The first step to successful weight loss is believing in yourself and understanding how small changes over time yield big results. Improving your habits slowly and steadily increases the likelihood they’re sustainable and prevents yo-yo dieting. Rather than drastically overhauling your lifestyle, these expert-backed weight-loss tips help you make seamless changes that naturally fit into your day-to-day.
1. SKIP THE SNOOZE BUTTON
The first step to starting your day off on a healthier foot is actually getting out of bed. Regularly hitting the snooze button signals sleep deprivation, which is linked to weight gain. Science shows avoiding the snooze button also leads to a better mood. To break your dependence on an alarm, gradually start going to bed earlier until you wake up before it goes off.
2. DRINK A TALL GLASS OF WATER FIRST THING
When you’re dehydrated early in the morning, your body might mistake thirst for hunger, leading you to overeat at breakfast. Research shows drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals can help people lose more weight.
3. EAT A WELL-BALANCED BREAKFAST
Give your body a little nutrition to get things going, recommends Dr. Kathryn Boling of Mercy Medical Center. “If eating a bigger breakfast works for you, then that’s great, as research shows we burn more calories as the day progresses,” she says. Instead of skipping breakfast to ‘save your appetite’ (which can lead to binge eating later on) lean into foods high in protein and fiber like Greek yogurt or eggs with whole-grain toast.
4. THINK SAVORY OVER SWEET
Leaning into sweet treats in the morning could lead to cravings throughout the day, says Boling. “The more sugar you eat, the more you may want to eat,” she adds. “If you’re going to go sweet, make sure it’s naturally sweet and not processed.” This could mean a piece of fruit with a savory breakfast like oatmeal, eggs or make-ahead burritos.
5. MOVE YOUR BODY
Research shows fat oxidation (burning fat as a fuel source) increased over a 24-hour period when exercise was performed before a morning meal. Starting your day with a workout can also support your metabolism for more efficient muscle building and serve as a pick-me-up to help you feel alert and ready to tackle the day. Another reason to love morning workouts: You’ll get it out of the way and have a sense of accomplishment that keeps you motivated to stick with healthy habits the rest of the day.
6. BOOK LUNCH LIKE YOU’D BOOK A MEETING
Now that more people are working from home, many are having issues with going to the kitchen too often throughout the day, says Boling. “Many of us aren’t moving around as much, and some are eating because it feels good when you’re lonely. If you stick to a lunch schedule — like a meeting — you may be better about mindlessly wandering into the kitchen regularly, which can result in unnecessary calories.” Set time on your calendar to sit down to a proper lunch without distractions.
7. REACH FOR SOUP
Regardless of the season, soup is a great pick for a midday meal. Research shows a warm, low-calorie soup can help you eat roughly 20% fewer calories than usual. This could give your weight-loss efforts a noticeable boost over time. The aroma and taste alone are satisfying, plus the volume of soup inside your stomach helps you feel fuller, longer.
8. HAVE A POST-LUNCH SNACK
If you’re avoiding snacking for weight-loss, you could be making a big mistake. Consuming too few calories can slow your metabolism and increase hunger. Opt for RD-approved snacks with a combination of protein and healthy fats to help you feel satiated, longer, like an apple and string cheese or hummus and veggies. If you’re in a pinch and looking at grab-and-go picks like protein bars, “be sure to read the nutrition labels so you know what you’re putting into your body since some have artificial ingredients and added sugars,” says Brooke Van Paris, nutrition coach and certified trainer at Life Time. Pro tip: Pre-portion your snacks to avoid overeating.
9. MAKE SURE YOU MEAL PREP
Weekend afternoons are ideal for meal prep — a strategy that’s proven to aid weight loss. When you have a plan, you’ll be less likely to eat on impulse. “That means less frozen pizza in a pinch,” says Van Paris. “Pre-planning your meals also helps you be more mindful of nutrition and getting in proteins, healthy fats and complex carbs.” Batch cooking veggies, proteins and whole grains is a great place to start so you can easily mix-and-match grain bowls for quick, nutrient-dense meals.
10. AVOID EATING TOO LATE
When you sleep, the body, in general, slows down all its functions, including metabolism. “Not allowing the body to digest and absorb all the food you had for dinner can result in the extra calories being stored in the body as fat,” says Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy, a primary care doctor at Doctor Spring. If your schedule requires eating late at night, keep portion sizes small and try to eat a bigger lunch or afternoon snack instead.
11. HAVE A CUP OF TEA
Warm up a nice, calming cup of tea before you go to bed, and you could sleep better and lose more weight. “Tea has a calming effect that can help you sleep more soundly, which is essential for weight loss,” says Tripathy, who adds that teas have catechins, a flavonoid that acts as a metabolism booster, helping your body break down fats faster. “Opt for decaffeinated tea at night to avoid messing up your sleep schedule.”
12. WEAR BLUE LIGHT BLOCKING GLASSES
Blue light from your devices, including your cell phone, iPad and computer, can mess with your sleep cycle, especially when you’re using them closer to bed. Wearing blue light glasses an hour before bed can help minimize those harmful blue rays. It’s also a good idea to “put your phone on the yellow light setting and limit your screen time,” says Van Paris. “Even better, reach for a book. This gets your brain even more ready for bed and can help you get to sleep sooner.”
13. SCHEDULE YOUR BEDTIME
Just like scheduling your meals, picking the ideal time to get into your sheets can help you give your body the time it needs to recover and ultimately lose weight. Not getting enough sleep can put a dent in your weight-loss efforts, as hormone shifts cause a surge in hunger and cravings. Stick to a bedtime routine that allows for 7–8 hours of quality shut-eye.
Make progress every day while you work on mini fitness and nutrition goals, like walking more steps or learning to track macros. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app for daily coaching and easy-to-follow tasks to keep you motivated.