Losing weight does not always have to be a complex and arduous process of strict dieting and exercise. There are easier methods that are proven to be effective in helping you shed those extra pounds. Simple changes like chewing your food slowly and adding more fiber to your diet can make a difference.
By adopting these evidence-based techniques that can help you consume fewer calories, you can successfully lose weight and prevent gaining it back.
Here are 11 proven strategies to lose weight without relying on a particular diet, exercise program, or weight loss pills.
1. Chew Thoroughly and Slow Down
Your brain needs time to process that you’ve had enough to eat.
Chewing your food thoroughly makes you eat more slowly, which is associated with decreased food intake, increased fullness and smaller portion sizes.
How quickly you finish your meals may also affect your weight.
A recent review of 23 observational studies reported that faster eaters are more likely to gain weight than slower eaters.
Fast eaters are also much more likely to be obese.
To get into the habit of eating more slowly, it may help to count how many times you chew each bite.
2. Use Smaller Plates for Unhealthy Foods
The typical food plate is larger today than it was a few decades ago.
This trend could contribute to weight gain, since using a smaller plate may help you eat less by making portions look larger.
On the other hand, a bigger plate can make a serving look smaller, causing you to add more food.
You can use this to your advantage by serving healthy food on bigger plates and less healthy food on smaller plates.
3. Eat Plenty of Protein
Protein has powerful effects on appetite. It can increase feelings of fullness, reduce hunger and help you eat fewer calories.
This may be because protein affects several hormones that play a role in hunger and fullness, including ghrelin and GLP-1.
One study found that increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of calories helped participants eat 441 fewer calories per day and lose 11 pounds over 12 weeks, on average, without intentionally restricting any foods.
If you currently eat a grain-based breakfast, you may want to consider switching to a protein-rich meal, such as eggs.
In one study, overweight or obese women who had eggs for breakfast ate fewer calories at lunch compared to those who ate a grain-based breakfast.
What’s more, they ended up eating fewer calories for the rest of the day and during the next 36 hours.
Some examples of protein-rich foods include chicken breasts, fish, Greek yogurt, lentils, quinoa and almonds.
4. Store Unhealthy Foods out of Sight
Storing unhealthy foods where you can see them may increase hunger and cravings, causing you to eat more.
This is also linked to weight gain.
One recent study found that if high-calorie foods are more visible in the house, residents are more likely to weigh more than people who keep only a bowl of fruit visible.
Store unhealthy foods out of sight, such as in closets or cupboards, so that they are less likely to catch your eye when you’re hungry.
On the other hand, keep healthy foods visible on your countertops and place them front and center in your fridge.
5. Eat Fiber-Rich Foods
Eating fiber-rich foods may increase satiety, helping you feel fuller for longer.
Studies also indicate that one type of fiber, viscous fiber, is particularly helpful for weight loss. It increases fullness and reduces food intake.
Viscous fiber forms a gel when it comes in contact with water. This gel increases nutrient absorption time and slows down the emptying of your stomach.
Viscous fiber is only found in plant foods. Examples include beans, oat cereals, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, oranges and flax seeds.
A weight loss supplement called glucomannan is also very high in viscous fiber.
6. Drink Water Regularly
Drinking water can help you eat less and lose weight, especially if you drink it before a meal.
One study in adults found that drinking half a liter (17 ounces) of water about 30 minutes before meals reduced hunger and lessened calorie intake.
Participants who drank water before a meal lost 44% more weight over a 12-week period compared to those who did not.
If you replace calorie-loaded drinks — such as soda or juice — with water, you may experience an even greater effect.
7. Serve Yourself Smaller Portions
Portion sizes have increased during the last few decades, especially at restaurants.
Larger portions encourage people to eat more and have been linked to an increase in weight gain and obesity.
One study in adults found that doubling the size of a dinner appetizer increased calorie intake by 30%.
Serving yourself just a little less might help you eat significantly fewer calories. And you probably won’t even notice the difference.
8. Eat Without Electronic Distractions
Paying attention to what you eat may help you consume fewer calories.
People who eat while they’re watching TV or playing computer games may lose track of how much they have eaten. This, in turn, can cause overeating.
One review of 24 studies found that people who were distracted at a meal ate about 10% more in that sitting.
Additionally, absent-mindedness during a meal has an even greater influence on your intake later in the day. People who were distracted at a meal ate 25% more calories at later meals than those who were presen.
If you regularly consume meals while watching TV or using electronic devices, you could be inadvertently eating more. These extra calories add up and have a massive impact on your weight in the long term.
9. Sleep Well and Avoid Stress
When it comes to health, people often neglect sleep and stress. Both, in fact, have powerful effects on your appetite and weight.
A lack of sleep may disrupt the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin. Another hormone, cortisol, becomes elevated when you’re stressed.
Having these hormones fluctuate can increase your hunger and cravings for unhealthy food, leading to higher calorie intake.
What’s more, chronic sleep deprivation and stress may increase your risk of several diseases, including type 2 diabetes and obesity.
10. Eliminate Sugary Drinks
Added sugar may very well be the single worst ingredient in the diet today.
Sugary beverages like soda have been associated with an increased risk of many diseases.
It’s very easy to consume excess calories from sugary drinks because liquid calories don’t affect fullness the way solid food does.
Staying away from these beverages entirely can provide enormous long-term health benefits. However, note that you should not replace soda with fruit juice, as it can be just as high in sugar.
Healthy beverages to drink instead include water, coffee and green tea.
11. Serve Unhealthy Food on Red Plates
One unusual strategy is to use red plates to help you eat less. Research indicates that this technique at least seems to work with unhealthy snack foods.
One study reported that volunteers ate fewer pretzels from red plates than from white or blue plates.
The explanation may be that we associate the color red with stop signals and other man-made warnings.