Four things you should know about weight loss but forgot to ask

You can eat (mostly) right, practice yoga or hit the gym a few times a week, and still not fit into your skinny jeans. What gives? Some off-the-radar facts you should know that have nothing to do with calories or cardio.

Are you getting eight hours of shut-eye?
Lack of sleep can set off hunger hormones that tell your body when it’s hungry or full (ghrelin and leptin). A study conducted at the University of Bristol found that getting just five hours of sleep can be linked to weight gain, which is why sleep is now regularly prescribed for weight loss and weight management.

How’s your fiber?
Fiber, from sources like artichokes, has the ability to spur weight loss and curb hunger, says Tanya Zuckerbrot, author of F-Factor Diet: Discover the Secret to Permanent Weight Loss. And fiber is also incredibly filling and satisfying.

What’s your stress level?
Abdominal fat might be a sign of stress—a byproduct of higher cortisol levels in your body—not necessarily of a bad diet. Adding a chill-out time, meditation, or an adaptogenic herb like holy basil to your day can help, says Jim Nicolai, MD, Medical Director of the Andrew Weil Integrative Wellness Program at Miraval, in Tucson.

Are you building muscle?
When you have more muscle mass, your body burns more calories at rest. Strength training—whether you use your own body or weights—is key, says Ariane Hundt, a top New York City personal trainer with a Masters in nutrition. “Start with the biggest muscles, like quads, for faster results.” —Melisse Gelula

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