There's a fad diet for practically everyone.
But as fun as the diets may seem, it's often difficult to stick with them for more than a few weeks. As a result few people actually see any long-term results.
Rather than trying one of those, here are 15 science-backed habits that can help boost your health and may help with weight loss as well.
- 1. Eat food you enjoy
- It may seem as if the easiest way to lose weight is to stop eating the foods you overindulge in. But this can be short-sighted, Lisa Sasson, a New York University nutrition professor, told Business Insider in 2015. "If you pick a diet with foods you don't like, you're doomed to fail," Sasson said. Food is a pleasurable experience; if you cut out all the foods you like, you probably won't stick to your plan.
- 2. Portion sizes are key.
There's a psychological component to eating, especially when you have weight loss in mind. Being conscious of losing weight and sticking to the right portion sizes is half the battle, Sasson said. This phenomenon is whymost people in studies lose weight, regardless of whether they're in the group assigned a special diet. Simply being studied can lead to people being more conscious of what they're eating.
But overall, keeping an eye on portion sizes is a great way to help avoid overeating — especially with portion sizes rising since the 1970s.
- 3. Skip the restaurant and pack your
Portion sizes in American restaurants have increased by as much as three times in the past 20 years, and it is changing what we think of as a normal meal.
"One way to keep calories in check is to keep food portions no larger than the size of your fist," Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute,writes.
If you're trying to control your portion sizes, it is best to pack your own lunch because restaurants will give you more calories than you need.
- 4. Stick with food that's packed with fiber and protein.
Fiber and protein help keep you feeling full. Processed foods like candy bars and cookies are often low in both of these ingredients and instead are "readily absorbable," Sasson said. That's why you don't feel as satiated after eating a bag of potato chips as you might after eating a fiber-filled baked potato.
In a review of weight-loss studies focusing on fiber, protein, and fullness, psychologists at the University of Sussex made the case for high-protein and high-fiber foods to be included in weight-loss plans because feeling full can help prevent overeating and spur weight loss.
- 5. Go Mediterranean.
As if you needed more excuses to eat as if you live on the Mediterranean (olive oil, pasta, hummus, tomato, and cucumber salad — what's not to love?), studies have shown that a so-called Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of heart disease and provide some potential memory-related benefits. And a recent study also found a link between the eating plan and a lower risk of breast cancer in older women.
According to Sasson, there may be an overlooked element of the Mediterranean diet: It may not be so much about what the people who live around the Mediterranean Sea are eating, but rather about what they're not eating, such as oversize portions and heavily processed food.