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23 Weight Loss Strategies That Actually Work

Check out this practical weight-loss advice from registered dietitian nutritionists, which includes everything from savouring your food to prioritising protein.

By T MANJUNATHAPublished 4 months ago 12 min read

You've probably heard your fair share of bizarre weight loss advice over the years, whether it's to drink celery juice every day or replace your meals with weight loss "cookies." And those suggestions are frequently promoted by people with no medical background. (Read: Exercise caution.)

But, just as there is a lot of bad weight loss advice out there, there are also a lot of good, research-backed, and expert-approved suggestions for people who are in the right mental health space and want to lose weight.

Pick a time to exercise and stick to it, for example. A study published in the journal Obesity in July 2019 discovered that exercising consistently at the same time each day may help you successfully maintain weight loss.

Another piece of sound advice is to prefer nuts to highly processed snacks. An article published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health in December 2019 discovered that cutting back on processed foods and increasing the amount of nuts you eat by half a serving (for example, from half an ounce to 1 ounce) each day is associated with less weight gain and a lower risk of obesity.

There's also evidence that a weight loss counsellor can help you lose weight. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in November 2019 found that pairing such counselling sessions (in this case, weight loss via low-carb dieting) with group medical visits helped people with type 2 diabetes lose weight and take less medication than a control group. It's a win-win situation!

When it comes to weight loss, your mindset can also play a role. According to research published in the journal Obesity in February 2022, those who lost weight and kept it off embraced their setbacks, viewing them as temporary pauses in their plan rather than failures.

What isn't working? Dieting without end. According to a small study published in the International Journal of Obesity in August 2017, taking a two-week diet break may have aided weight loss in obese men.

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If you follow such advice, you might find yourself losing weight. Other weight-loss tips can be found here.

1. Eat slowly

"I teach my clients how to select foods they enjoy, taste each morsel as it enters their mouths, and chew deliberately. I tell them to chew slowly, swallow only when the food is completely chewed, and repeat. It takes time to realise we're full. Eating slowly not only allows us to enjoy our food more, but it also provides us with better cues of satiety."

2. Have Fun With Your Food

"So often we're told what to eat, and then when we don't like that specific food, we're less apt to create long-term healthy habits. Experiment with new fruits and vegetables. Learn how to make new dishes that are flavorful and varied. To enhance the flavour, add herbs and spices. Alternatively, enjoy the sweetness of fruit and the depth of raw and steamed vegetables. There's no reason why your relationship with food shouldn't be enjoyable."

3. Maintain a Daily Gratitude Journal

"Whether we realise it or not, our eating habits are sometimes linked to our emotions. When we are stressed, we may turn to food to help us cope. I work with clients on keeping a daily gratitude journal — or even just a journal to write in when stressed — so that they're better prepared to cope with stress by acknowledging it and utilising other tools, rather than reaching for food as a coping mechanism."

4. Batch Cooking and Preparation

"Every Sunday, I cook enough chicken for the week. I trim the fat, bake it with seasoning, measure 3.5 ounces, and store it in a container with mustard and frozen veggies so I can bring one to work every day. I also divide 14 cup of rolled oats, 1 tablespoon each of natural peanut butter and ground flax, and a pinch each of protein powder and cinnamon to sweeten into individual containers. So, when I wake up as a zombie, all I have to do is add water and microwave!"

5. Don't Forget About the Weights!

"Make sure you are lifting weights two or three times a week. Using moderate to heavy weights — three or four sets of 10 to 15 reps with weights that challenge you — aids in muscle mass growth. When your body has more muscle, the food you eat is more likely to be used as fuel rather than stored as fat."

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6. Obtain Enough Z's

"A lack of sleep increases your hunger hormone, ghrelin, and decreases your satisfaction hormone, leptin, which can contribute to weight gain. We crave salty and sweet foods when we are sleep deprived. Why? Because when you are hungry, your cravings for higher energy — aka higher calorie — foods increase. We also know that lack of sleep affects the way we think and process our emotions, so it's easy to link this to a diminished ability to make sound decisions in many areas of life, including food.

We can safely assume that when we are well rested, we will make better decisions. When it comes to eating, this means only eating when we are truly hungry and only eating until we are satisfied. Our hormones will also be more balanced because our bodies will have more time to sleep, repair, and refresh."

7. Do Not Miss Meals

"Remember that our body's ultimate goal is to survive. As soon as we are denied calories, which are literally our bodies' life energy, it will do things to survive. Our bodies are aware of which foods have a higher energy density and will crave them more. Respect your hunger and don't let your body believe it's starving. This contradicts many dieting strategies, but those strategies do not work for most people in the long run. "I recommend eating every four hours."

8. Stay Hydrated

"Research has found that people who drank two glasses of water before a meal lost more weight than those who didn't — and they kept it off. This straightforward tip serves two purposes. Thirst can masquerade as hunger, causing you to eat more. And water makes you feel fuller, so you eat less during a meal."

9. Reduce Calories but not Flavor

"By choosing sharp cheddar over mild cheddar, you can use less while still getting a lot of flavour without feeling deprived."

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10. Weigh Yourself Weekly

"The same day, the same time, the same amount of clothing. Remember that your weight is a five-pound range, not a single number. Work on lowering the range rather than the exact number."

11. Arrange Your Plate

"Make half your plate vegetables, a quarter of your plate whole grains, and a quarter of your plate lean protein. You'll notice a difference if you switch the grains and vegetables on your plate. The only exception is that potatoes, corn, and peas are starchy vegetables, so they are classified as grains."

12. Begin with where you are and do what you can.

"Don't feel obligated to overhaul your entire life right away. Assess where you are now and then determine where you want to be in the future. Getting a step counter and seeing how much you walk on a typical day is a great place to start for mostly sedentary people. Then, set a slightly higher step goal and strive for it, gradually working your way up to a goal of 10,000 steps per day."

13. Think Big Rather Than Small

"Pay attention to the 'big rocks' of weight loss — there are a few areas that will give you the most bang for your buck when trying to lose weight. Prioritizing those and letting go of the minor details that contribute to overwhelm will make achieving your goals feel easier and more sustainable. Pay attention to calories, protein, and fibre when it comes to nutrition. Prioritize strength training, daily steps, and recovery when it comes to exercise."

14. Look Past the Scale

"While the scale isn't useless, it's also not the most important factor. Take regular photos and measurements, as well as keep a running list of non-scale victories, to help you gauge progress that may not be reflected on the scale. This will help you keep the scale in perspective while also highlighting all of the positive changes you're making to your health and lifestyle."

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15. Add Protein to Your Breakfast

"Aim for 15 to 25 grammes of protein in the morning. Protein digests slowly and suppresses hunger hormones, which helps you stay full. A high-protein breakfast also helps to curb cravings later in the day. Combine protein with fibre and healthy fats, such as two eggs with whole-wheat toast and avocado, or high-protein frozen waffles with nuts, berries, and a drizzle of maple syrup."

16. Consume protein at every meal.

"Eating protein-rich foods at every meal, particularly breakfast, can help you lose weight. Protein slows digestion and has a positive effect on hunger hormones. Protein can also be more effective than carbohydrates at suppressing hunger. Quinoa, edamame, beans, seeds, nuts, eggs, yoghurt, cheese, tofu, lentil pasta, poultry, fish, and meat are all high in protein."

17. Reduce your intake of high-glycemic carbohydrate foods.

"The glycemic index ranks how quickly blood sugar rises after consuming carbohydrates. Eating high-glycemic carbohydrate foods such as white potatoes and refined bread alone will cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a rapid drop. This leaves you hungry and craving more food. More long-term studies are needed, but short-term studies like this one show that there is a link. However, high-glycemic foods are not completely off-limits. We provide individualised ways to help you balance nutrients to prevent blood sugar spikes, which can help with appetite control when you work with a registered dietitian nutritionist."

18. Experiment with Fruit for Dessert

"Fruits are low in calories and high in nutrients such as antioxidants and fibre. According to the CDC, only 10% of the American population consumes enough fruits and vegetables. Fruit for dessert will not only help you meet your daily requirements, but will also add flavour to your day. Many fruits can be grilled, sautéed, or baked. Grilled peach with vanilla yoghurt and shaved almonds, for example, is delicious!"

19. Eat your breakfast like a king, your lunch like a prince, and your dinner like a pauper.

"It's a saying with many meanings, but you'll want to consume more calories earlier in the day. According to a study published in the journal Nutrients in November 2019, subjects who were given a small breakfast and a large dinner lost significantly less weight than those who were given a large breakfast and a smaller dinner. So we can see how eating smaller meals later in the day can help people lose weight and improve their overall health. The time the dinner was eaten was the most intriguing aspect of this study. They discovered that eating the main meal (larger meal) after 3 p.m. was linked to difficulty losing weight. It is important to note that this study is not recommending that everyone refrain from eating after 3 p.m. Individual needs, such as those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, have diabetes, or take medication that requires specific foods, necessitate additional snacks and food. This is why it is critical that you consult with a registered dietitian nutritionist."

20. Start Meal Planning

"One of my top tips for staying healthy and eating well is meal planning. I'm so enthusiastic about the concept that I wrote a book about it! Taking 5 to 10 minutes over the weekend to plan out a menu for the week ahead will save you time, money, and extra calories later on. Don't know what to cook for dinner tonight? Not to worry, it's already on your menu. Menu planning is an excellent way to stay organised, to know what groceries you need to buy and what you already have on hand, and to ensure a well-balanced plate. Remember that taking a night off from cooking and ordering takeout or preparing a frozen meal is perfectly acceptable as part of the menu plan. The advantage is knowing ahead of time that you'll be doing so, so you're not scrambling when hunger strikes. And don't forget to write down your plan — you'll be more likely to stick to it if it's right in front of you."

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21. Create and Stick to a Grocery List

"Once you've planned your menu for the week, make a shopping list on paper or on your phone — I use Notes, but there are apps for this as well. Knowing what you need to buy at the supermarket ahead of time will save you time, reduce food waste, and keep you from buying items that look appealing but you don't actually need. To stay on track, avoid shopping when you are hungry or tired. At those times, research shows an increase in impulsive behaviour."

22. Inventory What's in Your Kitchen

"In order to prepare healthy meals, you must have the right ingredients and kitchen tools on hand. Low-sodium canned beans, canned fish, tomato sauce, whole-grain pasta, quinoa, brown rice, low-sodium stock, low-fat plain yoghurt, a variety of fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, olive oil, and dried herbs and spices are some pantry, fridge, and freezer staples I recommend having on hand. These are just a few of the ingredients that can be used to create a nutritious and tasty meal."

23. Have the Right Tools Available

"Similarly, having a good variety of kitchen tools can help ensure easy, efficient, and healthy cooking. A seasoned cast-iron skillet, for example, is one of my favourite pans for cooking eggs, sautéing vegetables, and making pancakes because I don't have to use as much oil or butter to keep food from sticking. An immersion blender, an Instant Pot, baking sheets, measuring cups and spoons, and a hand juicer are among my other favourite kitchen tools. Of course, anyone who works in the kitchen should have a good set of knives."

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