People who wait to get married until after they’ve earned a college degree are much less likely to become obese, says a new study. And finishing college post-matrimony doesn’t help.
“People who get married before they earn a degree from a four-year college are about 65 percent more likely to later become obese than people who get married after college,” said Richard Allen Miech, a research professor at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. And while a college degree has long been associated with staying lean, “the benefits of college do not accrue to people who get married before graduating,” Miech says.
The study followed nearly 14,000 people between 11 and 19 years of age for 13 years, and measured their body mass index (BMI) at various points in their lives. While marriage is generally associated with weight gain, Miech says, “people who earn a degree before getting married are more likely to have developed problem-solving skills that allow them to [keep] exercising and eating healthy as they adjust to married life.”
But regardless of how long you’ve been married, there are steps you can take to reverse any damage and begin flattening your belly. Here are 7 Ways to Not Get Fat if You Get Married Young, compliments of Zero Belly Diet.
Related: 10 Easy Ways to Burn More Fat
Marital Slim Down #7: Make Eggs Your Default
Breakfast, lunch or dinner: If you don’t know what to order or what to cook, just make eggs. Not only are they packed with fat-burning protein, but eggs are also the number-one dietary source of a nutrient called choline. Choline, also found in lean meats, seafood and collard greens, attacks the gene mechanism that triggers your body to store fat around your liver.
Marital Slim Down #6: Sneak in a 10-Minute Workout
“Married” rhymes with “harried” for a reason. But if family responsibilities keep you from the gym, you can still sneak in time to stay slim. New Zealand scientists recently found that men and women who engaged in 10-minute exercise “snacks” before breakfast, lunch and dinner saw lowered glucose levels—a fat-busting benefit these folks enjoyed all day long.
Marital Slim Down #5: Get Blackout Shades
It might be the best décor decision you’ll make as a couple. According to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, couples who slept in the darkest rooms were 21 percent less likely to be obese than those sleeping in the lightest rooms. For more ways to lose weight rapidly, read this special report: 10 Daily Habits That Blast Belly Fat.
Marital Slim Down #4: Skip Probiotics, Pop Blueberries
A recent study by ConsumerLab.com found that most commercial probiotics have far less healthy bacteria than they claim. A better strategy is to focus on “prebiotics”—high-fiber foods like berries and beans that feed your healthy bacteria and help them grow.
Marital Slim Down #3: Pregame Meals with Greens
Leafy greens like watercress, kale and arugula may not be on your daily menu, but they contain a compound called sulphoraphane. This nutrient has been shown to act directly on the genes that determine “adipocyte differentiation”—basically, turning a stem cell into a fat cell. And ordering a salad with a scant teaspoon of vinaigrette before your main meal will help fill you up and keep you from overindulging. For added belly-blasting benefits, brew yourself a pot of green tea, one of The 5 Best Teas for Weight Loss.
Marital Slim Down #2: Mix Fruit with Chocolate
A recent study found that the antioxidants in dark chocolate prevented lab mice from gaining excess weight and actually lowered their blood sugar levels. Why? It may have something to do with our healthy gut bacteria. A study at Louisiana State University found that gut microbes in our stomach ferment chocolate into heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory compounds that shut down genes linked to insulin resistance and inflammation. When the chocolate is mixed with fruit, that fermentation process is speeded up, leading to even greater weight loss. To satisfy your sweet tooth—and slim down—make yourself The Best Weight Loss Smoothie Ever, from Zero Belly Diet.
Marital Slim Down #1: Crank the AC
In a study in the journal Diabetes, participants spent a few weeks sleeping in bedrooms with varying temperatures: a cool 66 degrees, a neutral 75, and a balmy 81. After four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, participants had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat—a type of body fat that actually burns calories from your body. That means they were set up for greater weight loss, researchers say.