You can do it.
Learning how to lose weight is hard work, and it seems sometimes to be a mountain that’s impossible to climb. What’s important to remember is that we didn’t gain weight overnight (though sometimes it feels like we did), and for that reason, we can’t lose it overnight, either.
It’s a process, and it’s about having good habits and making good decisions every day in little ways. It’s about choosing the seltzer over the second cocktail, and about getting the salad with our sandwich instead of the fries or chips.
Those small decisions at every meal or outing every day add up to good choices and will keep us on the right track in the long run. To that end, nutritionists have their own weight loss tips. These are little changes that will make a big difference.
1. Try time restricted eating.
Be done by 6 PM and front load the calories. “A piece of bread eaten at breakfast is used differently by your body than a piece of bread eaten at 8 PM,” says Sarah Morgan, Founder and CEO Buddies In My Belly. “There’s a study from Israel that shows eating a large breakfast, medium lunch and small dinner is an effective way to decrease insulin levels. What does that mean?! Inches lost!”
2. Embrace healthy bacteria.
“Your digestive tract contains 2-4 pounds of probiotic ‘buddies’ that regulate your metabolism and control weight,” says Morgan, who advises we aim for 25 different plant species per week to ensure proper “food” in the form of fiber for your healthy bacteria.
3. Skip simple sugar and carbs.
Does sugar call your name? Well, “This can be a sign of more ‘bad germs’ like yeast in your digestive tract versus good bacteria. Sticking to protein, complex carbs like brown rice, beans, quinoa, and healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, grass-fed butter to balance blood sugars and kiss your cravings goodbye,” advises Morgan.
4. Get more sleep.
Research shows that every hour of sleep before 12 AM is worth two hours afterward. “Get to bed earlier and your body will benefit. This includes repair from your workouts (which means longer and stronger workouts tomorrow) and hormone balance. Hormones like testosterone replenish while you sleep, which can lead to a stronger metabolism for both men and women,” says Jeremy Robinson, owner of Austin Holistic Fitness & Nutrition and a certified nutritionist.
5. Eat your vegetables.
Eat more raw veggies — but not just because “they’re good for you.” Start with cucumbers: “Raw cucumbers have ‘gel water,’ or a crystal structure of water, which is easier for the body to absorb, leading to better hydration than drinking tap water alone,” informs Jeremy Robinson.
Better hydration is linked to a better metabolism and improving weight loss while also enhancing overall well being.
6. Be lazy and order your groceries.
Have your groceries delivered! Why? “It cuts back on impulse buys, wasting money and overportioning, and you can pre-load your weekly list so it’s effortless,” claims Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, and nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition.
7. Find time for fitness.
“We all have 24 hours in a day; it’s all about how you delegate time to fit in anything from a 20-minute home workout from YouTube to a fancy personal training session 30 minutes away,” Moreno advises. It’s up to you to make some time.
8. Be careful with the booze.
Too much drinking can completely derail an otherwise really balanced intake. Moreno says, “Drinks are treats, not civil rights. Limit them in quantity, and cut back as many add-ins as possible, unless it’s club soda/lemon/lime/fresh herbs.”
9. Eat foods that excite you.
Think outside of the box when it comes to cooking. Organic chicken thighs boiled with 8 spices and 3 types of beans, served over garlic cayenne sauteed spinach is healthful and delicious.
“I wake up every day excited to eat breakfast; because I love the foods I’ve bought/prepared and can’t wait to savor them. Experiencing the power of choice with food is uniquely human, so enjoy it,” Moreno explains.
10. Look at the total wellness picture.
Acknowledge that health is an onion: it’s layered and complex, and isn’t just about nutrition. “Map out your health/wellness life — your nutrition, movement, sleep, stress, spiritual, social, and medical realms. Create lists of issues vs. goals within these realms. Start there and you’ll learn to see yourself as an amalgam of health traits and not just a roster of foods you ate in the last week,” says Moreno.
11. Hang it up.
If you have an article of clothing, like a pair of pants, that feels too snug, there’s no need to uncomfortably squeeze into it. But it might be a good idea to hang it outside your closet. (Or, better yet, if you live alone, hang it in your kitchen!).
“Just be sure to choose clothing that you enjoyed wearing (before you gained weight) or that you recently purchased and are hoping to fit into when you drop a few pounds. And by the way, don’t choose an article of clothing you wore in high school. We’re focusing on a realistic goal here.),” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of Better Than Dieting and author of Read it Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table.
12. Undress your salad.
Instead of a heavy salad dressing, try a drizzle of thick balsamic glaze along with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime. “By cutting the fat in your diet you can not only save calories, but you can also leave room for healthier fats like avocado or nuts — toppings you can actually chew and enjoy with greater satisfaction,” advises Taub-Dix.
13. Keep the size of your stomach in mind.
Believe it or not, your stomach is about the size of two of your fists. “When you eat some bread and butter, a glass of wine, an appetizer, a main dish, and dessert and cappuccino, your mouth and mind will feel satisfied but your stomach might have wanted to go home halfway through your meal,” warns Taub-Dix.
14. Remember that size does matter.
Trimming portions, and not cutting foods out altogether, may help you meet your needs without feeling deprived. “Forget those restrictive ‘allowed’ and ‘avoid’ lists and instead, try to learn to read hunger cues and sensations of fullness,” Taub-Dix says.
15. Don’t skip meals.
According to Taub-Dix, skipping meals is like putting out a welcome mat to a bad mood, headache, and lightheadedness.
“Psychologically, it also invites overeating at the next meal through a sense of entitlement. I often hear this from clients: ‘Well since I didn’t have breakfast, I had a ‘better’ (aka bigger) lunch.’ When you ditch meals you also wreak havoc on blood sugar levels, feeling like you’re on a rollercoaster. Although meal skipping is often relied upon as a mode of weight loss, it generally just leads to bad habits as opposed to positive changes,” she says.
16. Be your own cheerleader.
Ditch the negative self-talk and talk to yourself the way you talk to others. “Play an empathic, supportive role in your own life and not that of a punitive influence,” Taub-Dix encourages.
17. Set realistic goals.
Don’t try to lose 20 pounds for the party that’s coming up in 2 weeks. “Set a goal of making one change a week (yes, even one change could have a more lasting impact in the long run). In all my years of experience, I have found that quick weight loss created by unrealistic, punitive measures most likely leads to weight found soon after,” says Taub-Dix.