Weight gain happens to everyone—especially in the winter months. According to the University of Rochester, people gain an average of 1 to 3 pounds over the holidays due to everything from devouring one too many sweet treats to being overloaded with stress. But don't let too-tight pants get you down. There are numerous ways to kickstart your weight loss journey and create lasting results. Here are the 50 top weight loss tips you should know about to make 2020 your best, most confident year yet.
Never eat without a fork.
When you're eating by the handful, it's easy to overdo it. That's why Janet Detore, a registered dietitian for EMP180°, is a big fan of the fork method for weight loss. "If you're grabbing snacks and not eating with a fork in your hand, you likely aren't paying attention to what you're eating and probably eating a lot more than you think," she says. "Eat with a fork and put it down in between each bite."
Or standing up.
Ever start munching on a snack standing in the kitchen, only to discover an empty bag a minute later? "We all fall victim to mealtime multitasking," Detore says. "Distractions while eating can block the body's signals of fullness. Sit down, take a deep breath, and mindfully focus on your food and your hunger. The more you enjoy your meal, the less you'll eat of it."
Brush your teeth after meals.
Losing weight might simply mean brushing your teeth more often. It sounds too good to be true, but a 2016 study published in the journal Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine found that those who brushed their teeth after meals or snacks had lower rates of obesity than those who didn't. "Nothing tastes good mixed with the mint!" Detore says. "Think drinking orange juice first thing in the morning. Bleh."
Don't skip meals.
You might think the best way to lose weight is to skip meals, but that's not the case. Detore is a fan of eating all day. "Some people will encourage fasting the entire day before a big meal to 'save up calories,' but this typically leads to an overeating spree that ends in a food coma and double (or triple) the day's intended calories," she says. "Eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day to stay on track and avoid overeating."
But do fast between dinner and breakfast.
If you're a late-night snacker, try fasting between dinner and breakfast to cut down on calories for the day. "After you finish dinner, wait a full 12 hours until you have breakfast. You can still drink water, plain herbal teas, or hot water with lemon during that time," says celebrity trainer Juliet Kaska. "For example, if you finish your dinner at 7:30 p.m., you can have breakfast at 7:30 a.m.—but no snacking is allowed between."
Enjoy a cup of coffee.
Good news: You can still enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning when you're trying to lose weight. In fact, it might help. A 2019 study published in the journal Scientific Reports found drinking coffee can stimulate brown adipose tissue, or "brown fat," which generates body heat by burning calories. "Increasing its activity improves blood sugar control, as well as improving blood lipid levels. And the extra calories burnt help with weight loss," University of Nottingham professor Michael Symonds, who co-directed the study, said in a statement.
But skip the calorie-loaded lattes.
If you start every day with a calorie-packed beverage from your favorite coffee shop, opt for something more weight loss-friendly. "Ask for a double green tea with steamed almond, soy, or oat milk," says Kaska. "This is a high-antioxidant beverage with low calories, fat, and sugar. It also costs less than the calorie-laden lattes." Alternatively, don't spend a dime and make something healthy at home instead.
Deal with overeating the right way.
Everyone overeats. But the next time you overindulge in too many carbs, sweets, or cocktails, don't punish yourself the next day by skipping meals. Instead, get your body back on track by using a four-step method that's a favorite of Kaska's.
"Start your day the following way," she advises. "1. Drink 24 ounces of hot water with the juice of three lemons over a one- to two-hour period. 2. Take a spoonful of MCT oil. 3. Exercise for 20 to 60 minutes. And 4. After your workout, drink 8 ounces of organic (no sugar added) coconut water. By the time you get home and shower, you'll feel like a new person. Keep drinking water and/or coconut water throughout the day."
Identify bad habits getting in your way.
It's going to be hard to lose weight if you don't first figure out what's halting your progress. "Identify current habits that lead to unhealthful eating," registered dietitian Katherine D. McManus told Harvard University. "Do you relax and reward yourself by snacking in front of the TV? Do you skip lunch only to feel starved by mid-afternoon, ready to eat anything in sight? Do you finish everything on your plate even after you start to feel full?" Once you know the habits that are setting you back, you can work on them.
Ask yourself why you're eating.
Are you hungry or emotionally hungry? McManus told Harvard it's so important to be able to differentiate between the two—especially when trying to lose weight. "Do you eat when you feel something physical in your body that responds to food? Or do you eat when you are stressed, bored, tired, sad, or anxious?" she says. If it's emotional hunger you're dealing with, avoid overeating by coping in healthier ways, like going on a walk, engaging in a hobby, or doing yoga.
Slow down and enjoy your food.
When you have a delicious meal in front of you, it's hard to slow down when you're eating it. That plate is clean in seconds flat. But a 2018 study published in BMJ Open found that slower eaters and normal-speed eaters were less likely to be obese than fast-eaters. Taking your eating speed down a notch will help you feel fuller and more satisfied, not to mention allow you to truly enjoy your food.
Try the 20-second rule.
If slowing down your eating pace is tough, try the 20-second rule. "It's my secret to mindful eating," Kaska says. "I take 20 counts/seconds minimum between putting the next bite in my mouth. I also don't start cutting my next bite until my present bite is gone. The sheer act of slowing down and being present with your meal results in eating less and enjoying your meal more. It also helps eliminate or lessen digestive issues like gas and heartburn."
Ditch the bedtime snacks.
Why is it that sweets always sound so good before bed? If you tend to be a late-night snacker, try to put the habit to rest this year. A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating at later hours could result in increased body fat. To slim down, stop snacking after dinner and create healthier nighttime habits instead.
Set a nightly bedtime, and stick to it.
How many times have you said you were going to bed early, only to stay up a couple more hours scrolling on your phone? Sticking to a proper bedtime (and finally getting enough sleep!) not only helps keep your mental health in check—it also keeps the weight off. In an oft-cited 2006 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found those who got less than six hours of sleep at night gained more weight than those who slept at least seven hours a night. So ditch the phone and start counting sheep. Your waistline will thank you.
Increase the fiber in your diet.
Fiber is so underrated when it comes to weight loss. When you eat high-fiber foods—like broccoli, pears, apples, peas, and potatoes—you'll feel full and satisfied, making you less likely to snack on calorie-packed junk food. So how much should you aim for? A 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found 30 grams a day was the magic number when it came to losing weight.
Ditch meat for plant-based protein sources.
Everyone seems to be ditching meat in 2020 for their health, the planet, and the animals. Jumping on the plant-based bandwagon could benefit you greatly in the weight-loss department, too. In a 2016 study published in the journal BMC Nutrition, researchers found that the over-consumption of meat is leading to obesity worldwide. Instead, get your protein through the many plant-based options available, including beans, legumes, tofu, and tempeh.
Use smaller bowls and plates.
These days, most people have XL-sized bowls and plates, and that makes it very difficult to stick to proper portion sizes. "One of the main culprits of weight gain is overeating," Detore says. "It can be easy to overpack your plate—and the bigger the plate, the bigger the meal. Use a smaller plate or bowl to easily cut back on portion size. Worst case scenario: You just go back for a small helping of seconds."
Ditch the alcohol.
Sadly, alcohol calories do count, and they play a big role in your weight. Detore says abstaining from alcohol is the best way to lose weight, but if you do want to drink occasionally, go for lower-calorie, low-carb, and low-sugar options. "Stick to hard liquor like vodka, rum, and tequila because they're free of carbs. And if you need to mix them, choose low-sugar and low-calorie drinks like soda water," she says. "Steer clear of beer, which is typically high in carbs. Also avoid wine, which contains a lot of sugar."
Keep track of what you're eating.
It doesn't matter whether you use a notebook or an app. Logging everything you eat in a day can really help you reach your weight loss goals. A 2019 study published in the journal Obesity found that those who logged their daily food intake lost 10 percent of their body weight over a six-month period. It only took them 15 minutes a day to jot everything down, and it made all the difference.
And document your meals with photos.
You don't have to be that person who posts a photo of every meal on Instagram, but taking pictures of your food can help with losing weight. "Snapping a photo before digging in can help you stay accountable with your health goals. Plus, it can boost appreciation for food and encourage you to seek out colorful and delicious ingredients for your next photogenic meal," Detore says. "Extra points if you keep a food diary with photos of everything you eat."