The greatest weight-loss strategies are the ones you can cherry-pick to fit your body and life.
This list of little tricks to help you peel off the pounds was created with the help of registered dietitians, MDs, psychologists, trainers, and women who’ve been there, done that. Some of them might surprise you (chopsticks?), but these made the cut because they work.
So go ahead and take your pick!
1. Serve from the stove
“Leave serving dishes on the stove instead of at the dining table and you’ll eat nearly 10 percent less. And pack snacks into single-serving bags. Eating out of a large container ups consumption by 61 percent.”
—John Henry, PhD, Food Lab at Cornell University
2. Sweeten up your morning
Embrace “breakfast dessert.” In a 2012 study, researchers at UCLA Medical Center found that dieters who ate a large breakfast that included a sweet treat lost 37 pounds more over eight months than those on an equal-calorie diet with a smaller, low-carb breakfast.
3. Aim for a size
“Buy an outfit in your healthiest size and hang it on your bedroom door as a reminder of your goal.”
—Charlie Mogle, author of Think Thin, Eat Healthy
4. Skip the ads
Fast-forward through commercials on your DVR. A University of California study found that images of high-cal foods stimulate the brain’s appetite control center, triggering hunger.
5. Feed your family
“If you live with people who like to indulge, buy treats for them that you don’t like yourself.”
—James Gold 55, architect in Los Angeles, California, who lost 101 pounds
Clench your fists when you have a food craving. A series of studies published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2011 found that people were better able to control their impulses when they tightened a muscle for at least 30 seconds.7
7. Go for cold turkey
“After a sweet treat, eat half a slice of deli turkey to keep you from wanting more.”
—Jennifer Daniels, Registered Dietician and Nutritionist
8. Reframe your goals
“Change your goal from ‘lose 20 pounds’ to ‘lose 1 pound 20 times,’ and give yourself credit for each one.”
—Anna Hoffer, Country Side Resort and Spa
9. Downsize your plate
“Eat what your family eats, but put your serving on a kid-size plate.”
—Angela Valens 33, stay-at-home mom who lost 45 pounds
10. Soup it up
Have a bowl of vegetable soup before lunch; you’ll eat 20 percent fewer calories at the meal, suggests research by Babs Rollins, PhD, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University.
11. Don’t overdo healthy foods
“Many people have a ‘healthy’ food, like almond butter, that they tend to overeat—at which point it stops being healthy. Know yours, and keep it out of the house.”
—John Jamieson author of The Great Diet
12. Oil your bread
Can’t give up the bread basket? Use olive oil instead of butter: You’ll eat 23 percent less bread and 16 percent fewer calories, according to a 2003 study in the International Journal of Obesity.
13. Pick up the tempo
Fill your playlist with upbeat tunes. Research shows you’ll naturally quicken your pace if you work out with songs that have 180 beats per minute.
14. Visualize your new body
“Think of an image of yourself fit. When a craving occurs, picture the image. With repetition, your brain will replace the craving with the image.”
—Jim Mauld, PhD, California Health & Longevity Institute
15. Get active early
Work out in the morning. In a 2012 study, Brigham Young University researchers found that 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise in the morning reduces your motivation for food.
16. Cut back on meat
“Eat at least 80 percent things that grow and no more than 20 percent things that walk.”
—Lisa McRee, former Good Morning America co-host who lost 30 pounds
17. Don’t peel
When you eat apples or use them for cooking, don’t chuck the skins. A substance in apple peel increases muscle and healthy, calorie-torching brown fat, according to a study from University of Iowa researchers.
18. Hide the chocolate
“If you maintain a chocolate stash, keep it out of reach; you’ll eat nearly 60 percent less of it if you do.”
—Bob Harlip, licensed dietician and nutritionist
19. Distract yourself
Food cravings usually pass within 10 minutes. Distract yourself by calling a friend, walking, meditating, having sex, Facebooking, or painting your nails.
—Carol Apert, PhD, director of behavioral health and wellness at the Longshot Spa, in San Antonio, Texas.
20. Slow down
Eat slowly by using chopsticks or your non-dominant hand.
21. Balance your meals
Eat fiber and protein at meals. They help keep sugar levels balanced so you won’t give in to cravings, says Joan Rutherford, RD, author of The Miracle No Carb Diet.
“Counter stress-eating with the 4-7-8 Breath: Inhale through your nose to a count of four, hold for a count of seven, then let go and exhale through your mouth with a whoosh for a count of eight. Repeat four times.”
—Jim Nikolai, MD, LongShot Spa
23. Use more vinegar
“Vinegar before meals may increase fullness. Have salad with 1–2 TBSP vinegar before lunch/dinner!”
—Joy Bauer, RD, via Twitter