- The 10 Easiest And Most Effective Tips For Weight Loss
- 1. Stop Snacking
- 2. Don’t Drink Liquid Calories
- 3. Limit Yourself to 3 Meals a Day Max
- 4. Eat Slowly and Stop When You’re Approximately 80% Full
- 5. Eat More Protein
- 6. Eat More High Volume Foods
- 7. Reduce Refined Sugar Intake
- 8. Lift Weights
- 9. Use Caffeine
- 10. Have a Preset Cheat Meal Plan
- Bonus Tip: Stop Worrying About Things That Don’t Matter!
- 5 pre-wedding weight loss tips and tricks
- 1. Exercise Well
- 2. Drink Water
- 3. Eat healthy
- 4. Limit the Servings
- 5. Don’t Booze
- Is there a “best” way to lose weight fast?
- 1. Achieve a consistent calorie deficit
- Our diet guides
- 2. Decrease calorie input through diet changes
- 3. Don’t cut out all of any single food group
- 4. Try a food substitute
- 5. Try intermittent fasting
- 6. Drink more water and less alcohol
- 7. Increase calorie output through exercise
- 8. Focus on weight training in addition to cardio
- 9. Vary the intensity of your workouts
- 10. Track your input vs. output (that all important calorie deficit)
- 1. Choose quality over quantity.
- 2. Track your diet.
- 3. Focus on plants.
- 4. Opt. for low-glycemic carbs.
- 5. Make super small food swaps.
- 6. Don’t skip meals.
- 7. Get your protein from lean food sources.
- 8. Pair protein with sweets.
- 9. Opt for higher-fiber carbs.
- 10. Drink more water.
- 11. Imbibe just a little bit less.
- 12. Make a real effort to manage stress.
- 13. Sleep an extra 30 minutes a night.
- 14. Exercise—but not excessively.
- 15. Have all the sex.
The 10 Easiest And Most Effective Tips For Weight Loss
Question: Which way towards a goal gives you the highest probability of success?
Easy answer: The simplest and easiest way.
It sounds obvious, but it’s worth saying, because I’m continually amazed at how people make weight loss way, way more complicated than it needs to be. The honest truth is that weight loss can be really simple and really easy — all you need to do is focus on making small changes in the areas that have big influence on the weight loss equation.
I’m going to help you do just that with 10 easy and very effective tips for weight loss.
1. Stop Snacking
Snacking is the number one saboteur of weight loss. Period. Why? Because people just end up eating way too many calories when they’re constantly popping snacks into their mouths. The other problem is that most “snacks” are based on refined sugar — very calorie dense and not very satisfying. When’s the last time you felt full after eating that fun sized bag of candy? Mindless snacking is absolutely pointless and totally destructive to weight loss. Don’t do it.
2. Don’t Drink Liquid Calories
If snacking is the number one weight loss saboteur, then liquid calories are a close second. They pose the exact same problem: It’s just too easy to consume way too many calories when you’re guzzling down sugary drinks that don’t satiate you at all.
This includes sports drinks. Gatorade isn’t inherently bad, but the fact is that the vast majority of people do not need sports drinks. Unless you’re actually depleting your glycogen stores with more than 60 consecutive minutes of hard training, sports drinks of any kind are just not necessary.
3. Limit Yourself to 3 Meals a Day Max
This relates to tip number 1. If you eat 3 meals per day or less, it’s much harder to accidentally overeat. There’s a popular myth that one needs to eat every two hours to keep the metabolism roaring at full speed. Understand: That is completely false and unsubstantiated by science.
4. Eat Slowly and Stop When You’re Approximately 80% Full
Most people simply need to eat less food to lose weight, and that means not stuffing your gullet to the brim. Slow down, and stop eating when you’re 80% full, or satisfied. I firmly believe if everyone in America took just these 4 initial tips to heart, the vast majority of overweight people could lose what they need to.
5. Eat More Protein
For the most part, what you eat matters very little if calories are controlled for. The one exception is protein. Protein does three key things that can help with weight loss:
- It keeps you fuller for longer
- It’s metabolized less efficiently than either carbs or fat, meaning you can get away with eating more of it
- It helps preserve lean muscle mass, thus helping a greater portion of weight loss come from body fat stores.
Science shows that these benefits cap out at around .8g protein per lb of body weight per day. I recommend trying to hit that daily mark as often as you can.
6. Eat More High Volume Foods
There’s something that’s unavoidable: Hunger always wins. It doesn’t matter if your dietary strategy is perfect on paper — if hunger becomes too ravenous, everyone will eventually cave to it. The solution? Focus on foods that are higher volume and keep you fuller for longer. High volume foods are usually healthier choices in general, too:
- fibrous green vegetables
- lean protein
- low fat dairy
- low sugar fruit
- potatoes, and other roots and tubers
7. Reduce Refined Sugar Intake
Eating refined sugar to excess is literally doing the opposite of tip number 6, and will likely lead to eating too many calories. As Brad Pilon says, the reason carbs make us fat is because they are awesome and thus easy to overeat. Most people would benefit immensely by reducing refined sugar intake. A little here and there is permissible, but not too much.
8. Lift Weights
Lets get real: People don’t really care about actually losing weight, they are about looking like they’ve lost weight. One of the best ways to look leaner than you actually are is to put on some muscle. Besides, initial strength training positively correlates with virtually every health marker in existence. Initial strength training doesn’t take much time either, maybe two or three 30-45 minute sessions a week. Starting Strength or something similar is a good basic program to start with.
9. Use Caffeine
It’s the developed world’s drug of choice, and is also one of the few supplements that isn’t snake oil. Caffeine won’t raise your metabolic output to any notable degree, except within it’s initial week or so of use, but what it can do is suppress appetite. It also can increase your physiological and mental capacity.
Caffeine use is a mixed bag and is not for everyone, but it can help. See examine.com’s research summary of caffeine for a full breakdown of what the available scientific research says about regular caffeine use.
10. Have a Preset Cheat Meal Plan
Do not fool yourself into thinking you’re going to become a monk when you start dieting, and you certainly don’t need to be one in order to succeed. Restaurant meals, family dinners, and occasional parties can absolutely fit into an effective weight loss plan. The real danger is not having a plan in advance for how you’ll approach these events, which is what leads to people giving up entirely and binging.
It doesn’t really matter what your cheat plan is, as long as you’re consistent with it. That way, if your weight loss stalls, you can make a meaningful adjustment to your strategy. I recommend the following to start with:
- One cheat day/meal per week.
- Relax, but be sensible: Eat mostly the same kinds of foods you normally eat, swap out beer and mixed drinks for spirits, ect.
- Eat until your nice and full, but not absolutely stuffed.
One sensible cheat day/meal per week is not going to overpower 6 other days worth of diligent dieting, so don’t self impose unrealistic and unsustainable restriction. The important thing for occasional cheat days/meals is to have a plan going into it. That way, you know ahead of time what’s OK or not OK and you’re not worrying about it on the fly.
If your weight loss stalls? No big deal at all, you just need to tighten up the strictness a bit and continue on as usual.
Bonus Tip: Stop Worrying About Things That Don’t Matter!
Remember what I said in the beginning? People over complicate weight loss way too much. Part of that stems from worrying about way too many things that make little to no actual difference towards weight loss. Don’t fall into that trap! If it’s not on the list, then you probably don’t have to worry about it.
Featured photo credit: Potato Dumplings Stuffed with Smoked Meat/ VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com
5 pre-wedding weight loss tips and tricks
Are you getting hitched in a couple of months or so? Got no time to lose weight in the short time span of your pre-wedding months? Besides just caring about the perfect dress, the perfect ring and the perfect decoration every bride equally cares about her perfect figure. It’s all about the wedding glamour that should show on your face right on the special day. A great diet, good effective workout sessions and other small healthy habits can change your look completely during the pre-wedding days. It might be a challenge for you but it will be worth the effort.
Here are 5 pre-wedding weight loss tips and tricks for you to check out and get inspired to get the perfect figure on D-Day:
1. Exercise Well
Allocate half an hour from your busy schedule for exercising daily as this will kick start your metabolism. High level of metabolism means more energy which will help in burning of the extra calories from your body. Remember gyming alone won’t just help. It is extremely important to start doing daily activities like taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to the shops while shopping, running for a few metres, etc. to get into shape in the quick pre-wedding span. Dieting alone cannot do wonders and that is why adding some aerobic exercises in your daily routine is mandatory.
The more you sweat, your glamour will increase more and more because sweat releases toxins and also regulates hormones which make your skin glow. Losing weight can be easy but losing weight in the target areas might be difficult. If you specifically want to lose weight in certain target areas of your body, then consult a trainer who will motivate you and help you out in your workout regime. No quitting in between and successfully completing the workouts will help your body look all toned up on your big day.
2. Drink Water
There goes a saying that nothing else can do the function of water in your body. When you feel thirsty, it is specifically a bottle of water that eliminates your thirst. Diet soda or soft drinks are not at all the alternatives of water in anyway. So, avoid these aerated drinks which are bad for health during your pre-wedding months and drink plenty of water as drinking water is the best way to hydrate your body. If your body is properly hydrated it will further help you in your weight loss program. Drinking more quantity of water also helps in getting rid of the harmful toxins from the body thus making your skin glow.
While we all should approximately drink two litres of water every day, drinking the right amount of water actually depends on our weight. The best formula to know the exact amount of water that your body requires is to divide your body weight by two. The figures that will show up are the ounces of water that you should drink per day. Another way to hydrate your body is to eat fruits having rich water-content such as watermelon in your diet. If you can adapt this habit, you will definitely be able to lose good amount of weight before your wedding day.
3. Eat healthy
When anyone thinks about losing weight in a natural way it is obvious to take eating healthy diet foods into consideration. So, the same is applicable for you when you are on your venture of pre-wedding weight loss. Saying ‘no’ to junk food and adapting a healthy lifestyle by including fresh fruits and veggies is highly recommended when you are on weight loss programs before your wedding. Whenever you feel like snacking, the only way to curb hunger is by eating a slice or two of your favourite fruits. In case you are longing to eat good fast food, control yourself and include a bowl of fresh vegetables in your meal.
If you wish to cut back on your unwanted calories, then eating fruits and vegetables will help in boosting your energy level too. Try to include nutrient-rich fruits and other foods like avocados, raspberries, celery, carrots, asparagus, eggs, artichokes, lemon, broccoli and pickles in your diet. Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of vitamins and iron instead of fatty elements which will help you lose weight quickly and shape your body to look marvellous in your wedding dress.
4. Limit the Servings
If you are looking forward to steal the gaze of your guests at your wedding, then the best way to lose weight before wedding is through portion control. You should consume adequate food that will help you feel contented for another few hours and not make you full for the rest of the day. If you are consuming high proteins like meat, make sure you know the serving size that your body should need.
Besides eating fruits and vegetables, one can eat chicken breast, eggs, salmon and even tuna in the correct portion. These foods should be included in your diet in the pre-wedding months because your body requires certain amount of fat for fuel and energy. Instead of eating three meals a day, try adjusting to the five meals per day rule. In case of three meals a day, you would end up eating larger portion sizes which can be controlled in smaller portions in a five meals a day regimen. Eating small portions more often can save you from over eating and thus bring down your body size to the correct ratio.
5. Don’t Booze
We all know wedding is an event of celebration. In the moment of happiness, you might start finding little or no reasons to drinking booze. Whether the alcohol is strong enough or not is not the concern here. All that you should take into consideration is the calorie content in the booze. If the amount of calorie intake becomes more then you will be more likely to put on weight and all your efforts to lose weight will turn futile.
A bottle of alcoholic drink can contain approximately 150 calories and more maybe. If you are in a regular habit of drinking, then sweetheart you really need to cut back on booze in your pre-wedding days. This will no way help you in losing weight before your wedding but will rather add more weight to your body. Save up on the celebratory drinks for your special occasions only to stay in shape.
While your grand day is almost there, maybe a month away, make sure you treat yourself with these best weight loss tips and tricks for a slimmer and toned up body. While getting busy with shopping and many to-do lists to complete, ensure to follow these simple yet effective ways to get back into shape and look like a diva on your best day. Following a healthy diet, a good round of exercising, good healthy habits and controlling the hunger pangs is all that you need to do to lose weight rapidly just before your wedding. A little bit of pre-wedding concern can help you capture the amazing moments and memories for a lifetime to cherish!
About the author
Shannon is a health blogger who is eager to share effective tips with people who want to live a healthy life. Her blogs contain useful information about how to stay fit and healthy in natural ways. Her write-ups are easy to follow and very popular among the weight loss enthusiasts. You can contact her on her website HCG Diet Zone.
Be choosy about carbs. You can decide which ones you eat, and how much. Look for those that are low on the glycemic index (for instance, asparagus is lower on the glycemic index than a potato) or lower in carbs per serving than others. Whole grains are better choices than processed items, because processing removes key nutrients such as fiber, iron, and B vitamins. They may be added back, such as in “enriched” bread.
Include protein. It’s satisfying and will help keep up your muscles. There are vegetarian and vegan sources (nuts, beans, and soy are a few), as well as lean meat, poultry, fish, and dairy.
Most Americans get enough protein but could choose to get it from leaner sources, so you may already have plenty in your diet. Your exact protein needs depend on your age, gender, and how active you are.
Make friends with good fats. Small amounts of fat can help you feel full and less like you’re on a diet. The better choices are those in fish, nuts and seeds, and olive oil. Those have unsaturated fats — polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, specifically.
Fill up on fiber. You can get that from vegetables, whole grains, fruits — any plant food will have fiber. Some have more than others. Top sources include artichokes, green peas, broccoli, lentils, and lima beans. Among fruits, raspberries lead the list.
Eat more often. If you eat 5-6 times a day, it could keep hunger at bay. You could split your calories equally across all of those mini-meals, or make some bigger than others. You will need to plan portions so that you don’t end up eating more than you bargained for.
What About Meal Replacements? These products will control your calories. They’re convenient and take the guesswork out of dieting.
Again, though, you’ll need to change your eating habits to keep the weight off if you go off the meal replacements.
Watch your drinks. One easy way to lose weight quickly is to cut out liquid calories, such as soda, juice, and alcohol. Replace them with zero-calorie drinks like lemon water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee.
Diet drinks will save you calories, compared with sugary beverages. But if you then reach for a cookie or other treat because you’re still hungry or you think you saved enough calories for it, that plan backfires.
If you’re trying to lose weight fast, it can be easy to get caught up with fad diet or other ‘quick fixes’ that promise a flat stomach in days. That’s especially true in January when you’ve just eaten your own bodyweight in poultry, or a vegan alternative, and are now thinking of next summer’s beach holiday. Don’t worry about it though; there are ways to lose weight – and lose belly fat – that are tried and trusted. It might not be the easy and quick weight loss of your dreams, but it’s very doable. We have nothing against the keto diet, for instance, but a lot of people will find it is difficult to fit into their lifestyle. We’ve tried to keep these diet, workout and weight-loss tips as simple as possible so you can get fit and in shape, in 2020.
So, if you’re serious about losing weight, you’ve come to the right place. We won’t promise you’ll get a six pack in as many hours, but we can guarantee expert advice and key tips for losing weight quickly, but in a healthy and sustainable way. We’ve also got the lowdown on the best exercise for losing weight fast, and all the gear you’ll need to get started.
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Is there a “best” way to lose weight fast?
The best way for you to lose weight fast will depend on your starting point, your end goal, and your lifestyle. In this article we lay out ten strategies that are applicable to everyone, whether you’re a fitness novice looking to shed several stone, or you simply require motivation to keep going.
Generally speaking the best way to lose weight quickly, and maintain that weight loss, is to follow a steady, manageable plan. Don’t try to take on more than you can reasonably fit into one day, unless you’re willing to make the sacrifice. Most likely sleep or your social life.
The NHS recommends that you aim to lose no more than 2 lbs (1kg) per week; anymore than that and you risk burning out and giving up. With that in mind, here are ten strategies to get you losing weight quickly.
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(Image credit: )
1. Achieve a consistent calorie deficit
The short answer to the question of how to lose weight fast is to achieve a consistent calorie deficit. That is, burn more calories than you consume.
If you eat 2,500 calories a day – the recommended daily amount for a man, although of course this can vary wildly depending on your height, weight and frame – and burn 3,000, you are in a calorie deficit.
If, however, you burn 3,000 but have consumed 3,500, you’re not in a calorie deficit, even though you’ve almost certainly been working out a lot have burned that much energy.
What you need to do is ensure you’re eating the right food and doing the right exercise so that you’re sufficiently full and satisfied even when consuming fewer calories than you burn. Here’s how…
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2. Decrease calorie input through diet changes
As we alluded to above, a common pitfall that many people experience when trying to lose weight is that as they start exercising more, they feel like they need to eat more to keep their energy levels up and consequently fail to see results. Instead, we recommend adapting your diet to get the most out of your calories.
All foods have different energy densities. Foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains have low energy density, which means you will get fuller faster when eating these than you would high energy density foods.
Nutritionist Jenna Hope explains: “Proteins and healthy fats promote more stable blood glucose levels, keeping you fuller across a time period and less likely to crave sugar or over eat,” and so these are the kinds of foods you should get the majority of your calories from.
Consuming the same amount of calories as you are now (or fewer if possible), but getting more nutritional value from them will help you feel fuller for longer and lose weight more quickly as a result.
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Cutting down on sugar will help reduce your waistline
3. Don’t cut out all of any single food group
We all know that some foods – and some food groups – are healthier than others, and that we need every type of food in our diet. The problem is that many of us aren’t getting the right balance.
Spoon Guru nutritionist Isabel Butler (MSc, ANutr) recommends that “the best way to reduce weight and maintain the weight loss is by simply eating a balanced and healthy diet, without refusing yourself particular foods… If you do cut out foods, you need to make sure your diet is still balanced and you are getting the nutrients your body needs from other sources.”
For example, unless you’re training to become a weightlifter, there’s nothing wrong with carbs per se – despite what keto diet fans might tell you – but the biggest food culprit when it comes to hindering weight loss is the simple carbohydrate.
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Compared to complex carbs like beans, whole grains and vegetables, which break down and release energy slowly, thereby keeping you full and energised, simple carbs such as sugar and starchy foods which break down into sugars – such as pasta and spuds – give you a shorter boost of energy, then leave you wanting more.
The likelihood is that the more simple carbs you eat, the more you’ll end up eating overall, harming the balance of your calorie deficit.
One easy trick if you’re a carb fan is to swap out white pasta or rice for courgetti, or noodles made from other vegetables like butternut squash. This can make an arrabiata, curry or stir fry much lower in calories. You’ll hardly notice the difference when you’re eating it, but you’ll be fuller for longer despite consuming fewer calories.
Spiralizing vegetables is a great alternative to pasta
(Image credit: Pexels from )
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4. Try a food substitute
Sometimes it’s a real struggle to reduce the calories you take in, or even just to track them. If you’re constantly on the move and don’t have the time to count calories, or you have the best intentions and are cooking fresh with ingredients that aren’t all labelled with their nutrition info broken down, then accurately tracking calories can be a nightmare.
To ensure you’re getting a good mix of nutrients, as well as all-important protein, you could try a food substitute such as Huel.
This is not marketed as a dietary aid, but it is highly nutritious, and makes calorie counting a lot easier. A word of caution though: Huel may replace meals from a nutritional standpoint, but slurping a cool, slightly slimy milkshake instead of getting your teeth into a warm, healthy paella isn’t for everyone.
5. Try intermittent fasting
Some people thrive on intermittent fasting, which means significantly cutting calories – or completely fasting – for a portion of the day or week, and then eating normally for the rest.
The most popular form of intermittent fasting is the 5:2 diet, where you eat normally for five days a week but then eating no more than 600 calories two days a week.
There’s also the 16:8 diet, which is a bit different. With this diet you can eat anything for 8 hours a day, but can only drink water during a 16 hour fast. The recommended time to eat is between 10am and 6pm, although this can be flexible depending on what time you’d prefer to start or end eating (as long as you stay within an eight hour window).
The benefits of intermittent fasting is that during the fast period the body will run out of carbohydrates to run on, and so start to take energy from the body’s fat stores, thus starting to burn that belly fat once and for all.
Drinking water will also rehydrate during exercise
(Image credit: rawpixel from )
6. Drink more water and less alcohol
Drinking more water – especially before a meal – can help us to feel fuller, thereby helping us to stop eating sooner and consume fewer calories than we otherwise would have.
What’s more, few of us consider what we drink when we total up our daily calorie count and so potentially hundreds of extra calories can sneak into our bodies. Replacing fruit juices, fizzy drinks and even tea and coffee with water means we can save up our calorie allowance for the good stuff: the food that fills us up.
Top tip: keep a reusable water bottle with you at all times and restrict what else you drink. This can feel like a hard habit to break at first, but is surprisingly easy to maintain once you have a zero calorie drink to hand 24/7.
Read more: These are the best reusable water bottles
Reducing the amount of alcohol we drink also comes with benefits. Most obviously, alcoholic drinks are often very calorific, so drinking less alcohol means consuming fewer calories. Simple.
Secondly, drinking alcohol increases our appetite, so we’re more likely to eat more than usual – and more of the bad stuff – when we’ve been drinking. Cheesy chips, I’m looking at you.
Lastly, we all know how we feel after a night of heavy drinking. Ready for a session and the gym and a day eating fruit, veg and simple carbohydrates? We didn’t think so. Drinking alcohol not only means we take in more calories at the time, but can affect our ability to function well and make healthy choices the next day.
(Image credit: Victor Freitas from Pexels )
7. Increase calorie output through exercise
Now we’ve tackled diet and nutrition (calories in), it’s time to look at exercise (calories out).
Even if you’re eating healthily and are reasonably active in your daily life, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to lose weight quickly without additional exercise, whether that’s running, gym, crossfit, team sports, cycling or any of the other myriad activities available.
What’s more, working out will make you look and feel better and in our view, once you start looking and feeling better, it gets a lot easier to find the will power needed to improve your diet.
When it comes to choosing what type of exercise you do, the most important thing is that it’s something you enjoy and will stick to. Don’t force yourself to run if chances are you’ll be walking ten minutes in.
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(Image credit: Pexels)
8. Focus on weight training in addition to cardio
There are two main types of exercise: cardio training and weight – or resistance –training.
Both burn calories, the difference is that whilst cardio burns a lot of calories upfront, weight training continues to to burn calories post workout.
This is because weight training builds muscle, and muscle burns more than fat as you carry out day-to-day tasks. In short, the greater your muscle:fat ratio, the more calories you burn even when you are standing still.
Weight training may seem daunting, but you don’t have to join a gym and face up to the squat rack right away. There are so many weight exercises you can do at home with simple bits of equipment from dumbbells to kettlebells, and balls to ropes.
We’re not going to cover all the exercises you can do with weights here, so why not pick the body part you want to start burning fat from and toning up, and check out one of our guides below:
- The best glute exercises
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All of this aside, don’t neglect cardio, as cardio workouts are important for fitness and stamina, and will still burn calories.
Kettlebells are a very powerful weightloss tool
9. Vary the intensity of your workouts
As well doing both cardio and weight training, if you want to lose weight it’s also important to vary the intensity with which you exercise.
In any given week, and within any given workout, you should exercise both aerobically (a little out of breath but not gasping) and anaerobically (going flat out, like when running for a bus).
Aerobic exercise needs oxygen to give muscles energy and generally requires moderate exertion. Examples include gentler running, cycling and swimming.
It’s a crucial part of losing weight quickly because it uses both sugar and fat as its energy source, but to burn fat you need to do it for long enough that you’ve burned through your sugar stores first.
Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, primarily uses sugar as its fuel. This doesn’t mean that it’s not good for weight loss, though. Anaerobic exercise helps build muscle, and as we explained above, this will help you burn calories even when you’re resting. Anaerobic exercises are generally high intensity, for example sprinting and weight lifting.
A running watch or fitness tracker will help you to know what intensity exercise you’re doing. As they either have built-in heart-rate trackers or pair with ones you strap to your chest, they can show you how hard you’re working out and let you know when you need to push it harder.
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Keep track of your weight loss and fitness goals with a running watch
10. Track your input vs. output (that all important calorie deficit)
It’s important to decide how you want to measure your success and keep track consistently, understanding that you will see daily fluctuations due to things like digestive contents and water retention.
Running watches are the easiest way to track your progress, remain motivated and keep weight off. Depending how fancy you go, you can track pretty much any metric that works for you, certainly way beyond whether you’ve achieved your 10,000 steps. Whether it’s weight, BMI, resting heart rate, calories burned or activity level, the best running watch will track it all.
Many wearables branded as fitness trackers also have a stab at these more advanced metrics nowadays, but we’d always recommend a watch over a band.
Another way to keep track of your progress is the old fashioned method of weighing yourself. The great thing about modern bathroom scales is they don’t just tell you your weight; they also let you know your body fat percentage.
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This is a much, much better metric to track than weight alone. If you’re working out while dieting you can easily put on weight, even when running a calorie deficit, just because muscle is denser than fat so there can be less of you, yet weight more.
Now, although the calculations of body fat percentage scales produce are based on sound science, accuracy can vary. The key thing to note is that if the overall trend is going down, you’re doing well.
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We can’t stress enough the importance of giving your body time to lose weight. You can lose weight faster by using the right gear and having the right knowledge and attitude, but you’ll likely need to redefine what ‘fast’ means to you.
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If you want to lose five actual pounds by next weekend, listen up: Losing weight fast, though possible, is almost always unhealthy. That’s because aiming to lose five pounds in a week can set you up for binge-eating and fluctuations that interfere with long-lasting results, which basically defeats the whole point, right?
It’s also super hard! “For most people, it’s very, very difficult to lose more than one to two pounds of body fat in a week,” says Philadelphia-based weight-loss physician Charlie Seltzer, MD. Instead, you’re more likely to shed water weight before actual fat. And while a decrease in water weight translates to pounds lost, the change is temporary, says Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, Ph.D., a registered dietician and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Even if you do meet your goal by Friday, it’s nearly impossible to keep the weight off over the long term, says Dr. Seltzer. He explains that the intense calorie restriction required to lose that much fat would make you so hungry that you’d want to eat everything in sight…because survival.
And since calorie restriction can slow your metabolism, per research published in the journal Obesity, your body will be less prepared to burn the foods you (inevitably) binge on, he adds. That could mean gaining more than you lost in the first place.
Still, there are effective and healthy ways to kick off your weight loss—and, yes, it will take time!—all without starving yourself, wasting money on sketchy supplements, or punishing your body with exercise.
Instead, try a few of these safe, proven tips. And remember: You’ll get the best, longest-lasting results from changes that don’t leave you exhausted and dreaming of pizza.
1. Choose quality over quantity.
“If you expend more calories than you take in, you should lose weight,” says Alicia Romano, RD, LDN, a clinical registered dietitian at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. But you don’t want to be so hyper focused on calories that you skip out on a wholesome diet, she says.
If you focus on the quality of food, there’s a good chance you’ll eat more nutrient-dense options that leave you satiated, says Lauren Sullivan, a registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition.
2. Track your diet.
First, remember that no food is inherently good or bad, Dr. Seltzer says. And if the idea of jotting down everything you eat in a day makes you feel guilty or anxious, just skip this entirely.
That said, people who track what they eat tend to be more successful in losing weight because it raises awareness about what they’re noshing on, says Dr. Mayer-Davis. In fact, a series of studies published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine suggest that those using apps to monitor their diet and activity were more likely to experience an increase in weight loss.
Obviously, these apps (you know the ones) aren’t going to work if you don’t input everything you eat, says Dr. Mayer-Davis. You’ve gotta be consistent and honest about what you consume.
3. Focus on plants.
A 20-year study of more than 100,000 people, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found those who ate more whole grains instead of refined grains, incorporated more fruits and veggies than sweets, and preferred tea and coffee to sweetened drinks and juices, gained less weight long-term.
In another (small-ish) study of more than 1,000 people, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers found those following vegetarian and vegan diets, rich in whole grains, fruits, produce, nuts, and legumes, lost more weight than dieters on other plans—even the low-carb Atkins diet—over the same time span.
Because fiber (like protein and fat) slows the digestion process and optimizes fullness and nutrient intake at mealtime, a plant-based diet can help you feel satiated longer after eating, says Romano.
4. Opt. for low-glycemic carbs.
A food’s glycemic index (GI) refers to how quickly sugar from food enters the bloodstream and how slowly the food is digested. Foods with a glycemic load measuring less than 55 (i.e. green vegetables, most fruits, raw carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils and bran breakfast cereals) enable your metabolism to run at a more consistent pace, which can positively impact weight loss, says Sullivan. Foods that rank 70 or higher (potatoes, white bread and short-grain rice) potentially slow your metabolism, which may make it harder for you to shed weight.
In a study of more than 100,000 people, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers linked diets with a high glycemic load to increased weight gain.
5. Make super small food swaps.
The best way to support sustainable weight loss is to incorporate small changes into existing habits, according to The European Journal of Obesity. So instead of giving up your daily BLT bagels in favor of an egg-white wrap, try ordering your sandwich on an English muffin. Or say you eat a snack bar every afternoon: Swap your 300-calorie bar for a 150-calorie alternative. “When we commit to small food swaps, we actually adapt new behaviors,” says Romano.
Whatever you choose, just make sure your focus is on “small manageable changes,” that way you’re more likely to follow through for an extended period of time, rather than just a few days or weeks, says Romano.
6. Don’t skip meals.
Eating at regular intervals during the day optimizes your blood sugar control, meaning you avoid the spike and crash that comes with eating a big meal on an empty stomach, says Romano. When you avoid eating when you’re hungry, you’re welcoming hunger pains, food cravings and drowsiness—all of which can lead to snacking on foods high in fat and sugar.
Plus, when you run out of calories before going out to dinner with friends or satisfying a bedtime craving, you’re more likely to fall victim to what Dr. Seltzer calls the “f*ck it” effect—when you break one “rule” and give up for the rest of the night.
7. Get your protein from lean food sources.
Dietary protein is one of the most important tools in your weight-loss arsenal, partly because you expend more energy digesting protein versus carbs and fat, Dr. Seltzer says. But it’s often packaged with naturally-occurring fats that amp up the calories of each serving.
It’s why, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, leaner protein sources like chicken breast, white fish, and low-fat dairy have fewer calories than alternatives like bacon and burgers. Greek yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese also make smart choices.
8. Pair protein with sweets.
When you combine a carbohydrate (like toast) with protein and/or healthy fats (peanut butter), it slows digestion, which makes you feel fuller than you would eating the carb alone, Sullivan says. Next time you’re craving sugar, pair some dark chocolate with nut butter and call it a day.
9. Opt for higher-fiber carbs.
Like protein, fiber slows the rate at which your body plows through carb calories so you feel full for longer and maintain steadier blood sugar levels, one reason why research consistently links fiber intake to weight loss. That means fibrous whole grain bread tends to be a better choice than white bread and also explains why fruits, which contain fiber and valuable vitamins in addition to sugar, beat straight-up candy every time.
10. Drink more water.
Skimp on fluids, and your body will release an antidiuretic hormone that leads to water retention that could affect the scale, Dr. Setlzer says. While this sneaky effect is one reason why the scale is a poor measure of body mass loss, you can outsmart it by drinking more—particularly if you fill your glass with water or non-calorie alternatives like unsweetened coffee and tea.
11. Imbibe just a little bit less.
Booze delivers seven calories per gram—more than carbs and protein (four calories per gram)—without filling you up or delivering essential nutrients. And because it chips away at your inhibitions, it makes those French fries at the bar look way better, and that late-night pizza stop a go.
In other words? “Drinking makes you more likely to eat sh*t,” Dr. Seltzer says, referring to drunk foods. At the same time, he stops short of asking patients to quit alcohol cold-turkey to lose weight. Plus, research suggests you don’t have to, as long as your intake is moderate—i.e., less than about a drink a day. “If you drink a glass of wine every night and notice you eat more afterward, eat less early to account for this,” he says. “Or, if you’re drinking four glasses of wine a week, drink three instead so you’ll won’t feel such a big difference.”
12. Make a real effort to manage stress.
“Anytime you’re stressed, you probably go for food,” Dr. Seltzer says. (Have we met?!) That’s because cortisol, the stress hormone, stokes your appetite for sugary, fatty foods. No wonder it’s associated with higher body weight, according to a 2007 Obesity study that quantified chronic stress exposure by looking at cortisol concentrations in more than 2,000 adults’ hair.
It’s why no weight-loss journey is complete without a stress-management tactic: Maybe it’s meditation, calling your mom after work, or chilling out with music. Just make sure it’s hunger, not stress, that leads you to the kitchen.
13. Sleep an extra 30 minutes a night.
“Por sleep is associated with slower metabolism, and the more you’re awake the more hours you have to eat,” Dr. Seltzer says. What’s more, the sleep deprivation activates the same brain receptors responsible for the marijuana munchies, according to a 2016 SLEEP study.
14. Exercise—but not excessively.
Although it’s way more fun to take up a tolerable activity (i.e., watching Netflix on the elliptical) than it is to drop tasty foods from your diet, “exercise won’t help you lose weight in one week,” Dr. Seltzer says.
After all, “resistance training might initially contribute a pound or two due to the body’s inflammatory response, and people who do low-intensity exercise might burn calories, but they often end up eating more or subconsciously moving less throughout the day to conserve energy,” he says—and research supports the theory.
Real talk: It could take weeks or months to see the metabolic effects of exercise on the scale, and even then, building muscle, which is denser than body fat, could lead to weight gain. “Do what you like because it’s good for you,” Dr. Seltzer says, noting the way exercise is awesome for your heart, mental health, and more—and that not all measure of progress can be seen on the scale.
15. Have all the sex.
In what is perhaps the biggest buzzkill of all time, sex doesn’t quite count as cardio or burn a significant amount of calories: Women burn about 3.6 per minute. “It’s still a good idea,” Dr. Seltzer says, citing the activity’s other benefits, like increasing the output of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which naturally reduce food cravings.
Elizabeth Narins Senior fitness and health editor Elizabeth Narins is a Brooklyn, NY-based writer and a former senior editor at Cosmopolitan.com, where she wrote about fitness, health, and more. Ashley Oerman Deputy Lifestyle Director Ashley Oerman is the deputy lifestyle director at Cosmopolitan, covering fitness, health, food, cocktails, home, and entertainment. Jessica Toscano Jessica Toscano is a New Jersey-based writer, covering health and fitness, sex and relationships, and music.