26 Weight Loss Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based

The weight loss “industry” is full of myths.

People are being advised to do all sorts of crazy things, most of which have no evidence behind them.

Over the years, however, scientists have found a number of strategies that seem to be effective.

Here are 26 weight loss tips that are actually evidence-based.

1. Drink Water, Especially Before Meals

It is often claimed that drinking water can help with weight loss, and this is true.

Drinking water can boost metabolism by 24-30% over a period of 1-1.5 hours, helping you burn off a few more calories.

One study showed that drinking a half liter (17 oz) of water about a half an hour before meals helped dieters eat fewer calories and lose 44% more weight.

2. Eat Eggs For Breakfast

Eating whole eggs can have all sorts of benefits, including helping you lose weight.

Studies show that replacing a grain-based breakfast with eggs can help you eat fewer calories for the next 36 hours, and lose more weight and more body fat (4, 5).

If you can’t eat eggs for some reason, then that’s fine. Any source of quality protein for breakfast should do the trick.

3. Drink Coffee (Preferably Black)

Coffee has been unfairly demonized. Quality coffee is loaded with antioxidants, and can have numerous health benefits.

Studies show that the caffeine in coffee can boost metabolism by 3-11%, and increase fat burning by up to 10-29%.

Just make sure NOT to add a bunch of sugar or other high-calorie ingredients to it. That will completely negate any benefit you get from the coffee.

4. Drink Green Tea

Like coffee, green tea also has many benefits, one of them being weight loss.

Green tea contains small amounts of caffeine, but it is also loaded with powerful antioxidants called catechins, which are also believed to work synergistically with the caffeine to enhance fat burning.

Although the evidence is mixed, there are many studies showing that green tea (either as a beverage or a green tea extract supplement) can help you lose weight.

5. Cook With Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is very healthy. It is high in special fats called medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently than other fats.

These fats have been shown to boost metabolism by 120 calories per day, and also reduce your appetite so that you eat up to 256 fewer calories per day.

Keep in mind that this is not about adding coconut oil on top of what you’re already eating, it is about replacing some of your current cooking fats with coconut oil.

6. Take a Glucomannan Supplement

A fiber called glucomannan has been shown to cause weight loss in several studies.

This is a type of fiber that absorbs water and “sits” in your gut for a while, making you feel more full and helping you eat fewer calories.

Studies have shown that people who supplement with glucomannan lose a bit more weight than those who don’t.

7. Cut Back on Added Sugar

Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet, and most people are eating way too much of it.

Studies show that sugar (and high fructose corn syrup) consumption is strongly associated with the risk of obesity, as well as diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and others.

If you want to lose weight, you should be cutting back on added sugars. Just make sure to read labels, because even so-called health foods can be loaded with sugar.

8. Eat Less Refined Carbs

Refined carbohydrates are usually sugar, or grains that have been stripped of their fibrous, nutritious parts (includes white bread and pasta).

Studies show that refined carbs can spike blood sugar rapidly, leading to hunger, cravings and increased food intake a few hours later. Eating refined carbs is strongly linked to obesity.

If you’re going to eat carbs, make sure to eat them with their natural fiber.

9. Go on a Low Carb Diet

If you want to get all the benefits of carb restriction, then consider taking this all the way and going on a low carb diet.

Numerous studies show that such a diet (or “way of eating”) can help you lose 2-3 times as much weight as a standard low-fat diet, while improving your health at the same time.

10. Use Smaller Plates

Using smaller plates has been shown to help people automatically eat fewer calories in some studies. Weird trick, but it seems to work.

11. Exercise Portion Control or Count Calories

Portion control (eating less) or counting calories can be very useful, for obvious reasons.

There are also studies showing that keeping a food diary and writing down what you eat, or taking pictures of all your meals, can help you lose weight.

Anything that increases your awareness of what you are eating is likely to be useful.

12. Keep Healthy Food Around in Case You Get Hungry

Keeping healthy food close by can help prevent you from eating something unhealthy if you become excessively hungry.

A few snacks that are easily portable and simple to prepare include whole fruits, a handful of nuts, baby carrots, yogurt and a hardboiled egg (or two).

13. Brush Your Teeth After Dinner

Although I’m not aware of any studies on this, many people recommend brushing your teeth and/or flossing right after dinner. Then you won’t be as tempted to have a late-night snack.

Read more: Top 25 Weight Loss Recipes

14. Eat Spicy Foods

Spicy foods like Cayenne pepper contain Capsaicin, a compound that can boost metabolism and reduce your appetite slightly.

15. Do Aerobic Exercise

Doing aerobic exercise (cardio) is an excellent way to burn calories and improve your physical and mental health.

It appears to be particularly effective to lose belly fat, the unhealthy fat that tends to build up around your organs and cause metabolic disease.

Fat vs Skinny Man

16. Lift Weights

One of the worst side effects of dieting, is that it tends to cause muscle loss and metabolic slowdown, often referred to as starvation mode.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to do some sort of resistance exercise, like lifting weights. Studies show that weight lifting can help keep your metabolism high, and prevent you from losing precious muscle mass.

Of course, it’s not just important to lose fat. You also want to make sure that what is beneath looks good. Doing some sort of resistance exercise is critical for that.

17. Eat More Fiber

Fiber is often recommended for the purpose of weight loss. Although the evidence is mixed, some studies show that fiber (especially viscous fiber) can increase satiety and help you control your weight over the long term.

18. Eat More Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables and fruits have several properties that make them effective for weight loss.

They contain few calories, but a lot of fiber. They are also rich in water, which gives them a low energy density. They also take a while to chew, and are very filling.

Studies show that people who eat vegetables and fruits tend to weigh less. These foods are also super healthy and nutritious, so eating them is important for all sorts of reasons.

19. Chew More Slowly

It can take a while for the brain to “register” that you’ve had enough to eat. Some studies show that chewing more slowly can help you eat fewer calories and increase the production of hormones linked to weight loss.

20. Get Good Sleep

Sleep is highly underrated, but it may be just as important as eating healthy and exercising.

Studies show that poor sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity, being linked to an 89% increased risk of obesity in children, and 55% in adults (43).

21. Beat Your Food Addiction

A recent 2014 study of 196,211 individuals found that 19.9% of people fulfil the criteria for food addiction.

If you suffer from overpowering cravings and can’t seem to get your eating under control no matter how hard you try, then you may be a food addict.

In this case, get help. Trying to lose weight without dealing with this problem first is next to impossible.

22. Eat More Protein

Protein is the single most important nutrient when it comes to losing weight.

Eating a high protein diet has been shown to boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day, while helping you feel so satiated that you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day.

One study also showed that protein at 25% of calories reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, while cutting the desire for late night snacking in half.

This is the single most important tip in the article.

Simply adding protein to your diet (without restricting anything) is one of the easiest, most effective and most delicious ways to lose weight.

23. Supplement With Whey Protein

If you struggle to get enough protein in your diet, taking a supplement can help.

One study showed that replacing part of your calories with whey protein can cause weight loss of about 8 pounds, while increasing lean muscle mass (49).

24. Don’t Drink Calories, Including Sugary Soda and Fruit Juices

Sugar is bad, but sugar in liquid form is even worse. Studies show that liquid sugar calories may be the single most fattening aspect of the modern diet.

For example, one study showed that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity in children, for each daily serving.

Keep in mind that this applies to fruit juice as well, which contains a similar amount of sugar as a soft drink like coke. Eat whole fruit, but use fruit juice with caution (or avoid it altogether).

25. Eat Whole, Single Ingredient Foods (Real Food)

If you want to be a leaner, healthier person, then one of the best things you can do for yourself is to eat whole, single ingredient foods.

These foods are naturally filling, and it’s very difficult to gain weight if the majority of your diet is based around them.

Keep in mind that real food doesn’t need a long list of ingredients, because real food IS the ingredient.

26. Don’t “Diet”, Eat Healthy Instead

One of the biggest problems with “diets,” is that they almost never work in the long term.

If anything, people who “diet” tend to gain more weight over time, and studies show that dieting is a consistent predictor of future weight gain.

Instead of going on a diet, make it your goal to become a healthier, happier and fitter person. Focus on nourishing your body, instead of depriving it.

Weight loss should follow as a natural side effect.

Days 12 through 21 of the 3 Week Diet

Day 12

The weigh in this morning was another disappointing one. I weighed exactly the same as I did yesterday. Fortunately my partner had lost 2 pounds, so clearly something is working.

Breakfast was swiss baked eggs with added butter and cream cheese. Yum, but very “fattening” 🙂

Lunch was an avocado and prawn cocktail with lettuce and marie rose sauce,  made with tomato puree instead of tomato ketchup. Not quite as nice as the proper version but quite adequate.

This was actually the last day of the high fat phase,  But it was also the first day that I decided to weigh all my ingredients and work out exactly how much I’d eaten.

I left the calculating until the evening – having a full time job I didn’t have time to do it as I went along – but I was pretty confident that I’d met the nutritional parameters in terms  of calories, and % fat.

After dinner I entered everything into a spreadsheet and after a little Google research.  I was quite horrified to discover that I’d eaten one third more calories than allowed, and missed the % fat by 7 percent!

It’s no wonder I hadn’t lost more weight on this phase, and a big lesson for next time.  Plan the meals and count the calories in advance!

I think my downfall here was assuming the avocados were high fat.  The do contain lots of very healthy mono-saturated fats and are incredibly good for the skin, but the overall calorie composition isn’t right for this phase of the diet.

Days 13 through 21

After the lesson and slight queasiness of the last 3 days I was pleased to move into the final phase which is more of a consolidation.  The nutritional balance isn’t as critical in this stage and fewer foods are forbidden.

I wasn’t expecting to lose as much weight, but also I didn’t feel as hungry and so the peppermint capsules were not required to stop the night time hunger pangs.

The weight loss was slower and steadier which was not as motivating when the scales move pretty much every day, but it was clear that I was on the downward trend – albeit much more slowly.  This was a diet regime which I felt was more sustainable.  The good thing about the first phases is that the end was always in sight as each phase looked to be slightly less restrictive than the last and the phases only lasted around 3 days.  This phase lasted over a week, so it was good to be feeling a little more “normal”.

After 21 days

By the weigh in on the final day I was really looking forward to celebrating.  My friends had noticed the difference.  My belt was 3 notches inside where it was three weeks ago and some of my clothes were hanging off me.

The Final Figure – 2.5% down and no longer obese 🙂

In all I’ve lost 12 pounds.  Not the 20 that Brian Flatt claims is possible, but I suspect if I’d actually done the recommended exercise and hadn’t cheated so much, I would have probably lost a few more pounds.

I’ve lost 2.5% of my body fat which is good news.  I would have liked to lose more, but I’ll take that as a start. Importantly for my doctor, my BMI is now in the overweight not the obese category which could also help me save on health insurance!

The small cheats I did made the 3 weeks much more tolerable for me. Coffee in the morning for example – it was just too hard to work with the headache of caffeine withdrawal as well as feeling hungry.

The diet was hard work but the really hard part was at the beginning where the motivation was greatest – and the results were in themselves very motivating.  By the end I almost felt I could just carry on with it – and I think that’s Brian Flatt’s point.  After a while everything becomes a habit and it’s not so much effort to keep doing what works.

Would I recommend the 3 week diet?  Yes I would. There is no question that it works. And with the passage of time the hunger pangs of the first few days have become a distant memory.  I’ve shown myself that I can easily manage to diet for a short time, whereas if I had to carry on denying myself for months, then I would simply be doomed to failure.

Now I’m off to get my thin clothes back out of the wardrobe – and perhaps buy some new pants!

If you want to try the 3 week diet for yourself, you can get it here or for more detailed info about the program, click here

Weights and Measures

I had taken before and after measurements round my waist and thighs, My waist was nearly 2 inches (4cm) smaller and my thighs had lost an inch each.

All measurements taken first thing in the morning before breakfast.

 

Days 9, 10 and 11 of the 3 Week Diet

Day 9 

At the morning weigh in I’d lost another pound. And even more exciting my BMI was down to 30 exactly. This means that if I lose any more weight I will officially be overweight instead of obese.

I felt pretty good this morning.  After walking on the treadmill my legs didn’t feel leaden and I had no difficulty walking up two flights of stairs.  I really think that things have finally changed for the better.

The three week diet is comprised of 3 different phases.  Today was the first day of the high fat phase.  As I was now officially allowed coffee – albeit with cream and artificial sweetener, I made a cup of instant coffee with cream. It tasted really really disgusting, so I disposed of it and made a normal one with milk.

I held out until lunchtime to have my first meal. It wasn’t that hard, I didn’t feel particularly hungry and when I finally ate my guacamole it was really delicious and quite satisfying despite not having chips or crudités to eat it with.  It was lovely to finally have some really tasty food!

However later on in the afternoon about 4 o’clock I began to feel just slightly queasy.  The feeling persisted and at dinner time my partner volunteered that he felt the same.  We were’t sure what had caused it, so in view of the fact we had to go out and meet friends later, we decided to abandon the planned high fat meal and go for something rather more plain and ordinary before we went out.

Perhaps it was the abrupt change in diet which had caused our problem?

Day 10

At the morning weighing I was exactly the same as the day before. I don’t know if yesterday’s sweet potato dinner had sabotaged the day’s dieting effort but I would have expected to be down a touch as I hadn’t eaten very many calories at all.

We had discussed the fat phase yesterday evening and decided that in view of the sweet potato, we may continue the fat phases for an extra day. But we were going to have to include a few more (zero carb) vegetables in order to make the fat less stomach turning.

The main thing I noticed this morning was that I felt hungry. I assuaged the hunger pangs with a cup of coffee and then breaking the routine of walking before breakfast, I had a microwaved mushroom with some garlic and herb cream cheese for breakfast. It was delicious.

My body is feeling altogether better. I’m not really sure what’s different but I do feel lighter, but I have lost half a stone.

Dinner was a beautiful dry aged rib eye beef steak. I fried steak with a little oil to start with and then I added butter to the pan, and basted of the steak with the butter. While the steak was resting I added a finely chopped shallot to the pan allowed that to soften before adding a touch of brandy. I love a good flambé so I set the pan on fire to burn off the alcohol. I added some chicken stock, some mushrooms, and a spoonful of Dijon mustard and a few drops of Worcestershire source. After that had bubbled away for a moment or two until the mushrooms were cooked, I added a add a splash of cream and reduced until it is was the consistency of single cream.  I adjust the flavour at the end with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

We had half the steak each (unlike a couple of weeks ago when I would have dished up a 10 oz steak each).  I served the steak with steamed kale flower sprouts, zucchini cooked in butter, and some leeks which had also been cooked in butter.

It was the most delicious tasty meal I had enjoyed since starting the diet. I didn’t stint on the vegetables, so my plate wes full. It was the first time I had gone to bed without feeling hungry since the start of the diet.

Day 11

The weigh in this morning was quite disappointing. I had hoped that I would have lost lots of weight after yesterday’s not having lost any. But if anything the scale said that I was half a pound heavier. It could be the difference in the amount of water as I did try and drink more water yesterday.

Lunch was paté on a lettuce leaf. As we couldn’t have crackers, lettuce leaf seemed the only real viable solution. I have since found a recipe for sunflower crackers which is low carb which I may try and make to see how they work instead of cracker biscuits.

I must have eaten too much pate as I did feel slightly nauseous later on.  I think there’s an art to eating high fat foods, and it involves eating enough “other stuff” at the same time.  The key thing is to find other stuff to eat which is filling and can cut the richness without throwing the nutritional profile outside the approved parameters.

If you want to try the 3 week diet yourself here is the sales page, or to read the expert review click here

Weights and Measures

Slightly disappointed with the progress during this phase of the diet.

All measurements taken first thing in the morning before breakfast.

The First 2 Days

The first day of the 3 week diet is clearly designed to be a bit of a kickstart. The choice of foods is quite restrictive. There is an approved list of of vegetables which can be eaten raw, steamed or microwaved.

My menu plan for breakfast was microwaved mushrooms, but in view of the fact that I was starving and it was a very cold day I decided to be a little more adventurous and include chopped bell peppers and zucchini with my mushrooms and to add a chopped spring onion for a little extra flavour. In all honesty it was pretty bland and really needed something to zip up the flavour.

Lunch was based on Costco’s broccoli salad, thinly shredded vegetables including red and white cabbage, celery, carrots and broccoli. But instead of the delicious sweet mayonnaise style dressing provided Mr Costco, a little olive oil and a touch of balsamic helped to make it more palatable.

The day was characterised by hunger. I was constantly starving. I wondered if it was a mental thing.  On a Saturday, I can fairly easily go without eating until mid afternoon and I rarely feel hungry.  But here, because I knew I could only have certain foods I simply felt deprived.  It didn’t help that the food seemed bland.

Learning my lesson on the bland front, I added extra seasoning to the rest of my meals and bought some little pots of living herbs which I could also use to help boost the flavour.

None the less by bedtime I was still hungry, so I took a peppermint oil capsule which for me, tends to assuage the hunger pangs long enough for me to get to sleep.

At the weigh in on day 2 I’d lost half a pound.

Fortunately, Day 2 is slightly less restrictive than day 1 and a small amount of (approved) protein can be added which does help to make meals easier and more palatable.

The main problem I had with day 2 was the headache.  Having not drunk coffee on Day 1, I think I was feeling the withdrawal symptoms!  As I had a meeting that morning and had to be on form, I took a couple of painkillers and decided that I would have coffee, just substitute sweetener for the sugar and have milk regardless.

The other area I cheated in was lunch. It was another cold day and the thought of a repeat of yesterday’s salad was almost more than I could face, however, I decided that, despite that fact that it wasn’t on the list of approved cooking methods, I would have some nice homemade vegetable soup.

This was great, I had something hot and comforting and it really helped hugely to make me feel less deprived.  I often have soup in the winter anyway, so it was much more like a normal lunch. And with a side order of more shredded salad that actually kept the hunger at bay until dinner time.  Although once again, by bedtime I was starving – and my stomach was full of gas after the unusually high amount of vegetables 🙁 so to add comfort I took another peppermint oil capsule.

Day 2 had been much more successful than day 1, and at the weigh in the following morning I’d lost 1 and a half pounds. So 2 pounds in 2 days and I’d had a couple of cheats.  Perhaps it was going to be worth it.

If you want to follow the 3 week diet with me, you can get it here

Very happy with the drop in body fat percentage as well!

All measurements taken first thing in the morning before breakfast.

I’m not going to do the tape measuring every day.  I don’t think it’s as accurate as the other measurements and I’m looking forward to a nice suprise at the weekend!