Science proves it: Small, simple lifestyle changes, aka micro-goals, can help you lose weight and keep it off long-term..
“Micro-strategies are the way to go,” says registered dietitian Keith-Thomas Ayoob. “They’re easy to do, produce small but immediate wins and add up to even greater ones over time.”
But what exactly are micro-goals or -strategies that can help you achieve an optimal weight? We’ve compiled ten that our registered dietitians recommend below.
1. Wake Up With a Glass of Water
Start each morning with a tall glass of H20, says Liz Wyosnick, a Seattle-based registered dietitian.
Rehydrating can help you avoid mistaking thirst for hunger and give you an energy boost (which is ideal for a morning workout).
Dietitian tip: Keep a glass on your nightstand or a water bottle beside your coffeemaker as your cue to drink water first thing, she suggests.
2. Eat a Protein-Packed Breakfast
Most people don’t get enough protein at breakfast, which makes them hungry in an hour or two when the office junk food starts calling,” says registered dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus, author of “The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club“.
To stay fuller longer and stick to your daily calorie goal, add more protein to your morning meal with Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, protein powder or tofu, she says.
Most people should aim for a minimum of 20 g of protein per meal, but this number will vary from person to person.
Dietitian tip: Start your day off with a vegetable omelet made with two eggs, spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes. Top it off with shredded cheese and hot sauce. Enjoy with a side of fruit—whatever you have in the fridge!—and a slice of whole grain bread.
Also Read >> What 30 Grams of Protein Looks Like at Breakfast
3. Watch Out For Liquid Calories
Beverages such as sugary sodas and alcoholic cocktails can quickly add empty calories to your daily intake without providing any nutrients.
Try experimenting with different drinks to keep your beverages interesting and flavorful without the added sugars.
Dietitian tip: When craving something other than plain water, try mixing sparkling water with lime or lemon juice and your preferred jam or jelly.
4. Take Lunchtime Walks
“There’s no need to run a marathon to lose weight, but most people need to move more,” says Ayoob.
For example, say you spend half of your lunch hour eating and the other half walking. Those extra steps add up overtime and can help improve brain health, weight management, bones and muscle health, and more.
Dietitian tip: If you work from home, try calling into meetings while on a walk or add in “exercise bites” throughout the day by completing 3-5 minute high intensity exercises like burpees or jumping jacks.
5. Swap Quick Fixes For SMART Goals
While it’s tempting to be swayed by social media weight loss trends that promise instant results, the reality is that weight loss requires time. It involves developing new habits and routines, which don’t happen overnight.
By setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound), you create a roadmap to establish sustainable habits for the long term.
For instance, a SMART goal could be to incorporate an additional 3 grams of fiber into every meal through fruits, vegetables, or whole grains for the upcoming week.
6. Pair Grocery Shopping With Mini-Meal Prep
Non-starchy produce (think: leafy greens, carrots, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes and broccoli) are a must for weight-loss because they’re high-volume and low-calorie, says Wyosnick.
Dietitian tip: Make adding them to your meals and snacks easy and automatic by adding 5–10 minutes of meal prep immediately after you finish grocery shopping. Cut up a few heads of broccoli for roasting, de-stem and chop kale for a quick sauté, and chop crunchy veggies for a go-to afternoon snack with hummus. Store them in eye-level clear glass containers so they’re always in sight.
Also Read >> MyFitnessPal’s Essential Guide to Meal Planning
7. Keep Track With MyFitnessPal
“If you feel like you’ve made a food choice that doesn’t align with your weight loss goals, don’t let it consume you for the rest of the day” says Shena Jaramillo, RD.
By logging what you eat in the MyFitnessPal app, you can see the bigger picture of your daily and weekly nutrition stats. Plus, research shows that people who track their food are more likely to lose weight more than those who do not.
Remember, weight loss is all about making long-term changes. One single food choice won’t throw off your goals. Log it in the app, notice how it contributes to your macro and calorie goals, then move on with your day.
8. Schedule Bedtime
Restorative sleep is essential for weight loss because it keeps your metabolism humming and hunger at bay. On the other hand, sleep deprivation can lead to cravings and zap your willpower — making weight loss that much harder.
Dietitian tip: Set a non-negotiable bedtime 7–8 hours before your alarm clock goes off.
Also Read: We Raided a Sleep Doctor’s Kitchen — Here’s What We Found
9. Focus on fiber
Weight loss discussions often revolve around what to cut out. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, flip the script to focus on what you should add to your diet.
Enter: fiber! Found in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, fiber is a type of carbohydrate. Not only does it decrease the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and make for a healthier gut, but it also aids in weight loss by promoting a feeling of fullness.
By incorporating more fiber-rich foods into your diet (which are also low in calories), you’ll feel more satisfied.
Dietitian tip: Aim to gradually increase your daily fiber intake and reach a goal of 30 grams per day. Studies show that American women consume an average of 9.9 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed and men consume 8.7 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. But the average MyFitnessPal member logs more! Women log an average of 11.5 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories, while men log 9.5 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories for men.*
Tracking fiber can be difficult but, fun fact, MyFitnessPal members consume more fiber than the average American.
10. Mix Exercise With Entertainment
If you dread hopping on the treadmill or stationary bike, pair it with an audiobook or podcast you enjoy — and only allow yourself to watch or listen to it then, recommends Primack. This way, you’ll begin to associate your workouts with something you anticipate.
Another great way to keep up with an exercise routine is to find exercise you enjoy doing! For example, if you like to be outdoors, try to hike more often; or if you have a competitive spirit, join a soccer league.
Originally published February 2020, updated January 2024
*This is based on an average of all MyFitnessPal members that logged at least 900 calories in 2023.
Ready to take the next step in your weight loss Journey? Download MyFitnessPal (for free!) today.