Losing weight is not easy, and whoever tells you differently is lying. It takes commitment, hard work, and, for many, a complete lifestyle makeover. But armed with these 56 techniques, losing weight suddenly becomes easier.
If you're looking for quick fixes or a lose-10-pounds-in-10-days kind of promise, then you've come to the wrong place. But if you want an insider's guide on how to lose weight and keep it off for good, keep reading. From basic weight-loss fundamentals to weird tricks proven to melt away that muffin top, you're only 10 pounds away from your new self.
Limit Your Calorie Intake
Losing weight boils down to simple math. To lose one pound weekly, burn or cut out 3,500 calories in the course of seven days. That breaks down to 500 calories per day. It's difficult to cut out that many by dieting alone, especially for someone who loves to eat. The most effective approach is this combo: each day, cut out 250 calories from your diet and burn 250 through exercise. Choose to either cut out one 250-calorie item such as a serving of ice cream, or omit a few small things that add up to 250 calories a day.
It's also important not to exceed your recommended daily calorie intake. Check out this calorie calculator  to figure out how many calories to consume each day, based on your current weight and your weight-loss goal. Don't dip below 1,200 calories to prevent going into starvation mode, which makes your body hold onto the weight.
Get Up and Out — No Matter How Short
Even when you're swamped, stay active with a 10-minute break to rev up your body. Get outside for a walk at lunchtime as a proactive way to promote weight loss, and get sunshine as an added bonus.
Stop Skipping Evening Workouts
At the end of a hard day, it's easy to make an excuse and not head to the gym or take that run. Keep yourself committed and know that skipping an evening workout is not an option. And honestly, who couldn't use an extra boost of endorphins after a tough meeting? If it's too dark to head outside to exercise, these at-home workouts will do the trick .
Intense Cardio Is Key
To spike up the body's metabolism, do intense 45-minute cardio sessions a few times a week. A study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal  showed that an intense cardio session can slash an additional 190 calories post-workout. While research is still not solid on what produces this increase in calories burned, most data leans toward the afterburn effect, in which a period of intense activity causes the body's metabolism to spike and burn off more fat than usual.
Some intense cardio workouts to try: running, indoor cycling, or interval training (like this pyramid treadmill workout ).
Just because you're going on vacation doesn't mean you have to halt your exercise routine. Travel smart by packing a few workout-related items that don't take up too much space. Want to know what should make the cut when it comes to your precious suitcase space? Watch our video for our five tried and tested fitness travel faves .
Stop With the Scale
It may be tempting to step on a scale whenever you see one, but if it's making you feel bad, then give it a break. Keep in mind that the number is not going to change overnight. Allow yourself weekly weigh-ins, but also factor in that what you see isn't always the most accurate measure of weight-loss efforts. You could be building fat-burning muscle, which could be pushing the number up.
Aside from keeping you hydrated, regular water consumption, recent studies show, can aid with weight loss. Filling up on water before a meal helps encourage portion control , and simply eating foods that contain a lot of water (like fruits and veggies) will fill you up faster, causing you to eat less. A small study found that drinking cool water can speed up metabolism  and discourage cravings for sugary drinks like soda and juice. Now that's a reason to stay hydrated!
Eat Your Veggies
Eating five to seven servings of fruits and veggies a day is important for everyone, but dieters who go heavy on the produce are more likely to lose and keep the weight off. Fruits and veggies are low-calorie and often loaded with filling fiber. Why not make one of these 51 vegetable-focused recipes  for your next meal?
Speed Up Your Metabolism
Burn major calories no matter what you're doing by increasing your metabolism. Simple things like upping your strength-training routine and eating breakfast can make your body burn more calories. Read on for more tips on how to boost your metabolism .
Go Ahead — Skip Your Workout
While this isn't completely true, you can shorten the amount of time you spend working out by maximizing your efforts. Short, intense cardio workouts are just as effective  as longer ones, which lets you reap the calorie-burning rewards. Start with one of these 10-minute workout videos  that will work your entire body!
Enjoy the Food You Eat
One of the worst things you can do when you're trying to lose weight is to not give your body enough food. Instead of depriving yourself, make sure to give yourself small indulgences or a cheat day — especially since occasional high-calorie foods won't wreck a healthy diet . In fact, they can do quite the opposite: having a healthy relationship with food may help you from going overboard later.
Play the Calorie Game Correctly
Losing weight is about simple math; don't get in the mindset that a workout gives you a free pass to splurge. If this happens, then you'll end up taking in more calories than you burn, which will result in weight gain instead of weght loss.
Stop Eating Junk Food
It may seem obvious, but junk food is an enemy against weight loss. Foods filled with sugar and fat are a fast ticket to weight gain, irritability, and low energy levels. To get all the junk out of your system, consider doing a two-week elimination diet by cutting out gluten, refined sugars, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol. From energy levels to glowing skin, here are five reasons why an elimination diet can work  for you.
Eat Baskets of Blueberries
Not only are blueberries an antioxidant powerhouse, but also, they've been shown to play a role in reducing belly fat  — say goodbye to that muffin top! Blueberries are loaded with anthocyanin, which has been shown to alter the activity of genes found in human fat cells, making it more difficult to put on weight. I bet you can't wait to make one of these healthful blueberry recipes now .
With your fruit, that is! Stone fruits like nectarines, plums, peaches, and cherries contain natural substances that ward off obesity. Pretty cool, right? Added bonus: they also protect against diabetes and act as an anti-inflammatory. Dietician Cynthia Sass recommends eating the fruit on its own in a raw, natural state.
Keep It Fresh
Maybe you don't eat a ton of junk food, but there are still some seemingly healthy — but highly processed — foods out there. Get as close to nature as you can and eat a diet filled with all-natural whole foods. Fresh organic produce and pasture-raised lean proteins are a good place to start. Fresh, whole foods will help you maintain energy levels, promote healthy sleeping habits, and provide ample fuel for all your workouts!
Once the Weight Is Gone, You Can't Go Back to Your Old Ways
You used to devour a big bag of potato chips with your lunch, but when you decided to lose weight, you replaced it with a side salad. Now that the weight is off, don't go back to your chips habit. Losing weight is a lifestyle change, not something you do until you reach your goal. Once you go back to old eating habits, the weight will quickly creep back on. Give yourself room for indulgences, but make sure it's all in moderation.
Push Your Body
If you don't feel like trying something new in your exercise regimen, there are still ways to step up your current routine . Adding an extra few minutes to a workout , sprinting at the end of a run, or choosing heavier weights may make all the difference.
Eat 8 Grams of Fiber in the Morning
One key to losing weight is eating foods that keep you full, avoiding later hunger pains that tempt you to eat high-calorie foods. For the first meal of the day, eat at least eight grams of fiber. Try these 10 high-fiber cereals  or breakfast meals that contain at least 10 grams .
Live an Overall Active Life
Physical activity, be it training for a half marathon or hitting the gym, is important for losing weight, but don't skip moving about in your everyday life. Take the stairs, walk your dog, vacuum vigorously, bike to dinner, and garden. All these things will help burn calories and keep you in an active frame of mind.
Pack a Lunch
Taking the time to pack a healthful lunch  is one of the best ways to stay committed to a healthy meal plan. Most of the time when you do takeout, the calorie count is a mystery, since many foods aren't labeled. Being able to account for all the ingredients in your food will help you stay committed to your weight-loss goals and not be surprised by what you're actually eating!
Chickpeas and grapefruit may be a dieter's best friends. Chickpeas have been found to help dieters break bad snacking habits , and eating half a grapefruit before every meal  has been shown to help dieters drop more pounds than forgoing the citrus fruit.
Don't Be Distracted
It seems like everyone is attached to cell phones these days. Even if you're using one to stream a workout playlist , stop texting or chatting with a friend when you're at the gym. Giving full attention to a workout keeps you focused and allows you to maximize results. The payoff is the weight-loss results you are bound to see.
Monitor Your Progress
With all your hard work eating right and exercising, find an accurate way to keep track of your progress. Hopping on a scale, although not everyone's favorite thing to do, is one way to monitor how much weight you've lost. But if weighing yourself gives you anxiety, then monitor your progress by looking in the mirror or seeing how your clothes fit.
Exercise in the Morning
Finding time to exercise no matter what time of day is important, but if you need that little extra push when it comes to burning calories, then try exercising in the morning. Studies have found that people who exercise in the morning work out harder  than those who exercise at other times in the day.
Blue Plate (Not So) Special
The color blue may be beautiful for the eyes, but not when it comes to food. This cool hue is considered a natural appetite suppressant . You don't need to don a pair of blue-lens shades  before you eat; just use blue plates. Does the dessert pictured to the left look tasty, or is the blue working?
Always Pay in Cash
The next time you head to the grocery store, stop at the ATM first. A study showed that individuals buy fewer indulgent foods when paying in cash .
Building muscle through strength training helps give your metabolism an upward bump. While how much is unclear, one thing is known: muscle burns calories at a higher rate than fat. (Depending on which study you read, a pound of muscle burns anywhere from 15 to 50 calories per day. Compare this to fat, which averages about two calories per day.) Even if you consider yourself an active gal, make sure to incorporate strength training into your fitness routine. Otherwise you run the risk of losing muscle mass. Here are some beginner strength-training moves  to get started with.
Make Life About Fun
Since stress is shown to cause weight gain by triggering the body to eat more — especially foods high in sugar and fat — make sure you give yourself time to relax and unwind. And it's an added bonus that so many fun activities (like dancing, hiking, and shopping) are already natural calorie-burners!
Cut Up Your Food
It may seem juvenile to cut food into tiny pieces, but the strategy works. A study found that cutting up food helps trick the brain into thinking there's more on the plate , which can translate into eating less while still feeling satisfied.
Keep a Food Journal
Keeping a tally of all the calories you consume in a day is an effective way to help you stay on track. Studies show that dieters who keep food journals lose more weight. Track your caloric intake on your iPhone with one of these apps , or use a journal if you prefer pen and paper. Not only will a food journal keep you on top of your calorie intake, but it will also keep you accountable for the kinds of food you are eating.
Practice Portion Control
Portion control is essential for losing weight and keeping it off. Healthy foods, like nuts and avocado, still pack on the pounds when eaten in excess. Make sure to check the serving size on food labels, and invest in some of these handy products that help keep portions in check . The key is to always strive for balance and moderation on your plate.
Don't Keep Treats in Your Cabinets
Chips and chocolate — these two foods are like kryptonite, especially when readily available in your home, so make sure they never cross your doorway. You can't eat something that's not in the cabinets, after all. Host of The Biggest Loser Alison Sweeney has a tortilla chip problem , and she keeps herself healthy by never stocking this snack at home. The more healthful food you keep in the home, the more likely you are to snack smarter.
Use Your Friends
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be much easier with the support and motivation of like-minded friends. Having a healthy support group  can lead to better choices for yourself; you may end up moving more, cooking healthy dinners together, and making other lifestyle choices that can contribute to weight loss.
Drink Green Tea
Water's not the only metabolism booster in town. Studies have shown that drinking green tea can give your metabolism a tiny increase  — which can add up to extra calories burned a week! Not only that, but the beverage has got some major antioxidant power, so drink up.
Visualize Indulgent Treats
Contrary to the "don't think about it" theory of controlling food cravings, visualizing a sweet treat can be a good thing. Study participants who bit into indulgent food after imagining eating it actually consumed less.
Spice Things Up
Adding an extra dash of spice at any meal may just help you burn a few more calories  for the day. That sprinkling of cinnamon on your morning latte can lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar, and that turmeric in your spicy dinner can slow down the growth of fat tissue in your body. Capsaicin, the chemical in peppers that makes them hot, also boosts metabolism.
Mix Things Up
It's important to keep things fresh by mixing up your exercise routine . The variety will stop your body from hitting a plateau, and you'll be less likely to get burnt out.
Always Eat Breakfast
Skipping breakfast is a huge mistake if you want to lose weight. Enjoying a hearty and nutritious meal in the morning can actually jump-start your metabolism and encourage pounds to drop. Choose a breakfast that's high in protein to give you energy and full of fiber to keep you satisfied for hours. Here are some healthful breakfast swaps  that ensure your meals are always on point.
Join a Fitness or Weight-Loss Community
Whether it's a national program like Weight Watchers  or an online website like My Fitness Pal, being part of a weight-loss community is a great way to find support on this sometimes difficult journey. Aside from utilizing the program's tools, many sites allow you leave comments and messages on other members' profiles.
Get Your Downward Dog On
Most people think of yoga as relaxing and calm, but there are a ton of poses that make muscles quiver and get the heart rate up, which can make for a big calorie burn. The next time you're breathing in basic poses, try these challenging variations .
Watch Your Drink Calories
Between those refreshing margaritas and a hankering for a midday mimosa, a day off can be all the convincing you need to spend it imbibing. But making sure you watch your drink calories is important if you want to lose weight. Stick to one of these low-calorie cocktails , or skip the cocktails altogether for flavored water or some of these refreshing, hydrating snacks .
Get Some Sleep
Life gets hectic, but make sure you're getting enough sleep. Besides strengthening your immune system, proper rest also ensures healthy eating habits. On a daily basis, sleepy people eat more , and since the body functions poorly when sleep-deprived, it ends up storing more fat, i.e. inadequate sleep can lead to an extra three pounds a year ! Besides, think about all the workouts you skip when you're too tired to get to the gym.
Eat Breakfast Within One Hour of Waking
Eating breakfast is essential for weight loss, but what time breakfast is eaten is also important. Make sure to to eat breakfast within an hour of waking . An early breakfast helps maintain circadian rhythm and boost metabolism.
Have Dessert For Breakfast
If you're going to have a treat, then you may want to make it a breakfast muffin. A study of overweight people who lost weight on a diet found that those who ate a large breakfast that included a sweet treat kept off more weight  than those who ate a smaller breakfast with no treat. The sugary treat they ate at breakfast helped curb sweet cravings later in the day. Just make sure to balance the treat off with lean protein and complex carbs.
Snack Right at the Office
Sugary or sodium-laden snacks seem to always be available at the office. Resist temptation by coming prepped to work with healthy snacks  that won't break the calorie bank. In the morning, cut up some fresh fruit or veggies, or make one of these nutty snacks  for a dose of protein and omega-3s.
Set New Goals
Even if the first 10 pounds are already off, it's important to redesign fitness goals as you progress. As you do this, remember to always celebrate healthy accomplishments  like hitting a new running milestone. The simple act of acknowledgement does wonders for motivation.
Invest in New Gear
In the same way you can't wait to wear those new shoes you bought, pick up some cute fitness gear. You'll be surprised how eager you'll be to throw it on and head to the gym! It doesn't have to cost a fortune either: splurge on a single item from Lululemon  or Zobha , but fill in the blanks with some of our picks for cute but inexpensive gear .
Healthy Foods Don't Mean All-You-Can-Eat
Avocados, peanut butter, sweet potatoes, brown rice — these foods are all nutritious, but that doesn't mean they're void of calories. You still need to be aware of serving sizes, even for foods that are good for you. Here's a handy guide for portion sizes of calorie-dense healthy foods .
Get Sweet on Potatoes
Aside from providing ample amounts of vitamin A, sweet potatoes are a weight-loss wunderkind: they help increase levels of adiponectin, the blood-sugar-regulating hormone, in the body, and have a relatively low glycemic index rating, which can help prevent blood-sugar spikes after you eat. This, coupled with their already sweet and fibrous nature, can help keep hunger and sugar cravings away.
Head to Boot Camp
If you're trying to lose a couple of pounds, stepping up your current workout routine may be all that it takes. And since time is of the essence, nothing gets results like sweat-inducing total-body bootcamp workouts. Check out our list of 10 bootcamp workouts  that'll be sure to blast calories fast.
Keep Up the Bedroom Action
A lot of couples' sex lives can slow down a bit, especially if they've been together for awhile. So here's a little reminder to make time for intimacy. Not only will it keep you emotionally connected, but also, there are many health benefits to getting busy , like a decrease in stress, which help benefit weight-loss goals.
Go For Protein, Not Sugar
While pancakes and danishes are appealing for brunch, sweets aren't something to devour regularly at breakfast. High-protein choices, like eggs, yogurt, and whole grains, are lower in calories, provide long-lasting energy, and help to curb midmorning cravings for sugary pick-me-ups.
Here are some high-protein breakfast ideas  to try.
Dining out occasionally is a nice way to spend an evening, but avoid making it a habit. The secret ingredient at many restaurants is butter and excessive oil — in other words, fat. Studies have repeatedly shown a relationship between number of meals eaten out and greater weight gain. Cooking your own meals helps you control ingredients and also helps manage portion sizes. At a loss for what to do in the kitchen? Here are some healthy recipes  to help get you started.
It may seem counterintuitive, but eating more and more often can help you lose weight. Frequent meals — about five or six in a day — can boost your metabolism , and eating larger volumes of healthy foods that are full of lean protein, fiber, and other nutrients — rather than foods high in refined carbs and processed ingredients — helps give you energy and keep you full without all the calories.
Eat Foods That Fight Fat
Since every calorie counts, make sure to eat foods that fight fat , like almonds and oatmeal, as well as soy beans and sweet potatoes . Don't fear the MUFAs  either; monounsaturated fatty acids fight belly fat, so make sure to add avocado and nuts like almonds to your daily diet.