26 Weight Loss Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based
The weight loss industry is full of myths.
People are often advised to do all sorts of crazy things, most of which have no evidence behind them.
However, over the years, scientists have found a number of strategies that seem to be effective.
Here are 26 weight loss tips that are actually evidence-based.
It is often claimed that drinking water can help with weight loss — and that’s true.
One study showed that drinking a half-liter (17 ounces) of water about half an hour before meals helped dieters eat fewer calories and lose 44% more weight, compared to those who didn’t drink the water (3).
Eating whole eggs can have all sorts of benefits, including helping you lose weight.
If you don’t eat eggs, that’s fine. Any source of quality protein for breakfast should do the trick.
Coffee has been unfairly demonized. Quality coffee is loaded with antioxidants and can have numerous health benefits.
Just make sure not to add a bunch of sugar or other high-calorie ingredients to your coffee. That will completely negate any benefits.
Like coffee, green tea also has many benefits, one of them being weight loss.
Intermittent fasting is a popular eating pattern in which people cycle between periods of fasting and eating.
Short-term studies suggest intermittent fasting is as effective for weight loss as continuous calorie restriction (13).
Additionally, it may reduce the loss of muscle mass typically associated with low-calorie diets. However, higher-quality studies are needed before any stronger claims can be made (14).
A fiber called glucomannan has been linked to weight loss in several studies.
This type of fiber absorbs water and sits in your gut for a while, making you feel more full and helping you eat fewer calories (15).
Studies show that people who supplement with glucomannan lose a bit more weight than those who don’t (16).
Added sugar is one of the worst ingredients in the modern diet. Most people consume way too much.
Studies show that sugar (and high-fructose corn syrup) consumption is strongly associated with an increased risk of obesity, as well as conditions including type 2 diabetes and heart disease (17, 18, 19).
If you want to lose weight, cut back on added sugar. Just make sure to read labels, because even so-called health foods can be loaded with sugar.
Refined carbohydrates include sugar and grains that have been stripped of their fibrous, nutritious parts. These include white bread and pasta.
Studies show that refined carbs can spike blood sugar rapidly, leading to hunger, cravings and increased food intake a few hours later. Eating refined carbs is strongly linked to obesity (20, 21, 22).
If you’re going to eat carbs, make sure to eat them with their natural fiber.
If you want to get all the benefits of carb restriction, then consider going all the way and committing to a low-carb diet.
Using smaller plates has been shown to help some people automatically eat fewer calories (26).
Anything that increases your awareness of what you are eating is likely to be beneficial.
Keeping healthy food nearby can help prevent you from eating something unhealthy if you become excessively hungry.
Snacks that are easily portable and simple to prepare include whole fruits, nuts, baby carrots, yogurt and hard-boiled eggs.
However, people may develop tolerance to the effects of capsaicin over time, which may limit its long-term effectiveness (37).
Doing aerobic exercise (cardio) is an excellent way to burn calories and improve your physical and mental health.
The best way to prevent this is to do some sort of resistance exercise such as lifting weights. Studies show that weight lifting can help keep your metabolism high and prevent you from losing precious muscle mass (42, 43).
Of course, it’s important not just to lose fat — you also want to build muscle. Resistance exercise is critical for a toned body.
Fiber is often recommended for weight loss.
Vegetables and fruits have several properties that make them effective for weight loss.
They contain few calories but a lot of fiber. Their high water content gives them low energy density, making them very filling.
Studies show that people who eat vegetables and fruits tend to weigh less (46).
These foods are also very nutritious, so eating them is important for your health.
Your brain may take a while to register that you’ve had enough to eat. Some studies show that chewing more slowly can help you eat fewer calories and increase the production of hormones linked to weight loss (47, 48).
Also consider chewing your food more thoroughly. Studies show that increased chewing may reduce calorie intake at a meal (49).
Sleep is highly underrated but may be just as important as eating healthy and exercising.
Studies show that poor sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity, as it’s linked to an 89% increased risk of obesity in children and 55% in adults (50).
If you experience overpowering cravings and can’t seem to curb your eating no matter how hard you try, you may suffer from addiction.
In this case, seek professional help. Trying to lose weight without first combating food addiction is next to impossible.
Protein is the single most important nutrient for losing weight.
Simply adding protein to your diet is one of the easiest and most effective ways to lose weight.
If you struggle to get enough protein in your diet, taking a supplement — such as protein powder — can help.
One study showed that replacing some of your calories with whey protein can cause weight loss of about 8 pounds over time while increasing muscle mass (56).
For example, one study showed that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity in children for each daily serving (58).
Eat whole fruit, but limit or avoid fruit juice altogether.
If you want to be a leaner, healthier person, then one of the best things you can do for yourself is to eat whole, single-ingredient foods.
These foods are naturally filling, and it’s very difficult to gain weight if the majority of your diet is based on them.
One of the biggest problems with diets is that they rarely work in the long term.
If anything, people who diet tend to gain more weight over time, and studies show that dieting is a consistent predictor of future weight gain (60).
Instead of going on a diet, aim to become a healthier, happier and fitter person. Focus on nourishing your body instead of depriving it.
Weight loss should then follow naturally.