Want to shed your spare tire? Don’t bring your girlfriend to the gym.
Men striving to lose weight tend to drop more pounds when there are no women around, says research from Leeds Metropolitan University in the U.K. Researchers monitored 62 overweight men as they attended weekly Weight Watchers meetings without any women.
And at the end of the 12 weeks, the guys who were in the all-male environment lost roughly 14 pounds on average, while the guys who were in co-ed meetings only lost about seven.
So what gives? It all boils down to confidence and being comfortable with your surroundings, the researchers hypothesize.
Since Weight Watchers is often thought of as a “women’s weight loss program,” the guys in the all-male environment felt less embarrassed and more competitive without the female influence.
Need more convincing that Weight Watchers is manly enough for you to try? Then listen to basketball legend–and current Weight Watchers spokesman–Charles Barkley, who has dropped over 42 big ones since joining the program. (Weight Watchers CEO David Kirchhoff isn’t just an employee, he’s a client too. Discover the secrets behind the world’s most popular weight loss program by reading Weight Loss Boss.)
1. Moderation Is Key
Don’t feel guilty if you have that occasional beer or steak while watching the game. “Restrictive diets don’t work,” says Barkley. “Honestly, you can’t give a fat person small meals and think they’re not going to cheat.” It’s all about moderation and learning how to eat, he explains. Plus, if you eliminate every guilty pleasure from your routine, it’ll just lead to a destructive binge later down the road.
2. Call Up Your Bros
“Men don’t talk to each other about dieting and losing weight, but they should,” says Barkley. “Losing weight is better if you’ve got people around you who can keep you motivated.” But your buddies can do more than motivate. In fact, losing weight is more effective when you’re around other people who have the same goals and positive outlook, according to a recent study in Obesity. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with a little competition, says Barkley. (Read about Barkley’s own competition with a fellow ex-baller and learn How Shaq Got His Groove Back.)
3. Don’t Slack on Your Routine
“I didn’t realize how much my weight was affecting me until I started losing it,” says Barkley. “I was always active when I was in the game, but after I retired, I slowed down and let myself go.” Your move: Find a way to be active every day. Make the deal with yourself and stick to it. It doesn’t matter if it’s hitting the gym or playing 18 holes, you just need to make it a priority, says Barkley.
4. Mix Things Up
Avoid eating the same foods day after day. “You might lose weight eating a salad for every meal, but that’s just going to make you crazy,” says Barkley. His suggestion: Keep a large variety of healthy foods on hand. “I have fruit every afternoon because it keeps me full and I like it,” he explains. “People don’t get fat eating fruits and vegetables.” (Need new meals to enhance your diet? Discover 15 Fired-Up Foods That Burn Away Fat.)