To lose weight, you'll need to consume fewer calories than you burn. The exact number will depend on your current weight and activity level, but generally, people should aim to cut 250 to 1,000 calories from their diet per day in order to lose 0.5 to 2 lbs. (0.2 to 0.9 kilograms) per week. There are calculators available to help you determine how many calories you should consume per day.
When many of us have too many options to choose from, we often become flustered and make the wrong decision. Same goes for food. If you have a few different boxes of cereal and a handful of flavors of potato chips, you’re likely to eat more of the packaged stuff. Limiting your options to just one can cut down on your grazing habits and prevent a snack attack.

The next time you’re tempted to go out for dinner, try whipping something up at home instead. Limiting the amount of times you go out to eat may be the key to keeping off the weight you’ve lost. When the National Weight Control Registry surveyed its members, those who lost 30 pounds or more and maintained that for at least a year didn’t frequent fast food chains too often. In fact, only 0.74 of their weekly meals were of the drive-thru variety, while 2.5 were at a restaurant. It’s better to get your grub from the grocery store instead of ordering off of a menu.

You may think hand sanitizer will zap germs and prevent you from getting sick, but it could also be making you fat. The germ-killing substance contains triclosan, which researchers have found to be an “obesogen,” meaning it could cause weight gain by disrupting your body’s hormones. A study published in the journal PLOS One found that people who had detectable levels of triclosan in their bodies were associated with a 0.9-point increase in their BMIs. Word to the wise for germaphobes looking to lose weight: Rely on good ol’ soap and water instead.
Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that's not really so difficult: "Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings," she says. "Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won't be reaching for the cookie jar."
If the bathroom scale is an instrument of torture to you, it's time to make peace! Studies show that people who successfully lose weight and keep it off long-term weigh themselves regularly. Otherwise you're at risk of mindlessly regaining. In one study, a third of women didn't realize they'd put on five pounds over the course of six months—and a quarter had no clue they'd gained nine. To get over your scale dread, remind yourself that the number isn't an indictment of you as a person, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D.N. "Think of it as objective data—like the temperature on an outdoor thermometer—that can give you helpful information about whether you're on track with your diet," she says. And daily weighing might be best. "It demystifies the scale and takes away some of its power," explains Carly Pacanowski, Ph.D., R.D., who has conducted weighing-frequency studies at Cornell University.
Instead of fixating on cutting cookies, cake and pizza, focus on adding healthy foods. Ditching all the “bad” stuff can feel daunting. Instead, focus on sticking to one good habit at a time (science says it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a habit). Add in as many healthy habits as you’d like — drink more water, eat more fruits and veggies — and reassure yourself that in a few months, your brain may actually start to crave healthier foods.

Switch to Lighter Alternatives. Whenever you can, use the low-fat versions of salad dressings, mayonnaise, dairy products, and other products. "You can trim calories effortlessly if you use low-fat and lighter products, and if the product is mixed in with other ingredients, no one will ever notice," says Magee. More smart substitutions: Use salsa or hummus as a dip; spread sandwiches with mustard instead of mayo; eat plain roasted sweet potatoes instead of loaded white potatoes; use skim milk instead of cream in your coffee; hold the cheese on sandwiches; and use a little vinaigrette on your salad instead of piling on the creamy dressing.
This one may be surprising, considering the popular concept of eating five or six mini-meals throughout the day. But according to scientists who study the hunger hormones leptin and gherlin, eating too often can mess with your body's natural signals. Plus, if you are constantly snacking, you might not realize how many calories you're really taking in and/or feel deprived from not having a "real meal."
If you work at a job that requires you to be chained to your desk all day, try switching things up and giving a trendy standing desk a shot. Simply standing while you toil away as opposed to sitting has been shown to contribute to weight loss. Bloomberg reports that researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that standing burns about 54 calories over a six-hour day, and although that might not sound like much, those calories accumulate quickly. At that rate, you can burn over 1,000 calories a month just by staying on your feet.
Show don’t tell. “It’s important as you’re raising children to lead by example and hopefully as they grow up you start to influence their mindset so they become the type of people who want to do these things,” says Delaney. “Kids never like being told what to do, so I was never strong handed. Now that my girls are college-aged, they make good choices on their own. What I’ve learned is, as my children have grown up they on their own have made these choices because they see me working out and eating healthy. What that has done is create an adult that is doing things intrinsically, because they are meaningful to them and not because someone is forcing them to.”
Lasting weight loss demands that you transform your eating and exercise habits. But many other choices you make each day, such as how much time you spend sleeping or surfing the Internet, can also make a difference. The seven habits described in this issue of HEALTHbeat can help you move toward your weight-loss goal. Most target the common reasons people are overweight.

And some of these factors can go pretty deep. Albers says that people often don’t realize how dramatically past experiences influence our relationships with ourselves and bodies. For example, having to clean your plate as a child, getting sweet treats to “cheer up” after a bad day at school, or being called “fat” when you were 8 years old all likely have an impact. “Comments about your body or being urged to lose weight by a parent can do emotional damage for the rest of your life,” Albers says. Unless you deal with these issues, “many people spin their wheels and don't know why they feel so stuck,” she says. For this reason, Langer often refers clients to psychologists who specialize in food issues, and she won’t work with those clients on the nutrition side of things until they’ve started to unpack these fundamental emotional factors. Understanding your relationship to food is an important step in trying to change it.
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An additional factor that should also be taken into consideration is the amount of weight that needs to be lost. For example, someone with 100lbs to lose will be able to use a larger deficit with a much lower risk of any potential downsides (and the more fat you have to lose… the faster you can and arguably should lose it), whereas someone who is already lean and looking to get REALLY lean will often do best with a smaller deficit (and thus a slower rate of progress).

I decided to give 'macro counting' a whirl. It's similar to calorie counting, but rather than keeping track of your calories, you keep track of the number of grams of protein, fat, and carbs you eat per day. Following this is what ended up giving me the biggest change overall. I felt like I wasn't starving myself or depriving myself to lose weight. You have to find something you can stick to. What works for one person may not work for another. Whatever you choose, it has to be for life."
If you need some Meatless Monday inspiration, look for veggies that contain less starch. In addition to being excellent sources of fiber, protein, and a host of other nutrients, healthy picks such as broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes can help combat fat. In fact, one Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study found that consuming more non-starchy veggies resulted in an impressive 17 percent decrease in visceral fat in overweight kids. Although you may be all grown up, it’s safe to assume that adding more veggies can help adults trim their fat, too.

Choose Liquid Calories Wisely. Sweetened drinks pile on the calories, but don't reduce hunger like solid foods do. Satisfy your thirst with water, sparkling water with citrus, skim or low-fat milk, or small portions of 100% fruit juice. Try a glass of nutritious and low-calorie vegetable juice to hold you over if you get hungry between meals. Be careful of alcohol calories, which add up quickly. If you tend to drink a glass or two of wine or a cocktail on most days, limiting alcohol to the weekends can be a huge calorie saver.
Meatless Monday is more than just an alliteration; it’s an easy way to drop a few pounds. Numerous studies have shown that those who eat the least amount of meat are less likely to be obese, have lower BMIs, and lower body fat levels. Though it’s perfectly fine to eat meat a few times a week, these high-protein foods tend to fill you up before you can work your way over to the veggies, which possess fat-fighting, waist-trimming powers. Try spotlighting just greens and healthy grains in your meals a few times a month.

Plus, working out early could mean you get more sunlight, which is key to properly setting your body's internal circadian rhythm. In one study, people who basked in bright sunlight within two hours after waking were thinner and better able to manage their weight than those who didn't get any natural light, regardless of what they ate throughout the day.
“I wish people knew that gluten-free foods aren’t all automatically healthy,” Torey Armul, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics tells us in 22 Top Weight Loss Tips, According to Nutritionists. “People often lose weight and feel better on a gluten-free diet, but it’s usually not because of lack of gluten. It’s because they’re paying attention to their food choices and eating more real foods and less simple carbs. Gluten-free labeled packaged foods actually tend to have more calories and extra fat or sugar for added flavor.”
When I was at my highest weight, I had a full-blown peanut butter addiction. I would eat jars at a time, and my favorite food was Reese’s peanut butter cups. I had absolutely no control of myself when I ate any of it. When I decided that I no longer wanted to be heavy, I made a point to completely stop eating anything with peanuts or peanut butter in it.
Vitamin D doesn’t just help your body absorb calcium and regulate your immune system — it could also help you lose weight. In a 2009 study out of The Endocrine Society, researchers found that adding vitamin D to a reduced-calorie diet might help you shed more pounds. In addition, another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that vitamin D did a lot of good for burning body fat. Hello, double weight-loss whammy. Small wonder that this magical nutrient tops The 50 Best Supplements on the Planet.
3. Be realistic about which habits need to go. "When I was heavy, I'd eat French fries every single day, plus carbs at almost every meal—like a sandwich for lunch or bread with pasta for dinner. A diet so heavy in fried food and carbs just isn't conducive to weight loss. To lose the weight, I went from three large meals a day to six small meals, mostly made of fresh vegetable salads with lean meats and nuts. And no more bread!"
The main advantage of the low-carb diet is that it causes you to want to eat less. Even without counting calories most overweight people eat far fewer calories on low carb. Sugar and starch may increase your hunger, while avoiding them may decrease your appetite to an adequate level. If your body wants to have an appropriate number of calories you don’t need to bother counting them. Thus: Calories count, but you don’t need to count them.
It’s always great to catch up with old pals or join your co-workers for a celebratory happy hour, but if you’re watching your weight it’s important to take note of who you choose to break bread with. According to an Eastern Illinois University study, you’re in danger of consuming 65 percent more calories if you’re eating with someone who gets seconds. In other words, while the old friend visiting from health-conscious LA may make a great dining partner, you should steer clear of the co-workers who keep ordering rounds of drinks and nachos.
An additional factor that should also be taken into consideration is the amount of weight that needs to be lost. For example, someone with 100lbs to lose will be able to use a larger deficit with a much lower risk of any potential downsides (and the more fat you have to lose… the faster you can and arguably should lose it), whereas someone who is already lean and looking to get REALLY lean will often do best with a smaller deficit (and thus a slower rate of progress).
Carb backloading — when you eat all your carbs later in the day — is becoming a buzzy trend in the health space, and it could actually help you lose weight. It might seem surprising to load up on carbs at the end of the day opposed to in the beginning, but one registered dietitian said it can help you burn fat faster and more effectively: “The theory of carb backloading is based on the fact that insulin sensitivity is higher earlier in the day, which promotes carbohydrate absorption into your muscles and fat tissue. Carb backloading requires you to eat all your carbs later in the day to promote using fat for fuel during the day and suggests you also work out in the evening to promote better carb absorption into your muscles,” said Emmie Satrazemis, RD. And, in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, participants did indeed lose weight using the method. Just, unfortunately, not by eating spaghetti.
“The best way to stick with a diet, is for people to put the fewest restrictions on themselves as possible,” Langer says. “There shouldn't be anything in the world that they shouldn't ever eat again.” Similarly, Albers recommends ditching the “don’t” list entirely. “Instead of trying to stop an old negative habit, focus on building a positive new one,” she says. “New habits crowd out the old without the struggle of trying to stop a behavior.”
Ugh, I'm so fat!For many of us, that's what passes for a weight-loss pep talk. "There's this common misconception that being hard on yourself is the only way to achieve your goals," says Kristin Neff, Ph.D., associate professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Self-Compassion.But treating yourself with kindness, research shows, is a better way to bolster your commitment to healthy behaviors. "Coach yourself through your ups and downs the way you'd coach a friend—with words of encouragement and support," says Neff. "For instance, if you overeat or gain a few pounds, tell yourself, 'Losing weight is hard for everyone—I'm not the only one struggling. I'm going to take it slowly and keep at it.'" Think of every day—even every meal—as an opportunity to start over.

Most of us eat quickly, chewing each bite just a few times, which means we consume more food than we realize. Slow down and you'll slim down: In a recent study, people who chewed each bite 40 times ate almost 12 percent less than those who chewed just 15 times. When we chew longer, our bodies produce less ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite, and more of the peptide hormones that are believed to curb hunger. "Chewing seems to stimulate the gut to make appetite-suppressing peptide hormones," Dr. Cypess explains. Plus, the more you chew, the more thoroughly you break down food, which may release nutrients into your blood faster and give your brain time to register that you're full. From now on, focus on eating slowly at every meal. Put down your fork between bites and work your way up to 40 chews per mouthful of food.
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