Research has shown that weight loss doesn’t require extreme measures such as crash diets or juice cleanses. Instead, it’s all about making small changes to your daily habits.
While fad diets may suggest otherwise, the most effective and scientifically-proven solutions are actually quite simple.
By incorporating these healthy adjustments into your routine, you can quickly shed weight and reduce belly fat.
1. Set clear goals
A clear goal is a goal anyone in the world can measure and understand. Write out your goal and keep it posted somewhere as a reminder when you want to give up. If you have a set amount of weight you’d like to lose, step on the scale before you start. Then, weigh yourself every single day.
Studies show daily weigh-ins enhance weight loss efforts. But don’t live and die by the number. And remember a scale doesn’t decipher between fat and lean body mass—but it can help keep things in check.
2. Drink the right fluids.
First, everyone should drink plenty of water—your body needs it to run properly. And there’s a bonus in doing that for people who are aiming to lose weight. Water helps suppress our appetite, boost our metabolism, give us energy, and make exercise easier and more efficient. It really is nature’s miracle drug.
If plain water just doesn’t appeal to you, try adding fresh fruit to it, or sip on tea. Research indicates that drinking tea—black, green, or white—is also associated with lower BMIs and less body fat.
3. Ease up on the processed food.
If you’re looking at the label on a food item, and you don’t know what half the ingredients are, it probably means it’s overly processed. Processed foods do nothing for you outside of creating a favorable environment for gaining fat, including visceral fat, which is the scary kind that sits on your organs.
If you have trouble managing particular treats—maybe it’s chips, maybe it’s cookies, maybe it’s Poptarts (because, same)—keep them out of your home or office cabinets. It’s not about willpower; it’s about being realistic. Instead, buy healthy snacks—like jerky or trail mix—for your glove compartment or desk drawer so you’re prepared at all times.
4. Eat more produce.
Fruits and vegetables fill you up, provide plenty of fiber and have few calories. If you have trouble adding vegetables to your routine, start every meal with a salad. Salad provides bulk to help fill you up so that you eat less calories overall. Or try this hack to get a day’s worth of healthy greens in 14 minutes. No smoothie required.
Although some people fear fructose, fruit will not make you gain weight, and that includes the so-called “high sugar” fruits like bananas and melons.
5. Lift weights.
Develop an exercise plan that includes heavy weights. Maintaining muscle mass takes more energy to do than maintaining fat, so our bodies burn more calories at rest.
In short, build more muscle, burn more calories. Make sure to cut down on rest time between sets. This keeps your heart rate elevated, causing an increase in calories burned. Use these tips to lift heavy the smart way.
6. Do intervals.
Study after study continues to show intervals are more effective and time efficient than longer activity performed at a lower intensity. Why not crush more calories while getting out of the gym quicker?
If you’re ready to jump right in, try this 5-minute burner on for size.
7. Do full-body exercises.
Your exercise plan—whether you’re aiming to lose weight or not—shouldn’t just focus on one area of your body. Instead, incorporate exercises that use your whole body. Think: squats, deadlifts, and chin-ups.
With full-body exercises, you’re engaging more muscle groups, making your body work harder. You’ll get more bang for your buck out of each workout. Start here, no equipment needed!
8. Track your food.
There’s no better way to find out what you’re putting in your mouth then by writing it all down. Tracking foods will help you realize how much you’re actually taking in a day. It puts things into perspective.
Use a free app, like MyFitnessPal, which makes it easy to log from anywhere. Chances are you’re eating more than you think.
9. Eat breakfast.
A study review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that those who ate breakfast were more successful with long-term weight maintenance. Other research has shown the same for weight loss.
Grab Greek yogurt, a piece of fruit and handful of nuts, make a smoothie, down some hard-boiled eggs or scramble them. It doesn’t have to be fancy. (But may we point out the absolute best way to make scrambled eggs? It’s also the easiest.)
10. In fact, eat the bulk of your meals in the A.M.
Then eat progressively less throughout the day. A study published in the journal Nutrients showed that eating most of your calories earlier in the day positively influences weight changes.
As the study quotes philosopher Mairmonides: “Eat like a king in the morning, a prince at noon, and a peasant at dinner.”
12. Stay active.
This means not sitting in front of a computer, TV, or phone all day. Stand and you’ll burn more and be more productive. Find high table to put your laptop on so you can stand while working. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park in the back of the parking lot at the grocery store. Take a walk during lunch.
Small movement changes add up big time. Research has found that just increasing your step count daily, without other added exercise, has aided in weight loss. This won’t make or break success, but every little bit helps when it comes to physical activity. A good rule of thumb: standing is better than sitting, and walking is better than standing.
13. Don’t grocery shop hungry.
If you do, you’ll opt for the bad stuff instead of sticking to your list. In fact, you’ll buy “more calories, not more food” according to a JAMA Internal Medicine study. Even short term fasting can cause bad decisions at the story.
Plan your shopping around a meal. Have dinner, and then hit the store later. Less crowds that way anyway! Or, if you’re willing to add the extra price, order your groceries online. That way you have to consciously click what you want instead of just reaching for it.