As societal wealth grows, so do people's waistlines — and thousands of businesses, pharmaceutical companies, and authors claim to have a "quick fix." As of January 2018, the worldwide value of the diet industry is more than $168 billion, but the actual evidence to support the idea that all the promises of quick weight loss actually work or help you keep weight off for the long term is flimsy. Thankfully, more and more people are turning away from the quick-fix mentality and looking for long-term solutions. We've curated a list of the most effective weight loss tips to help you drop the pounds effectively.
Benefits of Losing Weight
Shedding weight offers a wealth of health benefits. Losing weight is particularly important if you are overweight, or if you have a few extra pounds that's affecting your health and well-being. Even losing 5 to 10 percent of your current weight can pay dividends for years to come and provide a wealth of benefits, including:[2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]
- Reduce your risk of high blood pressure
- Lower triglycerides
- Help balance your blood sugar
- Reduce your risk of coronary heart disease
- Reduce cytokines, which are markers of internal inflammation
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Boost your mental health
- Reduce depressive symptoms
- Help improve your body image
The 17 Most Effective Weight Loss Tips
We've collected the best weight loss strategies for you. However, be advised that when it comes to losing weight, there are no magic potions. Making smart decisions about your diet and regularly engaging in a fitness program will always be necessary components of any weight loss strategy.
1. Drink Water, Not Diet Drinks
Not only will drinking enough water help you stay hydrated, but it might also help promote a healthy body weight. In one study, people who drank about 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before eating a meal lost three pounds more weight over a 12-week period than people who did not. People who replace diet beverages with an equal amount of water may lose more weight and have improved insulin resistance compared to those who drink diet beverages. At a minimum, drink six to eight 12-ounce glasses of water a day.
2. Try a Vegan or Low-Carb Diet
One effective way to lose weight is to adopt a vegan or low-carb diet. On average, vegans have the lowest body mass index (a measure of percentage body fat) and the lowest prevalence of type 2 diabetes of any group.
If you're wondering how low-carb diets compare to low-fat diets — they don't. "Low fat" makes for an appealing-sounding headline but scientists have essentially concluded that low-fat diets are ineffective for weight loss (and don't provide the healthy fats the body needs).
3. Practice Intermittent Fasting
Not only can intermittent fasting help you lose weight, but it can also improve your overall health. Intermittent fasting is defined as alternating periods of eating and fasting and generally involves restricting food intake to a small window each day, fasting one or two days a week (the 5:2 diet), or alternate-day fasting.
In one study, people who engaged in alternate-day fasting for 12 weeks lost 11 more pounds than the group who didn't. What's more, other studies have found that intermittent fasting appears to lower heart disease risk, boost brain health, and improve diabetes outcomes.[15, 16, 17]
4. Prep Your Meals
Careful planning is important for any weight loss regime. Set yourself up for success by designating a day to buy ingredients and prepare the meals you'll eat for the following week. Make sure that salad greens and fruit are part of your meals. Stock up on a rainbow of colored fruits and vegetables, which are packed with the healthful antioxidants that boost your metabolism and promote long-term wellness. Pick up a few cookbooks and discover new, healthy recipes that you've never tried.
5. Build Up Your Muscles
If you want to naturally boost your metabolism, building up your muscles with weight training is among the most effective strategies. Recent research published in the journal Nutrition found that overweight or obese women over 65 who did resistance training for 30 minutes, three days a week lost twice as much fat as people who ate a high-carbohydrate diet and three times as much as a group who did not exercise. Plus, they experienced a 6.3 percent reduction in body fat compared to 4.3 percent for the high-carb group! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least three hours of cardio or weight training exercise per week for the best chance at maintaining long-term weight loss.
6. Reduce Portion Sizes
When it comes to the size of your portions, bigger is not better. In one study, people who were served larger portions of food at a meal ended up eating more, regardless of their weight or typical eating habits. In essence, if your portion is larger, you will eat more food. Try smaller portions — you may be surprised how satisfying they can be. One smart way to reduce portion sizes is to simply use smaller plates.
7. Choose Fiber-Rich Foods
Fiber is great for digestion and weight loss. Increasing your intake of foods that are high in fiber and protein can kickstart weight loss. In one study, people who upped their dietary fiber intake to 35 grams and their lean protein intake to 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight lost weight without doing anything else. One of the ways that fiber supports weight loss is by preventing the body from absorbing dietary fat and cholesterol. Fiber also slows digestion, so you feel fuller longer and absorb more nutrients from your food.
8. Get to Know Your Gut
Knowing your gut enterotype allows you to develop a highly personalized nutrition and weight loss strategy. People have one of three gut "enterotypes" — a typing system based on the dominant bacteria. One study compared two of these types — Prevotella bacteria-dominated guts and Bacteroides-dominated guts — and found that people with Prevotella bacteria-dominated guts lose weight when they eat a fiber-rich diet, while people with Bacteroides-dominated guts lose weight more effectively by taking Bifidobacteria probiotics. A third enterotype dominated by Ruminococcus bacteria exists, but the study above only looked at the former two. Your healthcare provider or an at-home kit can help you determine your gut enterotype.
9. Reduce Added Sugar
Sugar isn't so sweet when it comes to weight loss. Eating sugar creates cravings for more sugar, sending you into a dangerous feedback loop. Sweetened beverages are among the worst offenders and lead to weight gain in adults and children. A review of several studies published in the British Medical Journal showed that reducing sugar intake without changing anything else can lead to weight loss.
10. Try Natural Supplements
There are many supplements that are marketed as fat burners and appetite suppressants. Among the most common ingredients found in these products are caffeine, green tea extract, Gymnema, Hoodia cactus, and Uva ursi. Or, you can skip the supplements and just having a morning cup of coffee. Vitamin D is another nutrient that should be on your radar. Studies have shown that it can help promote a healthy body weight, lower body mass index, and help shrink waist and hip circumference.
11. Engage in Mindful Eating
Mindfulness, a concentration technique rooted in meditation, can put you in a more aware state of mind while eating and help you lose weight. Mindful eating means slowing down and paying attention to the act of eating, savoring the flavors of your meal. In one study, subjects were briefly trained on mindfulness and, as a result, they ate healthier food and enjoyed their meals more. That's a win-win situation! To ensure you can engage in mindful eating, turn off your cell phone and any other electronics. In addition to being distractions that promote a mindset that's the opposite of mindfulness, zoning out to electronic devices can cause you to eat more and reach for unhealthy foods.
12. Chew Slowly & Completely
Chewing slowly and thoroughly is smart when eating. Not only will it help you eat less, but it'll also help you get more nutritional value from your food. Saliva contains digestive enzymes (specifically salivary amylase) which help break down food. The longer you chew, the more the salivary enzymes can break down the macromolecules in your mouth before they pass to the stomach. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to get the signal from your stomach that you're full. So, the more slowly you eat, the less you'll overeat.
13. Eat Spicy Foods
Spicy foods do more than tickle your mouth with their lively, robust flavors, they may also help you eat less. Capsaicin is the chemical compound that gives chili peppers their kick; it also boosts your metabolism and helps you feel less hungry compared with non-spicy foods.[26, 27, 28] Add a few dashes of cayenne pepper to your food or use hot peppers in recipes.
14. Keep a Food Journal
Food journaling encourages honesty and accountability, it can also help you recognize patterns — good and bad. Whether you use a diary or a digital app on your phone, recording the foods you eat and the symptoms you experience afterward — gas, bloating, upset stomach — can be incredibly helpful. In one study, people who used a digital food diary app for six months lost nearly 50 percent more weight than those who used a diary or none at all. You can even break it down further and record not just your calories, but the carb, fat, and protein breakdown.
15. Avoid Late-Night Snacks
After your evening meal is over, stay away from the pantry and fridge. Late-night snacking is the perfect way to disrupt your sleep and mess with your metabolism. Eating late at night can also trigger glucose intolerance, which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. In addition, if you're awake and snacking, then you're not asleep. Sleep deprivation can reduce your metabolism and hinder weight loss efforts, as well. Make sure you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
16. Let Food Labels Guide You
Food labels, also known as nutrition facts labels can help you make informed decisions. These labels contain important information that can help you make an informed purchasing decision that's in line with your particular dietary restrictions. Pay special attention to the sodium, fat, carbs, protein, sugar, and fiber content. Many foods are healthy-sounding until you read the label and discover it's packed with sugar.
17. Try a Cleanse
Your intestines and liver help you get rid of toxins and absorb nutrients, but if these organs are not performing at their best, a cleanse might help you reset your insides and boost your metabolism. One simple way to cleanse involves following a detox diet that eliminates the foods that most commonly cause metabolic and health problems. You can also add supplements to your regimen for a more robust cleansing experience. If you need a place to start, I recommend the Colon Cleanse Kit to flush the toxins from your intestines and replace them with beneficial bacteria.
Tips for Long-Term Success
It's one thing to jump into a crash diet that helps you lose weight for the short term. It's an entirely different thing to design your lifestyle in such a way that healthy habits dominate your actions and set a new standard of living. Below we've listed a few ways to make sure that you keep off the weight you do lose.
Set Realistic Expectations
When setting out on a health journey, it's important to set realistic expectations for weight loss, body composition changes, and overall vitality. While weight loss can have dramatic health benefits and improve your outlook on life, weight loss alone will not single-handedly turn your life around. That requires creating positive habits that you stick with.
Use a Support Group or Trainer
Momentum is hard to maintain, but it's easier with help. Seek the help of a personal trainer or nutritionist who can guide and help you reach your goals. In one study, people who used the help of a personal coach lost weight and kept it off for one year, while people who did not use coaching did not keep the weight off. If personal coaching isn't an option, look for a community of like-minded health enthusiasts, whether a Facebook group or friends who want to lose weight together and get healthy. Having a community inspires you to succeed in the long term.
Skip Fad Diets
While you're at it, ignore the fad diets, too. Base your diet on whole foods, like grains, seeds, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes. Your carbs, protein, and fats should all come from natural sources. If it comes in a box, skip it. This way, you'll give yourself a strong foundation in portion control, nutrient density and variety, and overall balanced nutrition. Fads come and go, but eating whole foods will always lead to a healthier body weight.
Make This a Lifestyle
Commit to making these new ideas more than just quick fixes for weight loss — make them habits for long-term weight management and better health. Whether it's prepping meals, reaching out to friends when you need them, or eating whole foods, make these simple, effective tips a permanent part of your lifestyle. If you approach your weight loss journey with that in mind, it'll make it easier to seek out other people and start habits that will further reinforce that healthy lifestyle.
Points to Remember
Having a healthy body weight is one of the single most important things you can do to improve your life. As healthier food choices become your norm, it becomes easier to develop other healthy habits. You'll get outside more, hang out with friends, de-stress when you need to, and be better able to respond to life's challenges.
The top tips for weight loss include eating spicy foods, chewing your food better, engaging in mindful eating, keeping a food journal, and avoiding late-night snacks. Increase your level of physical activity — even something a simple as walking can get your blood moving. Put into place, these tips will propel you forward on your healthy living journey!
- Orbis Research. Weight Loss and Weight Management — Global Market Outlook (2017-2023). 1 Nov. 2017.
- De Leiva A. What are the benefits of moderate weight loss? Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 1998;106 Suppl 2:10-3.
- Ryan DH, Yockey SR. Weight loss and improvement in comorbidity: differences at 5%, 10%, 15%, and over. Curr Obes Rep. 2017;6(2):187-194.
- Ades PA, Savage PD. Potential benefits of weight loss in coronary heart disease. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2014;56(4):448-56.
- Chae JS, et al. Mild weight loss reduces inflammatory cytokines, leukocyte count, and oxidative stress in overweight and moderately obese participants treated for 3 years with dietary modification. Nutr Res. 2013;33(3):195-203.
- Lasikiewicz N, et al. Psychological benefits of weight loss following behavioural and/or dietary weight loss interventions. A systematic research review. Appetite. 2014;72:123-37.
- Jackson SE, et al. Psychological changes following weight loss in overweight and obese adults: a prospective cohort study. PLoS One. 2014;9(8):e104552.
- Parretti HM, et al. Efficacy of water preloading before main meals as a strategy for weight loss in primary care patients with obesity: RCT. Obesity. 2015;23(9):1785-91.
- Madjd A, et al. Effects on weight loss in adults of replacing diet beverages with water during a hypoenergetic diet: a randomized, 24-wk clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(6):1305-12.
- The Water in You. US Geological Survey. Published 23 Jul. 2018. Accessed 2 Oct. 2018.
- Spencer EA, et al. Diet and body mass index in 38000 EPIC-Oxford meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Jun; 27(6):728-34.12.
- Tobias DK, et al. Effect of low-fat diet interventions versus other diet interventions on long-term weight change in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015;3(12):968-79.
- La Berge A. How the ideology of low fat conquered America. J Hist Med Allied Sci. 2008;63(2):139–177.
- Varady KA, et al. Alternate day fasting for weight loss in normal weight and overweight subjects: a randomized controlled trial. Nutr J. 2013;12(1):146.
- Klempel MC, et al. Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is effective for weight loss and cardio-protection in obese women. Nutr J. 2012;11:98.
- Martin B et al. Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: two potential diets for successful brain aging. Aging Research Reviews 2017;5(3):332–353.
- Barnosky AR, et al. Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. 2014;164(4):302-311.
- Galbreath M, et al. Effects of adherence to a higher protein diet on weight loss, markers of health, and functional capacity in older women participating in a resistance-based exercise program. Nutrients. 2018;10(8).
- Zuraikat FM, et al. Comparing the portion size effect in women with and without extended training in portion control: A follow-up to the Portion-Control Strategies Trial. Appetite. 2018;123:334-342.
- Zhang L, et al. A nonrestrictive, weight loss diet focused on fiber and lean protein increase. Nutrition. 2018;54:12-18.
- Christensen L, et al. Microbial enterotypes in personalized nutrition and obesity management. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Oct 1;108(4):645-651.
- Te Morenga L, et al. Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies. Brit Med J. 2012;346.
- Dulloo AG, et al. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec;70(6):1040-5.
- Khosravi ZS, et al. Effect of Vitamin D supplementation on weight loss, glycemic indices, and lipid profile in obese and overweight women: a clinical trial study. Int J Prev Med. 2018;9:63.
- Arch JJ. Enjoying food without caloric cost: The impact of brief mindfulness on laboratory eating outcomes. Behav Res Ther. 2016;79:23-34.
- Gannon NP, et al. The effects of capsaicin and capsaicinoid analogs on metabolic molecular targets in highly energetic tissues and cell types. Biofactors. 2016;42(3):229-46.
- Tremblay A, et al. Capsaicinoids: a spicy solution to the management of obesity? Int J Obes (Lond). 2016;40(8):1198-204.
- Choi SE, Chan J. Relationship of 6-n-propylthiouracil taste intensity and chili pepper use with body mass index, energy intake, and fat intake within an ethnically diverse population. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(3):389-96.
- Carter MC, et al. Adherence to a smartphone application for weight loss compared to website and paper diary: pilot randomized controlled trial. J Med Internet Res. 2013;15(4):e32.
- Gallant A, et al. Nutritional aspects of late eating and night eating. Curr Obes Rep. 2014;3(1):101-7.
- Lopez-Minguez J, et al. Late dinner impairs glucose tolerance in MTNR1B risk allele carriers: A randomized, cross-over study. Clin Nutr. 2018;37(4):1133-1140.
- Kempf K, et al. Telemedical coaching improves long-term weight loss in overweight persons: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Telemed Appl. 2018;2018:7530602.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.