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30 Ways to Lose Weight if You're a Millennial

Millennials: They're educated, liberal, and oh yeah, they're fat—fatter than their parents were when they were the same age, anyway.

But perk up millennials, at least it's not your fault. According to a study published recently in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, it's more difficult for you to maintain and shed pounds than it was for your parents. In fact, even if your diet and exercise routine was identical to that of someone the same age in the 1970s you'd still weigh 10 percent more—which translates to 15 big ones for someone who's 150 pounds.

Though researchers aren't certain as to why, they think increased exposure to chemicals like pesticides and flame retardants may be partly to blame. Increased use of antidepressants, meat antibiotics and artificial sweeteners (which have all been connected to weight gain) are also possible culprits. And not only is the environment working against you but so is biology. Research suggests that metabolism starts to slow by as much as four percent each year after age 25, which makes it all the more difficult to fight off those excess pounds as you age.

To set yourself up for long, healthy life—in a body you'll want to show off—incorporate the weight loss tips below into your routine—and be sure to share what you learn with your friends. This is the one guide every millennial needs to read. And don't stop with these! See how Maria Menounos, Padma Lakshmi, Insanity trainer Shaun T and others blast dangerous belly fat fast with these 50 Best-Ever Weight-Loss Secrets from Skinny People!

Text a Friend

lose weight millennial cell phone

Hey, hottie with a body! Don't eat more than 1,400 calories 2day!… A recent study found that dieters who received weekly text reminders of their daily "calorie budget" and motivational emails made healthier diet choices.

Eat This! Tip

Solicit a friend to shoot you daily texts with your diet goals, or take matters into your own hands; set up labeled alarms on your iPhone, so when 8 a.m. rolls around, it's: You make 1,300 cals-a-day look so good!

Switch to Sweet Potatoes

lose weight millennial sweet potato

Sure, white potatoes are delicious, but switching to orange taters is an easy way to up your intake of potassium. The mineral keeps the heart functioning properly and flushes out the excess salt that tends to come along with a diet laden with processed and fast foods—two things many young adults can't get enough of. In addition to flushing out excess sodium—which wards off pesky bloating—sweet potatoes are also a good source of fiber, a nutrient that aids weight loss efforts by boosting satiety.

(For more bloat-banishing tips, check out these 33 Lazy Ways to Flatten Your Belly—Fast.)

Eat This! Tip

At a loss for how to cook 'em? Sprinkle sweet potato wedges with some pepper, paprika and garlic powder and bake 'em in the oven on 425°F. You're sure to love this tasty twist on a classic fry.

Hide Your Vices

lose weight millennial candy jars

Out of sight, out of mouth? Numerous studies have discovered that people are more likely to overeat indulgent treats and snacks from transparent containers than from opaque ones. So hit up your local Bed Bath & Beyond and give your cupboards a mini-makeover. Your waistline will thank you.

Did You Know?

Even diet experts even swear by this trick! Check out the rest of their strategies in the Eat This, Not That exclusive story Diet Experts Reveal Their #1 Weight Loss Tip.

Double Fist

lose weight millennial water

Put down the chips and walk over to the water fountain. Studies suggest that 6 out of 10 times, people mistake hunger for thirst so knocking back a cup of H20 can quell your hunger pangs and help your slim down. And even if you're not hankering for a thirst-quencher, preloading meals with water can shave hundreds of calories from your daily intake. In fact, a study published in the journal Obesity found that people who drank two cups of water before eating consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories over the course of a meal than they would otherwise. This may simply be because water is filling, but researchers note the added H20 may well be displacing calories otherwise spent on calorie-laden beverages.

Eat This! Tip

If you're sick of plain ol' H20, whip up some of these 50 Best Detox Waters for Fat Burning and Weight Loss!

Add Some Grass

lose weight millennial beef

Ditch the fast food burger and whip up your own at home with some organic grass-fed beef. (Use this burger recipe as your guide!) Doing so save you mega calories and also boost your protein and creatine intake. These vital nutrients not only help you build that lean look you crave now, but they also protect your tendons and joints as you age. And though money may be tight as you embark on your post-grad career, going organic is a must if you want to ward off weight gain. Organic meat cannot contain synthetic growth hormones, which may be a contributor to weight gain in millennials.

Ditch the Tray

lose weight millennial cafeteria tray

This one's for you college kids! When you're eating in the cafeteria, ditch the tray. Limiting yourself to what you can carry to the table with your own two hands can help you save a hefty amount of calories and keep that freshman 15 at bay.

Skip Milk Alternatives

lose weight millennial milk

Almond and hemp milk may be all the rage right now but unless you're lactose intolerant, do yourself a favor and stick with vitamin D fortified cow's milk. Chug it plain, add it to cereal, or mix it into your coffee; it really doesn't matter how you drink it—just do it. And aim for two cups a day. Why? Eating a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium can accelerate weight loss and keep your bones healthy for life. After you enter your thirties, your skeleton density is pretty much set, so if you want to have strong bones well into your 80s, you should load up on bone building nutrients now. While you've likely heard about the skeleton-strengthening benefits of calcium, your body can't reap the full benefits if it doesn't get enough vitamin D.

Eat This! Tip

For creative ways to drink more milk, check out these Best Ever Weight Loss Smoothies. If a recipe calls for an alternative or water just sub in cow's milk. Easy!

Break Up with Starbucks

lose weight millennial starbucks
Courtesy of Starbucks

We wouldn't dare ask you to forgo your morning cup of coffee, but you might want to skip that 3:00 coffee run to your local Starbucks. Too much caffeine can lead to insulin resistance and increased fat storage, according to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Eat This! Tip

Fight off your mid-afternoon slump with a quick walk outside. Five to ten minutes is all you need to feel the effects.And to blast even more fat, drink the right tea, like our test panelists who lose 14 pounds in two weeks. Click here to read these 23 Amazing Ways to Melt Fat with Tea!

Put Down the IPad

lose weight millennial ipad

Bad news, Netflixers: your late-night habit may make it more difficult to get a good night's rest. According to recent research, the blue light emitted from electronic devices like your computer, iPad or LED television can impair the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which negatively affects sleep quality and weight loss. In fact, losing a mere hour of shut-eye over the course of three days is enough to negatively impact the body's hunger and appetite-regulating hormone, ghrelin. Quality sleep, on the other hand, fuels the production of fat-burning hormones, making it a top priority if you're trying to drop a few pounds.

Eat This! Tip

If you can't kick your late night tech habit altogether, download a free program called F.lux. Throughout the day, the software gradually changes the light emissions from electronic devices from blue to a warm red, a hue that minimizes blue light's stimulating effects. Unfortunately, it can't do the same for your television, so you'll just have to flip that off.

Eat the Magical Fruit

lose weight millennial beans

Women in their twenties typically don't get enough folate, and those who heavily consume alcohol may have trouble absorbing the nutrient. This can spell trouble for midsection and overall health. When a diet lacks folate, it not only raises the risk of weight gain but also ups the risk for diabetes and heart disease. (Speaking of your ticker, be sure you're also eating these 7 Best Foods to Decrease Your Heart Disease Risk.) It can also leave you feeling lethargic, which makes it difficult to give it your all at the gym and stay active (read: burn calories) throughout the day.

Eat This! Tip

While the best natural food source of folate is chicken liver, that's a pretty hard order to stomach. A solid second choice is white navy beans. They're easy on the wallet, a great source of vegan protein and a half-cup serving has just under 25 percent of the day's recommended folate intake. Add beans to salads, stir fries, burritos, or serve with a Tex-Mex style omelet filled with tomatoes, onions, and peppers.

And for 150+ recipes that will make your belly flat, check out the Zero Belly Cookbook!

DJ Your Shopping Trip

lose weight millennial grocery store

Rocking out to your favorite upbeat tunes while you grocery shop may keep unwanted items out of your cart. According to a well-cited study by Ronald Milliman in the Journal of Marketing, supermarkets intentionally play slow, calming music to reduce turnover. That translates to 38 percent more time in the store, and an additional 29 percent more food in your cart. Stay jazzed and focused with music that puts some pep in your step!

Ditch The Diet

lose weight millennial soda

When it comes to food and drinks laced with artificial sweeteners, just say no! Researchers say these Frankenfoods confuse our bodies by making us expect calories that aren't there which interferes with our body's ability to regulate what we eat. The result is what they call "metabolic derangements" like poor insulin response and elevated glucose levels, which can lead to fat storage and a host of illnesses like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Eat This, Not That! Fix:
If you're going to eat something sweet, go for the deal thing—just do so in moderation. And if diet soda is your downfall, drink black tea (one of the 22 Best Teas for Weight Loss) instead. It provides a similar caffeine buzz without the weight gain.

Decline The Invite

lose weight millennial restaurant

Big group dinners are the norm for millennials. And though they're great for your social life, it's rough on your gut. Research published in the journal Nutrition found that meals eaten with two other people were 47 percent larger than meals savored alone. It gets scarier from there. Dining with 4, 6 or 8+ friends was associated with meal increases of 69, 70 and 96 percent, respectively. Though part of this has to do with the amount of time we spend at the table when dining with company, another study from the journal Appetite found people who spent longer eating because they were simultaneously reading didn't eat significantly more, meaning time isn't the only factor at play here.

Eat This! Tip

You can still hang out with your friends—just vary the activity once in awhile. Take a fitness class together, go for a walk around your city or check out a new museum exhibit. You'll save money and calories.

Stop Eating at Your Desk

lose weight millennial desk

We get it: Trying to climb the corporate ladder means many a lunch (and breakfast and dinner) at your desk. But as often as you can, try to step away to eat your meals. "It's hard to be present if you're eating at your desk, cyber-loafing, or watching television," says Leslie P. Schilling, MA, RDN, CSSD, LDN. When your mind is focusing on something besides your food, you don't realize things like: 'Was the food actually good?' and 'Am I getting full?' This often leads to 'do-over' eating. Eat with purpose and presence—away from your desk.

Stop Skipping Meals

lose weight millennial empty plate

"In the past, skipping meals might have helped you reach your weight loss goal, but after a certain age, the body wises up, says Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., founder of The NY Nutrition Group. "The more you try to restrict, the more your body will store calories as fat in case it needs to use them. It's important for health, energy and metabolism to eat every four to five hours."

Eat This! Tip

To ensure those pounds continue to fly off your frame, incorporate some of these 55 Best Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.

Quit Being So Trendy

lose weight millennial paleo

Vegan and low-carb diets may be all the rage, but that doesn't mean it's the best way to shed pounds. "Axing carbs or dairy may help you cut calories, but it can also set you up for lower nutrient intake, which is increasingly hard on the body as it ages, says Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN. "If weight loss is your primary motivator for eliminating food groups, focus on reducing portions and eating nutrient-dense versions of shunned foods instead. Rather than eliminating carbs, for example, keep portions small and stick with whole grains over refined varieties."

And speaking of carbs, be sure you're stocking your kitchen with these 25 Best Carbs That Uncover Your Abs.

Skip Beer Pong

lose weight millennial beer pong

While drinking in moderation every so often won't do too much harm to your waistline, making it a habit can slow down your metabolic rate—especially when you're binge drinking. Why? When your body has a cocktail to break down, it takes precedence over any food that you've already eaten that's waiting to be digested. This slows down the entire metabolic process. In fact, some researchers claim boozing can decrease the body's fat-burning ability by up to 73 percent!

Eat This! Tip

Stay away from the flip cup table (you'll drink far more than you realize) and stick to low-calorie drinks (like these 16 Wines for Weight Loss). Better yet, alternate your alcohol with water to slow your pace, and cut yourself off after two drinks.

Recruit Your Roomies

lose weight millennial roomates

Sticking to a weight loss plan is tough. Sticking to a weight loss plan when everyone you live with is surviving on a diet of pizza is even more difficult. "There are a number of 'external' factors—such as the people with whom you are enjoying a meal—that play a critical role in your ability to eat mindfully," says Dan Childs, the author of Thinfluence. "Think of ways to optimize your environment that will help you achieve this goal," says Childs. Getting your roommates on the healthy eating bandwagon—or at least making them aware of your diet and exercise goals—can help you stay on track.

Reconsider Your Career Path

lose weight millennial office desk

We all want a killer body and a successful career, but research suggests that it's extremely hard to achieve both—especially if you work in a high-stress environment. A recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people with high levels of job stress are 26 percent more likely to be inactive during their downtime than those with low-stress jobs, which can lead to weight gain over time. A University of Rochester study echoed these results, finding that stress at work leads to behaviors like watching TV and less exercise.

Eat This! Tip

It's one thing for your job to make you unhappy. But if it's making you unhealthy, it might be time to start looking around.

Stock Up on Shaun T's Proteins

lose weight millennial shaun t

Bad diet decisions are often made when you're starving and have nothing healthy to eat in your kitchen. Ward off diet-derailing decisions by stocking up on frozen, deveined shrimp—one of Shaun T's go-to proteins (more on his favorite eats here.) Once you throw it on the stove, it's ready to eat in just a minute or two, and it's a great source of lean, low-cal protein. Organic, low-sodium turkey breasts, pre-grilled chicken and hard-boiled eggs are also smart meal-starters to keep on hand. And click here for 25 Weight-Loss Secrets from Shaun T!

Eat This! Tip

To get a muscle-building meal on the table in under 10 minutes, mix some shrimp or pre-grilled chicken with a splash of low-sodium soy sauce and a bag of frozen mixed veggies.

Stop Eating Free Restaurant Food

lose weight millennial tortilla chips

Breadsticks, biscuits, and chips and salsa may be complimentary at some restaurants, but that doesn't mean you won't pay for them. Every time you eat one of Olive Garden's free breadsticks or Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits, you're adding an additional 150 calories to your meal. Eat three over the course of dinner and that's 450 calories. That's also roughly the number of calories you can expect for every basket of tortilla chips you get at your local Mexican restaurant. What's worse, none of these calories comes paired with any redeeming nutritional value. Consider them junk food on steroids.

Ditch the Water Bottle

lose weight millennial water bottle

You know how important it is to stay hydrated, which is why you're never seen without a bottle of Poland Spring by your side. While we commend you for getting your daily dose of H20, you should seriously consider trading your throw-away bottle for the reusable, BPA-free variety. Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, can negatively impact fertility in both men and women and has also been linked to obesity. Don't believe it? The science doesn't lie: A 2011 Harvard study found that adults with the highest concentration of BPA in their urine had significantly larger waists and were at a higher risk of becoming obese than those in the lowest quartile.

Go Nuts

lose weight millennial walnuts

One of the easiest ways to ward off weight gain? Add nuts to your diet. "Studies have also shown that people who eat nuts are less likely to become overweight than those who avoid them, likely because it helps you feeling fuller, longer," says registered dietitian nutritionist Martha McKittrick, RDN, CDE.

Eat This! Tip

To reap the benefits, add an ounce of walnuts into your oatmeal (we love these 14 Overnight Oat Recipes for Weight Loss) or cereal, nosh on some cashews as an afternoon snack or toss some slivered almonds into your salad.

Update Your Dinnerware

lose weight millennial empty plates

Smaller plates = a smaller gut. Larger plates hold more food, upping the odds you'll take in excess calories, say researchers. Keep your portions in check by buying smaller plates and serving dishes. If you're still hungry, you can always go back for seconds.

Make Fitness a Priority

lose weight millennial fitness

Making everything fit into your new adult lifestyle can be challenging—we totally get it. But rather than letting fitness fall by the wayside, make it a priority. "Write down your workout and fitness class schedule before the week starts and treat each workout like an important appointment," suggests personal trainer and registered dietitian Jim White. "This will help you stick to a more consistent workout schedule, which can aid weight loss efforts." While hitting up the gym more often may mean skipping some happy hours, it will all be worth it when you're able to wiggle into your skinny jeans.

To find out how to get the most out of your fitness routine, check out these tips to Make Your Workout 500% More Effective!

Ditch the Scale

lose weight millennial scale

While stepping on the scale can be a good measure of weight maintenance in your teens and early 20's, once you're older things aren't as simple, says Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD. "As we age we tend to lose muscle and store fat, but numbers on a scale won't necessarily reflect that right away."

Eat This! Tip

To catch on to body composition changes, Moore suggests using a pair of your favorite jeans instead of a scale. "Snug jeans are an indication that you should watch your diet and incorporate strength training into your fitness routine," she says. "This will help your body hold on to more muscle mass and keep your metabolic rate from plummeting."

Go Fish

lose weight millennial salmon

Though being in your twenties can certainly be fun, it's also a decade of uncertainty that's often characterized by professional shortcomings, financial debt and romantic misadventures. No wonder men and women in this age group are particularly susceptible to depression. Thankfully upping your omega-3 intake can help you fight back. The nutrient, which is found in fatty fish like wild salmon and sardines, not only amps up feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain to counteract the blues, but it also fights off metabolism-slowing inflammation.

Eat This! Tip

Instead of slaving over the stove to reap the benefits, zap a salmon burger (we like SeaPak's variety) and dress up the bun with some spinach, tomatoes, olive-oil mayo and Swiss cheese.

Find Fit Friends

lose weight millennial friends

Research from the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that when a friend becomes obese, it ups your chance of obesity by 57 percent. This probably has to do with the social norms that you're exposed to.

Eat This! Tip

Rather than ditch a friend who's put on a few extra pounds, suggest healthy activities that you can do together, and avoid letting him or her dictate the meal ("Let's split the cheesecake!"). And while you're at it, also make some new friends that share your lifestyle habits. It's always more fun to hit the gym or cook up a healthy meal with a buddy anyways. And if you're ordering Domino's, make sure you read this first: Every Menu Item at Domino's—Ranked!

Say No to Late Night Munchies

lose weight millennial pizza

Though it may be hard, saying no to greasy, carb-heavy fare after dark can help the pounds fly off. Chris Powell, the trainer who has helped hundreds of overweight people lose up to half their body weight on ABC's reality series Extreme Weight Loss, says his show participants never consume this kind of food after dark. "If they have a post-dinner snack, they stick to protein-rich, high-fat foods like almonds or 2% milk-fat string cheese," he explains. This is because axing carbs at night flips the fat burning switch by increasing the amount of fat burning hormones released while we're asleep.

Eat This! Tip

Stock your fridge with healthy midnight snacks to stay on track.

Shop the Farmer's Market

lose weight millennial vegetables

Researchers believe that millennials' increased exposure to plant pesticides may a contributing factor to their growing waistlines—which makes sense. A recent study found that people with the highest levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPS), meaning pesticides and herbicides, were more like to be overweight. Reverse the effects by going organic.

Eat This! Tip

Since organic produce can be pricy, it's best to be strategic about your purchases. As a general rule, if you eat the skin (blueberries, apples and spinach), go organic. If it has a thick skin (like avocados and bananas) save your green.

For more easy ways to shed weight, steer clear of these 26 Bad Habits That Make You Fat!

Eat This, Not That!
Inspired by The New York Times best-selling book series, Eat This, Not That! is a brand that's comprised of an award-winning team of journalists and board-certified experts, doctors, nutritionists, chefs, personal trainers, and dietitians who work together to bring you accurate, timely, informative, and actionable content on food, nutrition, dieting, weight loss, health, wellness, and more. Read more about Eat This