How to reduce calorie intake
Although decreasing the number of calories you consume can be effective for weight loss, cutting calories without considering which foods you eat isn’t a sustainable way to lose weight.
For example, choosing more nutrient-dense foods — think whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits — benefits your health more than opting for nutrient-poor ones like soda, donuts, and candy.
For this reason, it’s highly recommended to make a few other changes to your diet and lifestyle that can help you maintain a calorie deficit in the long run without feeling hungry or deprived.
Here are 5 simple strategies that may help you lose weight.
1. Eat more protein
When it comes to losing weight, protein is incredibly important.
Studies show that increasing your intake of protein may help keep you full and curb your appetite (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Protein may also help fight cravings. According to some research, high protein snacks help enhance feelings of fullness while decreasing hunger and appetite (12Trusted Source).
In addition to promoting weight loss, some research suggests that maintaining a high protein diet may prevent or reduce weight regain and help maintain muscle mass (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
Therefore, if you want to achieve long-lasting, sustainable weight loss, consider increasing your protein intake by eating more eggs, meat, poultry, tofu, nuts, seeds, or legumes.
2. Limit sugary drinks
Another relatively easy change you can make is to limit your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, including sodas, fruit juices, chocolate milk, and other drinks with added sugar.
Your brain doesn’t register liquid calories the same way it does solid calories, so they affect your feelings of hunger and fullness less significantly (15Trusted Source).
Additionally, studies associate drinking sugary beverages with an increased risk of obesity (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
The harmful effects of sugar also go far beyond weight gain. In fact, added sugar may contribute to other health issues, including heart disease, liver problems, and type 2 diabetes (17Trusted Source).
3. Drink more water
One simple thing you can do for your health is to drink more water.
Adequate hydration is associated with improved brain health and weight management, as well as a reduced kidney stone risk (18Trusted Source).
What’s more, drinking water immediately before meals may reduce hunger and help you eat fewer calories (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
When combined with a healthy diet, drinking more water — especially before meals — appears to be helpful if you need to lose weight. Try other unsweetened beverages like coffee, tea, and sparkling water to meet your hydration needs.
Calorie restriction, especially significant calorie restriction, may slow your metabolic rate and increase appetite. Plus, cutting calories too severely may lead to muscle loss, which can harm your overall health and lower your metabolic rate.
Resistance-training activities like weightlifting have been shown to limit muscle loss, which may help minimize metabolic changes during long-term calorie restriction (21Trusted Source).
If you can’t get to a gym, consider doing bodyweight exercises, such as pushups, squats, and situps, at home.
Cardio exercises, such as walking, swimming, or jogging, are also important — both for increasing weight loss and supporting overall health (22Trusted Source).
Additionally, exercise has a variety of other benefits that go beyond weight loss, such as increased longevity, enhanced energy levels, improved mental health, and a decreased risk of chronic disease (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
5. Reduce your intake of refined carbs and ultra-processed foods
The term “refined carbs” refers to grains that have lost their bran and germ, including white bread, pasta, crackers, and white rice. It also includes sugar and other sweeteners.
Refined grains typically lack fiber, which supports weight loss by decreasing your appetite and increasing feelings of fullness (27Trusted Source).
Eating fewer carbs, including fewer refined carbs, may also promote weight loss by altering levels of specific hormones that regulate your appetite, such as peptide YY (28Trusted Source).
While a low carb or ketogenic diet definitely isn’t right for everyone, replacing refined carbs with a variety of nutrient-dense, fiber-rich carb sources — such as whole grains, root vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes — may be beneficial.
It’s also best to avoid ultra-processed foods, which include fast food, packaged snacks, candies, and sugary beverages. These items not only pack refined carbs but also preservatives, sugars, unhealthy fats, salt, and other ingredients you should limit in your diet.
Eating more protein, exercising, staying hydrated, and limiting your intake of refined carbs and sugary beverages are a few simple ways to decrease your daily calorie intake.
A few basic weight loss tips
In addition to cutting calories, there are several steps you can take to lose weight in a sustainable, long-lasting manner:
- Practice mindful eating. Mindful eating involves limiting mealtime distractions and paying close attention to your dish’s texture, taste, and smell. Plus, this practice may reduce food cravings and promote long-term weight loss (29Trusted Source).
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are low in calories but high in fiber. In addition to boosting your intake of many important nutrients, increasing your intake of fruits and veggies may be linked to weight loss (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).
- Stock up on healthy foods. Following a healthy diet is much more challenging when you have a kitchen full of processed foods that are high in sugar and calories. Instead, stock your fridge with plenty of nutritious ingredients and healthy snacks.
- Find support. Studies show that social support may aid weight loss. Find a friend or family member with similar goals, join an online weight loss forum, or check for support groups in your area to set yourself up for success (32).
- Try meal prepping. Many people find that meal prepping is a convenient way to eat well and save time. Pick one or two days to prepare your meals ahead of time so that you can enjoy delicious dishes all week long.
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