It’s possible to lose weight without denying yourself. Instead of excessive dieting and exercise, modify your daily routine. A few small changes can lead to big results.
Implement one item from this list every week, and at the end of eight weeks, you’ll find yourself on the road to better health.
1. Eat Protein and Whole Grains for Breakfast
Eating protein and whole grains for breakfast sets you up for a productive day. You’ll also eat less and have more energy.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating a protein-rich breakfast reduced participants’ hunger pangs and kept them feeling fuller throughout the day.
Eggs, plain Greek yogurt, and lean meat are good sources of protein.
Whole grains contain fiber, B vitamins, and minerals. Fiber helps you feel full longer with fewer calories and is good for your digestive system. Thiamin and niacin, two B vitamins found in whole grains, help boost metabolism. Magnesium, another mineral found in whole grains, helps your body release energy from your muscles.
2. Keep a Food Journal
Record what and when you eat. Count everything, even the bites you took of your kid’s leftover grilled cheese sandwich at lunch.
Tracking when and what you eat reveals patterns, and identifying patterns provides solutions. Maybe you eat moderate amounts of healthy food early in the day but binge on junk mid-afternoon. Drinking a protein shake a few hours after lunch may help you stay on track.
When you recognize areas of weakness, you can correct them. Study your journal every night to see how you did and what changes you need to make.
3. Drink Warm Lemon Water
Drinking warm lemon water when you wake up and before meals can help you lose weight.
Lemons are full of vitamin C, and a 2007 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that people with high levels of vitamin C burned more fat during exercise and weighed less than those with low levels of the vitamin.
Lemon pulp contains pectin, a soluble fiber. Pectin absorbs water in your stomach, helping you feel full. It also helps prevent blood sugar spikes.
Even if you leave out the lemon, drinking water throughout the day can help you lose weight. It keeps you feeling full and is a great substitute for sugary, high-calorie drinks.
4. Take a Walk or Jog
You don’t have to join a gym or buy expensive exercise equipment. Research shows that walking combined with a healthy diet is an effective way to lose weight.
A University of Virginia study found that women who took three fast-paced walks or jogs in addition to two moderate-paced walks each week lost more belly and visceral fat than women who went for five slower-paced strolls. Visceral fat is linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
5. Get Enough Sleep
If you only pick one item from this list to implement into your daily life, choose this one. Adequate sleep positively affects all areas of your life. If you’re well-rested, you’re more likely to exercise and make better dietary choices. When you’re sleep-deprived, you may feel inclined to forego exercise, give into cravings, and eat larger portions.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those lacking sleep were more likely to eat unhealthy, high-carb snacks at night than their well-rested peers. Research shows that sleep-deprived people are more likely to feel hungrier and choose less-nutritious snacks than those who get enough sleep.
6. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating comes from the Buddhist practice of mindfulness. It involves slowing down and thinking about what and why you’re eating.
When you reach for a snack, make sure you’re hungry and not bored, stressed, or tired. If you honestly are hungry, go ahead and eat. If you’re not, step outside and get a breath of fresh air or take a walk around the block.
Eat slowly. It can take 20 minutes for your gut to communicate to your brain that it’s full. If you eat too quickly, your gut doesn’t have enough time to talk to your brain. This lack of communication can lead to overeating and weight gain.
7. Brush Your Teeth
Here’s a simple but surprisingly useful tip for weight control: if you find yourself craving a sugary treat or reaching for a cookie 30 minutes after lunch, brush your teeth. The minty taste makes sweets less appealing. Go a step further and brush your teeth after every meal. It may entirely curb your desire for dessert.
8. Practice Meal Prep
A study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found an association between spending an hour a day preparing food with a better diet. The same study also linked those who spent less than an hour on meal prep with eating out more.
Sometimes it’s impossible to devote an hour a day to prepping, cooking, and cleaning up afterward. The solution is to prepare food in advance. Take a Sunday afternoon and prep your fruits and veggies for the week. Wash grapes, apples, and berries. Chop up onions and peppers. Having these foods ready ahead of time may be the difference between a healthy, home-cooked meal and a greasy, fast-food dinner.