15 Small Changes You Can Make to Lose Weight Faster, According to Health Experts

If you aim to shed weight and increase physical activity, ditch the idea of extreme diets and exhaustive workouts. Studies indicate that making small, gradual changes is the most effective way to achieve sustainable results.

Research reveals that individuals who embrace incremental, positive adjustments to their lifestyle, such as increasing water intake or adding a five-minute daily walk, experience more significant weight loss that is easier to maintain.

“When you concentrate on implementing a couple of small changes at a time, you start to establish healthy habits that endure over a lifetime, as opposed to attempting an all-or-nothing approach that often fails due to its impracticality,” explains Lesley Lutes, Ph.D., a psychology professor specializing in obesity prevention at the University of British Columbia.

To assist you in becoming more active, consuming fewer calories, and improving your overall well-being, we’ve compiled the top weight-loss recommendations from health experts.

1. Keep a food journal

Indulging in mindless snacking, especially with a bag of chips, can lead to consuming the entire package. Keeping a record of all your meals and snacks encourages better portion control and enables you to make wiser food choices. For instance, if you find yourself craving potato chips every afternoon at the office, having a stash of cashews at your desk can be a healthier alternative to a vending machine trip.

Additionally, journaling serves as a reality check for your eating habits. Are you skipping meals? Do your eating patterns remain consistent throughout the week and weekend? Do you tend to binge-eat during stressful times? Understanding your routine helps identify the necessary changes for your individual needs, according to Lutes.

2. Find every opportunity to move more

It’s not just about taking a stroll during your lunch break. Incorporate movement into your favorite TV shows. Whether it’s doing jumping jacks, running in place, using stairs, or dancing, engage in activities that elevate your heart rate and leave you slightly breathless, advises Geralyn Coopersmith, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and chief content officer for Flywheel Sports.

Utilize each 2-minute commercial break while watching your favorite TV show, and you could burn an additional 270 calories daily. Over the course of a year, this could result in a weight loss of around 28 pounds.

3. Limit packaged, processed foods

Processed foods are often packed with high levels of sodium, fat, and sugar, making it essential to minimize their presence in your diet. Identify your top five processed foods, whether they are cookies, crackers, chips, or candy, and gradually reduce their consumption. “If you’re currently consuming six of these items weekly, aim to decrease to five,” recommends Lutes.

Progressively eliminate one item each week until you reach a point where you’re consuming no more than one or two. Simultaneously, replace these processed snacks with healthier alternatives, such as baby carrots with hummus, Greek yogurt with fresh berries, or natural peanut butter paired with an apple.

4. Go on more walks throughout the day

Americans utilize their cars for two-thirds of trips under one mile and 89 percent of trips spanning one to two miles. However, each additional hour spent driving correlates with a six percent increase in obesity. Opt for calorie burning instead of gas consumption with this guideline: If your errands are within one mile, briskly walk to complete them. Alternatively, park your car strategically to accommodate multiple errands within a mile, rather than relocating your car for each task.

As per the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, adults are advised to engage in at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) weekly of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) weekly of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

6. Incorporate strength training into your routine

Fundamental bodyweight exercises, such as squats and push-ups, offer a straightforward method to cultivate metabolism-boosting muscle in mere minutes, all within the comfort of your home and without the need for any weights. According to Wayne Westcott, PhD, the fitness research director at Quincy College, “Your muscles don’t distinguish between working against your body’s resistance and using fancy equipment.” He emphasizes that the key rule is to ensure each exercise fatigues your muscles within 60 to 90 seconds. To intensify the workout, consider incorporating a resistance band into basic movements.

Here’s a quick routine to try: Perform 10 reps of knee push-ups, squats, crunches, lunges, and chair dips. Gradually increase the number of reps until your muscles reach full fatigue for an added burn.

7. Use the stairs whenever possible

Faced with the decision between cycling and climbing stairs? Incorporating two to three minutes of stair climbing daily, covering approximately three to five floors, has the potential to burn sufficient calories to counteract the typical annual weight gain of one to two pounds for the average American.

Additionally, ascending a flight of stairs contributes to the strengthening of your glutes and quads, offering additional benefits in terms of strength training.

8. Use a fitness tracker

Modern fitness trackers empower you to exert greater influence over your well-being by offering crucial insights into your eating, sleep, and exercise routines. Consider acquiring a fitness tracker to not only track your daily step count but also monitor calories burned, sleep duration, resting heart rate, and dietary habits. This tool aids in maintaining focus on achieving the goal of accumulating 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

9. Prepare your lunch

Opting to pack your lunch more frequently can lead to substantial calorie savings, not to mention significant cost savings. As an illustration, consider a pre-made chicken Caesar wrap from a chain restaurant, which contains 610 calories—40 percent of them derived from fat. Moreover, it packs 1,440 milligrams of sodium, surpassing more than half of the recommended daily intake. Over the course of a year, making this change can result in saving thousands of calories and hundreds of dollars.

Prepare your own sandwich at home using chicken breast on whole-wheat bread, paired with light mayo, tomatoes, and Romaine lettuce. This simple switch can aid in reducing both calories and sodium intake. According to Ashley Koff, RD, a registered dietitian in Washington, D.C., “When you take charge of making and consuming your own meals, you not only manage the quality and portion sizes but also minimize the levels of sugar, salt, and fat compared to what’s often found in restaurant meals.”

10. Enjoy dessert

While it may seem counterintuitive to indulge in dessert while aiming to lose weight, the reality is that depriving yourself of treats can lead to overeating. Instead, opt for a controlled portion of your favorite treat. Take a moment to appreciate it by smelling, looking at it, and savoring each bite. Chew slowly, explore the texture and taste, and during this process, assess whether you genuinely desire another bite or if you feel satisfied. Being attuned to your body in this way promotes mindful eating, enhancing satisfaction.

Lesley Lutes emphasizes, “When you take the time to slow down and truly savor the taste, you’ll find yourself more satisfied. Many individuals discover contentment after just a couple of bites, making it easier to stop eating when feeling satisfied.”

11. Sip wisely

Opt for a healthy smoothie over fruit juice to avoid excessive sugar intake. Smoothies prove to be a more nutritious choice as they retain the fiber from fruits and vegetables, enhancing their filling and nutritional properties. However, not all smoothies are equal; it’s crucial to create a balanced blend of protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Rather than loading up on just fruit, incorporate muscle-building proteins like protein powders, low-fat milk, unsweetened nut milk, Greek yogurt, or oatmeal. Boost volume and fiber by adding dark, leafy greens, frozen cauliflower, and other veggies. For an extra dose of healthy fats, sprinkle chopped nuts on top.

To enhance satiety, consider consuming your smoothie from a bowl with a spoon instead of drinking it with a straw. Ashley Koff explains, “Chewing a food generates more saliva, sending a signal to the brain that the digestive system needs to prepare. Drinking doesn’t prompt this level of digestion, so the body doesn’t recognize fullness as quickly.”

12. Stay hydrated

There are instances when you mistake thirst for hunger, leading to unnecessary overeating. Therefore, maintaining hydration by sipping water throughout the day is crucial. Water not only aids in better digestion but also contributes to an energized metabolism. While the common recommendation is to drink eight glasses of water daily, individual hydration needs vary. Those who are highly active, on certain medications, or dealing with a viral illness may require more water. To ensure proper hydration, it’s advisable to drink water whenever you feel thirsty and take sips before, during, and after a workout. Additionally, incorporating water-rich fruits and vegetables into your diet can contribute to staying hydrated.

13. Team up with a workout buddy

Working out with a friend enhances accountability and increases the likelihood of adhering to your exercise routine. While face-to-face sessions are beneficial, there are alternative ways to stay connected. If you use a weight-loss app, consider participating in community boards and challenges. This provides an opportunity to connect with individuals who share similar fitness goals, allowing you to share progress and stay motivated.

14. Lighten up your coffee order

A standard cup of coffee with a splash of milk and even a small amount of sugar contains significantly fewer calories compared to blended drinks, which essentially resemble desserts in a cup. You can effortlessly reduce the caloric content of your coffee without compromising on taste by choosing low-fat milk or unsweetened nut milk. Add a hint of honey for sweetness and a sprinkle of cinnamon for added flavor.

15. Get enough sleep

Prioritize going to bed earlier, and you’ll experience a positive impact on your energy levels and mood. Research indicates that even a few nights of sleep deprivation can result in immediate weight gain. This is because insufficient sleep impairs your ability to make healthier choices during the day. Fatigue often leads to compensatory consumption of fatty and sugary foods. Additionally, it’s essential to assess your nighttime habits. Is dinner your largest meal of the day? Are you indulging in too many midnight snacks? These habits may be hindering your weight-loss endeavors.

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