Wellness Nutrition Eat Well The 11 Best Weight Loss Tips, According to a Nutritionist Here's some easy, solid advice for meeting your weight loss goals. By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD Facebook Instagram Twitter Website Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's Health's contributing nutrition editor and counsels clients one-on-one through her virtual private practice. Cynthia is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics and has consulted for five professional sports teams, including five seasons with the New York Yankees. She is currently the nutrition consultant for UCLA's Executive Health program. Sass is also a three-time New York Times best-selling author and Certified Plant Based Professional Cook. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook, or visit www.CynthiaSass.com. health's editorial guidelines Updated on February 6, 2023 Medically reviewed by Jamie Johnson, RDN Medically reviewed by Jamie Johnson, RDN Jamie Johnson, RDN, is the owner of the nutrition communications practice Ingraining Nutrition. learn more Share Tweet Pin Email I've been writing about weight loss for years. Also, I have counseled real people for decades, and here's what I know: What makes headlines, generates buzz, or becomes trendy doesn't always pan out in everyday life. While I don't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to losing weight, the reality is that there are a few truths that apply to nearly everyone. For one, if your weight-loss method leaves you feeling hungry, cranky, run-down, or socially isolated, it may not be healthy or sustainable. And losing weight should enhance your health and not come at the expense of your health. If your weight loss approach doesn't become a lifestyle, you may go back to old habits. Any lost weight might come back. So, what does work? Here are 12 strategies that truly hold up in my experience. Each has the power to sustainably support healthy weight loss while also boosting health. Choose Filling Foods How much food you eat matters when it comes to fullness, not the number of calories. Foods with a lot of water and fiber are great choices to make you feel full. Those include whole foods like: VegetablesFruitWhole grains Besides being nutritious, whole foods are satiating and energizing. Whole foods can have positive effects on insulin, digestion, and metabolism. So, it's always a great idea to upgrade the quality of what you eat and make that goal the foundation of your weight loss and maintenance plan. Eat More Vegetables Just 10% of adults eat the minimum recommended daily intake of two to three cups of vegetables. But for both weight loss and optimal health, consistently eating more veggies is one of the most important habits you can foster. Vegetables To Consider In general, vegetables are good to have in your diet. Still, non-starchy vegetables specifically can come with added benefits. For example, diets that help reduce inflammation, which links to obesity, include non-starchy vegetables. What's more, non-starchy vegetables are incredibly filling and nutrient-rich. Examples of non-starchy vegetables include: Leafy greensBroccoliBrussels sproutsCauliflowerZucchiniTomatoesPeppersMushroomsOnions How To Add More Vegetables to Your Diet Try building your meals around vegetables. A good place to start is eating one cup (about the size of a tennis ball) at breakfast, two cups at lunch, and two cups at dinner. Just make sure to measure those portions before cooking. Some vegetables, such as spinach, shrink when you cook them. For example, try some of the following options at breakfast: Whipping greens into a smoothieFolding shredded zucchini into oatsAdding vegetables to an egg or chickpea scrambleEating them on the side, like sliced cucumbers or red bell peppers At lunch, instead of sandwiches and wraps, salads and bowls can offer a large base of vegetables. However, if you stick with sandwiches or wraps, consider swapping some of your other ingredients for options like lettuce or tomatoes. For dinner, you can sauté, oven-roast, grill, or stir-fry vegetables. But overall, consider making vegetables the biggest part of your meal. The Healthiest Foods to Eat for Breakfast Drink Enough Water Your body needs water for many different processes, like regulating temperature and removing waste. In other words, staying hydrated is crucial for your health. Drinking water also helps prevent eating too much at a time, which inhibits weight loss. Research has found that drinking water before meals can help a person feel fuller than average. How much water a person needs depends on factors like age or sex. Also, different foods and drinks can meet a person's water needs. Even if you're not a fan of plain water, you can spruce it up with healthy add-ins like citrus, cucumber, or basil leaves. Have a Regular Eating Schedule One study published in 2019 in Nutrients found that the timing of different meals can affect your risk of obesity. For example, the researchers found that skipping breakfast and eating two hours before bedtime increases obesity risk. Instead, since schedules can vary from person to person, finding an eating schedule that works for you is key. Getting into a groove with meal timing allows your body to respond with hunger cues at expected meal or snack times and crave balance. In other words, your body will drive you to stop eating when it's full. When it comes to the time you spend awake and asleep, meal timing is especially important. Eating beyond a person's circadian rhythm might reduce fullness, as light and darkness cues control hunger hormones like ghrelin and leptin. Beyond helping with weight loss, a consistent eating schedule can also benefit your overall health. Specifically, eating regularly might result in health benefits, such as: Lowered inflammationImproved circadian rhythmIncreased resistance to stress on the body Aim for Balance With Your Meals Part of reaching a healthy weight comes from healthy, balanced eating. I based the bulk of my last weight loss book, "Slim Down Now," on building your meals like you build your outfits. Foundations of a Healthy Meal Often, you need a top, bottoms, and footwear when you get dressed. You can get away without wearing socks. However, you wouldn't wear two pairs of pants and no top, and you can't wear two pairs of shoes at the same time. In the same way, three core pieces make up the foundation of a healthy meal, which includes: Non-starchy vegetables (think: top)Lean proteins (think: bottoms)Healthy fats (think: shoes) Those foundation foods provide some key benefits for your body. For example, protein helps with the ongoing maintenance of cells in your body, from immune cells to hormones to red blood cells. Accessories to a Healthy Meal To the core trio, you can add what I refer to as an "energy accessory," or a healthy carbohydrate. Like putting on a jacket over your top, carrying a bag, or wearing a hat or scarf, the healthy carbohydrate is an add-on to your meal. Healthy carbohydrates provide energy to fuel the activity of your cells and help them perform their roles. Those carbohydrates include: Whole grainsStarchy vegetablesPulses, like beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeasFruit But over-accessorizing with too many carbohydrates can result in weight gain. So, to strike the right balance, match your portions to your body's energy demands. The Department of Agriculture's MyPlate tool can help you figure out what and how much to eat to maintain balance among different foods and food groups. What Is Keto 2.0—and Is It Any Healthier Than the Standard Keto Diet? Make Your Meals at Home When You Can Takeout and restaurant meals are notorious for oversized portions. In those cases, not eating too much can be hard, whether due to the tastiness or not wanting to waste food. Instead, if you want to start cooking meals at home, select a few staple meals and make a list of the ingredients you need. Once you have everything you need, plan for low-calorie meals throughout the week. Don't forget to find a few meals you enjoy that will also leave you feeling full, satisfied, and energized. Then, once you get used to meal planning, you'll find ways to shorten meal prep time and have healthy meals regularly. When considering planned meals, don’t forget to find a few meals you enjoy that will leave you feeling full, satisfied, and energized too. Also, you'll save a lot of money by eating at home. One study published in 2017 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that cooking at home links to spending less money on food. Plus, if you cook at home, you can use your cooking time to unwind, listen to a podcast, or catch up with family, friends, or partners. Watch Your Alcohol Intake Alcohol can be a culprit for weight gain. Without providing any nutrients, the calories in some alcoholic drinks can equal those in a meal. Alcohol also tends to lower inhibitions and stimulate appetite, which can lead you to eat less healthy foods. You might choose to give up alcohol altogether for weight loss. Even if you don’t, the next best thing to do is monitor the following: How much you drinkThe types of alcohol you drinkHow you eat when you drink Also, eating before you drink, drinking slowly, and having a plan for drinking, like setting a limit, can limit your alcohol intake. Save Room for Your Favorite Foods Going without ever having treats, including both sweet and savory favorites, can be difficult. So, see if you can enjoy your favorite goodies in a balanced way. For example, if French fries are your thing, combine them with a lettuce-wrapped vegetable or turkey burger, along with salad, vegetables, or slaw. Or, if you're craving a decadent cupcake, eat a generous portion of vegetables and some lean protein for dinner. Then, savor every morsel of your dessert. But leaving room for your favorite foods is about balance. Some people encourage others to live in the all-or-nothing. In contrast, the in-between is a much happier, healthier place. Ensure You Eat Enough Food As a healthcare provider, I aim to help people lose weight in a way that feels good, optimizes wellness, and reduces the risk of immediate and long-term health problems. But depriving yourself of food is not the safest or most sustainable way to lose weight. Restrictive diets for calories or foods may offer only temporary weight loss. Plus, you may miss out on any necessary nutrients to keep your body in tip-top shape. Recognize When You Have Physical or Emotional Hunger Physical body hunger triggers, like a slightly growling tummy, are a need for fuel. However, habits, emotions, or environmental cues may drive your hunger if you are not physically hungry. For example, people may think they’re hungry if they’re bored or anxious. Delving into your relationship with food and eating choices can provide knowledge. If you keep a food journal, add your thoughts and feelings to it, including what you chose to eat and why, when and what you did, and what body signals you experienced. If you often mistake hunger for emotional eating, test out some alternative coping mechanisms, like deep breathing and meditation, to address your feelings. You can alter your eating by replacing food with other ways of meeting your emotional needs. The Best (and Worst) Diets of 2020 Seek Support These tips focus on forming different habits, letting go of approaches that haven't served you well, and developing a new normal. However, having people in your life who are unsupportive or disruptive to your goals is bound to happen whenever you go public with any lifestyle change. So, finding support from somewhere is key. Safe and successful weight loss programs will have some way of offering support in person, online, or by phone. That support could also come from the following: Healthcare providersFriends or neighborsCo-workers Like-minded people who you've connected with through social media The most supportive people will be those who listen, allow you to vent, support your healthy choices, and even gently interject if your choices don't align with your goals. Healthy weight loss is a journey, but it doesn't have to be a solo expedition. A Quick Review There are many ways to start and maintain your weight loss journey. Making sure you drink enough water, finding support, and cooking meals at home are just some things you can do to stay on track. However, before you start on the path to weight loss, consult a healthcare provider to figure out the best ways to lose weight safely. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. 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