Weight Loss Principles: Diet and Lifestyle Tips That Actually Work!

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

weight loss principles

Looking for weight loss principles that actually work? We've got some great lifestyle tips that aren't as difficult to follow as you may think.

In fact, some have nothing to do with food or exercise!

Remember, fad diets and “miracle cures” usually aren't effective, especially long-term.

But using time-tested principles of weight loss does work.

Knowing the facts about simple weight loss principles can help you reach your goal weight in no time!

These 7 principles of nutrition are always true, no matter what your diet consists of!

Lifestyle Weight Loss Principles

Adopting simple lifestyle habits increases your chance of reaching your ideal body weight, as well as reducing the risk of weight regain.

Focus on Sleep

Getting the right amount of sleep is a simple lifestyle change you can make to maximize weight loss.

Getting recommended amounts of sleep is one of the best ways to keep your hormones, and thereby hunger levels, under control.

Sleep can also improve your mood, improve mental focus, reduce your risk of accidents, and give you the energy needed to stay active.

Set a regular bedtime and allow yourself at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

De-Stress Daily

In your daily routine, have a go-to stress-reduction strategy that keeps your stress levels under control.

Ongoing stress is a risk factor for weight gain. It can also alter your hormones and increase cravings for junk foods.

Find a stress-relieving activity that you thoroughly enjoy.

It could be spending time reading, getting a massage, taking a hot bath, gardening, or going for a walk outside.

You might also try yoga, tai chi, or meditation!

Take a Break From Sitting Every Hour

Studies show that sitting down too often is a risk factor for chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

If you find yourself sitting down too much, take activity breaks about every hour to get your body moving.

Climb stairs, go for a quick walk, do wall squats or pushups, or do jumping jacks to keep your blood pumping and your metabolism high.

Have Your Hormones Checked

If your hormones aren't balanced, whether you have low thyroid hormone, low estrogen, or other hormone irregularities, it can diminish your weight loss success.

Your doctor can check your hormone levels using a simple blood test.

Getting treatment for hormone problems can make weight loss much easier!

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Stay Busy — But Not Too Busy!

Keep yourself busy with activities (preferably active ones) to avoid eating because of boredom.

Involve yourself with kids' activities, fun family outings, outdoor chores or hobbies, exercise groups, volunteering, your career, or other activities that prevent you from having too much downtime.

However, avoid an overly busy schedule by taking time for yourself to destress, unwind, and relax!

Weigh Yourself Every Day

Studies show that weighing yourself every day can improve weight loss, as it keeps you accountable for moving toward your goal.

While you won't notice a huge difference in the number on the scale each day, get into the habit of daily weigh-ins anyway and record the results!

If you notice a body weight trend in the wrong direction, make additional lifestyle changes to get back on track.

Weigh yourself at the same time each day to obtain the most accurate reading.

Aim to lose about 1-2 pounds each week until you reach your goal weight!

Only Eat When You Feel Hungry

Before eating anything, take the time to listen to your body's hunger cues.

Are you eating because you're truly hungry or because you're bored, tired, stressed, or feeling emotional?

If you find yourself eating for emotional reasons, stop what you're doing and try another stress-relieving strategy.

Examples include taking a hot bath, going for a walk outdoors, getting a massage, meditating, doing yoga, sitting in a hot tub or sauna, or listening to music.

Diet Weight Loss Principles

Adopting the following diet weight loss principles is a surefire way to drop weight and maintain your goal weight for life.

Consume Coffee or Tea

Drinking unsweetened coffee or tea can enhance weight loss for numerous reasons.

Coffee and tea (without added sugar) are very low-calorie drinks, but the caffeine in them gives you a quick energy boost.

In fact, studies show that caffeine helps reduce body weight, body mass index (BMI), and body fat.

It also enhances athletic performance and gives you the energy needed to get through intense or long-lasting workouts.

Avoid drinking caffeine late in the day, however, as it can keep you up at night and make it difficult to get a good night's sleep.

Drink Water Before Meals

Many people don't drink as much water as they should to stay healthy and reduce the risk of weight gain.

Increasing your water intake can enhance weight loss, as doing so helps you feel full without the extra calories.

If you drink water before meals (studies show that drinking about 2 cups of water before meals is beneficial), you're likely to feel full sooner and eat fewer calories at mealtime.

Consume Less Bread

Reducing your carbohydrate intake is an effective weight loss principle for many people, which is why limiting bread can help you shed excess body weight.

Eliminate white bread from your diet entirely.

If you do keep bread in your meal plan, choose whole-grain bread that's higher in fiber.

Additional fiber-rich starchy alternatives to bread include black beans, pinto beans, lentils, peas, corn, sweet potatoes, brown rice, wild rice, and quinoa.

To further reduce carbs for weight loss, boost your intake of non-starchy vegetables (spinach, cucumbers, mushrooms, bell peppers, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes, etc.).

Eat More Protein and Fiber

Protein and fiber both fill you up without extra calories and enhance calorie expenditure, as well as fat-burning.

Protein helps you build and maintain muscle mass, keep your metabolism high, and help your body recover properly after exercise.

Choose protein-rich chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, very lean red meat, eggs, tofu, or seitan.

Dairy foods, legumes, nuts, seeds, and nut butter, as well as low-sugar protein bars and shakes prepared with protein powder, are also excellent sources of protein.

Good sources of fiber include whole, plant-based foods. Examples include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Include protein- and fiber-rich foods at each meal and snack whenever possible to reach your goal weight and maintain it for a lifetime.

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Reduce Sugar-Sweetened Foods and Drinks

Consuming too many foods and drinks sweetened with added sugar can take a toll on your weight loss efforts, and your waistline, which is why reducing these foods is one of the most important weight loss principles you can adopt.

Reduce or eliminate regular soda, sweet tea, sugar-sweetened sports drinks, and other sugar-sweetened beverages, as well as candies, cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream, and other sweet treats.

While you don't have to eliminate desserts entirely, limit them as much as you can during and after your weight loss journey.

Choose fresh fruit, 100% fruit juice, dried fruit without added sugar, water, coffee, tea, or protein shakes instead of sodas, diet sodas, and sweets.

Eat Dairy Foods or Plant-Based Alternatives

Consuming dairy foods can enhance weight loss, as well as fat loss.

Studies show that dairy food consumption is linked with reductions in body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, abdominal fat, hip circumference, and waist circumference.

Aim to eat dairy foods or plant-based alternatives about three times daily.

Choose milk, plant milk, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, reduced-fat cheese, or shakes made with whey-based protein powder.

Dine Out Less Often

Dining out at sit-down or fast-food restaurants too much can hinder weight loss, as it's difficult to know exactly which hidden ingredients are in the foods you order.

Studies show that frequent dining out at restaurants is associated with higher body mass indexes (BMIs).

If you do eat out at restaurants, don't do it all of the time and make nutritious choices when ordering from the menu.

Order fresh fruits or vegetables, as well as protein-rich foods, at each meal.

Don't order soda, lemonade, or sweet tea.

Steer clear of fatty cuts of meat, processed meats (hot dogs, salami, regular bacon, ham, sausage, etc.), fried foods, white bread, white rice, gravy, and other white sauces.

Limit or avoid sugar-sweetened condiments like barbeque sauce, ketchup, honey mustard, sweet relish, and many types of salad dressings.

Order sauces and dressings on the side.

Nix or Limit Alcohol

Alcohol can be part of your lifestyle if it's important to you but limit or avoid it as much as possible.

Alcohol adds unnecessary empty calories to your meal plan, and it might make you crave junk foods.

Many types of alcoholic mixers, such as soda and lemonade, are sweetened with added sugar.

If you do drink alcohol, limit your drinking occasions to once weekly if you can, and choose wine, light beer, or alcohol mixed with club soda or other calorie-free mixers.

Physical Activity Weight Loss Principles

You probably already know that keeping your body moving is crucial for effective weight loss.

The following specific strategies can enhance weight loss effectiveness, improve muscle-to-fat ratios, and reduce your risk of weight regain.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key when using exercise as a weight-loss principle.

If you don't have much time for workouts, make it a priority in your schedule anyway, even if you have just 20 minutes to exercise on your busiest days!

Work out every day (or nearly every day), preferably at the same time.

Focus on Cardio

Cardiovascular exercise is important for your heart health, and it's also one of the highest calorie-burning workouts.

Begin with just 15-20 minutes of cardio daily and work your way up to longer or more intense workouts as you get into better shape.

Choose cardiovascular exercises that you most enjoy, such as power walking, cycling, aerobics classes, jogging, or using an elliptical, rowing, or stair-climbing machine.

Resistance Train Regularly

Skipping resistance training can hinder weight loss, as well as fat loss.

Strength training is an excellent way to reduce muscle loss, improve muscle definition, and increase your body's metabolism.

While weight training is one of the best ways to strength train, you can also use resistance bands or even your own body weight as resistance!

Aim to strength train at least 2-3 times per week and work all major muscle groups.

Find Workouts You Enjoy

If you don't enjoy working out, you're less likely to stick with it long-term.

For this reason, it's important to choose workouts that you love.

Any type of exercise is better than not exercising at all!

You might enjoy swimming, cycling, roller blading, or stair climbing.

Using an elliptical or rowing machine is another great option.

So is weightlifting, aerobics classes, kickboxing classes, yoga, Pilates, dancing workouts, or adult sports leagues.

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Prioritize Exercise

Make exercise one of your top priorities, even if you have just 15-20 minutes daily to dedicate to working out.

Exercise right after you wake up each morning, on your lunch break at work, or at the same time in the afternoon or evening.

If your schedule is packed and you have to skip an activity, don't skip exercise!

Try High-Intensity Interval Training

Studies show that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the best ways to reduce abdominal fat and total fat.

It can also improve your cardiovascular fitness level and your muscle-to-fat ratio.

To do HIIT, simply alternate periods of high-intensity exercise with lower-intensity bouts. Do this for at least 15-20 minutes.

However, if you're not into HIIT and prefer moderate-intensity continuous training instead, it offers the same advantages for weight loss.

Simply work out for a longer amount of time when choosing moderate-intensity continuous training.

Exercise with Your Family

Make exercise an enjoyable activity you can share with your entire family.

Doing so helps you, your spouse, and your kids stay motivated and in shape.

Go for family walks or have younger kids ride their bikes while you jog.

Swim together or go rollerblading, skiing in the winter, or paddle boarding during the warm summer months!

Try a Sit-Stand Desk

Sitting down too much can reduce your chance of achieving an ideal body weight.

If you have a desk job or use a computer a lot during the day, consider getting a sit-stand desk.

Doing so helps you sit down less often and burn extra calories throughout the day, which is a highly effective weight loss principle!

Mental Health Weight Loss Principles

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, as getting in the right mindset is a primary key to effective weight loss.

Set Goals

One of the most important weight loss principles that will increase your chance of success is to set goals during your weight-loss journey.

Choose your ideal weight!

It might be a weight that you feel most comfortable with, your lowest adult weight, or a weight that puts you within a normal body mass index (BMI) range.

You might also set eating, exercise, sleeping, water intake, or stress-relieving goals, as well as goals for work/life balance.

Write down your goals in a journal and track your progress along the way!

Get Outdoors

Spending time outdoors can do wonders for your emotional health and wellness, so make sure to get outside every chance you get.

Find active outdoor hobbies or simply make it a point to go for a walk, even if it's just a short walk around the block with your dog, on a daily basis.

Make Note Cards

Consider making note cards that explain all of the advantages you can expect after you reach your goal weight.

Write down things like more energy, more self-confidence, better clothes, a longer life expectancy, and a better overall quality of life.

Keep the note cards with you and read them every day, or simply on the days you're struggling to follow your weight loss plan.

Ease Up On a Busy Schedule

If your schedule doesn't allow you to follow a healthy meal plan, exercise daily, get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, or take time to relax, chances are your schedule is too busy.

While it's often difficult to say no to activities, it's important to make time to take care of yourself and your family.

Lighten up a busy schedule if you have to!

Try Yoga and Meditation

In addition to improving strength and flexibility, doing yoga can help you mentally de-stress too!

The same holds true for meditation.

Consider doing yoga on days you feel overly stressed or try guided sleep meditation before bed!

Seek Treatment If You're Depressed

Depression is a common mental health challenge that affects nearly everyone at some point.

And depression can hinder weight loss.

If you can't overcome depression on your own and it doesn't go away, don't feel bad about asking for help.

Your doctor might recommend lifestyle changes, hormone therapy, medications, counseling, or combinations of these treatments to improve your mood and overall quality of life.

Get In a Weight-Loss Mindset

Being in the right mindset is half of the battle when it comes to achieving your goal weight.

Find out what motivates you to lose weight.

Get in the mindset of daily exercise, dietary changes, and sticking with your weight loss plan long term.

Find workouts and nutritious foods that you love to make your weight loss journey as enjoyable as possible.

If you have a difficult day or week and get off track, don't give up.

Stay in the right mindset and know that weight loss is possible for anyone with the right mindset and weight loss plan in place.

Have a Strong Social Support Network

It's difficult to get through life without a social support network of encouraging, supportive family and friends.

Surround yourself with people who love you and want you to succeed.

Spend time with your family and friends with similar health, nutrition, and fitness goals as you.

If you don't have the supportive social network you desire, joining the Fit Mother Project is an excellent way to acquire one.

The FM30X program is one of the best ways to achieve your goal weight, as it's been proven effective for millions of members.

Having a structured plan in place and specific targets, as well as motivational support, are some of the most important weight loss principles for success.

Try the free Fit Mom Jumpstart to get started today!

Erin Coleman
B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on weight loss principles.

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