Advice on how to slim down is everywhere, but the weight-loss industry is laced with myths that won’t help you reach your goals.
Check out these tips, all of which have been proven by research to be effective in dropping that extra weight.
1. Add more protein to your diet
Protein is incredibly important to weight loss, though it is often overlooked in the argument of fat vs. carbohydrates.
Protein triggers the body to burn 80 to 100 more calories over 24 hours, and test subjects consumed up to 441 fewer calories daily because protein has such a high satiation level. (1)
Protein sticks around in your gut for a long time because it takes a bit for it to be broken down into a form your body can use. Because of this, you will eat fewer calories simply because you feel fuller. You won’t feel hungry, which makes sticking to your plan way easier. It’s really as simple as that.
In fact, when 25% of calories are taken from protein sources, people experience 60% fewer obsessive thoughts about food, and the desire to indulge in late-night snacking drops by half. (2)
2. Eat more fruits, vegetables and fiber
People who eat more fruits and vegetables run lighter. (3)
These foods are low in calories, packed with the nutrients you need for good health, as well as being rich in fiber. Eating plenty of fiber, especially viscous fiber, also contributes to feeling satiated, which can play an important role in long-term weight control. (4)
The fact that veggies and fruits have much fewer calories in them also plays a role. You can eat a whole bowl of green beans without eating very many calories – the same cannot be said for french fries.
When preparing your meals, choose fruits and vegetables as your sides and aim to have them take up at least half your plate. You’ll get to eat more food, while eating few calories.
If you aren’t a fan of veggies, be willing to take a chance. Just like with most foods, veggies can be good if you cook them correctly. However, they can also be very bad if they are cooked incorrectly. The problem is that most people do not know how too cook them appropriately, which leads to many people not liking vegetables.
We recommend learning how to cook veggies so that they taste fantastic, which will make you more likely to eat them.
3. Drink water
It’s true that drinking water helps with weight loss, especially when you pay attention to timing.
In one study, dieters who drank 17 ounces of water 30 minutes before meals ate fewer calories and lost up to 44% weight on average. (5)
Over the next hour or so after drinking water, metabolism increases from 24% to 30%, so you burn more calories. (6)
Water helps you lose weight because it takes up room in your stomach and makes you feel fuller. When you feel fuller, you automatically eat fewer calories while still feeling satisfied. If you have a problem with being hungry after meals, this is a great option to help you cut out a few extra calories.
Drinking water before a meal is particularly important because it takes a bit of time before your body recognizes your fuller stomach. Of course, you can drink water during your meal as well, but it won’t have the same weight loss effect that drinking water 30 minutes before a meal would.
4. Slow down on chewing
The brain needs time to receive and respond to chemical messages that the body is taking in food in order to send the “stop” signal.
Chewing slowly helps you take in less overall calories while stimulating the production of hormones associated with weight loss. (7)
If you find remembering to chew slowly difficult, you can slow down your meals by drinking plenty of water during your meal. Or, you can remember to pause in between every bite. Alternatively, choosing foods that are automatically more difficult to eat is also suitable, such as a steak that you have to cut instead of chicken strips.
Anything that make you eat slower is a suitable choice.
5. Cut refined carb consumption
This category includes sugar as well as grains like white flour that have lost fiber and other nutritious parts of the food during processing.
Refined carbs spike blood sugar, stimulate cravings, and usually result in eating more food before much time has passed. Making a habit of eating refined carbs raises the risk of obesity. (8)
Refined carbs are absorbed very quickly into your bloodstream. This spikes your blood sugar, which quickly drops because there is nothing else being absorbed into your stomach, as would be true with whole-grain bread. Because of this, your blood sugar will drop shortly afterward, leaving you feeling hungry and tired.
6. Cut added sugar and avoid sweet drinks
Most people eat too much sugar and fructose, which is linked with obesity and other chronic modern diseases. (9) Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are both linked with increased risks of obesity and obesity-related diseases, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Studies show drinking liquid sugar (including fruit juice) is even worse, since the body doesn’t perceive liquid calories in the same way it does solid food, leading to more overall calories consumed. (10)
For example, one study, in particular, showed that children who drank sugar-sweetened beverages had a 60% increased risk of obesity for each daily serving (33). That adds up fast, especially if you grab a few sodas a day! Remember, fruit juice often has just as much sugar in it as soda, even if it does contain more vitamins. Most fruit juices have a similar amount of sugar in them as soft drinks like Coke.
An easy way to lose weight is to cut these added sugars from your diet. They only add empty calories and are associated with too many health problems to be worth it. Make sure you read product labels when shopping because lots of “healthy” foods are often jam-packed with added sugar. All added sugars will be marked on the nutrition label, though, so they are pretty easy to spot.
7. Lift weights
Weight training can prevent muscle loss as you’re dropping pounds, as well as speeding up the metabolism so you’ll burn more calories. (11)
When you’ve lost the extra weight, you’ll also have a stronger, better-looking physique if you’ve been lifting weights.
8. Exercise aerobically
Getting regular cardio workouts while you’re trimming down improves brain function and mood as well as helping your burn more calories. It’s also a great way to target belly fat associated with a higher risk of metabolic disorders. (12)
Any aerobic exercise is going to provide you with the same benefits, so it isn’t necessarily important to choose one particular kind of exercise. Instead, just choose whichever exercise you prefer. If you like the exercise you’re doing, you’re more likely to do it.
9. Get plenty of sleep
Many people sacrifice sleep in order to fit everything into the day. Yet short sleep duration, along with poor quality sleep, is among the strongest risk factors for obesity.
Adults who don’t get enough sleep are 55% more likely to become obese, and the rate is even higher among sleep-deprived children at 89%. (13)
10. Watch the portions
Obviously, eating less food is going to help you lose weight. (14) Many people do not eat proper portions, which makes them more likely to be obese. You may be surprised by how small correct portion sizes actually are!
Some people do well with a food journal, while others may prefer taking a picture of meals; a greater level of awareness when it comes to the amount you’re eating can make a huge difference. Studies have shown that any method that helps you track what you eat is helpful for losing weight. So, pick whichever method you feel most comfortable with.
11. Follow a low-carb diet
Restricting carbohydrates has been proven more effective for weight loss than low-calorie diets, as well as contributing to the improvement of other important health markers. (15) This is likely because those who eat high protein and fat diets feel fuller for longer and automatically eat fewer calories because of it.
Because you’re still eating plenty of food until you’re satisfied, low-carb diets are also much easier to stick to. Furthermore, most of the nutrients you need can be found in high protein and fat foods, so you won’t be missing out on anything important for your health by cutting back on carbohydrates.
Some studies have found that participants lose as much as 2-3 times the amount of weight on a low-carb diet as others did on a low-fat diet.
Cut the carbs to enjoy twice to three times the weight loss you can expect with other diets using a low carb diet. (16)
12. Get help if you have food addiction issues
A study done in 2014 with nearly 20,000 people indicates nearly 20% of the respondents could be classified as food addicts. (17)
Trying to lose weight when you’re dealing with addiction can be discouraging, if not impossible. If you are plagued with food addiction and can’t control how much you eat, get help before embarking on a weight loss program.
Many people turn to food during stressful times, though the opposite can also be true for certain people. If you find yourself binging when you’re stressed or emotional, it is time to find a different way to cope with your stress. Some people may need extra help to develop these skills, and that’s okay.
13. Skip dieting and eat whole foods
Research shows diets don’t work for most people over the long term. Dieting is the best predictor of future weight gain because dieters tend to gain back the weight they lost when they get off the diet. (18)
Keeping weight off requires long-term lifestyle changes. You need to change your diet for the rest of your life to keep the weight off. Otherwise, when you start eating your usual diet again, you’ll just gain all your weight right back.
Focus on real, whole foods that don’t have an ingredient list. You’re more likely to achieve and stay at a healthy weight if you adopt the habit of eating real, nutritious food. Cook at home more and learn how to make nutritious foods taste incredible. It can be hard at first, but if you choose just one thing (like eating a healthy breakfast, for instance), you’ll be much more likely to make real changes and lose weight without a restrictive diet.
14. Have eggs for breakfast
Eating eggs can result in a number of benefits, including weight loss.
Studies show people who eat eggs for breakfast consume fewer calories over the next 36 hours, dropping more body fat that those who had carb-rich breakfasts. (19)
Eggs contain plenty of nutrients and vitamins, which makes them a good choice anyway. However, they are also packed full of protein and healthy fats. These take longer to breakdown than carbohydrates, so the eggs will sit on your stomach longer. This will cause you to feel fuller for longer and eat fewer calories as a result.
If you can’t handle eggs, choose another quality protein to eat in the morning.
15. Stock up on healthy foods
When hunger strikes, instinct takes over; if you have weight-loss-friendly foods on hand, you’re more likely to make a choice that supports your goals.
Try keeping foods around that don’t require preparation, so you can grab something when you absolutely must eat, like boiled eggs, nuts, unsweetened yogurt, baby carrots, or whole fruit. If you have a certain snack you really enjoy that takes a bit of prep, do it beforehand so that you can just grab it when you get hungry.
16. Eat from smaller plates
It may sound silly, but some studies verify that people who use smaller plates at mealtime actually consume fewer calories on average than those who use full-sized plates. (20)
However, this isn’t necessarily true for everyone. It appears that it only works for those who are more overweight, likely because they do not have correct portion sizes.
This is not a one-size-fits-all fix. If you are already eating proper portion sizes, using smaller plates likely isn’t going to affect you.
This is an easy fix, though, so there really isn’t a reason not to give it a try!
17. Supplement with glucomannan
Glucomannan is one of the few diet aids with evidence to back up the results; people who take this fiber supplement lose more weight than those who don’t. (21)
An extremely rich source of viscous fiber, glucomannan takes longer to pass out of the gut than most foods, making you feel full and eat fewer calories. (22) This fiber is particularly good at absorbing water, which makes it expand even more in your stomach. Taking just a small pill can significantly reduce the amount of food you eat – simply because you feel fuller.
Glucomannan is a decently popular supplement, so you can find it at most places that carry supplements.
18. Eat spicy foods
The capsaicin in foods like cayenne pepper (which is found in many fat burners and appetite suppressants) has been shown to reduce appetite and boost metabolism so you can burn more calories. (23)
You can either eat more capsaicin in your diet or take a supplement that contains it. Either way, the results appear to be similar.
You can build up a tolerance to capsaicin over time, which will reduce the effectiveness. If you already eat lots of spicy foods, eating more probably won’t help you much. However, if you don’t like spicy food and tend to avoid it, picking up a supplement containing capsaicin can be very helpful.
19. Use coconut oil for cooking
The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized differently by the body than other oils.
Replacing the cooking oil you usually use with coconut oil can help you burn up to 120 more calories daily, as well as decreasing your appetite so you eat less. (24)
20. Drink coffee and/or green tea
The consumption of caffeine is another way to boost metabolism (25), and drinking coffee or tea can help you lose weight because of this.
Stick with black coffee for optimum results. If you add tons of extra sugar and creamer, you’ll add more calories and off-set the fat-burning potential. If you stick with black coffee, you’ll get the benefit of rich antioxidant content at the same time.
Green tea doesn’t have as much caffeine as coffee, but the catechins in tea are believed to work in a synergistic manner with the caffeine to rev up metabolism and burn more fat. (26) If you don’t want to drink green tea, it is possible to take a green tea supplement, which may have many of the same benefits as drinking the actual tea. Green tea extracts are available online, as well as at most places that carry supplements.
Studies have shown that drinking coffee can boost your metabolism by around 3% to 11% and increase the amount of fat you burn by about 10% to 29%. That can quickly add up, especially if you pair it with the other tips we’ve covered in this article.
21. Add whey protein to your diet
Many people have a difficult time getting adequate amounts of protein, so adding whey protein can make all the difference for weight loss.
Test subjects who used whey protein to replace some of their calories lost up to 8 pounds more than those who didn’t. (27) These people also increased their muscle mass and reported very few side effects from the protein.
You don’t want to get all your protein from whey, of course. Meat has many different health benefits that can be helpful in themselves. However, adding some whey protein to your diet instead of the carbohydrates you usually eat can be a good decision, especially if you tend to eat more carbohydrates than you should.
22. Brush your teeth when finish eating
Even if you can only manage it after dinner, instituting this habit will help you resist the urge to snack during the evening. For toothbrushes, opt for an electric for a better clean (28).
23. Try Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a particular eating pattern where you go certain lengths of time without eating. There are many different ways people do this. Sometimes, they’ll fast for 24 hours a few times a week. Other times, they make fast for a certain period each day.
As you can imagine, if you aren’t eating during certain periods of time, your calorie intake is likely going to drop. This is especially true if you stick to our other tips during the times you do eat. The point isn’t to gorge yourself whenever you can eat.
Some very short-term studies have found that intermittent fasting can be effective for weight loss (29). This method also isn’t much better than the usual “counting calories” method. However, if you have difficulty controlling your portion sizes or sticking to your plan, intermittent fasting can be a solid option when done healthily.
The only side effect associated with this diet is a decrease in muscle mass since most participants ended up dropping their protein intake during the fasting intervals. This is true with most low-calorie diets, however (30).
25. Take a Probiotic
Probiotics are supplements containing bacteria that are good for our gut. Our digestive tract is full of good bacteria, which helps us digest our foods and keeps the bad bacteria at bay. If we don’t have enough good bacteria in our stomachs, it can affect our digestion and may make you gain more weight.
Studies have shown that taking certain probiotics that contain bacteria from the Lactobacillus family can help you reduce fat mass (31).
But, this is not necessarily true for all probiotics. Some probiotics have even been linked with weight gain, so it is important to do your research and not just grab any probiotic off the shelf. In particular, the strain L. acidophilus has been associated with weight gain in some studies (32).
Summary: Losing weight and keeping it off depends on your willingness to make a number of permanent lifestyle changes. Selecting weight loss strategies that have proven effective for others can be the key to success.