More than 44 million Americans start dieting every year. Some even estimate that half of the country is trying to lose weight at any given time.
With so many struggling with their weight, the old adage “move more, eat less” clearly isn’t informative enough to teach us how to lose weight.
But where do you start when the internet is full of advice?
Weight loss tips for beginners and the already uber-healthy vary from the scientific to the fantastical, but it’s always best to go back to basics. So we’ve rounded up 14 tips that are simple, practical, and that you can implement from day one.
1. Eat Regular Meals – Including Breakfast
Eating regular meals keeps hunger and unhealthy cravings in check. That includes breakfast. Sure, skipping breakfast might save some calories, but it doesn’t contribute to overall weight loss.
That’s because if you skip breakfast, you end up hungrier during the day. Just like skipping any meal, it can lead you to snack more. Our bodies want to keep us healthy, so they crave high-energy foods when we don’t feed them regularly enough.
High-energy foods are high-calorie foods – not great for weight loss!
Eating breakfast also starts your metabolism for the day. In other words, the sooner you eat, the sooner you start burning fat.
2. Keep a Food Journal
Keeping a food journal works toward weight loss in two ways.
Tracking all the food you’re eating helps you to eat less. When you can see how much you’ve already eaten in a day, it can deter you from eating more.
Much like the chicken wing bone study of 2006 that showed people eat less when they can see the evidence of how much they’ve eaten (i.e. chicken wing bones left on the table), keeping a food journal makes you aware of your daily food consumption, thereby helping you reduce it.
The hassle of having to write food down can also be a deterrent in itself! If you know you have to add that cookie to your food journal, it might just put you off eating it.
3. Get Enough Sleep
When we’re deprived of sleep, our ghrelin increases (a hunger hormone), and our leptin decreases (a satisfaction hormone). That hormonal change makes eating healthily and in balanced portions more difficult.
Sleep deprivation also affects decision-making and moods. Thus, the better rested we are, the better position we’re in to make healthy, mindful choices.
4. Eat Balanced Meals
Creating balanced meals ensures we’re eating each food group in the correct proportion. It involves portioning the correct amount of vegetables, carbohydrates, and protein for each meal.
As a rule of thumb, try to fill half of your plate with vegetables, a quarter with carbohydrates, and a quarter with protein.
If you can handle a little more of a challenge, refine each section:
- Include leafy greens in your vegetable section
- Make sure your carbohydrates are whole-grain or complex carbs
- Choose lean protein
Once you get the hang of portioning with this formula in mind, weight loss becomes a much easier and healthier practice.
5. Eat More Fibre
Fiber is incredibly filling. The more fiber we eat, the more full we feel, and the less we have to eat to get there.
Fiber is found in plant-based foods. That includes fruit and vegetables as well as food made from plants, like wholewheat bread and pasta.
6. Use a Smaller Plate
Weight loss isn’t just a physical, but a psychological exercise. Otherwise, we’d all find it easy! One way to get our brains on board is eating from a smaller plate.
Simple as it may sound, filling a small plate feels better than dishing half of a big plate – even though it’s the same amount of food!
This habit also helps us adjust to eating smaller portions while still feeling satisfied.
7. Eat Mindfully
Mindful eating involves becoming more aware of what we eat. When our lives are busy, we start to eat mindlessly; eating lunch while we work or snacking while watching TV.
Eating mindlessly usually means we end up eating more because we’re not paying attention.
To combat this, work at becoming aware of what you’re eating and when. Some practical tips include:
- Stop multitasking while you eat
- Dish your snack portion into a bowl rather than eating mindlessly out of a packet
- Don’t use any screens or devices while eating
Another tip for mindful eating is eating slower. Not only does eating slower help you enjoy your food more, but it also helps you realize when you’re actually full. This helps you avoid overeating.
8. Drink Enough Water
Staying hydrated contributes to weight loss in two ways.
Firstly, we can confuse thirst with hunger. Every time you feel like a snack, reach for a glass of water first. Not only will this reduce snacking, it’ll keep you more hydrated.
Secondly, water is filling! A 2010 study found that weight loss increased in adults if they drank 500ml of water before every meal. The study attributed this weight loss to participants eating less because they’d filled up with a large glass of water.
9. Drink Less Calories
Drinking sugary drinks is a very easy way to consume more calories than you intend to. Avoiding sodas is a good place to start. Even healthier drinks like fruit juice have a calorie cost.
There’s no need to cut them out completely. But reducing sugary drink consumption can contribute to weight loss.
This goes for alcohol as well. Most alcoholic drinks are either high in sugar or carbohydrates but have little nutritional value. Reducing your weekly intake is good for your health and weight loss journey.
10. Plan Your Meals
Falling into old, unhealthy habits is much more tempting when a healthy lifestyle is difficult to maintain.
To make healthy eating as easy as possible, have a food plan in place. Plan your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and healthy snacks before you go grocery shopping. This helps you buy only what you need to create meals that help you lose and keep off the weight.
11. Focus on Flavour
Just like planning your meals, keeping your food flavorful makes healthy living more sustainable. In cooking, it’s easy to rely on sources of fat to add flavor, such as oil, butter, cheese, or cream.
But using less of these delicious ingredients doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with bland food! Instead, focus on using herbs, spices, and punchy flavor sources like garlic.
And there’s no need to cut fat out of your diet completely. Your body does need healthy fats. Instead, focus on finding ways to cook with less fat.
That could mean using a cooking spray rather than glugging olive oil into a pan. Or try using stronger tasting cheese, so you can add less for the same flavor kick!
12. Don’t Keep Junk Food in the House
If there’s no junk food in the house, you can’t eat it. It’s that simple!
Cutting out snacking completely however isn’t sustainable. Instead, focus on stocking healthier options. That way, when you have a sweet or salty craving, you will have options to satiate you, but they’ll be healthier.
For example, if you love a bag of potato chips in the evening, keep popcorn in the house instead. It’s still a carbohydrate that’s cooked with fat and salt or sugar, but it’s not as high in calories as potato chips are.
Or if you crave chocolate, keep dark chocolate in the house instead of milk. It’s not as good for you as snacking on fruit, but it’s a step in the right direction.
13. Don’t Outlaw Foods
Nothing makes us crave food more than when we can’t have it. Instead, use these weight loss tips for beginners to slowly transition to healthy alternatives.
And it’s okay to enjoy your favorite high-calorie food once in a while, as long as it’s in moderation.
14. Stay Active
Exercise is just as important for weight loss as diet is. But incorporating it into our busy lives presents a challenge.
Rather than forcing yourself to go from no exercise to a full-on routine, work on building yourself up bit by bit. Every minute of exercise counts, even if that’s all we can do.
Find a habit that works with your lifestyle.
For some people, a paid membership to a gym or weight loss course is more effective at keeping them focused. Others prefer taking daily walks or joining a friend online to exercise for a few minutes a day together. Put into action whatever suits you best.
Start Using Weight Loss Tips for Beginners
Implementing all 14 weight loss tips for beginners at once is an overwhelming task. Far more practical is starting with just one.
Maybe you plan to increase your exercise habits before you start adjusting your diet. Or sleep and hydration may be more pressing issues for you to work on than exercising.
Most importantly, wherever you are in your weight loss journey, keep going! Every change you make contributes to a healthy lifestyle, even if it’s only small.
And if you found this article helpful, make sure to stay up to date on our other health and wellness articles.