13 Highly Useful Pieces of Weight-Loss Advice

Sabrina Tillman
by Sabrina Tillman
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13 Highly Useful Pieces of Weight-Loss Advice

There’s nothing simple about losing weight. The adage, “calories in, calories out” reduces the process to a mathematical method that doesn’t account for our psychology, emotions or deeply ingrained habits. Of course you need to track calories when you’re trying to lose weight, but making real changes requires clarity and devotion. Our experts can help.

1. Prioritize taking care of yourself.

Mantra: “I am taking really good care of myself.” If this is the thought that you keep reminding yourself throughout the day, then how do your actions support it? If I were taking really good care of myself, then I might choose to eat French fries after a harder day at work, but I’d only eat a small portion, and I’d also take a walk.”
—Carley Hauck

2. Make a fallback plan.

Almost every Thursday, my clients write their fallback plan for the weekend. While you’re in a good mood, before you come across the “screw its,” sit down and think about what the minimum-minimum is: What’s the ONE THING you need to do to feel like you’re still on track? Is it eating vegetables? Drinking water between adult beverages? Doing 10 push-ups?

Be realistic. Any healthy choice is still moving forward. Now write down your fallback plan, or take a picture of it on your phone so you’ll remember it just before the “screw its” happen.
—Coach Stevo

3. Think about whether negativity impacts your decisions.

Choices are something that you are in control of, so start being aware of what you are doing and eating, and who you are hanging out with. Simply put, if it doesn’t align with who you are, what your beliefs are or what’s important to you, let it go. You will be amazed at the freedom and relief that comes after letting go of all the negativity.
—Erik Taylor

4. Keep adjusting your calorie intake.

As you lose weight, your metabolism can drop because your body requires less calories or “energy” to fuel a smaller you. The calorie intake that you initially had when you began your weight-loss journey will need to be adjusted to match your body’s current needs for weight loss. Make sure to revise your calorie goal in MyFitnessPal every 10 pounds or so.
—Kristina LaRue

5. Eat an adequate amount of protein; it fuels fat burning.

It may be surprising, but it is a scientific fact that your body cannot effectively burn and use fat as energy if it doesn’t have help from either carbohydrate or protein. As you are losing weight, your body loses both muscle and fat (I know, bummer!). During this process it is especially important that you continue to eat enough protein. Eating adequate protein fuels fat burning while preserving calorie-burning lean muscle.
—Trinh Le

6. Focus on the bigger picture.

The key to long-lasting health is consistency. Focus on feeling good and on being happy with the decisions that you are making, and stick with it. Your diet and exercise adjustments will improve a little bit at a time, and you will begin to see change. At the end of the day, it’s not about a number on a scale, the number of marathons you’ve run, or the weight you can lift. It’s about how you feel and the positive impact you can make on the lives of those around you.
—Jacob Warwick

7. Be strategic about eating back your exercise calories.

The calories you eat and exercise off are estimations, and we’re more likely to overestimate calories burned from exercise. If hunger hits between meals, start slow–particularly if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight. Begin by eating back a percentage of your exercise calories (say, 50%) rather than all of them, and see how you feel in 20–30 minutes.
—Elle Penner

8. Drink more water.

Water is important because all of the chemical reactions in your body requires water—including the ones that burn calories. One of the biggest hurdles from cutting calories for weight loss is the feeling of hunger. Feeling hungry is normal, but some of us (okay, many of us) mistake thirst for hunger and immediately grab a snack instead of water. Next time hunger grabs you by the hair try drinking water first. —Trinh Le

9. Add exercise to help maintain your weight loss.

When people lose weight through calorie restriction but without exercise, they tend to lose muscle along with body fat. But when they change their diet and exercise, they preserve muscle and lose more fat.

Many kinds of exercise can be effective for weight loss, but running is among the most effective. In a 2012 study, Paul Williams of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that runners were leaner and lighter than men and women who did equivalent amounts of any other type of exercise. The main reason seems to be that people typically burn more calories per minute when running than they do when swimming, riding a bike, or whatever else.
—Matt Fitzgerald

10. Get in the habit of consistent tracking.

When you’re using MyFitnessPal to lose weight, the first thing you need to focus on is getting into the habit of tracking your food and activity. The more you track, the more you’ll learn about your eating habits—and the more likely you’ll be to reach your goals! Eighty-eight% of people who track on MyFitnessPal for seven days lose weight.
—Glennis Coursey

11. Reconsider the quality of what you’re eating.

Diet and weight loss will likely always be more complicated than “exercise more, eat less”—no matter what a well-meaning relative or personal trainer might suggest. And it’s worth considering the potential outsize, knock-on effects of refined carbohydrates on our bodies. It is perhaps more valuable to think: “Healthy diet, healthy body”—and to carefully consider whether any food that comes out of a box, as so many refined carbs do, qualifies for the former, or will help achieve the latter.
—Diane Keeler

12. Create an environment that’s hospitable to healthier eating.

Brian Wansink believes that if we want to make eating better a lifestyle, we need to trick our brains into making the right choices. Even the smallest things, such as where you store your cereal (Wansink believes you’ll eat less of it if you store it out of sight in a pantry or cupboard instead of on the kitchen counter) and where you start grocery shopping (linger in the produce aisle first for at least 10 minutes; you’ll buy more fruits and veggies) can make huge impacts.

“It’s a lot easier for us to set up our most immediate environment so that it’s easier to eat better,” Wansink says.

13. Consider the quantity and quality of your calories.

A balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables will help you maintain a low glycemic load. Choosing lean protein sources like chicken, fish, nut butter and low-fat cheese will reduce the amount of fat—particularly saturated fat—in your diet. Both glycemic load and protein type are indicators of your diet quality, and will affect your weight.

It’s apparent that a calorie is not a calorie in this case, so do calories still count when it comes to weight loss? The answer is a resounding Yes! To be successful at maintaining a healthy weight, both the number of calories consumed and the quality of those calories matters.
—Trinh Le

About the Author

Sabrina Tillman
Sabrina Tillman

Sabrina Tillman is the managing editor for MyFitnessPal. She’s a dedicated runner, Pilates enthusiast and homecook whose knack for creating dishes on the fly (as well as food her son will actually eat) with whatever ingredients are in the house earned her the nickname “Kitchen MacGyver” by her husband. If she can find any spare time, she enjoys chasing her son, reading, attempting to bake, and napping.


24 responses to “13 Highly Useful Pieces of Weight-Loss Advice”

  1. Avatar Ike Knight says:

    In what world is olive oil bland?

  2. Avatar pismopal says:

    Good olive oil is less bland than butter.

  3. Avatar Joel Suarez says:

    Cook with coconut oil its healthier

  4. Avatar Kenney says:

    I drive an 18 wheeled truck, that I own. There’s no question about the limited areas to park my truck in and limited healthy food choices out here, any (serious and no nonsense) advice on how I can lose weight? I drink plenty of water, but it’s not enough.

    • Avatar Sam DaCosta says:

      Being a trucker and wanting to loose weight is a HUGE challenge. I have recommended to many a trucker in your position to change their routines;
      1. When starting your day (after an overnight stop) job around the parking lot for 20 minutes, come back to the truck and do bodyweight type exercises to improve muscle toning. Watching calories will work but you’re sedentary all day, so more is needed.
      2. Use your cooler to pack healthy meals and snacks. Stay away from Truck Stop food (usually fried and offered in LARGE quantities.)
      3. When stopping for the day/night, do your abs routine before hitting the rack.

      These suggestions offer lifestyle changes, within a career, not usually conducive to loosing weight.

    • Avatar Shaun JustShaun says:

      I suggest you track your calories, or make a journal of the items your eating and take advantage of healthy eating choices at the places you enter. When you put what you eat on paper it makes a big difference! Pack your own food especially items you can put into a cooler on ice. Cook or have someone cook for you and warm up your foods instead of purchasing junk. I know all this sounds easier than done, but these changes will make a big difference and you’ll see it.

      • Avatar Kenney says:

        That’s a great idea, writing it down. I never considered that but I’ll give it a try.

      • Avatar KS-UT says:

        Eat more lean protein and vegetables when you can. Cut your carbs like breads, sugar and pastries. Eat spicy hot as much as you can as it will boost your metabolism.

        • Avatar Kenney says:

          Thank you. I have cut out breads to a minimum, an occasional sandwich twice a week. I’ll pick on the spicy, sweets are very minimal.

    • Avatar Miizzpiink707 says:

      I am also a driver and as soon as I leave my house I pack my lunch and dinner. I warm it up first so it would be somewhat warm when I do eat it later. Also before I start work I stop at the store and pick up friuts so I can have them with every meal. Good luck.

    • Avatar Tastebud says:

      Hi Kenney,

      When you eat in a restaurant, try and incorporate healthy choices, like at breakfast, get fruit instead of potatoes, get a veggie egg white omelette instead of bacon and cheese and so on. The way I started my journey was to cut down on portions, I started by leaving a quarter of my food on the plate, then after a while, I stopped at half. Any changes I would do gradually, to give my body time to adjust.
      Pack your cooler with pre-made salads (I love those salad bowls when the hunger strikes but I don’t want to have a meal). Load up on fruits.
      Look up YouTube for any exercises you might want to do while you are parked. I know your job is tiring, but unfortunately it is not a very active one, so I think incorporating exercise while you are taking a break it is beneficial not only for your weight but for your health (think Alzheimer, etc).
      Good luck.

    • Avatar CrySyWin says:

      Kenny. My brother is also a trucker. He has added a blender to his truck and has started to pack his cooler or mini frig with pre packed jars of veggies and fruit. He will substitute one or two meals with a smoothie. He says he also try to pack healthy snacks as well.

      Good luck to you in your healt journey.

  5. Avatar salma says:

    I’ve been on fitness pal for 115 days in a row keeping track on my journal of my diet and exercise however have not lost any weight at all, in fact I’ve actually gained weight and can’t seem to drop any off. Ive always ate a very healthy diet: mostly lean proteins, grilled vegetables, salad and occasionally some wholegrains like oats as well as doing regular exercise but without changing any diet or eating habits I started to put on weight and gained 6 kilos in 1 year. Since I joined fitness pal, have been dieting ( even seen a nutritionist for 3 months and she herself has given up and is confused as to why nothing is working. As I see no results wages over I’m really struggling to keep motivated and would much appreciate you advise and guidance as to what is going wrong.. 🙁
    Thank you & look forward to your response

    • Avatar DC says:

      Salma & Elaine – Look into IIFYM, figure out your macros based on
      your TDEE and what you want to achieve (fat loss / muscle gain /
      maintain). You are probably not getting enough (healthy) fats and
      proteins as 12oo calories per day is starvation mode for your body and
      even worst if you are working out.

  6. Avatar Elaine says:

    Salma, when you get the answer, please give it to me. I’ve been through nutritionists, Curves, 1200 calories and the scale never moves. I’m logging daily on Fitness Pal and hope something. ANYTHING happens

  7. Avatar Mary Ann says:

    I’ve wondered this for a long time. How much does hereditary play into our body shape and weight? Thank you!

  8. Avatar David Cabrera says:

    I started my new life style a month ago. I started with my meals by eating a quarter of what I used to eat for two weeks. I lost 5 pounds then I started walking now for two weeks and I lost 10 more pounds. I do believe you have to burn what you eat. That the coin you have to pay when you eat. Eat/ exercise

  9. Avatar shiho says:

    I begin to realize last August, that i need to change my lifestyle, my diet, my confidence level n everything. This is because I AM the control how do I look, how fit i am, how lean my muscles. So in November, i already lost 17 pounds after i change my diet and i hit gym. But then my journey is still long way to go. Thanks to fitness pal, i cant imagine my weight loss journey without it.

  10. Avatar Tiffany says:

    Don’t you hate it when they put cute SKINNY girls with the weight loss articles?? That girl does NOT need to lose weight!

  11. Avatar Idietitianin says:

    I do not like to exercise much so I pay more focus on healthy eating and it has helped me in maintaining weight for the past year.

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