Keto, plant-based, cabbage soup. There are enough diets vying for your attention to make your head spin. But what if we told you could watch the number on the scale drop without them? “It is totally possible to lose weight without dieting,” says Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, author of The Little Book of Game-Changers. In fact, in her experience, people who implement a few lifestyle changes are far more successful at losing weight—and keeping it off—than folks who try weight loss diets.
1. Pop A Probiotic Supplement
“Probiotic supplements are not a magic bullet or quick fix for weight loss,” says Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com, author of the best-selling books KETO DIET. “But they can support nutrient absorption, healthy bowel function, and healthy inflammation levels, all of which support weight loss.”
2. Eat More Fermented Foods
Supplements aren’t the only way to meet your probiotic needs. “Fermented foods naturally contain the gut-healthy bacteria,” says Dr. Axe. Eating a serving (or two) of sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, or Kefir per day can help you get that same gut-health and weight-loss benefits.
3. Don’t Forgo Fiber
Occasionally, Cording recommends folks who don’t want to count their daily fiber intake count their calories. Why? Because fiber literally expands in your stomach (woah!), helping you feel full and for longer, she explains. “Prioritizing fiber-rich foods is just another way to avoid fast-digesting, nutrient-poor foods,” she says. While this strategy is no good for folks with a history of disordered eating, prioritizing high-fiber sources like whole grains, whole (not dry or juices) fruit, vegetables, avocado, and chia seeds is a solid plan for all.
4. Focus On Fats
In addition to being slow-digesting, healthy fats like avocado, oil olive, nuts and seeds, cashews, chia seeds, ground flax seeds also tend to be super flavorful, says Cording. “[Health fats] are super satisfying, which comes in handy when you’re trying to snack less.” What’s more, many healthy fats also contain omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation-causing free radicals.
5. Track Your Fruit And Veggie Intake
We’ve long been told to eat as many fruits and veggies as possible per day. The official recommendation is for adults to have 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables per day. “One cup of fruit is about equivalent to one fruit or vegetable,” says Jonathan Valdez, R.D.N., owner of Genki Nutrition and a spokesperson for the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic. “So, a large banana, small apple, medium pear, a large pepper, or a large tomato all qualify as a cup.”
6. Boost Your Water Intake
Boosting your water intake could support healthy weight loss and maintenance. Dr. Axe explains: “If water isn’t your number one beverage, odds are you’re consuming a number of sugary, high-calorie drinks per day.” Subbing these other beverages (think: orange juice, beer soda) to water “is one of the easiest ways to cut down on sugar intake, improve your diet and lose excess body weight,” he says.
7. Give Your Morning Joe A Makeover
While we’re on the topic of sugary beverages, Lisa Richards CNC, nutritionist and founder of The Candida Diet, says you might be surprised just how much sugar is lurching in your cup of joe. “Adding sugar, sweeteners, and high fat/calorie sweeteners can result in coffee that provides upwards of 200 calories in just one cup,” she says. And face it: Most people drink upwards of three cups per day. 600 calories per day in coffee? Her recommendation? Measure out exactly how much creamer and sweetener you’re putting in each cup so you have a true sense of how much sugar you’re actually getting per cup. Or, consider giving your morning drink a makeover, altogether. “What you put in your coffee can pack on the pounds, but the opposite is true as well. What you put in your coffee can also help boost your weight loss,” she says.
8. Sub Soda For Seltzer
“A can of soda can have about up to 40 grams of added sugar,” says Valdez. Meaning, in a single can you’re already more than the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation that women keep their sugar-intake under 25 grams per day, while men keep it under 30 grams. If it’s the bubbles you crave he recommends making your next six-pack cans of seltzer. “Seltzer water is much better than soda because it is just carbonated water and usually has no sugar.” If it’s the caffeine, Dr. Axe recommends a cup of (black) coffee, tea, matcha green tea, or green tea, “all of which may also keep your hunger in check.”
9. Cut Back On Refined Carbs
No weight loss tip list would be complete without mention of refined carbs. “Refined carbohydrates are grains that have had most (if not all) of their fiber, vitamins, and minerals stripped from them in process,” says registered dietician Allie Lansman, RDN, LD, founder of The Freelance RD. Meaning, foods such as white pasta, white rice, white bread, cookies, and crackers have basically no nutritional value. And, “without any fiber to keep you full, after eating refined carbs you’re going to get hungry again way sooner than if you had fibrous, nutrient-dense carbs,” she says. Enter: Whole grains, which have not been nutrient-zapped.
10. Eat Off Smaller Plates
“Most people eat two or three servings per sitting,” says Richards. In part, this is because our plates are so stinking big, she says. “Sizing down your plates can increase the chances that you are filling your plate with accurate serving sizes,” she says. Of course, this hack still requires discipline. Eating on small plates won’t yield weight loss if you’re going up for second and third helpings.
11. Learn Your Hunger Cues
Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. “But for people who are used to rushing their meals or eating in front of the TV it can actually feel really awkward to pay attention to your internal hunger cues,” says Cording. So, how do you learn your internal hunger cues? She recommends leaning on something called the hunger-fullness one to ten scale. “One means you just had a heavy holiday meal, and ten is so hungry you want to dissolve in a puddle on the floor,” she says. After a meal you want to be about a three, and at around a seven or eight it’s time to eat. “The scale makes most people realize how often they snack because they’re bored or tired, and not because they’re actually hungry.”