7 Weight Loss Strategies That Actually Work

People face the challenge of weight loss in numerous ways. You may spend your morning researching diets, start an intense workout routine, or skip breakfast and promise yourself you’ll cut calories or certain foods from your diet.

Each strategy has the potential to work, but more often than not diets fail. It can be hard to make a changes that you can stick with long enough to see long-term results. When trying to lose weight, it’s always better to take a slow, calculated approach that involves small but impactful changes that lead to a healthier lifestyle. Use these seven proven strategies to help you out along the way.

1. Get back to the basics

man performing push-ups on a dock outside

Eat whole foods, not “diet” foods. | iStock.com

Your cupboards may be stocked with low-calorie, low-fat, and low-sodium foods, but often these foods are full of artificial sweeteners and chemicals, and devoid of any nutrition. Switch out those “diet foods” for natural whole foods.

This swap doesn’t require any books, calorie counting, or complicated meals plans — just limit your consumption of processed foods and focus on eating whole foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.

2. Slow down

Man quickly eating a large cheeseburger

Don’t scarf your meals. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

You know that you should only eat until you’re full, but when you’re scarfing down a giant burrito you may not feel the fullness creep up until you’ve already overeaten. Whether you’re eating at your desk, out at a restaurant, or snacking on the couch, make a point to pay attention to the process of eating.

Slow down, pay attention to taste, and feel the food’s texture. Tricks to avoid the temptation to gorge include counting your bites, focusing on chewing everything more thoroughly, or making sure you sit down to eat in a relaxed space (no TV allowed). By eating mindfully you will be more attentive to your body’s natural satiety cues, leaving you stomachache free and down in calorie consumption.

3. Indulge in sleep

A man sleeping

Get enough sleep. | iStock.com

This is one tip we can all get behind. Many weight loss gurus agree that getting plenty of sleep is one of the best ways to lose weight and keep it off. Your body reaches a metabolically active high as you sleep, so the more you sleep, the more you burn. Not getting enough sleep can mess with two of your body’s metabolic hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin controls hunger and ghrelin controls the feeling of satiety.

Skip a few hours of sleep and these hormones will get out of balance leading you to have strong cravings without feeling full. To top it off, you’ll have a tendency to crave high “energy” foods, which translates into all those things you should avoid: sweets, baked goods, chips, and soda.

4. Skip liquid calories

a latte

That latte has quite a bit of sugar and plenty of calories. | iStock.com

If you just can’t seem to give up or cut down on your daily food consumption, cut all caloric liquids out of your diet. You may not realize how many calories that morning latte, lunchtime Snapple, and afternoon soda add to your diet. Most conventional drinks contain well over 150 calories and can make up 20% of your daily caloric intake.

Any time you want to reach for a sugary drink, grab a glass of water with lemon. It’s free, diet-friendly, and helps flush toxins out of your body.

5. Partner up

two men working out

A gym buddy will help you lose weight. | iStock.com

Losing weight is hard. It takes a lot of dedication, planning, and time. Rather than trying to go at it alone, recruit a friend who is also trying to beat the bulge. Research has found that people are more successful at losing weight when they do it with a partner. Not only will your weight loss buddy provide support, hold you accountable, and keep you inspired, but they may instigate your competitive side, which will provide you with the drive necessary to drop the weight.

6. Get active

woman running up on mountain stairs

Don’t forget to get moving. | iStock.com/lzf

Exercise should be paired with proper diet, but if your time and energy are being used to get your relationship with food on track, the fitness component can be added in later to give your weight loss journey a little extra push.

Exercise will help burn off excess calories, give you a little more flexibility in your diet, and has the power to burn fat and add muscle to your gradually slimming physique. If that wasn’t enough, exercise can boost your mood, makes you feel great, and can help you maintain your weight loss goals long term.

7. Reward yourself

Group of friends having dinner

Enjoy a special meal out with friends. | shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

Whether you’re in favor of or against the “cheat meal,” it’s time to consider using it — in moderation. Medical Daily advocates for how taking a day to reward yourself on your diet will boost your metabolism and help your weight loss efforts.

Psychologically, cheat meals make your diet more realistic and help you from engaging in dangerous and disordered eating. Scientifically, leptin is the key factor in why rewarding yourself is beneficial to your weight loss. Leptin is a protein produced by fat tissue that helps regulate body weight/fat mass by impacting appetite. A high-calorie cheat meal will help your body maintain the energy levels it needs to continue healthy exercise.