Want to lose weight and keep it off?
You’re in the right place.
I’ve put together the most comprehensive list of ways to lose weight… without any “miracle” potions, crazy diets or other scams you usually come across.
These are all credible and scientifically accurate recommendations that you can implement right now.
But before you go any further, keep this in mind…
All diets work.
Although they can take opposing approaches, all diets are designed to make you eat fewer calories by restricting certain food groups.
With that in mind, the following weight loss tips and strategies are all proven ways to eat fewer calories or burn additional calories with minimal effort on your part. It must be the most complete and accurate list available online…
If you already think you’ve tried it all, go through this list. I guarantee you’ll discover golden ideas you wish you’d thought of years ago.
Warning: this list is huge.
1. STOP EATING SO MUCH COCONUT OIL
Coconut oil has become very popular in the natural health community.
However, those who want to lose weight should not be adding more into their diet.
Coconut oil is 100% fat and 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. By comparison, 1 gram of carbohydrate or protein contains only 4 calories per gram.
This means coconut oil is bursting with calories.
For example, just one tablespoon (13.6 grams) of coconut oil is 117 calories. That’s equal to the calories in three oreo cookies, or half a Mars bar (2).
The benefits of coconut oil have also been grossly exaggerated, so it’s best just to save it for delicious Asian dishes.
2. BE IN CONTROL OF THE GROCERY LIST
Many use their kids as an excuse for having junk food in the house.
Yet in reality, you are in control of purchasing decisions, not them.
And if you believe the foods your children want are not healthy options for you, why would they be for your children?
Weight loss is a lot easier if everyone is eating healthy at home, not just you.
Here are some options if you have fussy kids.
3. SKIP BREAKFAST IF YOU DON’T LOVE IT
Today’s official nutrition guidelines recommend we eat breakfast.
But new research shows it’s not “the most important meal of the day.” At least, not for grown adults.
In this large study comparing recommendations to eat or skip breakfast in 309 overweight or obese subjects, there was no difference in weight between groups after 4 months (3).
It simply didn’t matter whether people ate or skipped breakfast.
It was always thought that skipping breakfast caused people to be hungrier and eat more calories later in the day. However, turns out this isn’t enough to overcompensate for the breakfast that was skipped.
This seems logical, because you are effectively removing an entire meal from your diet each day.
Basically if you’re hungry in the morning, eat breakfast. If you aren’t, don’t.
4. LEARN TO ENJOY BLACK COFFEE INSTEAD OF MILK COFFEE
Many people don’t even consider a milk coffee to be a snack, let alone a high-calorie snack.
But a 12 oz (350 ml) whole milk coffee, such as a latte or cappuccino, contains 165 calories (4).
That’s almost the same as eating a glazed donut from Krispy Kreme, or two large boiled eggs (5).
If you like coffee and you need to lose weigh it’s best to stick to plain, black coffee.
5. DON’T ADD SUGAR IN YOUR COFFEE
Whole milk in your coffee is one thing, but adding loads of sugar takes it to a whole new level.
High-calorie coffee drinks are actually no better than soft drinks. They’re loaded with empty calories that can equal a whole meal or more.
Starbucks’ 16 oz Unicorn Frappuccino had a whopping 410 calories.
Fair enough if you wanted to try that with a friend (I did), but flavoured coffee should not be a regular part of your diet.
6. EAT HEALTHY ON THE WEEKEND TOOG
Many people eat healthy during the week only to “cheat” or splurge on the weekend with junk food, restaurant meals and alcohol.
Unfortunately, if you are trying to lose weight then this eating pattern will not work.
The extra calories you consume on the weekend will cancel out any deficit you create during the week. Dr. Spencer illustrates this nicely:
Sustainable weight loss is about lifestyle change, which includes the majority of weekends too.
7. DON’T PORTION EQUALLY WITH YOUR PARTNER
Many couples fill their plates with the same amount of food.
Generally speaking, over time this will cause one person to gain weight. Calorie requirements vary widely depending on your current weight and how physically active you are.
For example, an active 200 lb (90kg) male requires about 2800 calories to maintain his weight. An active 155 lb (70kg) woman requires about 2170 calories. Exceeding those needs will cause fat gain.
For perspective, that 600 calorie difference in requirements is equivalent to a small McDonalds Happy Meal with Coke.
To accurately predict your daily calorie requirements I recommend using Alan Aragon’s equation, which is accurate to within 5% of the longer formulas:
- In pounds: Total Energy Expenditure = Target bodyweight in pounds x (8-10 or 9-11 + average total weekly training hours).
- In kilograms: Total Energy Expenditure = Target bodyweight in kilograms x ((8-10 or 9-11 + average total weekly training hours) * 2.2).
8. STOP EATING SO MUCH BUTTER
I love butter.
It can turn just about any plain dish into a culinary masterpiece.
But it’s extremely high in calories, which means it’s not a good idea to increase your consumption.
For this reason (among others), the craze to “bulletproof” your diet with butter is dumb.
9. GO EASY ON PEANUT BUTTER, MARGARINE AND OTHER SPREADS
It’s so easy to slather on excessive amounts of a spread like peanut butter, Nutella or margarine.
Trying to eyeball it can be incredibly deceiving.
Source: Ben Carpenter
Use a tablespoon to first measure out how much spread you’ll have. Getting this right could be huge for your weight loss efforts.
10. EMBRACE “HARA HACHI BU”
Hara hachi bu is a traditional Japanese practice that roughly translates as “eat until you are 80% full.”
This is in stark contrast with our typical Western eating pattern, which is to eat until your sides are splitting.
This form of self-imposed calorie restriction seems to work exceptionally well for those who practice it, such as residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa.
It’s no wonder Okinawa has the most centenarians (people who live over the age of 100) in the world.
Simply altering expectations of how full you should feel after a meal can be a powerful mindset shift for those who want to lose weight.
11. DON’T EAT SIX SMALL MEALS PER DAY
Eating frequent small meals through the day was always thought to be good for weight loss.
The idea was that eating often kept your metabolism high so you would burn more energy, encouraging weight loss.
So eating three meals of 800 calories will burn the same amount of calories as eating six meals of 400 calories. There is literally no difference.
Eating regularly throughout the day works for some, but if that’s not you, stop.
12. GO VEGAN
In actual fact animal products are typically far higher in calories compared to plant foods. Especially cheese and processed meat like sausages and bacon.
Cutting out these from your diet will result in fewer calories consumed and weight loss.
13. AVOID FROZEN PRE-PACKAGED SNACKS LIKE CHICKEN TENDERS
Chicken tenders, nuggets, fish fingers, tater tots (potato gems) and other frozen snacks are a popular treat.
Many even use them as a quick and convenient main meal dish, without realizing just how fattening they are.
Anything that is crumbed or battered and pre-packaged has been covered with vegetable oil. In fact, vegetable oil will be one of the main ingredients.
This basically doubles the calorie content when compared to a non pre-packaged version of the same food.
For example, one serving (four pieces) of Tyson brand frozen chicken tenders is 210 calories, or 1263 calories per 100 grams (16).
By comparison, an equal amount of plain chicken breast that you roast in the oven is only 110 calories. That’s half the calories for essentially the same thing, chicken breast.
You will find it really difficult to lose weight if you continue to eat frozen pre-packaged foods.
14. SET REALISTIC WEIGHT GOALS
Goals are important to get you started, but unrealistic weight loss goals will often work against you.
This is shown in data from several weight loss center programs.
It turns out those expected to lose the most weight are in fact the most likely to drop out of a program (17).
This makes sense because if you set the bar way too high, it can be extremely disheartening to not even go close. That can lead to yo-yo dieting and a kind of stop-start inconsistency that doesn’t make progress long-term.
A good realistic and modest goal is a 10% drop in weight over one year.
Just like weight gain, weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint.
15. GO EASY DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Research shows our waistlines expand most during the holiday seasons.
It’s not much though, with the average person gaining only 1 lb (0.5 kg) between November and January.
But you need to start thinking about how to make better decisions when food is abundant, or what extra steps you can take to expend those additional calories.
16. BUY NEW ACTIVEWEAR
What we wear actually influences our thoughts and behavior, especially at the gym.
The experience that certain clothes can provide has been nicknamed “enclothed cognition” by researchers (20).
It makes sense that new fitness wear encourages us to be more active. At least, for a short while.
This video is a fun parody of that concept.
17. STOP EATING BACON AND SAUSAGES
Processed red meat like bacon and sausages are terrible for you, especially if you want to lose weight.
They are low in protein and tremendously high in fat and calories. Plus the cheapest varieties are typically only 30-50% meat, which is saying something.
I’m not a hardcore vegan enthusiast, but a high consumption of processed red meat (added nitrates) is linked to an increased risk of several forms of cancer if your lifestyle is unhealthy.
Alongside other cured meats, these are treats you should eat infrequently and in small quantities.
18. STOP EATING PIZZA
Pizza is one of the most calorie-dense junk foods available.
Just two slices of a plain cheese pizza is 550 calories on average, equivalent to eating almost six bananas or seven hard-boiled eggs (21).
And that’s just for the average, plain pizza.
If you eat an entire 14 inch cheese pizza (which is not uncommon), you’ve consumed almost 2400 calories in one meal. Government guidelines say the average female requires only 2000 calories per day.
Pizza should be something you eat at your Christmas party, that’s it.
19. STOP EATING WHITE BREAD
White bread has no place in a weight loss diet.
It’s highly refined to the point where almost zero fiber remains, which means it does not make you feel full.
This also makes it high on the glycemic index and can spike your blood sugar levels sharply, as though you were eating sugar.
Combined with how soft and easy it is to eat, white bread can easily become a source of unfulfilling calories.
This study of 9,267 people found that those eating two slices (120 grams) of white bread per day were linked to a 40% greater risk of weight gain and obesity (22).
Fortunately, there are many healthy alternatives to conventional wheat bread if you are trying to lose weight. Ezekiel bread, sourdough or dark rye bread are varieties you need to get used to.
20. TRY AND LOSE WEIGHT TOGETHER
Having someone alongside you and knowing you are not in it alone is incredibly motivating and powerful.
Ask your partner or find a friend that wants to lose weight as well.
21. DON’T GO GROCERY SHOPPING WHILE HUNGRY
It’s no secret that if you’re very hungry at a restaurant you’ll likely order more food.
Likewise if you do the grocery shopping on an empty stomach you’re likely to purchase more unhealthy and high-calorie foods.
This is a natural trait of how the human brain responds to food cues, so don’t give it a chance to shine.
22. KEEP A BOTTLE OF WATER HANDYKeeping some water within arm’s reach is a good idea.
This is because drinking more water appears to be an effective way to reduce calorie intake.
In a study of 24 overweight or obese older adults, drinking 16.9 ounces (0.5 liters) of water before breakfast decreased the number of calories consumed in the meal by 13% (31).
23. TRY INTERMITTENT FASTING
Intermittent fasting (IF) refers to an eating pattern that involves regular short-term fasts.
The most popular types of intermittent fasting are:
- The 5:2 Diet: Eat normally for five days, and only 500-600 calories on two days per week.
- The 16/8 Method: Skip breakfast each morning and only eat during an 8-hour period, such as from 1 pm to 9 pm. Remain fasted for 16 hours per day.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: One or two 24-hour fasts each week. For example not eating from dinner on Thursday until dinner on Friday.
The main reason it can help you lose weight is pretty straight forward. Skipping meals during the fasting periods means you eat less food and therefore fewer calories overall.
This review found the average weight loss of intermittent fasters was 2.6% after month one, and 8.9% after 6 months. There were also clear improvements in blood pressure and insulin levels (35).
Intermittent fasting is an effective strategy to lose weight, but it’s certainly not the only way. Any eating pattern that helps you consistently reduce your calorie intake will work.
24. DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES
Sugary beverages like soft drink (soda), fruit juice and sports drinks may be the single most fattening aspect of the modern diet.
Even though they contain lots of calories, your brain doesn’t register them like solid food.
That means the calories from sugary beverages don’t make you feel full, and so you won’t eat less food to compensate. Instead, you end up adding these calories on top of your normal intake
It’s no surprise then that sugary beverages are linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity in children, for each daily serving (38).
If you are serious about losing weight, consider giving up sugary drinks completely.
25. CHOOSE ‘NO ADDED SUGAR’ PRODUCTS
Foods high in added sugar provide a lot of extra calories, but they are not nutritious nor very filling.
Choose products labelled as ‘no added sugar’ where possible to limit the amount of unnecessary calories you consume. But even then, that label it is not a guarantee the product is low in sugar or calories.
You should also be careful when choosing “low-fat” or “fat-free” foods. Manufacturers usually add lots of sugar to compensate for the flavor lost when the fat was removed.
26. COOK ONE MEAL A DAY (EAT AT HOME)
Fast food and restaurant meals contain loads more calories than home-cooked meals, on average.
Unfortunately, people eat out more than ever; a habit that’s become a major driver of our expanding waistlines.
This graph by Dr. Stephan Guyenet illustrates how much our eating habits have changed in the past century. The amount of food eaten at home (shown in green) has declined from over 90% to around 50% in 2009.
Cooking meals yourself is almost always healthier, so plan to eat at least one home-cooked meal per day, preferably three.
27. BATCH PREPARE MEALS FOR THE WEEK
Just about everybody knows how to eat healthy.
What often separates those who do and don’t is planning ahead.
Instead of trying to figure out what to eat for lunch at lunch time, prepare a batch of healthy meals you can bring with you each day.
For example, make a big batch of creamy kale pasta that you portion into containers and store in the fridge. Now you can grab one each morning before you go out.
The same can be done with dinners and refrigerating or freezing portions for another time.
This will save you loads of time and loads of calories.
28. CHEW GUM BETWEEN MEALS IF YOU FEEL HUNGRY
This will keep your brain and tastebuds occupied without actually consuming any calories.
Make sure your gum is sugar-free though so it doesn’t damage your teeth.
29. SHOP ALONG THE EDGES FIRST
Supermarkets and grocery stores are literally designed to make you stay longer and spend more.
That means they will ultimately guide you to the aisles where their most profitable products exist… junk food.
Instead, you should shop along the edges of the store first where food tends to be less processed. Only head into the aisles you need after you’re done.
This ensures you fill your basket with more healthy foods and leaves little room for junk food and impulse buys.
30. USE THE STAIRS INSTEAD OF THE ELEVATOR
Not every can find (or make) time to exercise for an hour each day.
That’s why incorporating physical activity into your everyday life is so important.
Those working in an office block can simply do this by using the stairs instead of the elevator. For example, if you are on the 30th floor, use the elevator each morning and evening for the first 25 floors and walk the remainder.
I’ll never forget this saying I learned while studying, “Think of exercise as an opportunity, not an inconvenience.”
31. STAND UP AT WORK
Sitting at your desk all day uses hardly any calories.
One study compared an afternoon of sitting at work vs an equal amount of standing and found that standing burned an additional 170 calories (42).
Put another way, standing at your desk each afternoon will burn between 500-1000 extra calories per week.
32. ONLY DRINK ALCOHOL ON SPECIAL OCCASIONS
I have some good news.
Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is strongly linked with weight gain. And it make sense when you consider all the additional calories in a drink.
The type of alcohol also matters. Beer appears to cause weight gain, while drinking wine in moderation may actually be beneficial.
The key word here is moderation, meaning only a wine on some nights in the week, and never binge drinking.
If you can’t say you drink in moderation and keep a straight face, then you need to cut back if you want to lose weight.
33. COOK WITH MORE VEGETABLES
Vegetables are typically very low in calories and very high in fiber.
Soluble fiber in particular slows absorption of nutrients and makes you feel even more full.
The more tasty veggies add to your meals, the better it is for your waistline.
34. SWAP FULL SUGAR FOR DIET BEVERAGES
Sugary beverages like soft drink and juice are packed with unnecessary calories.
Swap them for diet (artificially-sweetened) alternatives if you want to lose weight.
Drinking one can of pepsi max instead of regular pepsi will save you 100 calories (48).
35. SWAP DIET BEVERAGES FOR WATER
Go one better and swap diet (artificially-sweetened) beverages for water.
Even though diet drinks are calorie-free, researchers don’t yet understand the overall impact they have on bodyweight and health.
So when you do actually eat a sugary and calorie-dense food, your brain may not register it. This compromises your body’s innate ability to control food intake.
Losing weight is one thing, being healthy is another. Diet drinks might not be as healthy as we hoped.
36. KEEP SNACKS AND JUNK FOOD OUT OF SIGHT
Willpower is finite.
That means each day it can (and does) run out. Keeping junk food in your line of sight relentlessly drains will power.
If there are cookies on your desk in eyeshot, you will eventually eat them, even if you didn’t intend to.
The solution is quite obvious; don’t keep junk food in eyesight of your living room or office space. But that rule can be even more useful in the kitchen.
For example, in your fridge move vegetables and fruits to the shelf at eye level, and put junk foods and treats in the vegetable crispers.
Don’t remind yourself that there is chocolate in the fridge or cookies in the pantry.
“Out of sight, out of mind.”
37. HALVE YOUR RESTAURANT MEAL
Restaurant portions are massive, especially in the US.
Instead of forcing down the whole meal, ask the server to only bring out half the meal and put the other half in a doggy bag.
Make sure you do this before your meal is served so you don’t even have the option to eat more.
Eat the leftovers another night, and you’ve just saved yourself 50% of the calories and some extra cash.
38. EAT SLOWER AND ENJOY YOUR FOOD
This sounds like common sense but few people do it.
In fact, eating slowly and appreciating your food even has a name—mindful eating.
Mindfulness is safe and there are many free resources online to help you learn at home.
39. HAVE A TEA OR COFFEE AFTER DINNER IF YOU’RE STILL HUNGRY
The fullness signals from the stomach to the brain are not immediate.
To give them a chance, have a tea or coffee right after dinner if you are still hungry.
This usually buys your body enough time to register that you’ve eaten a meal and are no longer hungry.
40. MEASURE YOUR PORTIONS
Try to measure your portion sizes if you’ve been struggling to lose weight.
It doesn’t have to be forever, just a few days to give you a base understanding of how much you eat. This is really important for weight management (58).
You may be surprised at how dramatically you underestimate your calorie intake.
Use your hand as a guide if you’re eating a food without a label.
Generally speaking, your meal’s protein portion should be the size of your palm, and vegetables/salad the size of your hand. This leaves about 1/4 or less of your plate for carbs such as pasta, rice or potato.
Packaged foods typically show a suggested serving size on the nutrition label. You can also measure using a food scale or measuring cups or spoons.
41. WATCH LESS TELEVISION
Are you eating each night that you watch television?
Chances are you do, and it’s not dinner either.
You are less likely to eat if you keep your hands and brain occupied, such as reading a book, playing a board game with your family or even typing on the computer.
42. DON’T EAT MEAT AT BREAKFAST
Gram for gram, meat is higher in calories than unrefined plant-based foods like cereal and grains.
It makes sense then not to eat meat at breakfast, especially if you are going to eat it another time in the day.
Additionally, meat we eat at breakfast tends to be processed and high in calories such as sausages and bacon.
So unless you’re eating baked salmon or grilled chicken breast, don’t eat meat at breakfast.
43. GO TO BED EARLIER
Sleep quality is incredibly important for the optimal function of your body and hormones… yet it’s rarely spoken of.
Inadequate sleep is actually one of the strongest risk factors for obesity.
In one study, short sleep duration was found to raise obesity risk by 89% in children and 55% in adults, which is worrying (61).
Poor sleep also increases hunger and cravings and causes a tendency for weight gain by disrupting hunger hormones.
Lastly, going to sleep earlier also eliminates much of the snacking time from your day (as most people snack after dinner).
44. BRUSH YOUR TEETH AFTER DINNER
Brushing your teeth is tedious.
Nobody eats after they do it because nobody wants to brush them again.
Many people who do brush immediately after dinner find it suppresses any compelling food cravings, like a ‘psychological switch’.
45. EAT OATS INSTEAD OF CEREAL
Oats are incredibly nutrient and fiber dense, particularly in a fiber called beta-glucan.
Research shows that the beta-glucan delays the time it takes your stomach to empty of food, which may directly increase your feeling of fullness (75).
All things considered, they’re one of the healthiest and least expensive foods available.
So if you absolutely must have your carbs in the morning, you know what the best choice is.
46. CHOOSE WHOLE FRUITS AS A SNACK
The general recommendation for fruit intake is at least 400 grams per day, or five servings of 80 grams. This is equal to a small piece about the size of a tennis ball or about 1 cup for fruits measured by the cup.
Considering fewer than 1 in 10 Americans meet that minimum recommendation, it makes sense that we should eat more whole fruit when we can.
47. ADOPT NEW STRATEGIES TO DEAL WITH STRESS
Long-term stress can cause food cravings and affect eating behaviors.
In fact, women feeling stressed were shown to experience greater cravings and eat markedly more calories than non-stressed women (86).
Reducing stress is not easy though, and there are many different ways to go about it. Increasing your physical activity levels is a proven method, as is practicing mindfulness meditation.
48. USE SMALLER PLATES
The way our brain controls eating behavior is very complex.
However, using small plates at meals is a simple way to “trick” your brain into thinking more food was eaten.
Psychologists have been closely studying this phenomenon, known as the Delboeuf illusion, and it really helps those hoping to lose weight.
49. DON’T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF
A healthy and positive mindset is a powerful ally when it comes to weight loss.
If you “slip up” and eat something that doesn’t align with your health goals, or have a few drinks to celebrate a special occasion, it’s perfectly okay.
Sometimes life can get in the way… and we are only human after all.
Weight loss is a long game and you shouldn’t worry yourself over those rare occasions. If you are consistently making the right choice in the big picture, you will see results.
50. DON’T “DIET,” EAT HEALTHY INSTEAD
The big issue with fad “diets” is that they never work in the long run.
In fact, people who “diet” tend to gain more weight over time, and studies show that dieting is a consistent predictor of future weight gain (91).
Instead of going on a diet, make it your goal to become a healthier and happier person. Focus on nourishing your body, instead of starving it.
Weight loss will follow as a natural side effect.
This article originally appeared on Diet vs Disease as (77 Proven Ways To Lose Weight And Keep It Off (Sorry, No “Miracle” Potions Or Quick-Fixes Here) and was posted here as a contribution by the author.