57 science backed ways to lose weight
It might seem like losing weight is a simple case of "eat less, move more". Yes, a calorie deficit is important, but there's more to weight loss. Here are 57 science-backed tips to try.
Add one, two or all of these little tips and tricks to your daily routine to help the healthy habits which lead to fat loss and weight management. Some of them might seem tiny, some might seem crazy, but all of them have been proven to help! What have you got to lose… except lbs!
It starts in the mind
Get your mindset sorted before you embark on a weight loss plan. These mindfulness tips will help.
Banish negative self talk from your weightloss efforts. Think carrot, not stick. Work towards something positive rather than running from the negative. Don't forget to congratulate yourself for every success, no matter how small.
Slow down and think
Tune into your real hunger signals by slowing down, stopping to think about what you choose to eat, and eating more slowly too. Let your body and mind catch up before even thinking about seconds, dessert, or your next meal.
Meditation is a useful tool for emotional eaters. Do you eat when you're upset, lonely, bored or frustrated? Then sit with those feelings, relax, meditate or journal. You might still want to eat afterwards. But we bet you don't. If it's about feelings, no food will feed that need.
Use visual cues
Try using vision boards, motivational quotes and visual reminders of your weight loss goals. Pin images to your fridge, change your phone screen saver, and write down inspiring words and phrases to keep you connected to your goal.
Connect with your goal
Make it personal. Why do you want to lose weight? It's often not enough to just say you want to "lose weight". Instead, dig deep and discover what it really means to you. How will you feel, what will you wear, where will you go and what will you do once you've lost those lbs? Everyone's different - why does weight loss really matter to you?
Manage your stress
Stress, lack of sleep and strong emotions are huge factors in overeating and snacking. Try to manage every day stress as best you can, by meditating, writing down your worries, talking to a friend or taking a walk outside. Exercise can really help your body physically cope with stress. You'll find less need to eat your feelings.
Live in the moment
Don't think about what you can't eat, or worry about how you'll cope with that birthday party next Friday. Instead, focus on the here and now. Chew your food, taste every flavour and texture. Enjoy cooking. Discover new favourite vegetables, ingredients and dishes. Fall in love with walking. Be in the moment and learn to enjoy the process of change.
Think about what you're adding, not taking away
Diets are usually about sacrifice, denial and subtraction. How about thinking instead about what you're adding in: more vegetables, more walks, more activity, more water, more sleep, more movement, more relaxation, more protein, more homecooked meals. Focus on what you're gaining, not what you're denying yourself.
Successful weightloss is about small habits, done consistently. Consistency beats perfection every time.
100% consistent rather than 80% perfect
What's that? You don't need do be perfect to lose weight? Complete and utter perfection with diet and exercise would be great, but come on how realistic is that? Nobody's perfect. We're all human. Aim for consistency rather than perfection and you'll find you have a much less stressful time. Tortoise beats hare.
Chew your food
Do you rush your food, and often finish your meal without enjoying the taste? Slow down, chew each mouthful, enjoy the tastes and textures. Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls and even push your plate away for a moment. It gives your body time to catch up with feeling full.
Get rid of red flags
If you know something will tempt you, why make it difficult for yourself? Get rid of "red flag" foods, or at least put them out of sight, or out of reach.
Snooze the weight away
What's free, available to everyone, and helps burn fat? Sleep. Believe it or not, getting more good quality sleep on a consistent basis helps your body lose weight and burn fat. It's all down to healthy, happy hormones which banish stress, get appetite in check, and encourage your body to give up excess body fat. So start getting to bed earlier and sleeping more soundly.
Build a chain of good habits
You don't need to change everything about your lifestyle all at once. Instead, focus on one healthy habit per week, and add them on from there. That's 52 habits or changes in one year! It could be as small as going to bed 30 minutes earlier for a week, or drinking an extra glass of water every day.
No more TV dinners
Eat mindfully: that means no eating in front of the TV, at your desk, or whilst on the internet. Concentrate on your food, after all it's what you've been waiting for! You'll enjoy it much more and your brain won't immediately think about your next snack or meal.
Indulge your cravings
Yes, really. Totally denying yourself the things you crave is a sure-fire way to diet failure. The key is in letting yourself indulge in measured portions. Like chocolate? So have one or two squares of your favourite every night. But here's the key: really enjoy it. That means sitting down, focusing on it, letting it melt in your mouth. Don't eat on the go, scoff it whilst surfing Facebook or munch without noticing it at all.
Out to eat? You don't have to eat your entire order. It's fine to ask the restaurant to bag up your leftovers - after all, you've bought them! This brave tactic saves you calories, teaches you not to overeat, and gives you a ready made mini-meal for tomorrow!
Weightloss and diet
Food has a huge part to play in weightloss, so here are 25 tips to remember.
The debate about fasting rages on in the diet industry, but it's generally accepted that eating a healthy breakfast with protein and some fats will help you manage your appetite during the day, and avoid late night overeating. Ditch the processed cereals, breakfast bars and baked goods. Try eggs, omelettes, or even a healthier version of a fry-up: chicken sausages or turkey bacon, one or two eggs, tomatoes and mushroom.
And don't forget coffee
Coffee has been shown to have thermogenic properties (it's the caffeine) which help burn fat, manage hunger and mobilise body fat for fuel. Just avoid the milk, cream, syrups and toppings. It's just the coffee itself which is useful, OK?
Don't skip snacktime
It's best to eat 4-6 times per day (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner for example). This keeps insulin response in check, and avoids building up an insatiable hunger which leads to mindless overeating when you finally get a meal. Eat little and often to get in touch with your appetite.
Shop the perimeter
Ever noticed how the healthiest groceries are around the outside of the supermarket? Vegetables at the front, fishmonger and butcher at the back, frozen section at the side. Stick to the outside sections of the store and avoid the inner aisles which is where you tend to find packaged goods, crisps, sweets and biscuits.
Keep your fridge stocked up
People who lose weight and keep it off have healthy fridges. That's where you need to keep a regular stock of vegetables, salad items, meat, fish, eggs, dairy and home cooked meals so you'll always have something healthy to eat.
Frozen is good too
And don't forget your freezer! Stock up on meat and fish (bulk buy), portion it out, and freeze. Batch cook really healthy meals (a slow cooker is great for this) and freeze portions. Remember that frozen veggies are often better than fresh, and keep frozen berries for smoothies and desserts packed with anti-oxidants but low in sugar.
Stock your larder
Make sure your larder is filled with items that help rather than hold back your weightloss efforts. Get rid of items you know will tempt you off the path (cake mix, sweets, chocolates, crisps). And stock up on tinned fish, pulses, raw nuts, rice, quinoa, oats, tinned vegetables like tomatoes, and plenty of herbs and spices.
The lost art of cooking is crucial for successful weightloss. So learn to love cooking and get to grips with the basic skills of healthy, home cooked meals. Understand how to cook with a wide range of vegetables, and experiment with ways to get meats and fish into recipes. Use fresh and dried herbs and spices to make even the lowest calorie dishes delicious. And make the most of kitchen appliances like slow cookers, blenders and air fryers.
As well as using your slow cooker, air fryer and oven in smart ways, get to grips with clever ingredients like spray oil to help you cut unnecessary fat levels from your diet.
Eat more greens
Almost all of us should eat more leafy greens and green veggies than we do. So learn to love cruciferous vegetables, salad leaves, spring greens and other green veg. Find new favourites, experiment with your grocery shopping and try out new recipes. The benefits of greens and leaves can't be underestimated: everything from digestive health to balanced hormones, fat loss and disease prevention.
Plate up then eat
If you're used to sitting around the table with serving dishes in the middle, try this: plate up in the kitchen and move to the table to eat. You're much less likely to overeat if it's not there in front of you.
And use smaller plates
Scientific research tells us that crockery sizes have changed massively over time, and we now use plates and bowls which are much, much larger than our ancestors would have used. As a result, we eat more (yet we move less than they did). It's a no-brainer. Use slightly smaller plates, bowls and dishes.
Out of sight, out of mind
If you accidentally make more food than you need, or if you purposefully made a double portion, put it away before you sit down to eat. Not only will you save money, but you'll save calories too. Once the second portion is in a tub and out of sight, you won't be tempted to eat it for seconds. Pop it in the fridge or freezer once it's cooled.
Are you sure you want seconds?
If you feel yourself craving a second helping, just give it 10 minutes. If you honestly still want to eat after that, then go ahead. But we bet you won't. Get your brain involved in something completely different, and move to a different room. Chances are you'll forget about that second helping.
Don't go out to eat hungry
This sounds counterintuitive but it really works. If you're going out to eat, and know there might be a wait before ordering, don't go hungry. Have a small, healthy snack with some fibre, fats and protein (Greek yoghurt with nuts or seeds, or a chicken thigh with some green veggies). You're less likely to overeat when dinner time rolls around.
Eat the right kind of carbs
Carbohydrates are not the enemy, but most of us eat too many of the wrong sort and at the wrong time. If it grew in the ground or out of the earth, it's a good bet. If it was manmade or comes from a packet, leave it on the shelf. So potatoes, squash, root vegetables, oats, rice, quinoa and pulses are great. Bread, cereals, breakfast cereal, pastries, cakes, biscuits, pasta and noodles aren't so good. And remember to eat carbohydrates when you need them: ie when your body has been active. After the gym, a bike ride, long walk or active day outside the house.
Protein is every slimmer's friend
Eat more protein. Most of us don't get enough. Protein helps keep us full, and has a thermogenic effect (the body has to work hard to use it). So eat more fish, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy and pulses. Try to eat a portion of protein with every single meal, even breakfast.
Fat does not make you fat
Dietary fat does not equal body fat. Body fat only builds up as a result of eating too much - and that can come from anything (carbohydrates, protein or alcohol, not just fat). So don't go low fat. Keep an eye on fatty food portions, but remember that some is essential for brains, cells, hormones - and your body's ability to shed its own body fat. Great sources of good fats are oily fish, butter, avocados, nuts and seeds. Avoid trans fats in pastries, baked goods, pies and manmade foods.
Slash the sugar
Sugar is great for energy, but that also means it's very high in calories (calories are a unit of energy after all). But the thing about sugar is that it's not high in anything else. No nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fibre or healthy properties. It's just energy. So unless your training for the Tour de France or your job as a tree surgeon keeps you torching through calories 10 hours a day, cut back on sugar. Read labels to discover the shocking truth about where sugar is lurking. And remember that any ingredients on a food label which ends in "---ose" is a sugar.
More fibre, more weightloss
We need more fibre. It moves food through the digestive system, protects against diseases of the stomach, colon and bowel, and helps our bodies absorb nutrients. Plus, it helps us feel full so we snack less. Load up on fibrous foods like vegetables, salad leaves, berries, oats, rice and some fruit.
Swap an Americano with milk for your regular latte, use Greek yoghurt instead of pouring cream, and use sharp cheese in place of mild cheese so you need to use less to get flavour. It's all about smart swaps which help you manage unhealthy levels of fat, sugar and carbohydrates. Make substitutions which help you keep on enjoying your daily diet, just in a healthier way.
More veg, less fruit
We're always told to eat "fruit and veg" but really it should be "veg… and fruit". Prioritise vegetables over fruit. It has less sugar, more fibre, and a wider range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Eat limitless veg (especially greens) but try to stick to 1-2 pieces of fruit per day, unless you are very active.
Fruit without the juice
And remember that fruit juice counts as fruit, too. In fact, just one glass of fruit juice is usually around 8 servings of the fruit itself! Would you really eat 8 oranges in one go? So why gulp down the equivalent sugar and calories in a few minutes? That goes for smoothies too.
Replace some meals with homemade soup. Not only does this enable you to get vegetables and protein into your diet, and control salt and other ingredients, but the water volume of soup will fill you up and keep you hydrated. Avoid salty stock, cream and other heavy ingredients and experiment with homemade soups rich in vegetables, leafy greens, meat and poultry.
Get to grips with what a proper portion size for you really is. It's probably not the same as your partner, your kids or your dinner date. Don't plate up the exact same portion sizes for everyone in the family. Remember what you weigh, how tall you are, how active you are, how much you walk during the day, how much exercise you do, and how active your daily routine is. Be realistic.
Dieting drink ideas
Hydration is important to weightloss.
Drink more water
Instead of fruit juice, drink more water. Water helps weightloss in many ways: helps keep your digestive system running smoothly, rids the body of toxins (which are stored in body fat), keeps your metabolism healthy, and helps you manage your appetite properly.
Try green tea
Green tea contains compounds which help metabolise body fat and mobilise fat for fuel. It's a powerful thermogenic which will be a useful tool in your weightloss journey. Drink green tea, or use green tea capsules as a supplement. Just remember it contains caffeine so don't drink it at night.
Drink before eating
Drinking water before you eat, or incorporating homemade soup as part of your meal, will naturally help you cut calories by keeping you full and ensuring you are well hydrated.
Don't drink your calories
Fruit juice, smoothies, fancy coffees, milk, soda and fizzy drinks and - of course - alcohol are all pretty heavy on calories! Just because it's liquid doesn't mean it won't pack on the pounds. Check the calorie count of your next drink to see how it stacks up against a solid meal. You might be shocked!
Calories in… calories out
Exercise and activity is the other half of the weightloss equation.
Sports research has shown clear links between music and exercise performance. Even top athletes rely on playlists of favourite tunes to perform on game day. Load up your MP3 player with upbeat, fast-paced tunes for running or gym cardio, and heavier, rock or dance music for the weights room at the gym.
Weight training=muscle=weight loss
You might not want to build mega muscle but that's no reason to avoid the weights area at the gym. Some resistance training (free weights or body weight) will help you maintain lean muscle tissue, which raises your metabolic rate even at rest, helping burn body fat and keep your weight stable. You won't turn into a bodybuilder overnight, we promise.
Ignore the machine displays
If you're tracking calories burned, don't rely on the monitor on gym machines to tell you. Most are inaccurate and can't be specific enough for every gym user. Instead, work hard, work up a sweat, and be consistent.
Do at least some of your exercise outside. Powerwalk, walk the dog, cycle or play with the kids. You'll lose track of time, the fresh air will bring health benefits, and the sunlight will boost vitamin D for healthy fat loss hormones.
HIIT it hard
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training - a form of exercise which sees you working mega hard for 10-20 seconds, then resting until you've recovered, then going again. Great for sprints on the bike or rowing machine, or running hill sprints, or doing body weight intervals with burpees and other plyometric exercises. HIIT will get you fit and lean, fast. And it takes much less time than long slow cardio!
Get more active, more often
Gym sessions and workout classes are great, but it's actually more important in the long run to be a healthy, active person on a day to day basis. It's far better to walk regularly, get outside, do the gardening, be active, do household chores, play with your kids, and sit around less than it is to go to the gym for an hour 4 times a week. Build more activity in to your every day life to lose weight and keep it off.
Weird weightloss tips to try today
Try these crazy tricks!
This might sound crazy, but scientists have proven that eating from blue crockery can help you eat less. The colour contrasts with most foods in a way that signals displeasure to the brain. Avoid crockery which matches the colour of your food (white for risotto, for instance) and use highly contrasting colours - ideally blue - instead!
Your teeth, that is. After eating, brush your teeth. You're much less likely to eat again once you've done that, so it will help you avoid second helpings, mindless snacking or unnecessary desserts.
Cayenne pepper, chilli pepper and red chilli powder and flakes are all bona-fide thermogenics, natural ingredients which help the body burn calories at a greater rate so you lose more weight. Add red chilli to food any which way you like. Just avoid hot sauces which list sugars and oils as ingredients.
Sugar free gum
Choose sugar free gum when you want to keep your jaws busy. Scientific studies have shown that chewing minty fresh or fruity sugar free gum can curb cravings.
Tall and thin not short and squat
Not you! Your drinking glass. Research shows that we drink less in one sitting when we choose tall, slim glassware over shorter, wider-mouthed glasses. Strange but true. A great tip if you must indulge in alcohol whilst dieting.