The 25 Best Diet Tricks of All Time
Back to basics
A new diet arrives, another fades away. Should eating habits really be as fleeting as fashion trends? Let's face it: The best weight-loss strategies are the ones that stand the test of time.
Here, we've gathered 25 classic tips from our favorite health and nutrition experts. These simple strategies may not be as sexy as the latest fad diet, but they're guaranteed to never go out of style.
Don't skip breakfast
"Eat breakfast. It'll energize you for the day and keep your diet in check."
—Mehmet Oz, MD, via Twitter
Nibble, don't gobble
"Use the three-bite rule with dessert: Have three small bites and put your fork down."
—JJ Virgin, author, The Virgin Diet
Keep the burn going
"During your workout, rest no more than 30 seconds between exercises. This will dramatically bump your calorie burn."
—Jillian Michaels, fitness expert, via Twitter
Avoid late-night snacks
"Finish eating three hours before bedtime. Your metabolism slows down when you sleep so you shift from fat burning to fat storage."
—Mark Hyman, MD, author of UltraMetabolism
Don't forget the dumbbells
"Increase the strength component of your workout. Adding lean muscle to your body not only tones, it also increases your metabolism."
—Sara Shears, celeb trainer
Question your cravings
"Before you eat, ask yourself, 'Am I hungry?' Unless a craving comes from hunger, eating won't satisfy it."
—Michelle May, MD, author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat
Don't skimp on sleep
"Get six to eight hours of sleep a night. Without it, the appetite hormone ghrelin increases, which could result in weight gain. And schedule at least two three-minute breaks during the day to practice deep-breathing exercises. It will reduce the stress hormone cortisol, whichbuilds fat around your mid-section."
—Manuel Villacorta, RD, author of Eating Free
Make your own lunch
Brown-bag it. According to a 2012 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, dieters who eat out for lunch even once a week lose 5 fewer pounds on average.
Train your brain
"Be specific about your weight-loss goal. The brain detects a difference between where you are and where you want to be, so when you're specific, your brain throws resources like willpower at it."
—Heidi Grant Halvorson, PhD, author of The Psychology of Goals
Start with greens
"Eat in the right order. Eat vegetables first to naturally have more of them and ultimately eat fewer calories."
—Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD
Use tried-and-true methods
Take your cue from dieters on the National Weight Control Registry who've lost 66 pounds (on average) and kept it off:
- 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
- 78% are breakfast eaters.
- 62% limit TV to less than 10 hours a week.
"Eat every three to four hours so you'll be equipped to say no to temptations."
—Pamela Peeke, MD, author, The Hunger Fix
"Set a tangible goal with a firm deadline—for example, schedule an 'after' photo shoot. It will help you stay motivated."
—Ramona Braganza, trainer who got Jessica Alba in shape for a photo shoot less than three months after Alba gave birth
"Expect some discomfort. You're leaving your comfort zone of old eating habits. Knowing that it can be uncomfortable will help you get through it."
—Anne Parker, Miraval Arizona Resort and Spa
Schedule a cheat day
"Resist cravings by postponing indulging to a future day when you're free to eat whatever you want."
—Jim Nicolai, MD, Miraval Arizona Resort and Spa
Keep a food journal. Women who do lose six pounds more on average, according to a 2012 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Use your arms
"When you are doing a treadmill workout, add arm exercises with light weights to increase your calorie burn."
—Jeanette Jenkins, celeb trainer
Never shop hungry
Always grocery-shop on a full stomach with a written list and a cart (heavy baskets trigger instant-gratification decisions, researchshows).
Say no to soda
"Put the soda down [and] step away. Regular soda drinking may make muscles less likely to burn fat."
—Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, via Twitter
Fill up on fiber and protein
"Enjoy so many nonstarchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins that you're too full for anything else."
—Jonathan Bailor, author of The Science of Slim
Skip the salt and fizz
"Cut sodium and carbonation! Carbonation can bloat your stomach, making it appear distended for hours or even days! Sodium holds onto fluid."
—Erin Palinski, RD
Use the apple test
"If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, you're not hungry."
—Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules
Have a carb-free afternoon
"No carbs after lunch is one of the hardest (rules) to follow. But if you follow this rule YOU WILL lose weight."
—Bob Harper, trainer, via Twitter
Do the math
"Add a zero to your weight and use that to figure how many calories you should have if you're moderately active. If you weigh 140pounds, aim to eat 1,400 calories."
—Jackie Newgent, RD, author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes
Walk it off
"Take a 15-minute walk after each meal to burn a quick 100 calories."
—Bob Wright, Hilton Head Health spa