It’s a sad but true statistic: America is the fattest developed country in the world. Despite a seemingly nation-wide interest in healthy living and eating, two-thirds of us are either overweight or obese. Luckily, other nations have a few slim-down secrets up their sleeves. Take a lesson or two from our international friends on how to maintain a healthy weight:
GREAT BRITAIN – Eat breakfast
While many Americans skip breakfast or eat something small on the go, it’s the most important meal of the day across the pond. People that don’t consume enough calories in the morning tend to eat more than they normally would throughout the rest of the day. Eating a filling breakfast can improve your blood sugar control and keep your hunger in check for the rest of the day. It’s also great for increasing your focus, memory and concentration.
INDIA – Walk it out
The average Indian woman walks six miles a day by getting around on foot. In our busy day-to-day lives, it’s often faster and much more convenient to drive or take public transportation to get to and from your destinations, but increasing the amount of walking you do is an excellent way to boost your weight loss efforts. Get off the subway one or two stops before and walk the rest of the way. Park as far away from the entrance as possible to get a mini powerwalk in before you enter the building. Just an extra hour of walking spread out through the day can help you lose up to two pounds a week.
CHINA – Say no to packaged foods
In China, almost all food consumed is freshly prepared. Packaged food is okay in a pinch, but whenever possible, opt for foods that are as minimally processed as possible. Sticking with items free of high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and other additives can suppress your appetite and speed up fat burning.
GREECE – Olive oil and wine
Alcohol and fat can make you lose weight?! Sign me up! Olive oil is a healthy fat that can help you burn fat faster, while the alcohol in a daily glass of vino makes your muscle cells more sensitive to insulin, which helps you absorb and burn blood sugar before it’s converted to fat.
GERMANY – Eat your potatoes
Germans consume twice as many potatoes as Americans annually. Thanks to the high tryptophan content—it increases the production of appetite-suppressing serotonin—and the fiber and minerals that slow digestion, potatoes will fill you up and decrease food cravings.
JAPAN – Get your shut-eye
Studies have shown that getting just an extra half hour of sleep per night (or during the day in the form of a catnap like they do in Japan) can help you lose two pounds a month. Exhaustion results in a slower metabolism and the production of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you hungry. When you’re well-rested, your body burns fat more quickly and efficiently.
BRAZIL – Rice and beans
This winning combo, which can help double your fat loss and cut your risk of future weight gain when eaten daily—is a staple in Brazilian diets. The beans’ 15 grams of protein mixed with the rice’s fiber and B vitamins help to suppress your appetite and stabilize blood sugar.
SPAIN – Take your time
We’ve said before that pacing yourself when you eat gives your brain time to process the fact that your stomach has been filled. The Spanish dedicate one meal a day to “family time” where they sit and catch up. According to research, having a good, long conversation during a meal will slow you down and make you eat about 30 percent less food.
FINLAND – Drink more coffee
Good news for coffee lovers: not only does java have tons of health benefits, it can also make you 35 percent less hungry if you drink a cup a half hour before eating. Then it will boost your metabolic rate by 5 percent over the next two hours. That translates to losing up to 12 pounds a year!