Fad diets can help you to lose weight quickly. You’ll probably be impressed with the results after a week. But give it a month, and you’ll be tipping the scales at your old weight again. Plus, fad diets typically leave your body starved for nutrients, resulting in potentially irreversible damage.
The truth is that when it comes to long-term weight maintenance, there’s an abundance of evidence that proves that fad diets simply don’t work (1, 2).
Anyone can restrict what they eat for a week to shed water weight and a couple of pounds of fat. Keeping 10, 20, or 30 pounds off in the long term is much, much harder; And the more restrictive the diet, the harder it will actually be to follow.
That’s why it’s better to focus on changing your everyday lifestyle and developing healthy habits. Not only will you start losing weight right away, but you’ll actually keep it off instead of yo-yoing every other month.
If you’re struggling with your weight, these ten tips will help you get in shape and stay that way!
1. Indulge in Moderation
Instead of cutting out your favorite foods, incorporate them into your diet in moderation (3, 4). For example, instead of buying a whole tub of ice cream at the grocery store, treat yourself to a kiddie cone of the homemade stuff once a week.
2. Create a New Routine (and stick to it!)
Psychologists have long known the power of a routine. Having a daily routine in place and developing healthy habits can help you to stick to your guns when you feel like breaking down (5).
Remember that it can take up to three weeks to develop a new habit, so get into it gradually and don’t expect to feel like a changed person right away.
3. Eat Clean
When you eat processed foods, you take in a lot of “empty” calories that leave you feeling hungry again within a short time frame (6). That’s not even taking into considering the myriad of other killers associated with long-term consumption of processed foods—diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. (7)
If you’re not sure whether a food product is healthy or not, ask yourself how close it is to its natural state: The fewer the ingredients the better!
4. Hold Yourself Accountable
Holding yourself accountable is important to measure success, identify roadblocks in your approach, and motivate you to keep going on your diet. People who weigh themselves on a regular basis–for instance, once per week—tend to be more successful when it comes to weight loss (9).
5. Control Your Portions
Nothing is truly off limits when you’ve mastered the art of portion control. Research indicates that eating a low-fat, portion-controlled diet may help to leave you feeling fuller after consuming fat, leaving you less likely to over-indulge when it’s time for dessert (10).
There are simple ways to trick yourself into eating smaller portions, too: Use smaller plates or bowls, package leftovers in single-serve containers and eat more vegetables, which take up a lot of space on the plate but won’t leave you overdosing on calories.
6. Track What You Eat
Using a food journal to track the food you eat can help you to boost weight loss. Just as you might track your day-to-day purchases to cut back on spending, a food journal can help you become more aware of where your calories are coming from.
7. Make Exercise a Priority
While you might not need exercise to drop a few quick pounds, exercise is important if you want to keep weight off as time goes by and to improve your overall health. The amount of energy you expend on a daily basis is one of the strongest predictors of weight loss maintenance (11).
For most of us, this means breaking free from a sedentary lifestyle by hitting the gym or going for a long walk. You don’t have to run a marathon, just break a sweat for 30 minutes every day.
8. Eat Every Few Hours
Waiting too long between meals can result in dizziness and headaches. Plus, chances are, you’ll consume more calories when you finally do sit down to eat (12). Instead of letting yourself starve, eat small meals or a healthy snack every couple of hours to keep your metabolism in fat-burning mode.
9. Find Healthy Substitutes
You might be surprised to learn that there are healthy substitutes out there for the ingredients you love but that don’t do your body any favors (13).
These simple substitutions are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you can do to preserve taste while eliminating unhealthy foods:
- Coconut oil or applesauce instead of butter
- Nitrate-free turkey bacon instead of bacon
- Honey, maple syrup or molasses instead of white sugar
- Plain, unsweetened yogurt instead of fruit-flavored yogurt
- Whole wheat bread, rice, and pasta instead of their refined versions
10. Drink Water
You might be surprised to find out that drinking water can actually help you to stave off hunger (14). Because we often confuse thirst or dehydration for hunger, simply drinking a glass of water before you dig into a snack can dramatically reduce the amount of calories you take in.
If you’re not a fan of plain water, try adding a bit of lemon to your glass, drinking fruit-infused sparkling water, or having a cup of herbal tea to stay hydrated.