Make 2019 the year you reach your goals.
Simple (and small!) changes to your daily routine can help you slim down without dieting. Making healthy choices, like eating breakfast and moving every day, is the first step to dropping the pounds and feeling energized. A little planning ahead can go along way, as can stocking up on healthy foods so you don’t fall into a comfort-food rut after a long day. The good news is you really don’t have to overhaul your entire eating routine or live at the gym. Here are 85 evidence-based tips to help you lose weight and keep it off for good. Plus, it might inspire the rest of your family to get healthier alongside you.
Temptation-proof your kitchen.
Start by tossing the treats you simply can’t resist overdoing—whether that’s cookies, ice cream, chips, or soda. You’re more likely to reach for unhealthy snacks if you have them, according to Rutgers. In the pantry, stash healthier fare you want to eat only in moderation (nut butters, crackers, popcorn, etc.). Keep healthy foods in sight.
Put a big bowl of fruit on the counter, store fresh vegetables on refrigerator shelves instead of hidden in the crisper, and pour whole grains and dried beans into clear jars. Have good-for-you snacks handy.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a couple of dates stuffed with almonds, or indulge a salt craving with a slice of turkey jerky. Nuts have even been linked to weight loss and reducing the risk of heart disease. Make breakfast easy.
Figure out one or two quick, nutritious choices you can grab every morning, like homemade energy bars. Or try a protein smoothie with frozen fruit, some fresh greens, 1 Tbsp of chia seeds, and a small container of plain 2% Greek yogurt. Concoct a backup plan.
We all have nights when we’re too tired to cook. Stock your kitchen with ingredients you can transform into a fast meal, like vegetable fried rice, or whole-wheat pasta tossed with steamed frozen Brussels sprouts, walnuts, and a little olive oil. Try dinner for breakfast.
Give your body the nutrients it needs to power through your day in the morning instead of before you go to sleep. Stuff a whole-wheat quesadilla with shredded chicken, avocado slices, and Monterey Jack cheese and top it with salsa. Or try cold whole-grain pasta: Not only is it a time saver, but its carbs are converted into appetite-suppressing fiber instead of sugars. Top leftover pasta primavera or marinara with a fried egg. Then, downsize your dinner and serve yourself appetizer-size portions in the evening. Good picks include a small piece of vegetable lasagna or a couple of grilled-fish tacos. Eat only when the sun is up.
Research suggests that allowing at least 12 hours between dinner and the next day’s breakfast may help speed weight loss; it may let you burn through unneeded fat stores faster or improve the body’s ability to use insulin. Have dinner earlier, or breakfast later—or both! Make vegetables the focus of your plate.
Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables such as asparagus, kale, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, and eggplant. Then divide the remainder of the plate in half and fill each quarter with a serving of lean protein and fiber-rich complex carbs. Work appetite-curbing protein into every meal.
Think salmon, shrimp, chicken breast, tofu, and eggs. And don’t forget beans: For an instant protein fix, fold lentils into rice, black beans into quinoa, or chickpeas into veggie soup. Choose carbs in their natural form.
Eat at least two daily servings of minimally processed fiber-rich carbohydrates such as whole-wheat bread or pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and steel-cut oats. That’s as easy as 1 cup of whole-grain cereal for an afternoon snack or a ½-cup scoop of brown rice with a dinnertime stir-fry. Flip your dinnerware.
Use salad plates for dinner and dinner plates for salad. Research shows that you’ll eat less off small plates because you’ll keep your portions in check. For drinks, use your smallest glasses for milk and juice and your biggest ones for water. These strategies work by tricking your eyes. Avoid eating from the bag.
Keep your portions under control by never eating straight from the box or bag. Unconscious eating from large bags or containers can lead to over-consuming. Research from Cornell found that people ate 45% more popcorn from large containers than popcorn served in a medium-sized container. Serve popcorn in a coffee mug, cereal in a teacup, nuts in a shot glass, and granola in a 1/2-cup ramekin. That will help you make sure your snack doesn’t become a fourth (or fifth!) meal. Be fastidious about fats.
Even healthy oils like olive oil contain 120 calories per tablespoon. Measure cooking oils by the teaspoon rather than pouring straight into the pan. Also measure nut butters. Hydrate right.
Whether you choose still or sparkling water, drinking more of it can help you eat less. Research shows that drinking water can help you lose weight by helping you burn more calories and reducing your appetite when consumed before meals. For a flavor kick, spike yours with fruits and herbs like grapefruit and thyme, strawberry and basil, or blackberry and tarragon. Add flavor with spices.
Use spices in place of sugar (which is linked to heart disease and weight gain) to add a sweet flavor to your food. For example, sprinkle pumpkin spice on top of plain yogurt, or put a dash or two of cinnamon on apple slices, oatmeal, or sweet potatoes. Watch that latte.
Sugar-filled syrups can add hundreds of hidden calories to an otherwise calorie-free cup of coffee. Instead of having a flavored latte, sprinkle cinnamon or cocoa (unsweetened) on a cappuccino. You’ll save 120 calories and 22 grams of sugar—or more. Make coffee at home.
Opt for a homemade coffee shake with a mocha twist. Toss brewed coffee, a splash of skim or milk alternative, a small squirt of chocolate syrup, and a handful of ice into a blender. You’ll be sipping about 70 calories instead of the 400-plus calories in a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino Blended Coffee drink. Crunch your produce.
Liquid calories aren’t as filling as calories from whole fruits and veggies, says Joy Bauer, R.D. An orange has about 2.5 g fiber and 47 calories, while 16 oz of orange juice has about 1 g of fiber and 220 calories, so Bauer recommends eating your fruits and veggies rather than juicing them. If you do opt for juice, try a green one made with naturally low-sugar vegetables like spinach, kale, cucumbers, and celery with a splash of fruit juice for half the calories and a third of the sugar. Fill up on fiber.
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate from plant-based foods like bran flakes and strawberries that absorbs water and helps us eliminate waste as it travels through the digestive system. According to a review published in Journal of American College of Nutrition, fiber may increase satiety to keep you fuller longer and dietary fiber intake is associated with lower body weight. Mayo Clinic recommends that women should aim for at least 21 to 25 g of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 g a day. Add crunch to your salad.
And we’re not talking high-sodium croutons. Toss in chopped apple, radish slices, water chestnuts, or toasted walnuts to get a satisfying crunch plus a boost of nutrition. Keep your stress levels down.
Stress is a sneaky culprit when it comes to weight gain. Feeling stressed may cause you to crave unhealthy foods like sweets, carbohydrates, and fats even when you aren’t actually hungry, according to a study published in Physiology & Behavior. Avoid starchy noodles.
Skip refined carbohydrates like white pastas and breads that are stripped of important nutrients and minerals like fiber. Instead, try delicious zucchini linguine with meatballs or spaghetti squash. Get your steps in.
It’s important to make sure you get your body moving every day, not only for weight loss, but also for your health. Walking about 10,000 steps a day reduces your risk of coronary heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and high blood pressure, according to Kettering Health. Make it a lifestyle.
To lose weight for good, avoid dieting or unhealthy habits you practiced in the past. Fad diets are temporary, restrictive, and can limit your nutritional intake, which can leave you feeling hungry and deprived, according to researchers at UCLA. Don’t skip meals.
When you get too hungry, you’re less likely to make healthy choices. According to the NHS, skipping meals can result in fatigue from lack of essential nutrients, and you may be more likely to snack on high-fat and high-sugar foods, which could result in weight gain. Shop on a full stomach.
Avoid grocery shopping when you’re hungry. You’re likely to make impulse purchases that could lead to weight gain. According to research published in JAMA, hungry shoppers purchased six high-calorie items in comparison to four purchased by those who were full. Eat enough calories.
Eating too little can be extremely dangerous for your body. According to Medical News Today, having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of under 18.5 can lead to malnutrition, osteoporosis, developmental problems, a weakened immune system, anemia, and chronic fatigue. Healthline reports that the average woman needs about 2000 calories per day to maintain her weight and about 1500 calories to lose one pound of weight per week, though you should consult with your healthcare provider to see what’s best for you. Cut down, not out.
Trim portions of food instead of removing entire categories (carbs, fats, etc.). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends for adults 18 and older to eat 45-65% carbohydrates, 20-35% fat, and 10-35% protein for a 1,500-2,000 calorie diet. Get active.
For a fit and toned figure, dieting alone isn’t enough. You also need to exercise. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Have breakfast.
Skipping breakfast may lead to weight gain. In a large study published in Journal of the American Dietetic Association, adolescents and children who declined breakfast had higher BMIs and waist circumferences than those who ate breakfast regularly. Pump up the protein.
Increase your protein intake early in the day. According to Harvard Medicine, protein is digested at a slower rate than simple carbs, so you’ll feel full for longer. Eat at least half of your body weight in grams of protein, Bauer suggests. Also, choose whole sources over protein bars, like potatoes (3 g), greek yogurt (10 g), and chicken (21 g). Savor your food.
If you eat slowly you’ll be more satisfied with less food and give your body time to process that you’re satiated. Plus, a study published in BMJ Open found that those who ate at a normal speed were 29% less likely to be obese than those who ate quickly, and those who ate slowly were 42% less likely to be obese. Whip up foods that take you longer to eat, like hot soups, uncut lean meat, and whole fruits. Bring your lunch to work.
Make lunch at home and bring it to work. That way, you know of every single ingredient that’s going into your meal. Not to mention it’ll save you the cost of buying a lunch. Cleveland Clinic recommends making sure one half of your plate is filled with leafy greens, one quarter is lean meat, and the other quarter is whole grains like brown rice or barley. Get enough sleep.
When it comes to losing weight, your first thought might be making changes to your diet and exercise routines. However, a lack of sleep is associated with higher risks of weight gain and obesity, according to the National Institute of Health. Have table time.
Only eat when you’re seated at the dinner table. Mindless eating while you’re doing other things can overconsumption. A study published in Physiology & Behavior found that people watching TV while eating had 36% more pizza and 71% more macaroni and cheese than those who did not watch television during their meal. Keep a food journal.
Logging what you eat holds you accountable. Plus, using apps like MyFitnessPal can generate the percentages of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you eat each day based on the amount of calories you consume. Eat a balanced diet.
A balanced diet gives your body the nutrients and energy it needs to perform its daily functions. A balanced diet includes healthy meals full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as recommended by the USDA. Without a balanced diet, you could put yourself at-risk for obesity, weight gain, and conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Read food labels.
Food labels can help you lose weight, if you know how to read them. Everyday Health says it’s important to pay attention to serving size, calories (and calories from fat), fats, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, protein, and vitamins and minerals. Then, you can make smarter food choices like picking up a water-packed tuna rather than oil-packed, which can cut significant calories. Focus on food positivity.
Try not to think that you can’t eat certain foods because you’re “too overweight.” According to the National Eating Disorder Association, dieting, drive for thinness, and body dissatisfaction can become internalized at a young age and lead to an eating disorder. Change your mindset to celebrate the healthy foods you’re eating because they’re helping your body stay healthy and energized. Lightly coat your pan.
Use nonstick spray to sauté foods. Or rub oil onto the pan with a paper towel for the lightest possible coating. According to Everyday Health, the best oils to cook with are olive oil, avocado oil, and flaxseed oil. Try to stay away from palm oil and hydrogenated oil, which can be high in heart-disease-causing saturated and trans fats. Leave leftovers.
Invest in single-serving containers. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says that a serving size on a food label may be more or less than the amount of food you should eat, depending on your age, height, sex, and weight. Once you’re done cooking, place the excess servings in the containers to eat for lunch or dinner tomorrow. That way, you won’t polish off everything in one sitting. Butter better.
Preparing your food with butter is okay, just be mindful of the amount you’re adding: 1 Tbsp of butter adds about 200 calories. Let your toast or baked potato slightly cool before buttering, so it absorbs less. Stock up on brown rice.
Always keep a container of cooked brown rice in the fridge for a quick, low-fat alternative to enriched white rice, which is stripped of essential nutrients. Get gum.
Chew sugarless gum while you cook so you won’t nibble. Gum can also reduce sweet snack cravings, according to a study published in Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Exercise while you cook.
If you have the room, keep small exercise equipment (such as free weights) in the kitchen. You can get in a few reps while you’re waiting for something to cook. Shop smart.
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where most fresh fruit, vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy are all located. Venture into the interior aisles only with a list in hand. Avoid processed foods like cheese, canned vegetable, ready made meals, and packaged cakes. Forget frying.
Only broil, roast, or grill your fish, poultry, or other cuts of lean meat. Frying foods in oil causes them to lose water and absorb fat, adding extra calories. Switch to mustard.
Yellow mustard has no fat or calories, versus about 11 grams and 99 calories in 1 Tbsp of mayonnaise. Give away temptation.
After a dinner party, pack up the dessert and give it to your departing guests. Break your bread habit.
Have the bread basket removed as soon as you sit down at a restaurant. Bread and butter can add anywhere between to 100 to 200 calories to your meal. Crush the craving.
According to Mayo Clinic, cravings take about 20 minutes to pass. If you can distract yourself for that long with exercise or chewing gum, you can kick it to the curb. Indulge in healthy cravings.
Eat what you’re craving in its healthiest form. For instance, go for a baked potato instead of fries, which are typically fried in fat. Balance the buffet.
Scope out everything that’s available at a buffet or dinner party before eating. Make sure half of your plate is vegetables and fruits, and then a quarter each for protein and whole grains. Chose dark chocolate.
If you’re dying for something sweet, opt for a bite of dark chocolate. According to Harvard Health Publishing, dark chocolate may lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and prevent heart disease. Make soups ahead of time.
If you refrigerate your soups, excess fat will float to the top, making it easy to scoop out before reheating. Be picky.
At a family gathering, skip the foods you can get anywhere and only eat the special dishes, like Grandma’s potato salad. You’ll feel more than satisfied without inhaling hundreds of extra calories. Make sure you try to maintain a balanced plate. Ask for dressing on the side.
Always ask for dressings on the side. Salad dressing can also had excess calories. Opt for simple and fresh ingredients like lemon juice or olive oil. Keep it simple.
Simple dishes are often less fattening because they don’t have any sauce. Look for dishes cooked in olive oil, avocado oil, or sesame oil. Take it to go.
After examining the calorie count of your meal, portion off the amount you want to eat tonight. Then, ask your waiter to box up the remaining leftovers before you begin your meal. You can also ask your dinner partner to split a meal. Utilize your waiter.
Think of your waiter as your aide in choosing healthy options. Ask him or her to keep your water glass filled, to double the side of veggies, or to omit the starch. Distract yourself from mindless snacking.
Unconscious eating out of boredom can lead to weight gain. If you like munching while watching TV, take up knitting, sewing, or doing your nails — anything that keeps your hands busy. Look up the menu.
Before going to a restaurant, check out the menu for the healthy options. Many places like Olive Garden post calorie counts online. You can also call ahead and inquire if they can make swaps, like brown pasta instead of white. Plan ahead.
Not having healthy options on hand makes it easy to resort to fast food. Snacks that burn fat include avocados, edamame, and asparagus. Don’t serve family style.
Make up individual plates and avoid family style meals to maintain portion control, Providence Health Plan advises. Snack before you go.
Eat a snack before going to a party. Arriving with an empty stomach can lead to overeating or choosing high-calorie foods. Feed the birds.
Hate to waste food? Instead of eating your children’s leftovers, save that uneaten half-sandwich for the bird feeder. Track your progress.
According to the National Institute for Fitness and Sports, tracking your progress helps you stay committed to your plan, keeps you efficient with your workouts, and makes it more likely for you to reach your goals. Picture the popcorn.
When that bag of caramel popcorn won’t stop calling your name, close your eyes and visualize eating 30 pieces — imagine the crunch, the salt, the stickiness. Chances are you’ll eat less than usual. Treat yourself … sort of.
If you must have goodies around for your family or for company, don’t make or buy your favorite kind. Do HIIT to burn fat.
One of the best ways to increase your metabolism is to do high intensity interval training (HIIT). A study published in the Journal of Obesity looked at a 12 week intervention of HIIT exercise on overweight men. At the end of the intervention they lost an average of 4.4 pounds and had 14% reduced belly than prior to HIIT. Start your day right.
Work out first thing in the morning, so it’s done no matter how crazy your day gets. Use a small spoon for sampling.
If you’re sampling food a lot, eat less for lunch or dinner. The calories from those little tastes you take while cooking can add up. Keep it clean.
Brush your teeth or rinse with mouthwash when you have a craving. “When you have a fresh, clean mouth, you don’t want to mess it up,” Molly Gee, R.D., of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told Reader’s Digest. Workout to your favorite shows.
If you struggle on the bike, treadmill, or elliptical, stream your favorite TV shows and watch them only when you exercise as an incentive. Remember that it’s not a race.
Ideally, you should try to lose no more than 1 to 2½ pounds a week. Exercise in groups.
Not only is exercising in groups more fun, but it can also help you lose weight. A study published in Obesity found that overweight people may lose more weight if they’re surrounded by their fit friends. Reward yourself.
Set small goals and as you reach each one, reward yourself with things that you love, like a new book, a spa treatment, or a trip to your favorite restaurant. Drink water after eating, too.
End every meal with a large, filling glass of water, too. Make it a routine.
Being consistent with your routine is key when you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off. A study published in Obesity found that slowly shedding pounds each week is more beneficial for long-term weight loss than losing weight drastically. Get good workout shoes.
Be sure to wear supportive running sneakers or walking shoes to get the most out of your workout and stay comfortable. Stay in the game.
A slip-up doesn’t have to lead to an entire day of overeating. The National Eating Disorders Association says that flexibility it a key aspect of having a healthy relationship with food. It’s okay to have more than one dessert every now and then, just do so without judgement and be sure to get back on your routine. GETTY IMAGES
In a group dinner setting, be the first to order so you’re not influenced by your friends’ choices. Dress to dine.
Wear fitted clothes or a slightly tight belt when dining out. The feeling of restriction will send “stuffed” signals to your brain. Rock out during your work out.
Listening to music while you workout can not only make your workout more fun, but it can also help you lose weight. According to a recent study published in the American College of Cardiology, people who listen to music as they work out are more likely to run longer and burn more calories. Remember to stay happy.
Instead of thinking you deserve to eat something, think that you deserve to be healthy and happy. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, eating disorders can develop from disordered thoughts and feelings about not only food, but also health in general. This can impact quality of life and lead to a loss of vitality. Strive to eat flexibly for both hunger and pleasure, leaving room for foods that simply make you happy. This will help cultivate a positive relationship with food and your body.