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Tiny Eating Tweaks That Make a Huge Weight Loss Difference Over Time

One meal cannot make or break anything; it's our habits that ultimately contribute to our long term health.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

It's easy to get lost in making one "bad" choice with nutrition. These moments often feel like significant setbacks—a personal strike that is the first domino in a cascade of less healthy decisions.

What if we told you it didn't have to be like that?

One day of eating—or even one week of eating!—isn't enough to make or break anything on your nutrition journey. Even though these moments feel defeating, what's even more important is what you decide to do next.

This fact goes both ways: one day of less-than-ideal food choices doesn't "ruin your diet" and one day of balanced food choices doesn't make you super healthy.

What matters most are the daily, small habits we choose over and over again.

Take these five tiny tweaks into consideration before focusing on any extra bells and whistles with your nutrition, and you'll notice a huge difference in your weight loss efforts over time. Then, be sure to also consult our list of the 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.

Don't skip lunch.

eating lunch

Regular, balanced meals can stoke our metabolism and prevent under-eating throughout the day. Eating regular meals ensures we eat enough for energy levels, manage cravings, and prevent extreme hunger levels.

We all know that feeling when we have gone too long without food. Suddenly, we are moody, hungry, low energy, and ready to eat anything as quickly as possible. Prevent this feeling with consistent meals throughout the day.

Consider using the four-hour rule for meals and snacks. If you haven't eaten in more than four, you need to plan a balanced meal or snack.

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Stand instead of sit.

woman at standing desk on the phone

This small tweak can make a huge difference in your daily calorie output. If you tend to be sedentary throughout the day, consider simply standing more often.

Standing increases our non-exercise active time, or NEAT, which has been shown to have a large influence on total calories burned in a day.

If you work at a desk, opt for a standing desk, suggest walking meetings to your coworkers, and get up and move every 30 to 60 minutes. These small tasks add up!

Power up with protein.

banana protein shake

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. Meaning, it increases feelings of fullness and contributes to decreased total calories of food eaten over the meal or later in the day.

High protein foods have a higher thermic effect on food (TEF). TEF is the total calories burned by digesting food, and protein burns more calories in comparison to fat and carbohydrates.

Emphasize protein on your plate for huge weight loss over time. To get you started, we got you covered with these protein shake recipes for weight loss.

Don't fear snacks.

person picking out one brazil nut while holding a handful of brazil nuts in their other hand

While opting for a snack may seem counterintuitive if you are trying to lose weight, that couldn't be further from the truth. Snacks can decrease calories consumed at your next meal by decreasing hunger levels and preventing showing up to the meal too hungry.

Weight loss researchers found that balanced snacking improves appetite control and decreases overconsuming calories at the next meal.

We created 19 high-protein snacks that are sure to keep you full and manage your appetite at your next meal.

Hydrate before eating.

drinking water

Often, thirst and hunger can strike around the same time. Researchers found that increasing pre-meal water right before eating plays a role in decreasing the total calories consumed at the meal.

Although we don't know exactly why this is, water intake can help quench thirst and may expand our stomach, leading us to feel more full throughout the meal.

Before you sit down to dinner, grab a glass of water first! Here's How to Make Sure You're Drinking Enough Water.

Caroline Thomason, RDN
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more about Caroline