one bite every 10 seconds). Both groups ate the same meal of 800 grams, or 1.7 pounds, of pasta bolognese. (My colleague, who’s Italian, was horrified at how much pasta this is.)

Before eating, participants completed some surveys about how quickly they thought they generally ate. They gobbled down the pasta bolognese, and then filled out more surveys about how quickly they thought they ate this time, whether they ate significantly slower or faster than usual, plus how full they felt. If there was any food left, the scientists collected it, weighed the leftovers, and subtracted that number from the 800 grams to see how much the subjects ate.

People using the smart fork did take fewer bites per minute, though not by a lot: 5.28 bites versus 4.55. Overall, the smart fork group took nine minutes and 44 seconds to finish, while the others ate their meal in eight minutes and 12 seconds. There were no differences in bite size, and no real differences in how much the two groups ate and how satiated they felt.

There is one major weakness in this study design. There are studies that show that eating slowly makes us feel more full, because it gives our body more time to register the food. Most of these studies, though, say the effect takes 20 minutes to set in — and these participants ate the entire meal in 10. Maybe if the researchers specifically asked the participants to take a long time, instead of letting them eat at their own pace, there would have been more of an effect. But then the study wouldn’t have been realistic.

The reality is that most people don’t have the luxury of taking hours-long meal breaks anyway; I eat most of my lunch in 20 minutes, sad as that is to say. And even if the fork did reduce how much you ate, there’s little guarantee you would keep using it. Jessica Roy at New York Magazine wrote about her experience with a similar “food-shaming fork” and noted that “The No. 1 problem with the food-shaming fork is that I keep forgetting to use the food-shaming fork.” My colleague Alessandra Potenza once tried a gadget that shocks you to remind you not to do something — in her case, bite her nails. It worked at first. But after one week, she writes, “I resumed biting my nails more fiercely than ever, and I did something I found extremely liberating: I ignored the Pavlok on my wrist.”

The smart fork is just one example of well-intentioned devices that aren’t fun to use and that most people eventually abandon. Fitness trackers are another example. We get all excited at first, but, according to one research firm, a third of owners of smart wearables ditch them after six months. They can even backfire.

This isn’t to say that weight-loss tips don’t work. But the most effective tricks, like using smaller plates, aren’t annoying or disruptive. Ideally, you forget about them after a while and they become part of your life. It’s not really that frustrating to use slightly smaller plates. It is frustrating to have your utensil vibrate constantly while you’re starving.

We all want to believe that a cool new gizmo will make us change our habits. But if nobody can force us to keep using them, we might as well not have bought them in the first place.

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Lose weight with these 8 little changes

Losing weight shouldn’t mean giving up all the foods you love. Try these small changes, and you may notice big results.

1. Spice up your coffee.
With cinnamon, that is. Sweetening your drink with a dash of cinnamon instead of sugar and sugary creamer can save upward of 80 calories per drink.

2. Have egg-y French toast (or pancakes).
Order your eggs over-easy, and use that delicious egg yolk to add moisture to your breakfast — no butter or syrup needed! You’ll get a bonus boost of protein, too. Need some recipe inspo? Try this egg-topped Protein-Rich Cherry French Toast, with no added sugar.


3. Make hummus your new favorite condiment.
Next time you have a baked potato, top it with hummus instead of butter. “Don’t dismiss this until you have tried it,” Keri Gans, RDN, author of “The Small Change Diet,” told Fox News. “Creamy hummus adds a lot of flavor to a baked potato, with a lot less calories than butter.” That’s 77 calories less per Tablespoon, to be exact. “The bonus is you also get fiber and protein from the chickpeas,” Gans added.

4. Turn on slow jams during dinner.
“The speed of music influences how fast we eat,” Christy Brissette, MS, RD, owner of 80 Twenty Nutrition in Toronto, told Fox News. “Quick-serve restaurants sometimes use this trick to get people in and out of their seats faster.” Playing slow music could have the opposite effect — helping you eat more slowly and realize you’re full faster.


5. Vinegar down your salad dressing.
Dilute your favorite salad dressing with balsamic vinegar. “You’ll pucker up for the intense flavor, while practically slashing your calories in half,” Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of “Read It Before You Eat It” told Fox News.

6. Eat fragrant cheese.
Yes, this means you can eat cheese and lose weight! “But choose the super flavorful varieties so a little goes a long way,” Brissette advised. “Try Manchego or Parmesan, so just a sprinkle adds tons of flavor to your salad or pasta.” You won’t need those big chunks of cheese you might be tempted to add when using less flavorful versions.


7. Add beans to Bolognese.
“I am a die-hard meat lover, but I love to add black beans to a Bolognese so I can reduce the amount of chopped sirloin used,” Gans said. This not only cuts calories — it also adds health benefits from the beans, like helping to decrease your risk of heart disease.

8. Mix your drink differently.
In lieu of tonic water, use club soda as a mixer for your next drink. It contains zero calories, whereas tonic water has 124 calories per 12 ounces. “This is nearly as much as cola,” Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, owner of Champagne Nutrition in Seattle, told Fox News.

Amy Gorin is freelance writer and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Lose weight naturally with these 4 easy remedies

We all know of herbs and other natural remedies that can help improve our memory and boost our libido, but could there be a similar solution for burning fat?


On Twitter, we got that exact question from a viewer, and the answer is that yes, other than exercise, you can help burn fat by adding certain foods to your diet.

Here are a handful:

Bone broth
Kellyann Petrucci, M.S., N.D., a weight loss expert, told Fox News that bone broth is one world’s oldest healing foods and can be especially effective when it comes to weight loss. Its power, she said, lies in the fact that it contains lysine, an anti-inflammatory agent known to aid fat burning.

Petrucci offered this tip: “Two days a week, do something called ‘mini fasting’ — that’s where you sip on nothing but bone broth two days a week, have a light meal about 7 o’clock, and that will even heighten your fat-burning power.”


Studies show this super-spice can not only boost your body temperature, which can speed metabolism, but it can also improve your memory.

Next time you pour your morning cup of coffee or whip up a breakfast smoothie, consider adding a dash of cinnamon. That’s because the spice can help regulate your blood sugar — helping you avoid that dreaded 3 p.m. crash and control your appetite, to boot. Plus, like turmeric, cinnamon can warm your body to boost your metabolism.


You likely turn to this spice when you have a bellyache, but it turns out that ginger is also a powerful natural solution for weight loss. In fact, studies suggest adding this spice to your diet can increase your fat burning by 20 percent.


9 Tips For Women Who Want To Lose Weight After 40 (especially around the middle)

1.  Eat less added sugar, processed food and refined grains (white bread, bagels, pasta, white rice, you know the drill). A lot less.  According to the sugar science department at UCSF, added sugar is hiding in 74% of all packaged food.  And, the majority of carbohydrates in the typical American diet is made of refined grains.  This means reading labels folks and knowing how many different names there are for sugar.  Just because it’s called “agave nectar” or “cane juice crystals” doesn’t mean it’s any better for you than the white granulated stuff.  Your body doesn’t know the difference and once you eat it, it’s all the same to your pancreas (the organ that produces insulin in response to sugar).  Click this link to see 61 different names of sugar then run to your pantry and read the ingredients on your packaged food.  Prepare for a rude awakening!

6 Easy Brain Tricks to Help You Lose Weight

Frustrated with your weight loss progress (or lack thereof)? Your brain may be to blame. Shedding pounds and keeping them off has less to do with the food you eat and more to do with what’s going on in your mind, says Eliza Kingsford, author of Brain-Powered Weight Loss. “It starts with learning who you are in relation to your actions,” says the psychotherapist who specializes in weight management. “What are your triggers? How do you manage cravings? How do you handle situations after you’ve gone off track? What are the messages that you tell yourself?”

Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson, adjunct associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, agrees. “Getting your brain on board is an essential requirement for long-term weight loss,” she says. “This is the piece that people are missing.”

Here’s how to make your brain your ally instead of a diet-sabotaging enemy:

Curb negative thoughts. Cognitive distortions, or “thoughts that create inaccurate or exaggerated pictures of reality,” can wreak havoc on weight loss goals by affecting your feelings, which trigger behaviors. “Let’s say you go to a party and see a beautiful girl and think, I’ll never look as good as her,” Kingsford says. “Then you go home and eat a pizza at 2 a.m. because now you feel bad about yourself—when you left the house feeling good.”

To break the cycle, follow Kingsford’s “Three Rs”: Recognize a negative thought, replace it with something positive and repeat it. So instead of shaming yourself, say, “She’s beautiful and so am I.”

1. Think of your future self. Battling a big craving? Close your eyes and imagine yourself in the future, reaping the rewards of resisting— turning heads at your high school reunion or crossing the finish line of a challenging race. In his new book, The Hungry Brain, author Stephan J. Guyenet says that taking time for this kind of visualization helps your rational brain’s decision making process, which can override in-the-moment impulses.

2. Keep trigger foods out of sight. A Cornell study found that women ate half as many Hershey’s Kisses when they were in opaque containers on their desks vs. clear containers. “This is because the visual cues were not present,” says Dr. Adrienne Youdim, director of the Center for Weight Loss and Nutrition in Beverly Hills, California. You can make this work in your favor, too, by keeping healthy foods most visible in your kitchen.

3. Put meals in writing. “The average person makes 221 food-related choices every day,” says Peirce Thompson. “There is no way that our willpower can execute in the face of that kind of uncertainty.” Try to remove choice as much as possible by planning meals and recording them ahead of time in a food tracker. “The next day, your only food job is to eat what you’ve planned out,” Peirce Thompson says. If a whole day is daunting, start by pre-tracking the meal that gives you the most trouble, like dinner, and build on that.

4. Say an affirmation. It sounds corny, but it works: A study published in Psychological Science found that women dissatisfied with their size lost more weight after affirming their values. Kingsford suggests choosing a phrase that is positive, personal, pointed and in the present tense. For instance: “I have the power to change my lifestyle.” Repeat it three times every morning.

5. Smell before you bite.“More than 90 percent of taste is smell,” says Dr. Alan Hirsch, founder of Smell Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. The neurologist conducted a six month study where volunteers were given aromatic blends of scents like banana and green apple and instructed to smell them whenever they felt hungry. Those who sniffed more often lost the most weight. “By sniffing your food, odor molecules reach the olfactory nerve at the top of the nose, and you will therefore perceive that you’ve eaten more than you have,” Hirsch says. Take note: Eating your food hot helps enhance the smell, while drinking alcohol with your meal has the opposite effect.

6. Expect to make mistakes. “Temptations will strike along the way,” says Kingsford. But if you stray from your goals, it’s important to get your brain back in the game as soon as possible. Resist the impulse to keep indulging. “Saying ‘I’ll start again Monday’ can quickly become ‘next week,’” she says. “Dieting is not all or nothing. Make sure you get back on track with your very next choice.”