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If you can’t imagine watching Stranger Things without popcorn in hand, we get it—just make sure you’re counting those extra calories in your daily total. “I’m not against people having something at night,” says sleep and weight loss expert Peter LePort, MD, a bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Center for Obesity at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. “But if you’re having a big meal and then a big bowl of ice cream, you’re going to gain weight.” If you plan on snacking later, add in someexercise during the day or downsize your dinner to compensate.
Research has shown that distracted eating not only affects how much you eat, but how much you remember eating—which is why you can get wrapped up in a good show and suddenly find yourself holding an empty bag of chips. Even if you opt for healthy snacks, you still need to keep an eye on your portions: “Even carrots have calories, so if you go overboard, you’re going to gain weight,” LePort says. Before you cozy up on the couch, measure out an appropriate serving size of whatever you’re eating so you’ll stop when you hit the bottom of the bowl.
Not only is alcohol loaded with empty calories, but that glass of wine before bed can disrupt your sleep cycles. “There’s a problem with sleep and alcohol—you’re going to end up waking up in the middle of the night and not get good sleep,” LePort says. Research has shown that getting insufficient sleep interferes with your hunger hormones and makes you more likely to crave (and consume) unhealthy foods. So anything that messses with your zzz’s can sabotage your weight-loss efforts.
The blue light emitted by the LEDs in your phone, laptop, and television can affect your sleep cycles, so it’s best to log off at least an hour before bedtime. Sleeping with the TV on is definitely a no-no, because the light and sound can disturb you all night long. “You’re not reaching the deep sleep you need to maintain a healthy mind and a healthy body,” LePort says. If you simply can’t drift off without the TV, at least set the sleep timer. (Follow these 20 natural ways to sleep better tonight.)
Most people need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night, but according to the CDC, more than one-third of us fall short. And while we tend to think of sleep deprivation as a badge of honor, squeaking by on 6 hours a night (and strong coffee) can have a serious impact on your waistline. According to research from Harvard University, women who slept 5 or fewer hours a night were 30% more likely to gain 30 pounds over the course of the 16-year study.
Early mornings can be rough, but resist the urge to wake up at the last possible second if that means you’ll be racing out the door without breakfast. Researchhas shown that a high-protein breakfast can help you eat less throughout the day and gain less body fat. If you’re constantly caught off-guard by the morning rush, push back both your bedtime and your wake time so you’re left with enough wiggle room in the morning for a healthy meal.