Losing weight is no easy feat. With so much confusing and contradictory advice out there, it can be frustrating trying to figure out the best approach. At Backlinko, we’re all about optimizing outcomes, so I wanted to share the proven foods and lifestyle habits that can help you successfully reach your weight loss goals.
First, let’s cover the nutritional all-stars when it comes to slimming down.
1. Fruits and Vegetables Should Form the Base of Your Diet
Fruits and veggies should take up the largest portion of your plate and snacking. They’re packed with fiber to keep you full and have a high water content. Going heavy on the produce crowds out other less-healthy options. Some great choices are berries, citrus fruits, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, and apples.
2. Lean Protein Keeps You Satisfied While Building Muscle
Protein takes longer to digest, leaving you feeling full, and helps preserve metabolically-active muscle mass. Choose lean options like chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt and nuts. Getting enough protein prevents your body from breaking down muscle for energy.
3. Don’t Skip the Whole Grains
Whole grain carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, oats, and 100% whole wheat bread provide energy for your body and brain along with lots of satisfying fiber. Refined grains act more like sugar in your body, spiking blood sugar. Opting for whole grains provides steady energy and keeps cravings in check.
4. Dairy Provides Calcium to Turn Up Your Fat Burn
Calcium has been shown to help ramp up fat burning, especially around the midsection. Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are great options. Just stick to 1-2 servings per day, as dairy can be high in calories.
5. Beans and Lentils Offer Plant-Based Protein and Fiber
These nutritious legumes are budget-friendly nutritional powerhouses. With substantial amounts of fiber, protein and nutrients, beans and lentils are very filling. They also help regulate blood sugar levels. Add them to salads, soups and burritos.
6. Don’t Fear Healthy Fats
Foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish provide essential fatty acids that actually help you lose weight. They increase satisfaction and help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Just be mindful of portions, as the calories can add up fast.
7. Spice It Up
Herbs, spices, vinegar, lemon and hot sauce are essentially calorie-free ways to add tons of flavor. Chili powder, cayenne, cinnamon, ginger and garlic are especially good for boosting your metabolism and satiety after meals.
Now let’s cover some key lifestyle factors:
8. Stay Hydrated
Drinking water consistently throughout the day curbs hunger by filling your stomach. It also prevents dehydration which can mimic hunger. Cutting out sugary drinks is one of the easiest ways to reduce excess calories.
9. Exercise – It’s Non-Negotiable
You don’t need to train like an athlete, but getting at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week is vital for weight loss and overall health. Aim for a mix of cardio and strength training. Even light exercise makes a difference over time.
10. Prioritize High-Quality Sleep
Lack of sufficient sleep is linked to weight gain because it throws hunger-regulating hormones out of whack. Shoot for 7-9 hours per night. Developing good sleep habits like sticking to a schedule and limiting screen time can help.
11. Manage Stress
High cortisol levels caused by chronic stress result in increased belly fat. Be kind to yourself on your weight loss journey. Reduce anxiety through yoga, meditation, massage and making time for fun.
In summary, fueling your body with nutritious whole foods that keep you satiated is key. Combining this diet approach with regular exercise, adequate sleep and stress relief sets you up for sustainable success. What you eat matters, but how you live also impacts your weight. Optimizing your nutrition and lifestyle habits leads to real results.
Here’s to reaching your health goals!