You may think you’ve tried just about everything to lose weight, but maybe you just haven’t figured out what works for you yet. Some people swear by the keto diet and CrossFit, while others prefer basic calorie counting to tackle weight loss.
Weight loss isn’t simple, but these tips might be just what you need to get your diet back on track.
1. Meal prep
Whoever said that abs are made in the kitchen was on to something. One study found that planning your weekly meals was associated with a healthier, more varied diet, and less obesity.
Meal prepping and planning involves batch cooking several meals at once. This may sound intimidating; meal prepping can initially feel like a lot of work. But once you develop your own system, meal prepping can truly be a lifesaver.
You only have to block off one period of time each week to do your grocery shopping and cook your meals. There’s no need to cook a meal from scratch every single night. On a busy day at work, having a meal ready and waiting for you at home may actually end up being more convenient than the fast food drive-thru.
There are thousands of good resources for healthy meal prep inspiration on the internet. Once you experiment and find your favorite recipes, meal prepping gets easier, faster, and cheaper.
Meal prepping can save you time and money, and help you lose weight — sounds like a win-win-win.
2. Use smaller plates
One surprisingly simple solution to help trick your mind into eating less involves the size of your dinnerware. A review of several studies found that cutting your normal plate size in half led to a 30 percent reduction in amount of food consumed on average.
3. Weigh your food
If you’re counting calories with a free calorie counter app like MyFitnessPal, it’s time to take the next step. If you’re not losing weight, it could be that you’re eating a lot more than you think you are. Unsurprisingly, most people tend to underreport what they eat.
A kitchen scale will help you accurately weigh your food so that you don’t accidentally go over your daily calorie limit. Using a food scale along with an accurate calorie counting app may be just what you need to jump-start your weight loss.
4. Drink water before your meals
Another quick and cheap way to hack your diet is to drink a tall glass of water 20 minutes before every meal.
In one small study, obese dieters who drank a glass of water about half an hour before their meals lost 44 percent more weight over three months than those who didn’t drink water before their meals.
As a nice bonus, drinking lots of water may even slightly raise the number of calories your body burns during the day.
5. Ditch the technology
Technology helps save you time and energy doing mundane tasks, but it could also keep you from losing weight.
If possible, try giving up a few luxuries to help you burn a few extra calories here and there:
- Wash dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
- Use a rake instead of a leaf blower.
- Get off the bus or subway a couple stops early and walk the rest of the way home.
- Play outside with your kids rather than playing video games or watching TV.
Also, try not to eat meals while you’re watching TV or on your computer. The distraction can lead to mindless eating.
Stress management is essential for controlling weight. High stress levels can wreak havoc on your diet by elevating levels of cortisol, aka the stress hormone.
Elevated cortisol levels are linked to more belly fat and increased appetite.
Meditation is a tried-and-true method for reducing stress, enhancing self-awareness, and calming your body and mind. It can help teach you to focus your awareness on the present moment.
Practicing mindfulness is a great way to develop more control over the mind and the direction of your thoughts. This can be crucial for controlling impulses and preventing overeating.
7. Clean your kitchen
This may seem odd, but cluttered and chaotic environments can actually make it more likely that you’ll reach for the junk food. Results from a 2016 study suggest that a messy or chaotic environment makes people feel less in control, which is bad for diets because it makes it harder to resist snacking.
If you’re the type of person who snacks when stressed, you may want to grab the mop.
8. Take a nap
There’s tons of evidence showing that sleep deprivation increases your risk of weight gain. In fact, lack of quality sleep is linked to an increased risk of obesity in adults. Lack of sleep messes with the hormones in your body responsible for hunger and satiation, and for regulating the stress response.
Bright screens from cellphones and computers are one of many reasons we don’t get good quality sleep. The glow from the screen mimics daylight and prevents our body from releasing melatonin. This can result in a night of restless, poor-quality sleep.
If you want to improve your sleep, turn off bright screens roughly 30 minutes before bedtime. Instead, read a book or write in a journal.
Sleeping for at least seven hours a night is optimal for weight control and overall health. If you still find yourself sleepy during the day, take a nap instead of reaching for a cup of your favorite sugary coffee drink.