Eat well. Exercise. Get more sleep. You’re well versed in the formula for weight loss, but as anyone who’s ever tried to battle doughnut cravings knows, sometimes you need a little extra help. Done! These four all-natural tricks can deliver some additional reinforcements for an even greater chance at weight loss success.
Dieting doesn’t have to mean blah-tasting food. In fact, spicing up your eats may go a long way in helping you eat less. Sprinkling hot red pepper on your food throughout the day could keep you fuller longer and stoke your metabolism, thanks to capsaicin, the ingredient that gives it its heat, suggests recent research in the journal Appetite. Aim for about 1 teaspoon per day by dashing some onto your roasted veggies, stirring it into hummus, or whisking it into salad dressing.
Those tiny needles hold a lot of power. An acupuncture technique that involves placing five acupuncture needles in the outer ear is associated with increased weight loss while dieting, according to a study by researchers in South Korea. Participants who received the therapy, called five-point treatment, lost more than 6% of their weight, on average, while those who received a sham acupuncture treatment didn’t see the scale budge. Seek out an acupuncturist who’s experienced in providing auricular acupuncture for weight loss. Bonus: Some health insurance companies may cover treatments, so it’s worth investigating before scheduling your appointment.
The nose knows. In a study at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virgina, participants who inhaled peppermint scent throughout the day consumed fewer calories and less fat and sugar overall than those who didn’t take a whiff. Peppermint is an especially strong scent, which may distract your brain from hunger pangs. “It may also induce a positive mood and make you feel more energetic and awake, which are known to help increase self control and reduce cravings,” says Alan Hirsch, MD, of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. While peppermint has the most research behind it, research at Hirsch’s center has also shown that green apple and banana scents can help decrease cravings, too. He suggests sniffing peppermint essential oil 3 to 4 times in each nostril whenever a hankering for unhealthy grub strikes.
While regular massages won’t exactly rub away excess fat (wouldn’t that be nice?) they could make your current weight loss program more successful. After just one 45-minute deep-tissue Swedish massage, participants experienced a decrease in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, according to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Participants who received a light massage, by comparison, didn’t experience the same effect. “With massage, it’s possible that by decreasing cortisol, anxiety, and fatigue people may be less likely to break their diets because of feeling stressed,” says study author Mark Rapaport, MD, a psychiatrist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. Seek out an occasional deep tissue massage, especially during stressful times, to help support all of the other hard work you’re doing to shed the weight—you’ve earned it.