We’d all love to lose that extra five, 10, or 15 pounds. And while we invariably begin attacking our new weight-loss goals with gusto (hello, “new year, new you!”), the bigger problem is sticking to said goals.
Too often we find ourselves sliding back into our bad habits and seeing our goals fall by the wayside. To ensure that that never happens to you, follow these genius, iron-clad, time-tested, and science-backed strategies to take weight off and keep it off. And for more weight loss tips, consider the 20 Science-Backed to Motivate Yourself to Lose Weight.
Eat a protein-heavy breakfast
Even if you aren’t hungry when you wake up, put down a breakfast focused on lean protein—two or three eggs, piece of toast, and half an avocado—and not one centered on processed, sugary grains drowned in milk.
Morning fuel has been shown to tamp down binges later in the day and boost metabolism. And for more tips on shedding pounds, take a look at the 20 Weight-Loss Techniques Successful Dieters Share.
Don’t eat in front of the TV
Fact: Eating a proper meal in your dining room with a proper place setting—and proper company—will amp up your feelings of responsibility and bring more meaning to the food.
Schlepping a bowl of goop to the couch and plopping down in front of the TV? That will psychologically make your food seem inconsequential and meaningless, increasing your chance of abusing it. And for more on relaxing and avoiding temptation, check out these 10 Best Non-Exercise Stress Busters.
Brush your teeth more often
To limit any craving or dessert binges after eating your dinner, try loading up the toothbrush and giving your pearly whites a scrub. The minty flavor and clean teeth will shut down your appetite and prevent you from wanting to indulge anymore.
Know the grocery store layout
You know by now that cutting processed foods is a great first step to eating healthier, but a simple trick to avoid being pulled in by their carb-heavy call is to stick to shopping the perimeter of your grocery store.
That’s where the good, whole food hangs out, not in the middle where frozen foods and processed fare lurks. And once you’ve got your ingredients, you can whip up these 40 Dishes Everyone Over 40 Should Master.
Drink water all the time, especially in the morning
Getting plenty of H2O is essential for efficient organ operation, muscle energy, supple skin, and can even help with weight-loss efforts. More water means you’re getting less calories from other beverages like soda and sports drinks. Plus: Downing a glass before a meal can help temper your appetite and make you eat less.
Buy a multicooker
If you are scared of the kitchen but want to start creating healthier meals, invest in a slow cooker or one of the new hybrids that combines a slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, and even a sauté function, to make whipping up something delicious easy and quick. The simplicity of great food at home will help keep you away from fat-laden choices from fast food joints or regular restaurants. Just remember to avoid the 40 Unhealthiest Foods If You’re Over 40.
Weigh yourself constantly
If there’s one trick successful doers always do, it’s weighing themselves. Along with tracking your fitness goals and counting calories, keeping close tabs on your weight has been shown to assist in losing and, especially once it’s gone, keeping off the pounds.
Splurge on one of the new connected smart scales that will report your progress to your smartphone complete with heart rate, bone density, and muscle mass measurements. Or just get a cheap-o from the department store. Just get on it everyday to keep yourself honest. And for more help, know Exactly When You Should Weigh Yourself Every Day.
Drop the fruit juice
Fruit juice has long been thought off as a healthy drink, but it’s filled with lots of sugar (about 25–35 grams per serving), and it doesn’t include any of fiber’s weight-loss benefits that you get from consuming whole fruit. Stick to eating actual fruit, and if you must have some juice, cut it down with seltzer. Remember: Knocking out fruit juice is one of the 25 Flat-Belly “Secrets” That Don’t Work.
Clean out your pantry
Before heading into a weight-loss journey, you need to take stock of the current state of your pantry. Toss any of the foods that you find yourself constantly snacking on and turning to in times of stress, which usually are those with processed carbs and refined sugars—sweets, chips, cookies, cakes.
Fun fact: Did you know that potato chips represent the single biggest threat to your waistline? It’s true. It’s one of the 20 Crazy Facts That Will Blow Your Mind.
Limit eating out
If you’ve decided to dedicate more time to cooking food at home, you will naturally resist going out for meals. It will save you money in the long run—save it for a few trips to the beach with your new body—and food typically found in restaurants is higher in calories and fat. And for more on eating right, here’s Why Health Experts Want You to Avoid Lettuce in 2018.
Use smaller plates
Poor portion control is a leading cause of obesity, but an easy way to combat confusing perceptions is to use smaller dishware. Pick the little plate and the small bowl instead of reaching for the large stuff and you’ll start to eat less at each sitting. And for more help navigating your weight-loss journey, here are the 40 Best Ways to Keep New Habits.
Buy better leftovers containers
Making meals at home means you’ll have lots of tasty leftovers that work great for lunches at work and quick dinners when you’re busy. But invest in some good storage options, like glass containers with click-top lids—or even a vacuum sealer—and you’ll get even more mileage out of your healthy meals. And if you need some more healthy-food inspiration, check out these 10 Painless Ways to Upgrade Your Diet.
Visualize your portions properly
Using dishes that are smaller can help with portions, but you also need to divide them up by their nutritional content to make sure you are feeding your body what it needs, in the right amount to lose weight. The lean protein portion should be about the size of both of your open palms, two fists for veggies and/or carbs, one to two thumbs for fats, and a fingertip or two for oils. For more helpful tricks, know these 15 Best 60-Second Health Hacks.
Use smarter substitutions
Looking for ways to substitute your favorite indulgences with healthier foods is essential to keeping your weight-loss effort consistent. For example, you can make a pizza crust from broccoli and mashed potatoes from cauliflower, and also use Portobello mushrooms or lettuce wraps for buns. Also, know these 25 Superfoods That Prevent Winter Weight Gain.
Keep a strict sleep schedule
Scientists now know that getting consistent and restorative sleep each night is one of the keys to a healthier life and lower body weight. Tips to make sure you’re maximizing snooze time include setting up a dark, cool bedroom; cutting off screen time to an hour before bed, no caffeine or alcohol a few hours before sleeping, and sticking to a solid sleep schedule. If you need help getting more Z’s, know that Eating This One Thing Will Help You Sleep Better.
When you fail, simply move on
We all fall off our plans every now and then. The trick isn’t to let it derail the entire plan. If your plan means hitting the gym 4 days a week and avoiding carbs—and you can’t help but hit up your friend’s pizza party on Wednesday night—don’t let feelings of guilt keep you from picking up where you left off on Thursday. And if you’re down on yourself, pick yourself up with these 70 Genius Tricks to Get Instantly Happy.
Track your activity
We’re living in the golden age of fitness trackers—and tech that targets your health and wellbeing—so give yourself an edge by picking up something that will give you reliable data about your progress. You’ll be able to set data-based milestones (a few pounds lost, for instance), and you can reward yourself for your effort as you see your progress improve.
Embrace the weight room
You don’t have to transform into Ah-nold to reap the benefits of free weights or machines. The truth is, you need to perform some type of resistance exercise to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest and the better you’ll fee about your transforming body. And if you need some great workout inspiration, check out Bella Hadid’s Fat-Melting 15-Minute Workout.
No longer thought of as a vice, coffee has been shown recently to help you live longer, protect your liver, and even ward off diabetes. The caffeine is also a great way to make your workouts livelier and enjoyable by providing you with an extra jolt of energy. Just limit any additions of dairy or sugar for maximum benefits. And if you’re still not sold on drinking a cup of joe, check out these 75 Amazing Benefits of Coffee.
Get into HIIT
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a must-add workout routine when trying to shed pounds. The protocol pairs burst of intense, all-out effort with more moderate exertion to ramp up calorie burning and torch fat. The modality has also been linked to extending life by rebuilding cells and keeping diabetes away by improving insulin sensitivity. And if you’re still not convinced, check out The Single Best Workout for Turning Back the Clock.
Hunching over your desk all day, stuck in your chair, has been found to be detrimental to your health and cause weight gain. Standing up regularly throughout the day, even if you aren’t actually engaging in sweaty exercise, triggers your brain’s internal scale and tamps down appetite. Constantly sitting screws up how your brain interprets your weight, which may lead to overeating. Bonus: Having better posture is one of the 30 Ways to Cut Stress in 30 Seconds.
Know your fiber
Fiber is a hard-to-digest carb found in fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Studies have shown that the more fiber you get in your diet, the lower your weight. Aim to get about 38 grams of fiber a day, because it will make you feel fuller more quickly and for longer, staving off hunger pangs.
Standing up at work, taking the stairs, going to the gym, walking the dog an extra mile—these all add up to your daily calorie-burning deficit and, over time, will help you shed weight. After all, science is telling us that keeping your muscles twitching, however subtly, is The Single Best Way to Boost Your Metabolism Every Day.
Cut out processed foods
If you haven’t heard by now, processed foods (basically anything that comes in a box or package) aren’t good for you in the long run. Compared to whole foods—fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grain, meat, seafood—they are packed with refined sugar and white flour and other additives and preservatives that can contribute to weight gain. Limit consumption and don’t buy them.
Sugar has now replaced fat as the No. 1 reason why Americans are unhealthy and overweight. Fat was wrongly maligned for years, leading to “low-fat” and “reduced-fat” products that had sugar added to make them taste better, but too much sugar has been found to increase risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. For help, see these 7 Ways to Sneak Away from Sugar.
Cut back on alcohol
If you are serious about weight loss, you should cut out booze. It’s calorie dense, affects fat burning, and can melt away any inhibitions against eating bad food or chowing down late at night. If you would like to drink, stick with two glasses of a clear liquor mixed with seltzer and a lime or lemon at each session.
Get more lean protein
Protein is key for maintaining muscle, especially as you begin to lose weight. And if you are exercising, you must get in proper protein levels to fuel the processes that lead to building muscle, so go for protein with less fat like lean cuts of beef (flank, sirloin, tenderloin) and pork (loin chop, tenderloin), plus seafood, fish, and poultry.
Make room for cheating
Totally cutting yourself off from comfort foods or snacks that you crave is not a good move because it increases the chance you will overdo it the next time your will breaks and you load up on chips. Make sure you have one meal a week where you can eat whatever you want as a good psychological break from your weight-loss journey.
Drop fried food
This should be one of the first foods you need to pretty much totally drop from your diet. They are OK for cheat meals, but you’ll soon find that fried foods won’t agree with your newly healthy constitution. Fried foods are saturated with oils high in calories and trans fats and are known to increase risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, and offer little nutritionally.
Consider going low-carb
Yes, low-carb diets are the latest weight-loss fad, but they work. Cutting carbs is a simple and effective way to create a healthier diet that will lead to weight loss. (Though more hardcore versions, like the ketogenic diet, can become unsustainable over time for most people.)
Count your calories
To lose weight, the simplest tip is to take in less calories than you are burning each day—if you do that, you will lose weight (unless you have a medical problem). First you need to get a rough estimate of your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or TDEE, and your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), or by your activity. Enter your info into an online calculator and once you’ve got your TDEE figured out, eat about 500 calories under that to lose fat.
Visualize a better you
Do you know why professional athletes visualize themselves hoisting the championship trophy before the game? Because it works, and it can for you, too! So creat a picture in your mind of the body you want and you’ll be able to power through the tough times when your willpower flags.
Make meals ahead of time
Use your skills in the kitchen to make up a big batch of food you can portion out into lunches or dinners on Sunday. That way you’ll always have something good to eat to when you get stressed or run out of time at work, limiting any returns to fast food or other unhealthy fare.
Use spices liberally
Spices like cayenne, red chili powder, turmeric, and cinnamon have been shown to help rev up your metabolism, which can lead to increased fat burning, and help curtail cravings. They can also help make your food taste better, which is essential when trying to integrate healthier fare into a previously fatty and calorie-rich diet.
Make veggies and fruits a priority
These foods should move to the top of your grocery list. There aren’t many fat people out there that subsist on a diet of only produce. Mainly because all of the fiber makes you feel full quicker, limiting how much you can physically shove into your mouth, and because they are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals that give you energy and vitality.
Sometimes the urge to eat is a form of self-medication and becomes a compulsive exercise. If you suspect that’s the case for you, it’s probably a good idea to talk to a mental health professional and address the issue directly.
No more soda
Switch to seltzer instead.
Change your outlook
Don’t look at your goal for losing weight as an unending slog or horrible trek, and don’t subscribe to any one “diet.” Following these tips will help you need to make a lifestyle change revolving around how you see food and how you use food—it’s there to nourish and make your life better, not become a literally burdensome weight that ruins your life.
When in doubt, buy whole foods
Remember what the great Michael Pollan said about the secret to eating healthy: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” If it comes in a box with a cartoon character emblazoned on it, steer clear. If it’s a whole food sitting out in the open? Buy away!
Cut back on stress
Consistent exercise and meditation will do wonders not only for your brain and your mood but also your waistline. After all, study after study has showed that stress leads to hormonal cacophony in your body and inexorably to poor eating habits.
Give yourself daily affirmations
The key to losing weight and keeping it off is finding what motivates you, and spouting daily affirmations—no matter how corny you may feel at first—are proven to work. So, remember: You’re a winner, and nothing is impossible!
Use an app
There are loads of apps out there that can help you track calories, find healthy recipes, perform effective workouts, and give you good advice on how to stick with your weight-loss goals. Check reviews, try out a few, and then use the ones that work for you since they can offer you info, accountability, and support that’s tough to find on your own.
When you get bored, you’ll fall off your routine. So switch it up! Don’t be afraid to branch out and explore workouts or movements that you enjoy more than the standard gym slog. Maybe you prefer biking to the elliptical, or rowing to the treadmill. Or perhaps hiking local trails or playing basketball at the Y is more your speed—it doesn’t matter, just do it constantly and frequently.
Set realistic goals
One trap people looking to lose weight often fall into is making goals that can’t physically or realistically be met. Losing 20 pounds in a month is not only unhealthy, but it’s also impossible unless you are starving yourself. Hard-to-meet goals will only frustrate you and push you away from the ultimate goal of a leaner and heathier body.
Before going into a weight-loss program, try to identify any areas where you will probably slip up—this can help prepare you for the mistake and lessen the sense of failure. Just don’t make excuses and blame your weaknesses as the reason why you keep failing to meet your goals.
Take a moment each day or week to sit in silence and meditate on your progress. How have you been feeling? What things triggered binges or bad food choices? You don’t have to do it for hours like a Tibetan monk. Just be alone with your thoughts and focus on your progress, or lack of, and try to identify tweaks to make it easier.
Add, don’t subtract
Don’t think of the whole point of losing weight as taking stuff out of your life (even though fat subtraction is the final goal). A healthier approach is to remind yourself that you are adding in new and healthy things that will hopefully become healthy habits, so tackling weight gain won’t be a big deal.
Don’t eat late
Chowing down on snacks—or even your full dinner—after about 7 p.m. has been shown to lead to increased body weight, high insulin and cholesterol levels, a sluggish metabolism, and even increased biomarkers for heart disease and diabetes. Try to eat a light and healthy dinner as early as you can and limit snacking after 7.
Making a drastic change to your daily life is never an easy thing to do, but if you’re committed to losing weight then you need to be prepared for some tough choices and uncomfortable decisions. It’s best to just try to embrace the discomfort and suck it up, because the rewards at the end of your weight-loss journey will be worth the pain.
There’s no more need to make up excuses for not cooking at home—kitchen technology has made it easier than ever to create cheap, healthy dishes. You don’t even have to learn knife skills (though you should). Just get a food processor, look up some slow cooker recipes, and toss in your ingredients. You’ll save money, eat better, and maybe even impress someone.
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