With the dawn of the New Year here, countless people have made resolutions to slim down their waistlines and boost their overall health. From eating a more balanced diet to adopting a new exercise routine, there are plenty of natural approaches to getting healthier in 2024. But losing weight doesn't necessarily mean giving your lifestyle a total overhaul. Sometimes, it's the little daily actions that count. If your health and fitness goal this upcoming year is to blast away body fat and keep it off for good, look no further. We spoke with Mike Masi, CPT, a certified personal trainer at Garage Gym Reviews, who shares 10 easy daily habits for weight loss to shed more than just a few pounds.
According to a 2018 review published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, the key to sustainable weight loss extends beyond diet and exercise. Studies suggest that the best approach to keeping weight off long-term involves adopting healthy lifestyle habits—engaging in regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, not overeating, managing stress, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol. So, instead of taking on daunting lifestyle changes, you can achieve your weight-loss goals by tweaking your daily habits.
Keep reading to uncover which 10 easy daily habits for weight loss you can implement into your routine to melt excess pounds, according to Masi. And when you're finished, don't miss the 10 Best Ways To Keep Belly Fat Under Control in Your 40s & 50s.
Eat a healthy breakfast.
Starting your day with a balanced mix of protein, whole grains, and fruits kickstarts your metabolism and provides sustained energy to curb those mid-morning cravings.
"It's way easier to start the day strong than it is to end the day strong," says Masi. "Eating a balanced and healthy first meal can be a great psychological boost for the remainder of the day, and it doesn't leave a void that your body will be signaling to fill for the remainder of the day. This is a good way to set you up for success on your weight-loss journey."
Research shows that drinking water before meals can boost satiety and reduce calorie intake, supporting healthy weight management.
"Drinking plenty of water throughout the day aids digestion. It also helps expand the stomach and may increase the feeling of fullness from a meal, which may temporarily reduce the feeling of hunger," explains Masi.
Studies suggest that protein-rich foods boost metabolism, reduce hunger, and help preserve lean muscle mass during weight loss.
"Protein is more important for people who are actively losing weight as the body may potentially see the muscle tissue as a nutrient-rich source of calories that it can break down for energy since you are in a caloric deficit," Masi explains. "Eating enough protein and exercising will mitigate that effect and improve your body composition."
Eat more fiber.
Fiber is a weight-loss powerhouse. According to a 2022 review, this essential nutrient helps promote fullness, aids digestion, and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
Masi tells us, "When ingested, fiber slows the rate at which food moves through your digestive tract. This is one of the ways that fiber helps keep you feeling fuller for longer. Beyond that, most fibers cannot be fully broken down by the human body, which means the calories from those carbohydrates do not get taken into the bloodstream for use or storage."
Control Your N.E.A.T.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.) can significantly affect your weight-loss journey. N.E.A.T. refers to the portion of calories you burn by performing "spontaneous" physical activity outside of regular exercise.
"The simplest way to track your N.E.A.T. is to wear a pedometer, which most smartwatches have built-in," says Masi. "Determine your average daily step count, then make sure this number doesn't drop as your diet starts. Or if you don't want to decrease your caloric intake, you can work on increasing your step count instead."
Control your E.A.T.
"E.A.T. stands for Exercise Activity Thermogenesis and refers to calories burned during exercise," explains Masi. "Aim for 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise to burn calories and improve muscle mass. Also, try to find an exercise that's fun and manageable so you can be consistent over a long time versus having to will yourself through workouts that you may not be looking forward to."
Keep a food log.
This simple daily practice enhances awareness of your eating habits, making it easier to identify areas for improvement and maintain accountability. According to research, this mindfulness practice has been associated with significant weight reduction.
"Over time, recording your food intake will help you know more about the macronutrient compositions, caloric burdens, and portion sizes to help you make sound decisions about your diet moving forward. Furthermore, mindful eating effectively decreases caloric intake, which helps kickstart a diet," says Masi.
Get enough sleep.
The Sleep Foundation states that a consistent lack of sleep disrupts hormones that regulate appetite, leading to increased cravings for unhealthy foods. Aim for seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night.
"Getting poor quality or quantity of sleep can have you starting the day with a half tank, potentially leading to decreased N.E.A.T and poorer dietary decisions," states Masi. "Lack of sleep can affect hormones that regulate hunger, leading to increased appetite and potential weight gain."
Avoid late-night snacking.
Late-night snacking can sabotage your weight-loss efforts. Research indicates that nighttime eating can decrease fat oxidation, leading to fat gain. Establish a cut-off time for eating in the evening to give your body ample time to digest before bedtime.
Masi says, "Eating late at night is not inherently bad for you in and of itself, but it's the time of day when you're most fatigued and most likely to overindulge."
Creating accountability for yourself is a fantastic way to reach your weight-loss goals. Share your weight-loss goals with a friend or family member, or join a supportive community. Accountability boosts motivation, making you more likely to stick to your healthy habits.
"A daily checklist or an accountability partner may be a great way to keep up the habits that are driving the effective changes," says Masi. "This approach could be as simple as setting an alarm on your phone telling you to walk to complete your steps, or going shopping with a friend with similar goals to keep you from making purchases that don't align with your goals."
- Source: Lifestyle Medicine: The Health Promoting Power of Daily Habits and Practices
- Source: Effect of Pre-meal Water Consumption on Energy Intake and Satiety in Non-obese Young Adults
- Source: Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss
- Source: Therapeutic Benefits and Dietary Restrictions of Fiber Intake: A State of the Art Review
- Source: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis in Human Energy Homeostasis
- Source: Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat
- Source: Lack of Sleep May Increase Calorie Consumption
- Source: Nighttime snacking is associated with risk of obesity and hyperglycemia in adults: a cross-sectional survey from Chinese adult teachers