Weight loss can be a daunting task for many people, especially when bombarded with advice from different sources. Some of the recommendations may sound bizarre and untested, such as smelling essential oils or staring at oneself in a mirror while eating.
While these methods may work for a few individuals, it is safer to rely on conventional techniques that have undergone research and are confirmed to be effective.
Fortunately, there are many practical and tried-and-true weight loss tips that one can adopt with assurance and without hesitation.
1. Reorganize Your Plate
Make half your plate vegetables, a quarter of your plate whole grains, and a quarter of your plate lean protein. When you switch the portions of grains and vegetables on your plate, you’ll see a difference. The only caveat: Potatoes, corn, and peas are starchy vegetables, so they go in the grains category.
2. Start Where You Are and Do What You Can
Don’t feel like you need to overhaul your entire life starting immediately. Assess where you are currently and then figure out where you’d like to be in the future. A great starting point for mostly sedentary people is to get a step counter and see how much you walk on a normal day.
Then set a step goal slightly higher than the norm and strive for that, working your way up slowly to a goal of 10,000 steps per day.
3. Think Big — Not Small
Focus on the weight loss ‘big rocks’ — there are a few areas that will give you the most bang for your buck when you’re trying to lose weight. Prioritizing those and letting go of all the minutiae that contribute to overwhelm will make reaching your goals feel easier and more sustainable.
On the nutrition front, pay attention to calories, protein, and fiber. For exercise, prioritize strength training, daily steps, and recovery.
4. Look Beyond the Scale
While the scale isn’t useless, it also isn’t the only thing that matters. To help you gauge progress that might not be reflected on the scale, take regular photos and measurements, in addition to keeping a running list of non-scale victories.
This will help keep the scale in perspective and show you all the positive changes you’re making to your health and overall lifestyle.
5. Give Your Breakfast a Protein Boost
Aim for 15 to 25 grams of protein at breakfast. Protein is digested slowly and suppresses hunger hormones, helping keep you full. Additionally, a high-protein breakfast helps curb cravings later in the day.
Pair protein foods with fiber and healthy fats, like two eggs with whole-wheat toast and avocado or high-protein frozen waffles with nuts, berries, and a little maple syrup.
6. In Fact, Consume Protein at Every Meal
Eating protein-rich foods at every meal, especially breakfast, can help shave extra pounds. Protein slows down the digestive process and positively impacts your hunger hormones. Protein can also do better at staving off hunger than carbohydrates.
Protein-rich foods include quinoa, edamame, beans, seeds, nuts, eggs, yogurt, cheese, tofu, lentil pasta, poultry, fish, and meat.
7. Limit High-Glycemic Carbohydrate Foods
The glycemic index ranks how quickly blood sugar rises after eating a carbohydrate food. Eating high-glycemic carbohydrate foods like white potatoes and refined bread, especially when eaten alone, will cause a surge in blood sugar, followed by a quick drop.
This leaves you feeling hungry and wanting more food. More long-term studies are needed, but short-term studies like this research provide evidence there is a connection.
High-glycemic foods are not totally off-limits though. When you work with a registered dietitian nutritionist, we provide individualized ways to help you balance nutrients to prevent spikes in blood sugar, which can help with curbing appetite.
8. Experiment With Fruits at Dessert Time
Fruits are low in calories and carry tons of nutrients like antioxidants and fiber. According to the CDC, only 10 percent of the U.S. population is meeting their fruit and vegetable intake. Using fruits for dessert will help you meet your daily requirements but also add flavor to your day. Many fruits can be sauteed, grilled, or baked. For example, grilled peach topped with vanilla yogurt and shaved almonds is amazing!
9. Eat Breakfast Like a King, Lunch Like a Prince, and Dinner Like a Pauper
It’s a saying that has many meanings, but you’ll want to take in more of your calories earlier in the day. A study published in November 2019 in the journal Nutrients found that subjects who were given small breakfast and large dinners lost significantly less weight than those assigned to a large breakfast and a smaller dinner.
So here we see how smaller meals in the latter part of the day may be an advantage to those who want to lose weight and improve overall health. The interesting thing about this study was the time the dinner was eaten. They found that eating the main meal (larger meal) too late (after 3 p.m.) was associated with difficulty with losing weight. It’s important to note that this study is not saying that everyone should not eat after 3 p.m.
Each person has individual needs, which may require additional snacks and food, such as those who are pregnant, are breastfeeding, have diabetes, or take medication that require certain foods. This is why it is so important that you seek a consultation with a registered dietitian nutritionist.
10. Get Into Meal Planning
Meal planning is one of my top tips for staying healthy and eating well. I’m such a fan of the concept that I wrote a book about it! Taking 5 to 10 minutes over the weekend to write out a menu for the week ahead will save you time, money, and unwanted calories down the road.
Not sure what to make for dinner tonight? No worries, it’s already on your menu plan. Menu planning is a great way to stay organized, and know what groceries you need to buy and what you already have on hand, and it will help ensure a balanced plate.
Keep in mind, a night off from cooking and ordering takeout or making a frozen meal is a totally acceptable part of the menu plan. The benefit is knowing ahead that you’ll be doing that so you’re not scrounging when hunger sets in.
And be sure to write down the plan — you’re more likely to stick to it if it’s in front of you as a reminder.
11. Make a Grocery List and Stick to It
Once you have your menu planned for the week, make a shopping list either on paper or on your phone — I use Notes, but there are apps for this, too. Knowing in advance what you need to purchase at the supermarket will save you time, reduce food waste, and prevent you from purchasing items that look appealing but you don’t actually need. To stick with your list, avoid shopping when hungry or tired. Research shows an increase in impulsive behavior at those times.
12. Take Stock of What’s in Your Kitchen
To cook healthy meals you need the right ingredients and kitchen tools on hand. Some staple ingredients I recommend having in your pantry, fridge, and freezer are low-sodium canned beans, canned fish, tomato sauce, whole-grain pasta, quinoa, brown rice, low-sodium stock, low-fat plain yogurt, a variety of fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, olive oil, and dried herbs and spices. These are just some of the ingredients that can form the base of a healthy and delicious meal.
13. Have the Right Tools on Hand
Having a good mix of kitchen tools can help ensure easy, efficient, and healthy cooking. For example, a seasoned cast-iron skillet is one of my favorite pans to cook eggs, saute vegetables, and make pancakes, since I don’t have to use as much oil or butter to keep food from sticking. Some of my other favorite kitchen tools are an immersion blender, Instant Pot, baking sheets, measuring cups and spoons, and a hand juicer. And of course anyone working in the kitchen should have a quality set of knives.