If you ask ten people how they dropped a few pounds you will likely get ten different answers. Though there are a myriad of ways to slim down, there are a handful of tried and true methods that are the most effective, statistically-proven weight loss tricks and tips. (It’s no coincidence that these tips also happen to be the easiest—that’s how so many people are able to follow them every day!)
To get to these prized pointers, we examined data from The National Weight Control Registry, (NWCR) which tracks upwards of 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time.
The data yielded some obvious results, including that 98 percent of registry participants reported that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight, but it also shed some light on weight loss methods you might not think of right off the bat.
1. Eat a balanced breakfast
There’s some truth to the old adage that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day,” and that’s why we’re not surprised a whopping 78 percent of people enrolled in the NWCR reported they eat breakfast every day. What’s more? if you’re looking to lose weight, exactly what weight loss breakfast foods can make all the difference. According to a study from the University of Missouri in Columbia, a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast (like these 19 High Protein Breakfasts That Keep You Full) may be the most important investment you can make in your waistline. The study showed that eating breakfast triggered women’s brains to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical that helps to control impulses. In other words, eating a balanced breakfast decreases your chances of reaching for that 3 p.m. candy bar, and keeps your belly slim.
Furthermore, additional research has shown that forgoing the morning meal is harmful to your metabolism and can actually lead to unwanted weight gain. A study from the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who cut out the breakfast were 4.5 times more likely to be obese, and scientists suspect that’s because skipping meals slows your metabolism and boosts your hunger. That harmful dynamic puts your body in prime fat-storage mode and increases your odds of overeating at the next meal. Skipping breakfast isn’t the only reason for your unwanted weight gain. There are also 17 Surprising Reasons Why You’re Gaining Weight.
2. Get a good night’s sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, most grown adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night in order to function at their best. As it turns out, that amount of sleep is also ideal for preventing the pile on of excess pounds. In fact, a study published in the journal Sleep found that people who didn’t get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night were more at risk for weight gain.
3. Watch less television
62 percent of people enrolled in the NWCR reported they watch less than ten hours of TV per week, and there’s research to support the fact that cutting the amount of time you spend in front of the small screen can be beneficial for your waistline. In fact, a University of Vermont study found that overweight participants who reduced their TV time by just 50 percent burned an additional 119 calories a day on average. Though that might not sound like much, it adds up to an impressive twelve-pound annual loss! Maximize those results by multitasking while you watch. Even light household tasks will further bump up your caloric burn, and it’s better to keep your hands busy with dishes or laundry as opposed to calorie-packed snacks.
4. Walk—and maybe speed up the pace
Working out plays a crucial role in weight loss and can help you maintain a slim figure for years to come, so it’s no surprise that 90 percent of people enrolled in the NWCR reported they exercise, on average, about one hour per day. And even though people tend to find one workout routine and stick to it, research has shown it’s important to switch things up every now and again, especially in terms of cardio. Instead of simply running or walking, try to vary your speeds as you go. Scientists at Ohio State University found that walking at varying speeds can burn up to 20 percent more calories compared to maintaining a steady pace. In fact, 94 percent of people enrolled in the NWCR reported they increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking, so get moving with these 30 Tips When You’re Walking for Weight Loss.
5. Weigh yourself
It’s our The #1 Thing You Can Do Every Day to Lose Weight for a reason. While having a scale in the house isn’t right for everyone, research has shown that it can help encourage weight loss by providing a level of accountability. In fact, an impressive 75 percent of people enrolled in the NWCR revealed they weigh themselves at least once a week. Need more proof it’s worth getting a scale? When Cornell University researchers observed dieters who weighed themselves daily, they discovered that the routine of stepping on a scale helped those people lose more weight than those who weighed themselves less frequently. To avoid being thrown off by natural fluctuations in body weight, try stepping onto the scale the same time every day.
6. Put your fork down between bites
It takes twenty minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s had enough, so if you eat slowly chances are you will consume less and see your belly shrink. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found slow eaters took in 66 fewer calories per meal, but compared to their fast-eating peers, they felt like they had eaten more. Though 66 calories might not sound like much, cutting that amount out of every meal adds up to a weight loss of more than twenty pounds a year! A simple trick to slow your pace: Place your fork down on the plate after each bite.
7. Stick to your favorite foods
Believe it or not, there’s something to be said for being a creature of habit and eating the same foods day in and day out, especially if you’re on a mission to shed some weight. According to a study that appeared in the journal PLOS One, researchers looked at the diets of 6,814 people and found that the more diverse one’s diet, the more likely one was to experience weight gain. In fact, those who ate the widest range of foods showed a 120 percent greater increase in waist circumference compared with those who had the least diversity. If you’re not sure what foods are best to rely on every day, a good starting point is to take a look at the 40 Foods Nutrition Experts Told Us You Should Be Eating Every Day.
8. Reduce your added sugar intake
Nearly all Registry participants reported that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight, and a great place to start is by cutting your added sugar intake. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories per day from added sugars, or six teaspoons, for women, and 150 calories (nine teaspoons) for men, but most Americans are ingesting much more than that and it’s contributing to the rapid expansion of waistlines. The good news is, if you want to slim down and keep the weight off, all you need to do is reduce the amount of added sugar you eat and the pounds will disappear rapidly. Reducing your intake of calorie-dense sugar carbs automatically reduces the amount of calories you’re consuming on a daily basis, which forces your body to burn fat stored around your midsection for energy, rather than the sugars it takes from carbohydrates. Bye-bye excess weight! For tips on how to accomplish this mission, 20 Tips For How to Cut Out Sugar From Medical Experts.
9. Replace simple carbs with high-fiber foods
Reducing your intake of added sugar is one of the most effective weight loss tricks, and you’ll increase your chances of obtaining that bikini body you’ve always wanted if you swap simple carbs for high-fiber foods. The best part? Your fiber can come from any natural foods and yield the same results. In a study at the University of South Carolina, subjects who ate an average of 16.6 grams of fiber per day were put on one of two diets that increased their fiber intake to an average of 28.4 grams a day. One group got their additional fiber primarily from beans, while the second got their fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. After four weeks, both groups had lost the same amount of weight—an average of three pounds each— and both groups reported less hunger and more satiety. This despite the fact that the subjects didn’t exercise or take any other steps toward weight loss other than to boost their fiber. To help you get there, we have a list of the best high-fiber snacks as well as 20 Different Ways to Eat 28 Grams of Fiber a Day.
10. Eat more protein
In addition to fiber, protein is another important player in the weight loss game because it requires more energy to burn than carbs or fats and thus keeps you fuller longer. In fact, in a study in the journal Appetite, researchers from the University of Missouri compared the satiety effects of high-, moderate-, and low-protein yogurts on 24-28-year-old women, and found Greek yogurt, with the highest protein content, to have the greatest effect. For an added boost of protein and flavor, consider topping your Greek yogurt with some fresh berries and almonds and then pair with a hard-boiled egg. If you don’t like the tang of Greek yogurt, you can always opt for high-protein cottage cheese instead. For more helpful eating tips, take a look at The 25 Best High-Protein Snacks!