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The 13 Most Creative Weight-Loss Tips Ever (That Really Work!)

author image Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN
Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a chef, nutritionist, recipe developer, media personality and award-winning cookbook author. She’s a culinary instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education and frequent contributor to Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. Her newest book is the second edition of "The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook."

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The 13 Most Creative Weight-Loss Tips Ever (That Really Work!)
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Got a few pounds to drop? While there’s an endless supply of weight-loss schemes to take a crack at, some are unrealistic, most don’t truly work in the long run and a handful can be downright dangerous. We’re committed to helping you find a solution. We scoured the health research and assembled the most intriguing weight-management tips based on sound science we could find. Nope, the “hot dog diet” and the “cookie diet” didn’t make the cut. Luckily, there are 13 other strategies that really do work. Some are amusing, and not one of them requires you to give up deliciousness. So meander your way through these tips one by one. Get your doctor’s or dietitian’s advice too.

1. Burn Calories Doing Everyday Activities
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“NEAT” -- which stands for nonexercise activity thermogenesis -- is a simple concept that can lead to weight loss. It refers to the energy expended during typical daily activities like walking, standing and even fidgeting. According to a research review published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, this type of movement may help you burn up to 2,000 additional daily calories above baseline metabolic level. This doesn’t mean you can fidget instead or doing your sweaty workouts. It does mean to find ways to boost movement during times you might normally be sitting, lying about or just exercising your thumbs on a smart device. So opt for a standing desk, take the stairs when they’re right next to the escalator or just skip about when you’re happy. That might look more than a little bit silly, but it’s really “NEAT!”

Related: Read More: 8 Tricks to Keep Your Metabolism Revving

2. Substitute Mushrooms for Red Meat
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Want to lose seven pounds? One of the most logical ways to lose that weight is to simply eat fewer calories than your body needs. But just eating less is not necessarily the answer to long-term weight loss. However, one of the most intriguing, delicious and effective ways to cut calories without actually eating less is to swap mushrooms in place of red meat. The results of a clinical trial published in Appetite suggests that when this is done, it may lead to a reduction of calories, body weight, body fat, body mass index, waist circumference and more. A 7-pound loss is definitely possible. What’s more, weight loss seems to be well maintained while following this strategy. So fire up the grill and toss on a portobello for a delicious, sizzling mushroom “steak.”

Related: Read More: 9 Must-Know Indoor Grilling Hacks

3. Slow Your Dinner Roll With Chopsticks
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Reserve your need for speed for sprints rather than your dining habits. Racing to finish everything on your plate can result in overindulging -- especially if you overserved your portions to begin with. Need proof? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition presented a review and analysis of 22 studies that found that a slower eating pace was associated with lower calorie intake. In other words, eating more slowly may lead to weight loss. But, for many, that’s easier in theory than in practice. So here’s a tip: Use chopsticks. It won’t hurt, and it may just help; one study published in Obesity observed that diners with higher body mass indexes (BMI) were less likely to use chopsticks than forks at Chinese all-you-can-eat restaurants.

Related: Read More: A Quick and Easy Way to Estimate Portion Size

4. Banish the Munchies With Chewing Gum
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Do you have a hankering for an afternoon snack? If properly planned, between-meal noshing can be helpful for managing weight; unmanaged, however, it might just lead to excess calorie intake. Luckily, there’s a fun way to curb excess carb cravings: Chew gum. A new crossover study published in Physiology & Behavior that was conducted in healthy-weight and obese women found that chewing gum after lunch (15 minutes per hour over a three-hour period) can boost satiety as well as help reduce high-carbohydrate snacking in the afternoon. If you tend to overdo it on salty or sweet munchie snacks like pretzels or cookies, unwrap a few sticks of gum and chew.

Related: Read More: 11 Easy Post-Workout Foods and the Science of Why They Work

5. Fool Yourself Full With Pistachios
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Here’s some nutty advice for you: You can actually fool yourself full by enjoying in-shell pistachios as a snack. Research finds that the leftover shells may provide a visual cue for portions, potentially helping to curb intake and resulting in reduced calorie consumption. That’s called the “pistachio principle.” Plus, pistachios are one of the lowest-calorie nuts, at 160 calories per serving, and they offer the most nuts per serving (about 49 kernels). So go get counting -- and cracking!

Related: Read More: 9 Healthy Nuts That May Help You Live Longer

6. Wear Shapewear While Exercising
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Exercising regularly is one surefire way to boost weight-management efforts, of course. But could undergarments worn while working out create a more significant impact? University of Virginia researchers suggest that answer is “yes.” According to their study, women wearing shaping tights while walking on a treadmill burned as much as 16 percent more calories than when not wearing the shapewear. Seamless resistance bands in the garment make muscles work more. While toning shapewear is not appropriate attire during vigorous physical activity, it could be your double-duty secret to svelteness during low to moderate activity!

Related: Read More: The Best Gear for All of Your Outdoor Adventures

7. Downsize Your Dinner Plate
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We've supersized our dinner plates over the past century. The typical American dish used to be around 9.6 inches in diameter compared to today's 11.8-inch dinner plate, according to data published in the Journal of Consumer Research. So if you use a 10-inch rather than a nearly foot-wide plate, will you lose weight? Seems like a no-brainer: Based on size alone, the switch should result in serving the equivalent of up to 23 percent fewer calories, right? Not exactly, says a research review published in Appetite; however, the review finds that using a larger plate may actually help you increase vegetable intake. So if you plan to indulge in mac ’n’ cheese, use a small plate or bowl. But if a veggie-loaded meal awaits, go big.

Related: Read More: 7 Tricks to Make Portion Control Easy

8. Color Your Plate Healthy
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Contrast may be key to consuming fewer calories, according to a paper published in Journal of Consumer Research. The paper suggests that people tend to serve themselves less when there is greater color contrast between their plate and food. So if you’re cooking pasta with white sauce for dinner, don’t serve it on a white plate. Instead, choose a contrasting plate color like a red, and you’ll likely serve yourself significantly less. The calorie difference could certainly add up over time, so consider managing your weight by avoiding being too matchy-matchy with your food and plate. Yes, sometimes the answer can be simple.

Related: Read More: 20 Easy, Healthy Summer Snacks

9. Simplify Your Dish
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KISS it! Don’t literally kiss your food (unless you really, really want to). Rather, keep it super simple (KISS). Better yet, keep it superfood simple! Research finds that meal variety can contribute to a higher calorie intake, potentially boosting calorie consumption by 29 percent. There doesn’t seem to be a simple reason why this happens, but perceived volume and prior experience with the food can possibly impact your portion-size decisions. So resist the sensory overload of colors, textures and aromas on every plate and in every bowl. When meal planning, prep for this “variety effect” by getting back to basics and selecting foods exceptionally rich in nutrients as well as taste.

Related: Read More: 5 Simple Steps to Make Fat Loss Faster and Easier

10. Track Your Weight Loss With an App
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Losing weight? There’s an app for that! Your smartphone is a smart tool for your health if you download and use a weight-loss app. Journal of Medical Internet Research published a review and meta-analysis of studies that assessed the effectiveness of mobile weight-loss apps that showed that using a mobile app results in significant changes in weight and body mass index (BMI). How much weight might you lose? According to this meta-analysis, an average of 2.3 pounds over a six-month period.

Related: Try LIVESTRONG.COM's MyPlate Calorie Tracker

11. Drink Two Cups of Water 30 Minutes Before Meals
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While it’s not the “fountain of youth,” enjoying a 16-ounce glass of plain water 30 minutes before most or all of your meals may help you lose three pounds over the next three months. Consider it more like the “fountain of helping you eat fewer calories!” Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. found this to be the case in a small study conducted in 84 adults. In fact, some of their study participants lost as much as nine pounds over the three-month period. One potential reason why this happens is that the volume of the water may help you feel fuller. Losing weight doesn’t get much simpler than that. Hint: Add citrus slices and fresh mint to make plain water extra enticing.

Related: Read More: 12 Ways to Make Water Taste (Much) Better

12. Fill Half Your Plate With Healthy Vegetables
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One of the most creative and effective ways to lose weight may be the most logical: Filling 50 percent of your plate with nonstarchy veggies like asparagus, cauliflower, tomatoes, kale or peapods is an evidence-based strategy for weight loss. Of course, you won’t want those veggies laden with grease or swimming in heavy cream. The American Diabetes Association encourages this approach for helping to manage blood glucose levels as well as to lose weight. Many companies sell pre-portioned plates to help you out. Pick one and test this “nondiet” trick out for yourself.

Related: Read More: 10 Vegetables You've Probably Never Heard Of

13. Develop a Custom DIY Strategy
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There is no one-size-fits-all diet or approach for managing a healthy weight. Losing weight is best when individualized. If one strategy doesn’t seem to be personally effective, try another. Or try a unique combination. Remember to stay physically active, of course. And if you’re already active, you may need to consider boosting exercise to see additional results; for instance, doing more than 10,000 steps per day, not a maximum of 10,000 steps, might be right for you. A Fitbit, Misfit or other wearable activity tracker can indeed help. New research published in Journal of Medical Internet Research found that these trackers have led to increased physical activity in older adults. Young folks can benefit too. And don’t forget there are useful free tools available online, such as http://www.livestrong.com/myplate.

Related: Try LIVESTRONG.COM's MyPlate Calorie Tracker

What Do YOU Think?
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Are you currently trying to lose weight or maintain your new, healthier weight? Have you had success using any of these tips? If so, please share your experience. Do you have another creative weight-management tip to share? Please leave a comment below and let us know.

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