Over the years, you’ve probably heard your fair share of wacky weight loss advice, whether it’s to drink celery juice every day or replace your meals with weight loss “cookies.” And often those tips are promoted by people without any health expertise, aka, your neighborhood aunties and uncles.
But just as there’s a ton of misguided weight loss advice out there to be avoided, there are also a lot of legitimate, research-backed, and expert-approved suggestions for people who are in the right mental health space and have weight loss as a personal goal.
Here are some of the more useful tips, which will get yourself shedding pounds – fast!
1. Eat Slowly
Learn how to choose foods you like, really taste each morsel going into your mouths, and chew deliberately. Chew slowly, swallow only when the food is all chewed up, and repeat. It takes time to know we’re full. Eating slowly not only allows us to enjoy our food more but gives us better cues of satiety.
2. Enjoy the Food You Eat
So often we’re told what to eat, and then when we don’t like that specific food, we’re less apt to create long-term healthy habits. Try new fruits and vegetables. Find out how to prepare new dishes that provide variety and flavor. Add herbs and spices to elevate flavor. Or if you prefer, savor the sweetness of fruit and the depth of raw and steamed vegetables. There’s no reason that your relationship with food can’t be pleasurable.
3. Keep a Daily Gratitude Journal
Our eating habits are sometimes connected to our emotions, whether we realize it or not. When we’re stressed, we may use food to help cope with the stress. Keeping a daily journal of things they’re grateful for — or even just a journal to write in when stressed — helps us better prepared to cope with the stress by acknowledging it and utilizing other tools, rather than reaching for food as a coping mechanism.
4. Batch Cook and Prep
Every Sunday I batch cook enough chicken for the week. I cut off the fat, bake it with seasoning, measure 3.5 ounces, and put that much into a container with some mustard and frozen veggies, so I can grab one a day to bring to work. I also take the time to divvy up in individual containers ¼ cup of rolled oats, 1 tablespoon each of natural peanut butter and ground flax, and a pinch each of protein powder and cinnamon to sweeten. So when I’m a zombie in the morning, all I need to do is add water and microwave!
5. Don’t Forget the Weights
Make sure you are lifting weights two or three times a week. Using moderate to heavy weights — three or four sets of 10 to 15 reps with weights that challenge you — helps increase your muscle mass. When you have more muscle on your body, the food you eat is more likely to be utilized as fuel, rather than be stored as fat.
6. Get Enough Z’s
A lack of sleep increases your hunger hormone, ghrelin, and decreases your satisfaction hormone, leptin, which can contribute to weight gain. When we are sleep deprived, we crave more salty and sweet foods. Why? Because anytime you feel more intense hunger, your cravings for higher energy — aka higher calorie — foods intensify.
We also know that the way we think and process our emotions is affected by inadequate sleep, so it’s easy to connect this with an impaired ability to make sound choices in many areas of life, including with food. If we flip the coin, we can safely assume that when we are well rested, we will make better choices.
When it comes to eating, that would mean that we would eat when we are truly hungry and eat just until satisfied. Our hormones are also going to be better balanced because our bodies got the time needed to sleep, repair, and refresh.
7. Don’t Skip Meals
Remember, our body’s ultimate goal is to stay alive. As soon as we are being kept from calories, which are literally the life energy for our bodies, it will do things to survive. Our body knows what foods are higher in energy density, and we will crave those more. Honor your hunger and don’t allow your body to think it’s being starved.
This goes against many of the dieting tactics, but those tactics truly don’t work well for people in the long term. I generally recommend eating every four hours.
8. Stay Hydrated
Research has found that people who drank two glasses of water before a meal lost more weight than people who didn’t drink water before meals — and they kept it off. This simple tip works in two ways.
Thirst can mask itself as hunger, causing you to eat more. And water makes you feel fuller, causing you to eat less during a meal.
9. Cut Calories, Not Flavor
By choosing options such as sharp cheddar over mild cheddar, you can use less, but you’ll still get a lot of flavor without feeling like you’re on a diet.
10. Weigh Yourself Once a Week
Same day, same time, same amount of clothing. Remember that your weight isn’t a single number but a five-pound range. Work to move the range down, not the exact number.