7 Tips for Healthy Weight Loss

Not only can it make you feel tired and low on energy, being overweight or obese can put you at higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some types of cancer. Plus, excess weight can take years off your life. What’s more, most people have trouble losing weight long-term—in fact, research has shown that 90% of people who lose weight will gain it back within five years . So how do you lose weight in a way that’s safe and effective? We’ve got seven ways for you to start healthy weight loss now.

(1) Don’t Skip Breakfast

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Breakfast is an essential meal, but skipping it can ruin your day and set you up to overeat later in the day. Skipping breakfast increases your risk of obesity and weight gain. Eating a good breakfast will keep you energized throughout your morning so that you’re not tempted to reach for high-sugar snacks later on. Focus on protein; eating a high-protein breakfast has been shown to reduce cravings for carbohydrates by 60%. The easiest way to get enough protein is with some eggs—either cooked or as an omelet. And don’t forget about fiber! Fiber keeps you feeling full longer and prevents those blood sugar spikes that can lead to overeating later in the day.

(2) Eat More Fiber

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The best weight-loss strategies center around eating more whole foods. When it comes to getting healthier, fiber is your best friend. Soluble fiber—found in beans, oats, and peas—dissolves into a gel-like substance that promotes feelings of fullness. Because fiber is digested slowly, it can help decrease hunger pangs and control blood sugar levels by slowing down glucose absorption, explains Pamela Nisevich Bede, R.D., a registered dietitian nutritionist at Abbott’s EAS Sports Nutrition Center in North Chicago, Ill. Insoluble fiber (found in whole grains) isn’t broken down by digestive enzymes but still increases satiety and helps prevent overeating later on.

(3) Stick To Smaller Plates and Bowls

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According to a study published in Appetite, larger meal portions lead us to take in 14 percent more calories on average. The researchers say it may be because big plates or bowls make food appear more filling than it is. Regardless of what’s driving it, research suggests that between-meal snacks can be beneficial if they help stave off cravings and prevent mindless munching. Serving your meals on smaller plates could help you control portions better and eat less.

(4) Eat Slowly to Feel Full Faster

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One of the easiest ways to trick your brain into feeling full is by eating slowly. According to a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, when people ate their food at a slower pace, they reported feeling fuller—and lost weight over time. Plus, it’s easier to eat less if you’re not shoveling food in your mouth like there’s no tomorrow (which often happens when we’re rushing around). Want some tips on eating slowly? Put down your fork between bites and take a bite from another part of your plate before going back for seconds; count how many chews you take; and eat with other people so you can ask them questions while chewing. Also be sure to avoid these 20 bad habits that lead to overeating.

(5) Add Healthy Fats

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Adding a bit of healthy fat to your meal, whether it’s avocado on toast or olive oil drizzled over steamed veggies, can make a meal more filling and satisfying. Plus, healthy fats are more difficult to store as body fat than carbs and protein, so they keep you feeling full longer. Adding healthy fats to meals—rather than piling them on top of already-plentiful carbs—is key if you want to lose weight safely . . . not quickly!

(6) Limit Sugary Drinks and Alcohol

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Sugary drinks are high in calories and may cause your blood sugar to spike, which can leave you feeling hungry again soon after eating. Alcohol is also packed with extra calories that add up fast—and both drinks may lead to dehydration, which causes a drop in energy levels and can increase cravings. Skip these liquid calories and stick to no-calorie alternatives such as sparkling water or unsweetened iced tea instead. Avoid sugary cocktails or mixed drinks since they have a lot of calories from added sugars, syrups, and juices; replacing soda with diet soda does not reduce calorie intake unless it helps you cut back on regular soda. The nutrition information listed on restaurant menus is sometimes incorrect or incomplete; ask if items contain hidden fats or sugars.

(7) Cut Back on Salt (Sodium)

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Cutting back on salt is a simple way to slim down quickly and prevent high blood pressure, a common condition that can lead to heart disease and stroke later in life. It’s recommended that you follow food labels, as one teaspoon of salt is equivalent to 2,300 milligrams of sodium—no matter how many nutrition bars or crackers you eat! To start cutting back on salt intake: Eat at home: Cooking at home allows you to control your sodium content, but remember that fast food is notoriously salty.