1. Diet When to eat Real food When not to eat Measure Persistence Fruit
Beer Non-caloric sweeteners Medications Stress & sleep Dairy & nuts
Supplements Intermittent fasting Exercise Ketosis Hormones
Weight loss medication
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the right place. Get ready for weight loss without hunger.
Our conventional ideas about weight loss – eat less, move more – require a lot of
willpower. Counting calories, exercising for hours every day and trying to ignore your
hunger? At DietDoctor, we believe that’s needless suffering, and likely a waste of your
time and precious energy.
Eventually people often give up. An excessive focus on counting calories has
certainly not done much to reverse our current obesity epidemic. Fortunately
there may be a better way.
The bottom line? Calories are not the only things that count in weight loss. Your
weight is also hormonally regulated. If you reduce your hunger and the levels of
hunger and fat-storing hormones you’ll likely have an easier time losing excess
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Top 18 weight loss tips
Are you ready? Here we go. Start at the top of the list (most important) and go down
as far as you need. Click on any tip to read all about it. Perhaps you only need the
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How to lose weight
By Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, MD , medical review by Dr. Michael Tamber, MD , Dr. Bret Scher, MD – Updated
August 16, 2022 Evidence based
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3. first piece of advice?
1. Choose a low-carb or high satiety diet
2. Eat when hungry
3. Eat real food
4. Eat only when hungry
5. Measure your progress wisely
6. Be persistent
7. Avoid overeating fruit
8. Avoid beer
9. Avoid non-caloric sweeteners
10. Review any medications
11. Stress less, sleep more
12. Eat less dairy products and nuts
13. Supplement vitamins and minerals
14. Use intermittent fasting
15. Exercise wisely
16. Achieve higher ketone levels
17. Get your hormones checked
18. Consider weight loss medications
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Disclaimer: In this weight loss guide, we recommend a low-carb
diet, as it has repeatedly been shown to be equivalent to or better
than other diets. We believe it is a more sustainable diet,
however, as it typically leads to caloric restriction without hunger or
counting calories. While a low-carb diet has many proven benefits,
it’s still controversial. The main potential danger regards
medications, especially for diabetes, where doses may need to be
adapted. Discuss any changes in medication and relevant lifestyle
changes with your doctor. Full disclaimer
This guide is written for adults with health issues, including obesity,
that could benefit from losing weight.
We don’t recommend counting calories, which is controversial. To
learn more about the rationale for this, see our guide on restricting
4. 1. Choose a low-carb or high
If you want to lose weight, consider starting by avoiding sugar and starch (like bread,
pasta and potatoes). This is an old idea: for 150 years or more there have been a
huge number of weight loss diets based on eating fewer carbs. What’s new is that
reviews of modern scientific studies have repeatedly shown that low carb is at least
as good, if not better, than other approaches to diet.
Obviously, it’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – just eat fewer calories than
you burn, right? The problem with this simplistic advice is that it ignores the elephant
in the room: hunger. Most people don’t like to “just eat less,” as it may result in
having to go hungry forever. Sooner or later, many will likely give up and eat without
restriction, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting.” While it should be possible to
lose weight on any diet, some appear to make it easier and some to make it much
The main advantage of the low-carb diet is that it may cause you to want to eat less.
Even without counting calories, overweight people tend to eat fewer calories on
low carb. Thus, calories count, but you don’t need to count them.
A 2012 study also showed that people who had lost weight experienced far less
reduction in total energy expenditure (the number of calories burned within a 24-
hour period) when they followed a low-carb diet compared to a low-fat diet during
weight maintenance — a 300-calorie difference, in fact.
According to one of the Harvard professors behind the study, this advantage “would
equal the number of calories typically burned in an hour of moderate-intensity
physical activity.” Imagine that: an entire bonus hour of exercise every day, without
Recently, an even larger and more carefully conducted study confirmed this
metabolism-sparing effect, with different groups of people who had lost weight
calories for weight loss.
Controversial topics related to a low-carb diet, and our take on
them, include saturated fats, cholesterol, whole grains, red meat
and whether the brain needs carbohydrates.
5. burning an average of between 200 and almost 500 extra calories per day on a low-
carb maintenance diet compared to a high-carb or moderate-carb diet.
But reducing carbs isn’t the only way to lose excess weight without hunger. Eating
higher satiety foods may also help you accomplish your health and weight loss goals.
Higher satiety foods tend to have higher protein percentages, lower energy density,
higher fiber, and lower hedonic characteristics. You can read more about higher
satiety eating in our evidence-based guide.
And the best part is that higher satiety eating works with almost any eating pattern —
including keto and low carb eating.
Bottom line: A low-carb diet can reduce your hunger, making it easier to eat less. And
it might even increase your fat burning at rest. Study after study shows that low carb
works for weight loss and that on average it improves important health markers.
In addition, higher satiety eating can help you lose excess weight with minimal
hunger, and it is compatible with low carb and keto eating.
Why low carb can help you lose weight
How to lose weight with a low-carb diet
Learn more about keto and low-carb
Do you want to know more about exactly what to eat on low carb, how to do it,
potential problems and solutions — and find lots of great recipes? Check out our keto
for beginners guide. Alternatively, you can make low carb even simpler by signing up
for our free two-week keto challenge.
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2. Eat when hungry
6. Eating when hungry sounds simple: if you’re not hungry, you probably don’t need to
When on a low-carb or keto diet you can trust your feelings of hunger and satiety
again — something many people following a low-fat or standard American diet cannot
do. Feel free to eat as many — or as few — times per day as you feel is right for
Some people eat three times a day and occasionally snack in between (note that
frequent snacking could mean that you’d benefit from adding protein, fibrous
veggies, or extra fat calories to your meals, to increase satiety). However, there’s
some evidence that frequent snacking may not be wise when trying to lose weight.
Some people only eat once or twice a day and never snack. Whatever works for
you. Just eat when you’re hungry, and don’t eat when you aren’t.
It also helps that low-carb diets and higher protein diets — at least 20% of daily
calories — tend to reduce hunger.
Studies demonstrate that people eating a very low-carb, ketogenic diet reduce their
feelings of hunger and the amount of food they eat.
Multiple other studies demonstrate that adding protein to your diet markedly
reduces hunger and food intake.
Our suggestion? Try a low-carb, higher protein approach and see what happens to
your hunger levels.
Read more about why eating when hungry is smarter than counting calories
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7. 3. Eat real, minimally processed
Another common mistake when eating a low-carb diet is getting fooled by the
creative marketing of special “low-carb” products.
Remember: an effective low-carb diet for weight loss should be based primarily
on whole food.
Prioritize what humans have been eating for thousands or likely millions of years, e.g.
meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, butter, olives, nuts etc.
If you want to lose weight, avoid special “low-carb” products that are full of
carbs. This should be obvious, but creative marketers are doing all they can to fool
you (and get your money). They will tell you that you can eat cookies, pasta, ice
cream, bread and plenty of chocolate on a low-carb diet, as long as you buy their
brand. They’re often full of carbohydrates. Don’t be fooled.
How about low-carb bread? Be careful: if it’s baked with grains it’s certainly not low
carb. But some companies still try to sell it to you as a low-carb option.
Low-carb chocolate is usually full of a kind of sugar alcohol — maltitol — that may
actually be partially absorbed by the body, but which the manufacturer does not
count as carbs. If the maltitol is absorbed, it is likely to raise blood sugar and insulin
levels. The remaining carbs end up in the colon, potentially causing gas and
While low-carb chocolate made with erythritol or stevia is likely to be okay, you still
have to consider that any sweeteners can maintain sugar cravings.
Two simple rules to avoid being tricked into purchasing unhealthy “low carb”
Don’t buy “low carb” versions of high carb stuff, like cookies, bars, chocolate,
bread, pasta or ice cream – unless you are sure of the ingredients (ideally, by
making it yourself).
Avoid products with the words “net carbs” on them. That may be a way to
Focus on eating good quality, minimally processed real food. Ideally, the food you
buy shouldn’t even have a list of ingredients (or it should be very short).
A landmark 2019 study reported that the level of food processing was much more
important than the macronutrient composition when it came to overeating. Those
8. randomized to highly processed foods ate over 500 calories per day more than those
eating less processed foods, despite an attempt to match the amount of protein,
carbs, fat, and fiber.
Read more about fake low-carb products
Read more about sweeteners
Less moderation, more quality
Finally — you may want to forget about the old “everything in moderation” diet
motto. It isn’t necessarily helpful advice for people who struggle with weight — in fact,
it may be exactly the opposite.
Don’t eat everything in moderation. Eat as much healthy food as you can, whenever
you are hungry. Eat as little unhealthy food as you can – if possible, none at all.
4. Eat only when hungry
When eating low carb or higher satiety foods you should aim to eat when hungry (see
tip #2 above). And if you’re not hungry? Don’t eat. Frequently eating more food than
you need to stay satisfied will slow down weight loss. This, in fact, is so important
that it’s worth a section of its own.
Limit unnecessary snacking
Unnecessary snacking can be a problem on a low-carb diet too. Some things are easy
to eat just because they’re tasty and readily available. Here are three common traps
to watch out for on a low-carb or keto diet:
1. Dairy products such as cream and cheeses. They work well in cooking, as they
satisfy. But problems arise when you’re munching a lot of cheese in front of the
TV in the evening — without being hungry. Be careful with that. Another problem
might be having lots of cream with dessert, when you’re actually already full and
just keep eating because it tastes good. Another common culprit is loads of
heavy cream in the coffee, many times per day.
2. Nuts. It’s very easy to eat until the nuts are gone, regardless of how full you are.
A tip: According to science, salted nuts are harder to stop eating than unsalted
nuts. Salted nuts tempt you to more overeating. Good to know. Another tip:
Avoid bringing the entire bag to the couch – choose a small bowl instead.
Personally, I often eat all the nuts in front of me, whether I’m hungry or not.
9. 3. Low-carb baking. Even if you’re only using almond flour and sweeteners,
snacking on baked goods and cookies usually represents additional eating when
you’re not hungry — and yes, this will slow down weight loss.
Feel free to skip meals
Do you have to eat breakfast? Research has confirmed that the answer is no.
Don’t eat if you’re not hungry. And this goes for any meal.
On strict low-carb or higher satiety diets the hunger and urge to eat tend to decrease
significantly. If this happens, be happy! Don’t fight it by eating food you don’t
want. Instead, wait for the hunger to return before you eat again. This will save you
both time and money, while speeding up your weight loss.
Some people fear that they will lose control if they don’t eat every three hours. The
concern that this “urge to binge” will blow their diets completely leads them to
obsessively snack all the time.
This constant snacking may be necessary in order to control the hunger and craving
that may arise during a diet high in sugar and starchy carbs, but it’s usually
unnecessary on a low-carb diet. Hunger will only slowly return and you should have
plenty of time to prepare food or grab a snack.
Bottom line: To lose weight in a sustainable way, eat when you’re hungry – but only
when you’re hungry. Forget the clock and listen to your body instead.
5. Measure your progress
Tracking successful weight loss is sometimes trickier than you’d think. Focusing
primarily on weight and stepping on the scale every day might be misleading, cause
unnecessary anxiety, and undermine your motivation for no good reason.
The scale is not necessarily your friend. You may want to lose fat – but the scale
measures muscles, bone and internal organs as well. Gaining muscle is a good thing.
Thus weight or BMI are imperfect ways to measure your progress. This is especially
true if you’re just coming off a long period of semi-starvation (which may accompany
10. calorie-counting), as your body may want to restore lost muscle. Starting weight
training and gaining muscle can also hide your fat loss.
Losing fat and gaining muscle means great progress, but you may miss this if you
only measure your weight. Thus it’s best to quantify body composition as you lose
weight. You can do this with a DEXA scan, hydrostatic weights, plethysmography
scales and others. But if these are not available, it is smart to also track the
disappearance of your belly fat, by measuring your waist circumference.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Put the measuring tape around your middle, slightly above your belly button (to
be exact: at the midpoint between your lowest rib and the top of your hipbone, at
2. Exhale and relax (don’t suck in your stomach)
3. Make sure the measuring tape fits snugly, without compressing your skin
Compare your result to these recommendations:
I recommend aiming for “good” but it’s not always realistic. Young people can usually
achieve this, but for some middle-aged or older people, it may be a major victory to
get all the way to “decent”.
But even your waist size may be misleading. A 37 inch waist for someone 6 feet 7
inches isn’t the same as for someone who is 5 feet 2 inches. Therefore, your waist to
height ratio may be an even better measurement. Simply divide your waist (in inches
or centimeters) by your height. A value below 0.5 suggests a lower risk for insulin
resistance and metabolic dysfunction. You can learn more in the diagnosis section
of our insulin resistance guide.
I suggest measuring your waist circumference and weight before starting your weight
loss journey and then perhaps once a week or once a month. Write the results down
so that you can track your progress. If you want, you can measure more areas:
around the buttocks, the chest, the arms, legs, etc.
Please note that your weight can fluctuate up and down several pounds from day to
day, depending on fluid balance and digestive system contents. Don’t worry about
short-term changes, follow the long-term trend instead.
If you can, check other important health
markers when starting out, like these:
Blood sugar (fasting blood glucose and/or HbA1c)
Cholesterol profile (including HDL, triglycerides)
These markers are frequently improved on a low-carb diet, even before major weight
loss. Re-checking these health markers after a few months can be great for your
motivation as they’ll usually show that you’re not just losing weight, you’re gaining
PS: Don’t have a measuring tape at home? Try these options:
11. Use any piece of string. Wrap the string around your waist and cut the string to fit
your waist on day one. This string could magically appear to become longer and
longer every week you wrap it around your waist.
Comparing how an old pair of jeans fits is also a good option.
6. Be persistent
It usually takes years or decades to gain a lot of weight. Trying to lose it all as quickly
as possible by starving yourself does not necessarily work well in the long term;
instead it may be a recipe for “yo-yo dieting”.
In addition, you need to set realistic expectations for health and weight loss goals.
You can read more in our detailed guide on realistic expectations.
What to aim for
It’s common to lose 2-6 pounds (1-3 kg) within the first week on a strict low-carb or
high satiety diet, and then on average about one pound (0.5 kg) per week as long as
you have a lot of weight remaining to lose. This translates into about 50 pounds
(23 kilos) per year. However, weight loss doesn’t occur at this rate in everyone.
Young males sometimes lose weight faster than this. Post-menopausal women
may lose at a slower pace. People on a very strict low-carb diet may lose weight
quicker, as well as those who exercise a lot (a bonus). And the more weight you
vae to lose, the faster you can start to lose it— although initially, some of the weight
you lose will be due to water loss.
As you get closer to your ideal weight, the loss may slow down until you stabilize at a
weight that your body feels is right. Very few people become underweight on a low-
carb or higher satiety diet as long as they eat when hungry.
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12. Read other peoples’ stories
Are you coming off a period of semi-starvation (which can occur with calorie-
counting)? Focus on your waist circumference and health markers (see tip #4) at first,
as it sometimes takes several weeks before weight loss is apparent.
Weight loss plateaus
Expect weight loss plateaus: months where nothing seems to happen on the scale.
Everybody hits them. Stay calm. Keep doing what you’re doing and eventually
things should start happening again (if not, check out the other 17 tips).
More: Top 10 tips top break a weight loss stall
How to keep the weight off long term
Losing a lot of weight long term and keeping it off will likely not happen unless
you change your habits forever. If you lose weight and then return to living exactly
the way you did when you gained weight, don’t be surprised when the excess weight
returns. It normally will.
But that doesn’t mean that the diet you used to initially lose excess weight is the only
diet that will work for you. Clinical experience suggests that someone may do great at
first with a ketogenic diet, but then may continue long-term success with a moderate
carb higher satiety diet. The key is to keep an open mind and be willing to adjust
along the way.
Maintaining weight loss usually requires long-term change and patience. As tempting
as it may be, don’t fall for one of these magical diet scams.
Forget quick fixes: If you lose some weight every month, eventually you may get rid
of all your excess weight. That’s inevitable progress. That’s what you want.
PS: Long-term change is hardest in the beginning, especially during the first couple of
weeks. It’s like quitting smoking. Once you develop new habits it becomes easier and
easier every week. Eventually it may come naturally.
For inspiration and tips, check out some of our long-term weight maintenance
Karen: Maintaining a 70-pound weight loss for five years
How Melissa lost 100 pounds with a keto diet, and kept it off for 15 years
Brian: Maintaining a 100-pound weight loss for seven years
How to lose weight faster
7. Avoid overeating fruit
This piece of advice is controversial, as fruit has an almost magical health aura today.
While fruit does contain fiber, antioxidants, and important vitamins, it also contains a
fair amount of sugar – around 10% by weight (the rest is mostly water). Just taste
an orange or a grape. Sweet, right?
13. Eating whole fruits in moderation – especially ones that are low in sugar, like berries –
can absolutely be part of a healthy diet. The soluble fiber in fruit can help with short-
term satiety; it also reacts with water in your gut to form a thick gel that helps delay
and reduce the amount of sugar absorbed from that fruit. In fact, up to 30% of the
sugar from fruit may not be absorbed.
Larger quantities of fruit, however, will deliver a significant sugar load to your
intestines. Even if only 70% of that sugar is absorbed, 70% of a big number is still a
big number. For example, five servings of fruit per day can be equivalent to the
amount of sugar in 16 ounces (500 ml) of soda – 52 grams of sugar!
Low-carb fruits and berries
– the best and the worst
Isn’t fruit natural?
Most people believe that fruit is natural, but today’s fruits in the grocery store have
very little in common with what fruits looked like before they were cultured. Modern
domesticated fruits are larger, less bitter, and have thinner peels and smaller seeds.
This makes them tastier and easier to eat – and because of their increased size, they
may provide more sugar per piece of fruit than their earlier counterparts.
What fruits and vegetables looked like before
Bottom line: Fruit is sugar from nature. Enjoy responsibly.
8. Avoid drinking beer
Beer contains rapidly digested carbs that shut down fat burning. That may be why
beer is sometimes referred to as “liquid bread.” There’s a good reason for the term
Here are smarter (lower-carb) alcoholic options when trying to lose weight:
Wine (red or dry white)
Hard liquor like whisky, cognac, vodka (avoid sweetened cocktails – try vodka,
soda water, lime instead)
These drinks hardly contain any sugar or digestible carbohydrates so they’re better
than beer. However, large amounts of alcohol might slow weight loss, so moderation
is still a good idea.
Low‑carb alcohol –
the best and the worst
14. 9. Avoid non-caloric sweeteners
Many people replace sugar with non-caloric sweeteners in the belief that this will
reduce their calorie intake and cause weight loss. It sounds plausible. Several studies,
however, have failed to show obvious positive effect on weight loss by consuming
non-caloric sweeteners instead of plain sugar.
According to scientific studies, non-caloric sweeteners may increase appetite and
maintain cravings for sweet food. And one recent independent study showed that
switching drinks with non-caloric sweeteners to water helped women lose weight.
Study: Avoiding diet beverages helps women lose weight
This may be related to the increased insulin secretion seen with some non-caloric
sweeteners. Maybe that is why something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max.
If you’re having trouble losing weight, I suggest that you avoid sweeteners. As a
bonus, you’ll likely find it easier to enjoy the natural sweetness of real food, once
you’re no longer adapted to the overpowering sweetness of processed low-carb food
products and “diet” sodas.
Full low-carb sweeteners
Do you find the idea of avoiding
sweeteners almost impossible to
imagine? Addiction-like relationships to
sugar and carbohydrate-rich foods can be
overcome. Check out this video with
addiction specialist Bitten Jonsson, RN
15. Read more about non-caloric sweeteners
10. Review any medications
Many prescription drugs can stall your weight loss. Discuss any change in treatment
with your doctor. Here are the three most common offenders:
Insulin injections, especially at higher doses, are probably the worst obstacle for
weight loss for many people with diabetes. There are three ways to reduce
your need for insulin:
A. Eat fewer carbs, which makes it easier to lose weight. The fewer carbs you eat
the less insulin you need. Remember to work closely with your healthcare
provider to ensure you safely lower your doses.
B. If this isn’t enough, treatment with metformin (an insulin sensitizing drug) can
decrease the need for insulin (at least for people with type 2 diabetes).
C. If this is not enough to get off insulin (again, for people with type 2 diabetes),
discuss with your doctor if it is appropriate to try a drug in one of the newer
classes like the GLP-1 analogues or DPP-4 inhibitors. There are many different
options within these two categories; what you need to know is the drugs in these
classes reduce the need for insulin and may also cause weight loss by other
mechanisms — beyond just the effect of using less insulin.
You can learn more in our guide on starting low-carb or keto with diabetes
Other diabetes medications, like drugs
that stimulate the secretion of insulin
by the pancreas (e.g. sulfonylureas),
often lead to weight gain. These
include: Amaryl (glimepiride),
Euglucon (glibenclamide), and Daonil
(glyburide). Additional diabetes
medications like Actos (pioglitazone),
Starlix (nateglinide) and
Prandin/NovoNorm (repaglinide) also
encourage weight gain. But not
metformin. More on diabetes
Cortisone and other glucocorticoids
(e.g. prednisone, prednisolone,
dexamethasone) are also common offenders. These drugs may cause weight
gain in the long run, especially at higher doses (e.g. more than 5 mg
prednisolone per day). Unfortunately, a medication like cortisone is often
essential for those who are prescribed it, but the dose should be adjusted
frequently in concert with your healthcare provider so you don’t take more than
These other medications can also cause problems:
16. Neuroleptics/antipsychotic drugs can often encourage weight gain, especially
newer drugs like Zyprexa (olanzapine).
Some antidepressant medications can cause weight gain, especially the older
tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as Elavil/Tryptizol/Saroten (amitriptyline),
and Anafranil (clomipramine); as well as newer drugs such as Remeron
(mirtazapine). Lithium (for bipolar disorder) often causes weight gain. The
most commonly prescribed antidepressants, in a class known as SSRI’s, generally
have less of an impact on weight. More on depression
Some contraceptives may contribute to a slight weight gain, primarily those that
contain only progesterone and no estrogen, for example the mini-pill, the
contraceptive injection, or a contraceptive implant. More on fertility
Blood pressure medication in the form of beta blockers may lead to weight gain
in some individuals. This class includes: Seloken/Lopressor (metoprolol),
Tenormin (atenolol), and many others. More on high blood pressure
Epilepsy drugs may cause weight gain (e.g. carbamazepine and valproate).
Allergy medications and antihistamines can interfere with weight loss, especially
at high doses. Cortisone is even worse (see above). More on allergies
Antibiotics may possibly lead to a temporary weight gain by disturbing the gut
microbiota and increasing the amount of energy we absorb from food. This is
still speculative for humans but it’s a reason to not use antibiotics unless you
truly need them.
11. Stress less, sleep more
Have you ever wished for more hours of sleep and a less stressful life in general?
Most people have – stress and lack of sleep can be bad news for weight.
Chronic stress and inadequate sleep may increase levels of stress hormones such as
cortisol in your body. This can cause increased hunger, resulting in overeating and
weight gain. If you’re looking to lose weight, you should review possible ways to
decrease or better handle excessive stress in your life. Although this often
demands substantial changes, it may immediately affect your stress hormone levels
and perhaps your weight.
You should also make an effort to get enough good sleep, preferably every night.
Strive to wake up refreshed of your own accord, independently of the alarm clock. If
you’re the kind of person who always gets brutally woken up by the alarm ringing,
you might never be giving your body completely adequate rest.
17. One way to combat this is to go to bed early enough for your body to wake up
autonomously before the alarm clock goes off. Letting yourself get a good night’s
sleep is another way of reducing stress hormone levels.
Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, goes hand in hand with sugar cravings. It
also has an adverse effect on self-discipline and makes it painfully easy to give in to
temptation (it’s no coincidence that induced sleep deprivation is a common
interrogation technique). Similarly, sleep deprivation weakens your resolve to work
Do you have trouble sleeping even if there’s ample time for it? Here are five helpful
1. Stick to the same bedtime every evening. In the long run, this will help your
body prepare for sleep at that time.
2. No coffee after 2 pm. Just don’t – and remember that it takes time for caffeine
to leave your body.
3. Limit your alcohol intake to three hours before bedtime. While booze might
make you woozy, it worsens quality of sleep.
4. Try to get regular exercise in the morning. Regular physical activity in the earlier
part of the day may help you fall asleep easier. Some people may find that
exercise later in the day is stimulating and makes falling asleep more difficult.
The evidence is inconsistent, so it likely depends on how you react to afternoon
exercise — so pay attention to how it impacts your sleep!
5. Get 15 minutes of sunlight every day. This is good for your circadian rhythm
(your “body clock”).
Finally, make sure that your bedroom is dark enough, and stays at a pleasant
temperature. Sleep well!
Difficult, but worthwhile
Many may find the above guidelines difficult to follow, perhaps because of a lack of
time (or the equivalent – small children!). But stressing less and sleeping more
doesn’t just feel good. It can also play a part in helping you get leaner.
Read more about the benefits of sleep
12. Eat less dairy products and
Did you like this article?
18. Can you eat as much as you like and still lose weight? This often works well with a
low-carbohydrate or higher satiety diet, as appetite regulation often improves.
However, despite the fact that a low-carbohydrate diet generally makes it easier to
eat just enough, there are foods classified as low carb which are lower satiety foods
and may become a problem in larger quantities. If you find yourself having a hard
time losing weight on a low-carb diet, you could try shifting to a higher satiety diet
High fat dairy products (yogurt, cream, cheese)
High fat dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar) and lots of
calories from fat — both of which could slow down weight loss when over-consumed.
Consequently, cutting back on high fat dairy products may help accelerate weight
Remember that, gram for gram, fat has twice the calories of carbs or protein;
therefore, high-fat, highly palatable foods can deliver a huge calorie load before you
When it comes to butter, you don’t need to worry about extra carbs, as butter is
almost pure fat. But, like any other source of fat, if butter is over-consumed, the
calories can add up and your dietary fat will likely be burned for fuel instead of body
Low-carb and dairy-free recipes
Nuts, the second food to watch, contain a fair amount of carbohydrate in addition to
a significant amount of calories from fat, and it’s very easy to unwittingly scarf down
large quantities. That’s why nuts are a low satiety per calorie food.
The high calorie load delivered by handfuls of nuts can thwart weight loss. If you are
trying to follow a strict ketogenic diet, with a 20 grams of carbs per day allowance,
you should also note that cashew nuts are among the worst carb-wise – you’ll find
that they contain around 20% carbohydrate by weight.
This means that consuming 100 grams of cashews (which happens in a flash!) will fill
your daily quota. Peanuts tend to be around 10-15% carbohydrate – not putting them
in the clear either.
So, for those of you having trouble losing weight: use nuts sparingly. And for those of
you on a strict keto diet, know that the most harmless ones carb-wise are macadamia
nuts (usually around 5% carbs), or Brazil nuts (4%).
19. Low-carb nuts – the best
and the worst
13. Supplement vitamins and
Your body needs a certain amount of essential vitamins and minerals to function
properly. What happens when you don’t get enough of them? What happens when
you eat too little food or when the food you eat isn’t sufficiently nutritious? It is
possible that our bodies catch on and reply by increasing hunger levels.
After all, if we eat more, we increase the chances of consuming enough of whatever
nutrient we are lacking. On the other hand, reliable access to vitamins and minerals
could perhaps mean decreased hunger levels and decreased cravings, thereby
promoting weight loss.
The above is speculation without strong supporting evidence. But there are a few
studies which suggest it might not be far from the truth.
A lack of vitamin D could be the most common deficiency in northern countries such
as Canada and some of the US. Overall, the research on the relationship between
vitamin D and weight is conflicting, and it cannot be concluded that taking vitamin D
will cause weight loss. Nonetheless, there are studies indicating that, when
compared to a placebo, a vitamin D supplement could help decrease your fat mass
or waist measurement, even in the absence of weight loss.
In one of the studies, 77 overweight or obese women received either a supplement of
1000 units of vitamin D or a placebo, every day for 3 months. Although the total
weight loss was similar, those who took the vitamin D supplement decreased their
body fat by 2.7 kg (6 pounds), on average. This was significantly more than the
placebo group, whose average fat loss was only 0.4 kg (less than 1 pound).
The data regarding vitamin and mineral supplementation for weight loss is sparse
and of very low quality overall.
However, there is a clinical trial from 2010 involving around a hundred women with
weight issues, separating them into three groups. One group received a daily
multivitamin supplement, the other a daily calcium supplement, and the last group
only a placebo. The study went on for six months.
20. Unsurprisingly, the results showed that nothing had happened to the weight of the
women receiving calcium or the placebo. However, the group that took the
multivitamin lost more weight – an average of 3.6 kg (8 pounds) more – and improved
several health markers. Among other things, their basal metabolic rate (the rate at
which the body burns calories when at rest) increased. Although the differences
were small, they were statistically significant.
Nutrient-dense, whole food is certainly the foundation of weight loss. But an
adequate amount of vitamin D can be difficult to ingest via food, especially for those
who are vegetarian or don’t eat fatty fish (the main dietary source of vitamin D) on a
regular basis. In the case of a lack of sun (such as during the darker months of fall
and winter), it may be wise to supplement for other health reasons – and perhaps for
your body composition.
In addition, if you’re overweight and not entirely sure that your diet provides enough
nutrients, it may be worthwhile to take a multivitamin pill.
While the evidence is weak that either of these interventions will help with weight
loss, there is likely little downside and you may see a small benefit.
14. Use intermittent fasting
There are many things to consider before moving on to tip #14, but don’t let this
deter you. Intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool when trying to lose weight. It
may be perfect if you are stuck at a weight loss plateau despite “doing everything
right” – or to speed up your weight loss.
Intermittent fasting means exactly what it sounds like: not eating during a specified
Recommended first option – 16:8
Probably the most popular option is fasting for 16 hours (including sleep), which is
usually easy to do on a low-carb or high satiety diet. It requires trading breakfast for a
cup of coffee (or some other non-caloric fluid) and having lunch as the first meal of
the day. Fasting from 8 pm to 12 noon – for example – equals 16 hours of fasting.
Another option is to skip dinner: eat breakfast and lunch within 8 hours — for
instance, 8 am to 2 pm — and then don’t eat again until 8 am the next morning.
There are many other versions of intermittent fasting, but this 16:8 method (16 hours
of not eating with an 8-hour eating window) is the one we recommend as a first
21. option. It’s often effective, generally easy to do and does not require counting
You can do a 16:8 fast as often as you like. For example twice a week, on weekdays
only, or every single day. In fact, on a low-carb or keto diet, some people
spontaneously fall into this habit, as their appetite is reduced (see weight loss tip #4,
eat only when hungry).
Although it’s possible that doing it more frequently may improve your results, long-
term studies are lacking. Therefore, we simply don’t know if frequent fasting will
decrease resting metabolic rate in a similar manner to continuous caloric restriction,
making weight loss and maintenance more difficult in the long run.
Also, clinical experience suggests that some people feel the urge to overeat calories
during their eating window when they first try intermittent fasting. If this is the case,
it may not be the right time to try IF. Instead, you may benefit from focusing on
higher satiety eating first, so that you have less hunger and feel less of an urge to
overeat during your eating window.
Other kinds of intermittent fasting
There are many other options. Basically, the longer periods may be harder to do, but
they can certainly be effective. Here are two more common options:
Fasting for 24 hours (often dinner to dinner) once or twice a week. This can be
effective and easy to do for some people, especially on a keto diet, which usually
reduces appetite. You can learn more about eating one meal a day (OMAD) in
our evidence-based guide.
The 5:2 diet. Eat as much as you need to feel satisfied 5 days of the week and
then eat calorie-restricted on two days (500 calories per day for women, 600
calories for men). This requires calorie counting and more planning, but some
people still find they enjoy it.
What about eating when hungry?
Doesn’t advice on intermittent fasting contradict the advice to eat when hungry? Yes
it does, somewhat.
We recommend eating when hungry as a first option, and we recommend always
eating until you feel satisfied at meals. But if this is not effective enough, then
intermittent fasting can be a useful tool in your tool kit. Remember – and this is
crucial – that between fasting periods you’re still supposed to eat until satisfied.
Intermittent fasting is not the same thing as obsessively counting calories and
starving yourself 24-7. Starving yourself may be a recipe for misery and failure.
Intermittent fasting is about eating all that your body needs, while still allowing it to
sometimes briefly rest from constant feeding.
What’s acceptable to drink during fasts?
During a fast you can’t eat, but you should definitely drink. Water is the drink of
choice, but coffee and tea are also great options. During longer fasts it can be wise
to add some salt too, or drink bouillon.
Anything you drink should ideally be zero calories. But it may be acceptable to modify
this by adding a small amount of milk or cream in your coffee or tea – if you
absolutely need it to enjoy your drink.
What to eat between fasts
So what should you eat when you are not fasting? Well, if your goal is to lose weight,
we suggest following all the tips above, including eating a low-carb or higher satiety
diet. Pairing either of these with intermittent fasting is a great combination.