Over unrealistic advice and fad diets that just don’t work? We’ve put together our 20 best science-backed diet tips to help you lose weight and keep it off for good!
1. Manage Your Microbes
Studies have shown that the type and variety of bacteria in your gut, known as the human microbiome, influence weight, food cravings, and even mood.
An imbalanced microbiome may make it difficult to reduce weight. Poor diet, lack of exercise and antibiotics can all throw off the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut, but tending your microbial garden with probiotics and prebiotics can improve your figure as well as your mood, immunity, and digestive health.
2. Fill Up with Fiber
One of the most effective diet tips for weight loss is to eat more fiber. Fiber-rich foods like legumes help you reduce weight by increasing satiety and promoting secretion of digestion-related hormones.
Soluble fiber acts as a bulking agent and insoluble fiber keeps you regular. The third type of fiber, resistant starch, is fermented by gut bacteria to form beneficial short chain fatty acids and doesn’t affect blood sugar levels. It may also help burn fat and lead to lower fat accumulation.
3. Feed on Fruits & Veggies
Eating healthy to lose weight is especially easy if you add more fruits and veggies to your diet. Fruits and vegetables are nutritionally dense yet low in calories, and they’re also packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
A rainbow of vegetables and lots of dark, leafy greens are key to healthful weight and fat loss. Experts recommend filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables – with the larger portion being vegetables. Skip potatoes, which are linked to weight gain – 1.28 – 1.69 pounds over four years – and are high in simple carbs that elevate blood sugar and make you hungrier faster.
4. Be Pro-Protein
Protein is your partner in a weight loss program. Consuming double the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein protects lean body mass while increasing fat loss during short-term weight loss. Higher protein diets are also associated with increased fat burning and muscle retention.
In addition, a diet with more protein and complex carbs is more satiating and easier to follow and maintain.
5. Go from Simple to Slow
Simple carbohydrates (sugary beverages, bread, pasta, cereal, desserts, candy, etc.) cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, have a high Glycemic Index, and lead to weight gain.
Slow (or complex) carbs like most vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are linked to lower body weight and BMI. Due to their fiber content, these foods cause a much slower rise in blood sugar. Substituting simple carbs with slow carbs will cut calories, reduce weight, and help you maintain your energy levels.
6. Shy Away from Sugar
The number once source of added sugars in our diet is sweetened beverages, which can easily add up to 500 calories a pop!
Countless studies have shown that consuming less sugar can have a major impact on body weight. And don’t think you have an out with diet drinks – artificial sweeteners disrupt the microbiome, making it even harder to lose weight.
7. Cut the Salt
Too much salt causes fluid retention, making you look puffy and bloated in the face and body. It can also cause you to drink more calorie and sugar-laden beverages, adding to your caloric load.
Cut salt to between 1,500 (3/4 teaspoon) to 2,300mg (about 1 teaspoon) of sodium daily, sticking to the lower end if you’re 51+, African American, or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease. Think of it as a secret dieting tip – it’ll help you reduce that excess water weight to look leaner and feel lighter.
8. Drink Less
Boozy beverages are often surprising diet busters – a Long Island Iced Tea can have 789 calories! Try to stick to 100-calorie drinks like your favorite liquor on the rocks or mixed with club soda. A glass of wine or a light beer will also come close to that figure-saving figure. And half wine and half club soda will make a wine with half the alcohol and half the calories, letting you enjoy two guilt-free drinks instead of one.
9. Hydrate More
Multiples studies have shown that drinking more water can help with weight loss and weight maintenance. It’s a no-brainer dieting tip that’s easy and costs nothing!
10. Eat All Day
Eating at irregular times leads to increased weight, larger waistlines, and higher BMI. By eating regularly – eating at regular times during the day, keeping a similar pattern, and avoiding long periods of time (4 or more hours) between each meal – you can keep your internal clock consistent and reduce weight.
78 percent of successful dieters start their day with a healthy breakfast, so eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with one or two snacks in between, every day.
11. Be a Control Freak
Portion control makes you 2.18 times more likely to lose weight.
Use a smaller plate, and dedicate half of it to fruits and vegetables – more vegetables than fruit. Add a healthy serving of lean protein (no bigger than your palm), and a serving of whole grains (no larger than a fistful). When eating out, choose a “small-plate” dish, split an entrée, or ask for a take-out container and pack half the food away for a more appropriate portion.
12. Get Label-Conscious
Even “healthy” foods can have a lot of hidden calories, added sugars, and fat. Read nutrition labels – they’re key to eating healthy to lose weight. Being attentive and informed can help you control portion sizes, make better decisions, and nearly double the likelihood of weight loss.
13. Keep Track of Everything
Weight loss and maintenance is about 90% diet, so tracking your daily food intake is an essential dieting tip. Seeing exactly what you’re eating and how much can be eye-opening. Use websites and mobile apps to help track your calories, nutrients, water intake, and physical exercise.
14. Get Cookin’
Busy schedules often lead to eating more prepackaged processed foods and eating out. And sit-down meals at restaurants are often just as fattening as fast food.
Homemade meals save money and make it easier to control portion size, calories, fat, sugar, and sodium. The key is replacing nutrient-deficient processed foods with a wide variety of high-quality, wholesome options. Meal-prep on the weekend to stockpile healthy meals and snacks for the week!
15. Catch More Zzzs
Evidence shows that consistent sleep of 8 – 8.5 hours/night is associated with lower body fat.
When you’re sleep deprived, a hormone called ghrelin increases, stimulating hunger, causing cravings for unhealthy, starchy, sweet, and salty foods, and increasing fat retention. At the same time, leptin, the appetite suppressant hormone, decreases. So even if you’re eating well and exercising, you’ll have a hard time losing weight.
16. Be a Social Butterfly
Losing weight is hard, and going it alone can be harder. Recruit a spouse, friend, or family member to keep you accountable and motivated.
Statistics prove that a support system can make it easier to achieve your weight loss goals. Whether you join a gym, a social media workout group, or just get together with a buddy or two, find a network and utilize it.
17. Move Your…
We all know that if you want to lose weight, you need to get up and get moving. Exercise burns calories and boosts metabolism. It also encourages beneficial bacteria in your microbiome to thrive.
Break your workout down into manageable chunks and focus on quality over quantity. Incorporate a variety of activities throughout the week that include aerobic/endurance exercises to work your heart and lungs, resistance/strength training to build lean muscle mass and bone density, and flexibility/balance exercises for stretching, stability and coordination.
18. Stress Less
Reducing stress is an unconventional but important dieting tip because elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol may contribute to long-term obesity.
Make time to relax, meditate, exercise, and get good sleep. Being in control of your mental state can regulate hormone levels, curb overeating, and prevent poor food choices.
19. Make Time for Good Habits
Good habits lead to good results – that’s “How to Lose Weight 101.” Following diet tips for weight loss like tracking what you eat, exercising, and getting good sleep are obvious starting points, but it usually takes an average of 2 months to form healthy habits for the long-term.
We fall back on our habits—both good and bad—during times of stress, so the sooner you start making changes like cutting back on alcohol and not skipping breakfast, the better your chances of reaching your weight loss goals.
20. Treat Yourself
And when you do well – eat healthy all week, stick to your exercise routine, make healthy choices, shed pounds – don’t forget to reward yourself. Instead of going for calorie-rich treats, treat yourself to a night out or a new outfit to show off the new and improved figure. Encouraging yourself with small rewards makes weight loss success twice as likely.
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.