The "No S" plan
When it comes to nutrition sometimes simplicity is the best policy. Who can stick with a plan that involves complicated tables, timing, and food prep? Enter the "No S" diet plan. You can still eat whatever you like as long as you follow these three rules: No snacks, no seconds, and no sweets—except on days that start with "S" (i.e., weekends). Sticking to a clean diet during the week and allowing yourself a little flexibility on the weekends? It doesn't get any simpler than that! This is classic diet advice you can safely ignore.
Fasting is all the rage right now but this isn't some new-fangled diet fad that will soon go the way of the ThighMaster. People have been abstaining from food for extended periods of time for as long as there have been people and now new research is showing that regular fasting has serious health benefits, including slowing the aging process, improving diabetes, preventing heart disease, and, yes, weight loss. There are many different ways to try this. Two of the most popular fasting plans include the 5:2 Diet, where you eat normally five days a week and fast for two, and the 16:8 plan, where you fast 16 hours a day and eat what you like during an 8-hour window. Or try The 2-Day Diabetes Diet by Reader's Digest, where you follow highly nutritious "fast days" twice a week, and a moderate Mediterranean-style diet the other five days.
Start your day with dessert
iStock/Liv Friis Larsen
Chocolate cake for breakfast may sound like every dieter's dream but this may actually be a weight-loss reality, according to research done by Tel Aviv University. The scientists found that people who ate dessert as part of a 600-calorie breakfast ate less food during the rest of the day. Over 32 months, the dessert-dieters lost 40 pounds more than those who ate a traditionally healthy breakfast. The researchers said that attempting to avoid sweets entirely can create a psychological addiction to these same foods in the long-term, causing you to binge on them. Don't miss the best and worst breakfasts for weight loss.
Stick to a schedule
Whether you eat small, frequent meals; three regular meals; or just one big meal, the important thing is to do it at the same time every day, according to research done by King's College London. "Chrono-nutrition" is the study of how our eating patterns work within the biological patterns of our daily lives and the scientists found that people who set an eating schedule and stuck to it were more likely to lose weight than those who ate chaotically. Our bodies learn to anticipate meal times and will adapt our hormone and sleep-wake cycles accordingly. Bonus: Scheduled meal times may improve insomnia too! Just don't eat late at night, which primes you to gain weight.
It's not sexy but it works: Measuring out your food can help you lose weight. We all think that we know how much one cup of rice or one tablespoon of butter is but people consistently underestimate how much they're eating, according to Cornell University's Food and Brand lab. Even if you're off by only a little bit, add all those together and you could be unintentionally eating hundreds more calories a day than you think you are. So break out the measuring cups and spoons and make sure you're only eating one serving. Even better, check out the photos in this unforgettable portion guide for quick weight loss.
You can have your cake and eat it too... just not every day. Plan indulgences into your diet—called "cheat meals"—and you won't be tempted to binge on forbidden foods. Not only will sticking to your diet become a lot easier when you know you can still have the foods you love but adding in a couple of high-calorie meals per week can actually boost your metabolism and help you avoid a weight loss plateau, according to research done by Seton Hall University. And it's good for you mentally as well as physically: The planning process means you'll only eat foods you truly love and enjoy those treats more than if you had them all the time. Consider these indulgent snacks nutritionists swear by.
Business during the week, party on the weekends
We all gain weight on the weekends, according to the Cornell Food Lab. Most people weigh the most on Sunday nights and the least on Friday mornings, thanks to weekend splurges. And that may not be a bad thing! The researchers found that those who had the biggest difference between their Friday and Sunday weigh-ins—meaning they'd lost more weight during the week—were more likely to keep the weight off. It's good to allow for regular indulgences, they said, as long as you're limiting them to a set period (like a Saturday).
Limiting food through fasting or scheduled meal times may work for some people but others find they do best with small, consistent snacks throughout the day. Instead of relying on three square meals a day, eating a balanced 300-calorie snack every few hours helped people stick to their diets better and lose weight in the long run, according to a study done by the Institute of Food Technologies. Your snacks can include a small treat as long as the majority of your food is coming from whole food sources like plants and meat. Here are 31 healthy snacks for any craving.
Take a seat
iStock/Eva Katalin Kondoros
We all sit too much during the day, it's true, but there is one time you want to make sure you park it in a chair: when you're eating. People who sit down at the table to eat naturally eat fewer calories than people who eat on the go, says a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology. Eating at the table is a conscious decision, the researchers found, which made people more aware of what and how much they were consuming. The effect worked even better when the diners were not distracted by a TV, phone, or magazine. So you can still enjoy all your favorite foods—as long as you sit down to eat them.