50 Easy Ways to Lose Weight Naturally
Sometimes the simplest remedies really are the best: Here's how to lose weight by eating apples, dancing in the kitchen, and getting some morning sun.
Don't clear the table
Don't tell your mom, but we're giving you official permission to make a mess. As you eat, leave the candy wrappers, fruit peels, nut shells, and other scraps on the table. According to a study published in the journal Appetite in 2011, people who kept a bowl of pistachio shells on their desks consumed significantly fewer calories than those who periodically threw out the shells. Seeing the shells (or other discarded items) can serve as a visual cue, reminding you of exactly how much you've eaten and to stop eating when you're full. Avoid these 20 foods that are never worth the calories.
Curtail your cocktails
Happy hour isn't so happy when you consider the toll it takes on your waistline, says Fiola Sowemimo, MD, who practices internal and bariatric medicine in Freehold, New Jersey. Booze is one of the biggest factors in weight gain, especially if you're drinking alcohol combined with sugary mixers, like margaritas or a rum and Coke. "One of the top tips I give to my patients looking to lose weight is to avoid excess alcohol," she says. Here's what to order at the bar if you want to lose weight.
Ditch the mood lighting
Low lighting may be ideal for a romantic dinner, but you should turn up the lights if you're watching your waistline, according to a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research in 2016. Diners who ate in well-lit dining areas were 16 to 24 percent more likely to order healthy foods, the researchers found. You might be surprised to learn these 13 things experts won't tell you about weight loss.
Clean out your medicine cabinet
First, it probably needs to be cleaned out anyhow. (See the baby ibuprofen you got for your baby...who's now 12.) Second, some meds for common conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression, can cause weight gain or make it harder for you to lose excess weight, Dr. Sowemimo says. These are the medications that may cause weight gain. Talk to your doctor about switching to weight-neutral or weight-negative alternatives, she adds.
Follow an eating schedule
What you eat is only half the equation. "Regardless of which diet you choose, when you eat is important, too," Dr. Sowemimo says. Starving all day is a recipe for bingeing later, she adds. Instead, eat small, healthy meals and snacks at regular times throughout the day to curb cravings. Also, make sure you know the worst weight-loss tips doctors wish you'd stop following.
Snack on yogurt
The bacteria in your gut influence your entire body, and that includes your weight. Give the good bugs some backup by filling up on probiotic-rich foods, like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented foods. Yogurt makes you gag? Another option is to take a probiotic supplement every day, says Chanté Wiegand, a naturopathic physician and the director of science and education at the Synergy Company. "Certain healthy bacteria in the gut predispose you to a faster metabolism," she says. Here are more probiotic foods that aren't yogurt.
Stop charging your phone in your bedroom
Resist the urge to wind down before bedtime by scrolling through Facebook on your phone. Not only do you not want to dream of your ex's fabulous vacation (and why are you still following him anyway?), but the blue light from your smartphone, tablet, or TV screen is also messing up your circadian rhythm, according to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2014. Not only can this prevent you from getting a good night's sleep, but it can also disrupt the production of the hormone melatonin, which could slow down your metabolism. Don't miss these ways you can literally lose weight while you're sleeping.
Add a veggie to every meal
Vegetables are great for your health, and they can help you lose weight. How? It's all in the fiber. "Add a fibrous vegetable to every meal and snack," says Jared Koch, a certified health coach and nutritional consultant and the founder of Clean Plates. "It adds more nutrients, and it keeps you fuller so you eat less." Here's how to get more fiber into your diet without even trying.
Put yourself in a time-out
Parents are familiar with the concept of using a time-out as a punishment for small children, but putting yourself in a time-out can be a reward when you're an adult. Take two minutes out of your busy day to meditate. You can use an app or just go with your own breathing. "Meditation and stress-relief exercises help to regulate cortisol, a hormone known to cause weight gain," Koch says. Try these mini meditations to relieve stress and anxiety.
Skip foods marketed as "sugar free"
Ordering a diet soda or eating a cookie sweetened with Splenda may seem like a good nutrition compromise, but artificial sweeteners aren't necessarily doing you any favors in the weight department. One study in mice published in 2016 in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism suggested that they may actually cause weight gain. But an earlier meta-review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, did not find an association. Here's what happens when you stop eating artificial sweeteners.
Bring back afternoon tea time
Ever notice how it's only at very specific times that your willpower crumbles? For most of us, temptation usually hits in the late afternoon and before bed—the two times when we're likely the most tired and stressed. Head off a snack-tastrophe by eating a mid-afternoon mini-meal that contains healthy fats and protein to fill you up, says Suzanne Fisher, RD, a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist based in Florida. "Ghrelin (a hormone that increases appetite) will increase during periods of hunger, so a mid-afternoon snack can prevent overeating later in the day," she explains. Try these 30 healthy snacks to satisfy your cravings and still lose weight.
Start the day with hot water and lemon
Lots of people love to jump-start their day with a warm beverage, but if you're looking to lose weight, try a cup of hot water with a squeeze of lemon, suggests Lacey Hickox Lehman, co-founder of Sacred Paths Yoga. "It boosts metabolism and aids in digestion," she explains. Find out the 12 things that happen when you drink lemon water every day.
Bust out a few yoga stretches in the break room
Think you can't do yoga because you're not a 20-year-old limber blonde who looks good in a bodysuit? Forget the stereotypes: Yoga is for every body. "Relaxation exercises can help curb emotional eating," Lehman says. "Yoga, mediation, and relaxation practices reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol released into the body, which can be helpful for losing weight—especially abdominal fat." These are the 10 signs your body and mind are craving yoga.
Set the table with salad plates
A simple solution to the portion problem may be to use smaller dishes. Eating off 8-inch salad plates instead of 10-inch (or larger) dinner plates, and using small bowls instead of large soup bowls may help you feel like you're still getting a full plate's worth of food but with far fewer calories, according to studies at Cornell's Food Lab. Although questions have been raised about the quality of studies from the Cornell Food Lab, it's true that many of us are members of the Clean Plate Club, so it's worth it to experiment with using smaller plates to see if we'll naturally eat smaller portions without missing those extra bites.
Skip the soda tax...on your waistline
Giving up sweetened beverages like juice, soda, and even "healthy" sports drinks is one of the simplest and most effective ways to lose weight, says Holly Rilinger, a Nike Master Trainer and the author of Lifted: 28 Days to Strengthen Your Body, Focus Your Mind, and Elevate Your Spirit. "Don't drink calories; drink water," she says. "Save your calorie-packed drinks for when you really want them—like at a party or celebration." These are the 9 sneaky signs you're drinking too many calories.
Dance in the kitchen
"If you want to lose weight, you have to move," Rilinger says. She recommends blocking out 30 minutes a day for physical activity. But it doesn't have to be killer to be effective: Taking an after-dinner walk with your spouse while you catch up on the day, playing ball with your kids, or—yes—dancing in the kitchen all count. Check out these 19 tips weight-loss coaches won't tell you for free.
Chew mint gum
Peppermint, one of the key aromas in chewing gum, tea, toothpaste, and mouthwash, may help with weight loss, according to a small Belgian study. In the experiment, published in the journal Neurogastroenterology and Motility, people taking a peppermint oil capsule had a reduced appetite compared to people who didn't pop the supplement. Try chewing sugarless peppermint gum or drinking peppermint tea to see if this effect works for you.
Say the three magic weight-loss words
Most people start out their weight-loss goals with "I should..." (eat better, exercise, lose 10 pounds, stop binge-watching cake-decorating shows). But if you actually want to achieve your goals, you need to focus on the positive, Rilinger says. Swap out "I should..." for "I want to..." and see how different that one little change feels. It makes the healthy move your choice, rather than a burdensome obligation.
Hold your fork in your "wrong" hand
If you want to be more mindful of what you eat so you don't miss your satiety signals and end up consuming too many calories, slow down. A simple way to put a speed bump between you and your plate is to hold your fork with your non-dominant hand, notes the Cleveland Clinic. This simple trick can help you lose weight—and keep it off. Chopsticks can also help slow things down, as can swiveling away from your desk when you snack at the office. Here are 10 kitchen gadgets that help with help loss.
Brush your teeth after dinner
Minty fresh breath is an easy way to prevent after-dinner snacking (not to mention have better oral hygiene), according to Susan Bowerman, RD, a registered dietitian and the senior director of Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife Nutrition. "Once your mouth is clean, it's a signal to stop eating," she says, "and most people tell me it works like a charm." Find out the healthy diet plan nutritionists use to lose weight.
Take a hike
Simply being outside in green spaces is linked to weight loss, according to research published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2014. The large Australian study of middle- to older-aged adults found that women in greener neighborhoods had a lower risk of being overweight or obese. (Sorry, guys, the weight-loss benefits apparently don't extend to you, according to the study.) Other research published in Diabetes Care in 2014 additionally found that people in greener surroundings had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Theoretically, people in greener spaces tend to get more physical activity. Good news: The vast majority of Americans already live within walking distance of some type of park, so get outside and get moving for better health—and a better waistline.
Snap a pic of your brunch
We're not encouraging an Instagram obsession, but finding a way to document what you're eating every day can help you lose weight, Bowerman says. Whether it's snapping a quick pic on your phone, logging it on an app, or jotting down your meal in a diary, the action helps you be more conscious of what you're eating, helping you to naturally regulate your intake.
Got a craving? Ask yourself this one question first
Cravings can feel intense in the moment, but you can short-circuit those extra calories by asking yourself one simple question, Bowerman says. Ask, "Am I hungry?" People eat for lots of reasons besides physical hunger, so it's important to understand why you're really eating and if the food can actually fill that need. Find out how real women lost weight on the Whole30—and kept it off.
Get the (early) early bird special
Taking your lunch break earlier in the day can help you lose weight, according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2013. Participants who ate their lunch early in the day lost 25 percent more weight than those who dined after 3 p.m, even when they ate the same foods and the same amount of calories. Why? The researchers speculate that circadian rhythm may be tied to metabolism, so the timing of your meals may affect how your body uses and stores energy.
Lift some heavy stuff
Lifting weights doesn't have to mean spandex and an expensive gym membership. All it takes to build some fat-blasting muscle is to lift some weight, says Caroline Apovian, MD, Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center. "Strength training will help maintain a healthy body and metabolism, especially approaching, during, and after middle age," she says. "The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn." Aim for two strength-training sessions per week.
Choose a bedtime and stick to it
"I refer to sleep as the third pillar of weight loss," Dr. Apovian says. "Receiving fewer than seven to nine hours of sleep per night ramps up the hunger hormone ghrelin and decreases the satiety hormone leptin." Sleep deprivation also torpedoes your impulse control, making it less likely that you will stick to healthy food choices and proper portion sizes the following day, she adds. This is just one of the 50 things your doctor wishes you knew about losing weight.
Clean your kitchen
People in orderly rooms chose healthier snacks than those in cluttered environments in a study in the journal Psychological Science. It echoes earlier findings that orderly settings encourage better behavior than disorderly ones. When you're having a hard day, doing chores may be the last things you feel like doing, but if you're trying to lose weight, it may be worth it to suck it up and grab a sponge. Use these kitchen organization tips to maximize your weight loss success.
Ward off cravings with a tasty protein smoothie
Protein is the most satiating of the macronutrients, meaning that it will keep you feeling full longer than either fats or carbohydrates, Dr. Apovian says. If you want to drop pounds, she recommends eating more protein while cutting calories. Her favorite way: a delicious protein smoothie. You can add spinach, yogurt, berries, milk, or a host of other healthy options. For more inspiration, check out these weight-loss smoothies that will help you slim down.
Set the thermostat to chilly
Central heating may be one factor in the obesity epidemic, according to a study published in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2014. It turns out that regular exposure to mildly cold weather can help you lose weight. Chilly air may increase your metabolism by forcing your body to work harder to cope with the changing conditions.
Just say no to treats at the office
Doughnuts at the morning meeting, a coworker's birthday cake, a holiday potluck—food is a big part of office culture, and it can be hard to resist the treats, especially when they're free. But they're not really free: You pay the price with your waistline instead of your wallet, says Renée Jones, a counselor and the author of What's Really Eating You?: Overcome the Triggers of Comfort Eating. "Instead of deprivation, I see it as a way to take care of myself," she says. "By saying no to sugar- or carb-laden foods, I am guarding my body and nutritional needs." On the flip side, this is exactly what to eat to lose weight.
Legumes: Fun to say, even better to eat
Eat more beans, lose more weight, according to a review of research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016. People who ate just three-quarters of a cup of beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils a day lost a little over half a pound over the course of six weeks without changing their diet or exercise habits. Chalk it up to the power combo of protein and fiber that can keep you full for hours. As a bonus, beans are on our list of complete proteins that aren't meat.
Give yourself a cheat day
Knowing that you have a set day to indulge can make it easier to pass on a treat in the moment. "You may be standing in the pantry, staring down the chocolate chips on any given Wednesday, but if you tell yourself, 'I have sugar only on Sundays,' it limits the sugar and calories and staves off a binge," Jones says. These are the 15 signs your weight gain means your health is in trouble.
Have a good cry
Emotional eating is common, but when you manage your emotions properly, rather than stuffing them down with food, not only will you save a whole bunch of calories but you'll also feel a lot better, Jones says. "Figure out what's really eating you and deal with that rather than depending on sugar to soothe your soul," she advises. "When you face your stuff, you no longer need to stuff your face." Try this one trick to stop nighttime meeting.
Step on the scale every day
Weighing yourself every day can make you more mindful of what you put in your mouth, plain and simple. A 2015 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, followed overweight people on the same diet plan. Participants who weighed themselves daily lost more weight, an average of 13 pounds more, than their counterparts who stepped on the scale less frequently. For best results, read about the best time of day to weigh yourself.
Stand up (yes, now)
Sitting can take a real toll on your health and your weight, but this is one risk factor that's easily remedied. Simply stand up more, says Kristen Battistelli, a Boston-based healthy wellness advisor and the Digital CEO of Discernible Tastes. She suggests investing in a standing desk or an active sitting chair, as well as looking for little opportunities in your day to stand up and move around. Every little bit of movement helps!
Multitask the pounds away
Counting your steps? A simple way to get your number higher (and your weight lower) is to multitask while you walk, Battistelli says. Invite a friend and catch up, try a walking tour around a city, put on a movie in front of the treadmill, or load an audiobook or podcast onto your phone and hit the pavement. These are the 10 things you need to know about water weight.
Eat an apple
Fruits, in general, are high in fiber and nutrients, but apples get an A in terms of keeping off extra pounds. A 24-year-long study of more than 133,400 people published in PLOS Medicine in 2015 found that people who ate more fiber-rich foods with a low glycemic load—apples and pears, in particular—experienced the least amount of weight gain over time. This may be because foods with low glycemic loads keep blood sugar stable, which can subsequently prevent hunger and overeating. Steal these 12 diet secrets from people who've maintained their weight loss.
Turn off the TV two hours before bed
It can feel like you're unwinding when you're binge-watching your favorite show in bed, but you're actually messing with your hormones and sleep, Battistelli says. "Sleep is a huge indicator of overall health and vitality," she explains. "When it comes to weight loss, I prioritize it over nutrition." Even just one hour less of shut-eye can ramp up cravings and make you eat more the next day. The National Sleep Foundation suggests turning off the TV, tablet, or smartphone early to keep temptation at bay—and the sleep- and melatonin-disrupting blue light away.
Play fetch with Fido
Your pup wants you to live a long, healthy life. (Your cat? We're not sure.) And owning a pet, especially a dog, can help you do just that by helping you lose weight. A U.K. study published in Scientific Reports in 2019 found that dog owners are four times more likely to meet recommended physical-activity guidelines via dog-walking. While other research suggests that these numbers are higher in the U.K. than in the U.S., it's great motivation for you to get up and get outside with your pup instead of just letting him out in the backyard. And the benefits of pet ownership don't stop there: Simply having a pet can reduce stress and depression, two other known risk factors for weight gain.
Don't turn a bad moment into a bad day
One of the most common diet saboteurs is thinking that if you screwed up once, you might as well go nuts and just start fresh the next day. Don't fall into this trap, Battistelli says. "If you misstep and have a soda at lunch, just re-calibrate and follow your healthy course of action from that point forward," she says. If it helps, tell yourself: "Tomorrow starts right now." Here's the weight-loss motivation that helped 22 people lose weight.
Bring sexy back
Having sex can be a great way to lose weight. First, there are the calories burned. A small, four-week study of 21 heterosexual couples published in PLOS ONE in 2013 found that having sex was similar to moderate-intensity exercise and resulted in 101 calories burned for men and 69 for women. Not bad for something that's a lot more fun than hopping on a treadmill. Then, there are the endorphins released during orgasm, which can improve mood, reduce stress, and suppress appetite—all things that can help with weight loss. And finally, according to to research published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology in 2017, the "love hormone" oxytocin can reduce a person's calorie intake.
Indulge in some bubbly (of the H2O variety)
Drinking water is a tried-and-true weight-loss tactic. It reduces cravings, increases energy, fills you up during meals, and helps you stay full longer. But...it's so boring! "Set yourself up for success by keeping water on hand at all times," Battistelli says. "If you're craving bubbles, try switching to unsweetened sparkling waters." Another idea: Try any of these 10 delicious fruit-infused water recipes.
Make this guilt-free treat
Craving something cold and sweet on a hot day? Blend some frozen fruit with coconut water and pour it into popsicle trays for a healthy, low-calorie, refreshing summer snack, advises Joselynne Boschen, a fitness expert with the health app Lifesum and a Nike master trainer. Check out these other guilt-free popsicle recipes.
Get out of your comfort zone at parties
You go to social events like family reunions, dinner parties, after-work outings, and summer barbecues to socialize, right? So keep the focus on that and not on the food table, says Ana Goldseker, a certified nutritional coach based in Maryland. Open your mouth more to talk than to eat and you'll save calories and feel happier afterward. Don't miss these 50 ways to lose weight without exercise.
Take a fashion (footwear) risk
Sneakers with dresses or dress pants is a fashion trend everyone should get in on, Boschen says. "Having comfortable footwear on all the time encourages you to walk more," she says. "It's also much easier than having to carry an extra pair of shoes and change into them before walking." Think you can't find cute and comfortable shoes? You'll be amazed at how many choices are out there!
Perfect your posture
"I always ask clients, 'Would you be standing the same way in a bikini?' and the answer is usually a resounding no," Boschen says. Having good posture isn't just a technique to look visually slimmer; it also encourages you to work your core by pulling in your stomach and tightening those muscles, she says. Pssst...do you know the real reason why people gain weight as they age? (Hint: It's not their diet.)
Take a morning stroll
Even if you're just walking to your mailbox and back, getting some sunshine early in the morning can help you lose weight, according to a study from Northwestern University published in PLOS ONE in 2014. You don't even have to jog or power-walk (although that's cool, too); simply catching some rays is enough to help your waistline. The researchers found that people who were exposed to even moderately bright light in the morning had significantly lower BMIs than those who got their sun later in the day. This likely has to do with the regulation of a person's circadian rhythm, which affects metabolism and weight gain.
Start crushing those candies and farming those chickens
The best way to beat a craving? Distraction! "The average food craving lasts for just 15 minutes, so if you can just distract yourself for that long, there's a good chance the craving will pass and you'll forget about that food," says Kelly Morrow-Baez, PhD, a licensed professional counselor, weight-loss coach, and author of Thriving with PCOS. Pick something that you can fully immerse yourself in, like a good book, an art project, a puzzle, or even a game on your phone.
Listen to your mom and chew your food carefully
How you eat can be just as important as what you eat, and one of the easiest things to control is how fast you chew. "Eating slowly and chewing each bite thoroughly ensures you only eat as much as your body needs," says Tehzeeb Lalani, a clinical nutritionist and the founder of Scale Beyond Scale. It takes about 20 minutes for the "I'm full" signal to reach your brain. Another trick to feeling full? Eat plenty of the best proteins for weight loss.
Listen to your food
"Sound is the forgotten food sense," according to the authors of a study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference in 2016, which found that people eat more in noisy spaces. What causes this? The so-called "crunch effect," in which the sounds of eating are masked by a loud TV, music, or other noise, making you less aware of just how much you're consuming. On the flip side, the researchers found that people ate less when the sound of the food was more intense. To keep your calories in check, be more mindful of the eating process—and the sounds of your munching and crunching. Don't miss these other fast and easy ways to lose weight.
- Appetite: "The effect of pistachio shells as a visual cue in reducing caloric consumption"
- Fiola Sowemimo, MD, who practices internal and bariatric medicine in Freehold, New Jersey
- Journal of Marketing Research: "Shining Light on Atmospherics: How Ambient Light Influences Food Choices"
- Chanté Wiegand, a naturopathic physician and the director of science and education at the Synergy Company
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences: "Protecting the Melatonin Rhythm through Circadian Healthy Light Exposure"
- Jared Koch, a certified health coach and nutritional consultant and the founder of Clean Plates
- Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism: "Inhibition of the gut enzyme intestinal alkaline phosphatase may explain how aspartame promotes glucose intolerance and obesity in mice"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Low-calorie sweeteners and body weight and composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies"
- Suzanne Fisher, RD, a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist based in Florida
- Lacey Hickox Lehman, co-founder of Sacred Paths Yoga
- Holly Rilinger, a Nike Master Trainer and author of Lifted: 28 Days to Strengthen Your Body, Focus Your Mind, and Elevate Your Spirit
- Cleveland Clinic: "You Can Lose Weight and Keep It Off With Mindful Eating"
- Susan Bowerman, RD, a registered dietitian and the senior director of Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife Nutrition
- International Journal of Obesity: "Greener neighborhoods, slimmer people? Evidence from 246 920 Australians"
- Diabetes Care: "Is Neighborhood Green Space Associated With a Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes? Evidence From 267,072 Australians"
- National Recreation and Park Association: "Americans’ Broad-Based Support for Local Recreation and Park Services: Results From a Nationwide Study"
- International Journal of Obesity: "Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness."
- Caroline Apovian, MD, Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center
- Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism: "Cold exposure – an approach to increasing energy expenditure in humans"
- Renée Jones, a counselor and the author of What's Really Eating You?: Overcome the Triggers of Comfort Eating
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Effects of dietary pulse consumption on body weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials"
- Kristen Battistelli, a Boston-based healthy wellness advisor and the Digital CEO of Discernible Tastes
- PLOS Medicine: "Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years: Analysis from Three Prospective Cohort Studies"
- The National Sleep Foundation: "Why Electronics May Stimulate You Before Bed"
- Scientific Reports: "Dog owners are more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than people without a dog: An investigation of the association between dog ownership and physical activity levels in a UK community"
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America: "Alleviating Anxiety, Stress and Depression with the Pet Effect"
- PLOS ONE: "Energy Expenditure during Sexual Activity in Young Healthy Couples"
- Nature Reviews Endocrinology: "The effects of oxytocin on eating behaviour and metabolism in humans"
- Joselynne Boschen, a fitness expert with the health app Lifesum and a Nike master trainer
- Ana Goldseker, a certified nutritional coach based in Maryland
- PLOS ONE: "Timing and Intensity of Light Correlate with Body Weight in Adults"
- Kelly Morrow-Baez, PhD, a licensed professional counselor, weight-loss coach, and author of Thriving with PCOS
- Tehzeeb Lalani, a clinical nutritionist and the founder of Scale Beyond Scale
- Food Quality and Preference: "The crunch effect: Food sound salience as a consumption monitoring cue"