Those last 10 pounds are always the hardest to drop, especially when you’ve been dieting already and are frustrated with the dreaded rut you’ve encountered. Yet with a few simple tips, you can still make progress and shed the weight.
Sometimes it’s the smaller, daily habits we don’t think about that can make it a struggle to slim down, such as not drinking enough water or putting too much dressing on your salad. Fortunately, by implementing these changes, you can free yourself from the plateau and find weight loss success.
Here are 17 tips for losing those last 10 pounds.
Drink Water Throughout the Day
You’ll want to guzzle that H20 to help trim the fat. “Research suggests good hydration leads to weight loss. It works by reducing how much we eat, breaking up fat cells, and slightly increasing metabolism,” says Maggie Moon, MS, RD and author of The MIND Diet.
Plus, when you fill up on water-packed fruits, veggies, and drinks, it cuts down on calories. Make water one of the first things you drink in the morning, and keep a glass by you at all times throughout the day.
Prioritize Foods With High Water Content
“Snacks and sides with high water content offer a lot of food for fewer calories,” says Moon. That means you’ll feel fuller faster and for longer, and you’ll be more likely to drop those last 10 pounds.
Plus, since weight could be in the belly (which is the hardest area to tackle), you’ll reduce bloating from the hydration. “Try cucumber and tomato salads, sautéed zucchini rounds, or simply snack on citrus fruit or watermelon,” she says.
Keep a Food Journal
If you’re looking to lose weight, keep a food diary. “Research suggests the act of tracking what we eat makes us more aware and mindful of making healthy choices and controlling portions,” says Moon.
You can also make a visual diary with the help of your smartphone camera. “This is an easy way for people to track their eating habits,” she says—and it’s fun! (Those Instagram feeds of beautiful smoothies and fresh salads really do make you want to dig in.)
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Keep Healthy Foods in Sight
Make it as easy as possible for yourself to choose tasty, nutritious foods to eat.
“Another way eating with your eyes helps with weight loss is when healthy snacks are the default because they’re in sight. This can mean having apples or almonds on the counter or on your desk so they’re the first thing you reach for when you’re feeling puckish,” says Moon.
The same goes for the fridge. “This can mean having Greek yogurt, Icelandic skyr, hummus or carrots at eye level in the refrigerator,” she adds.
Choose Foods That Require Some Attention
To prevent mindless eating and the tendency to devour a plate of food in less than two minutes, choose snacks that require some effort to eat or come in nicely-sized portions.
“Choose foods that leave evidence behind to make it easy to understand and manage portions,” says Moon. “Think of mandarin peels, chicken mini-drumsticks, any kind of fruit, veg or meat kabob sticks, pistachios shells, banana peels, or mini-muffins.”
Meal Plan for the Week
“Meal planning works because there’s built-in portion control as you prep and divide meals,” says Moon. It also prevents you from running to your nearest fast food restaurant to grab a convenient meal when you’re pressed for time or don’t have anything on hand. (Most of those orders won’t help you lose weight.)
“It’s easier to make healthy decisions when you plan ahead,” she says. “When hunger hits and you’re caught without a plan, you’re more likely to reach for what’s nearest, quickest, and may not be the healthiest.”
To make meal-prepping as easy as possible, try batch-cooking “grains and pastas, soups and stews, and hearty vegetables that will reheat well like brussels sprouts, carrots, and kale,” Moon says.
Another hack: “Use a portion of one night’s dinner for the next day’s lunch and then transform that meal into something a little different for the next day’s dinner,” she says. For example, grilled salmon with sorghum and roasted bell peppers for dinner can turn into fish tacos with bell pepper-tomato salsa the next night.
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Say Goodbye to Soda
“One of the simplest and most effective ways to shave calories is to ditch a soda habit,” says Moon. Research suggests that drinks with added sugar, such as soda, promotes weight gain in children and adults, so make water and unsweetened drinks your go-to choices when trying to lose ten pounds.
If you miss the bubbles, go for sparkling water and if you miss some flavor, add a little 100% juice, lemon, or muddled fruit, she suggests.
Eat Dinner Earlier
Don’t eat dinner after 7 or 8pm if you’re trying to drop those pounds. “Our bodies are meant to use fuel during our active hours of the day and everything slows down in the evening as our system prepares for bed,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.
It’s like how your car needs gas on the road, but not in the garage. Your body requires more calories to complete daily activities than to lounge on the couch at night. “Plus, the foods we eat in the evening are usually higher in carbs, fat and calories,” she adds. (Hello, Netlifx and snacks.)
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Increase Your Fiber
“Fiber is a magical nutrient for many reasons, most notably because it helps to keep you full,” says Harris-Pincus. High-fiber foods include berries, beans, and whole grains. “If you fill your plate with these plant-based foods, you are likely to take in fewer overall calories and not mind, because the fiber will help to keep your hunger at bay.”
Eat a Balanced Breakfast
You might think ditching that morning meal will save you calories and help you shed weight, but it can actually prevent your metabolism from firing. It can also lead to hunger later on, where you might choose the wrong foods out of desperation.
“Don’t forget breakfast! Eating a balanced breakfast with adequate protein has been shown to minimize snacking and hunger later in the day,” says Harris-Pincus. Try eggs, Greek yogurt, or oatmeal.
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Cath Those Zzzs
Make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye. “It’s recommended that we sleep 7-9 hours per night. If you are chronically not getting enough, it can affect your hormones, particularly cortisol,” says Harris-Pincus. “Research has shown a link between inadequate sleep and risk of obesity because of hormonal shifts and behavioral issues.”
The body confuses signals for hunger, thirst, and fatigue, so if we are short on hours, we might feel way hungrier and reach for a snack, when in reality, we simply need a nap. And “since food is often the easier and more desirable fix, we tend to overeat,” she adds.
Choose Complex, Lower-Carb Foods
“Swap carb rich foods for lower carb, more nutrient dense foods. If you’re always choosing pasta, switch to spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. If you’re always choosing rice switch to quinoa or try cauliflower rice,” says Maggie Michalcyzk, MS, RD.
Not only are these swaps lower in carbs and calories, but also they are higher in vitamins and minerals and fiber. “This is important for weight loss, because the fiber will help you feel filler for longer making you less likely to snack in between meals, and the vitamins and minerals will keep your metabolism humming and your immune system strong,” she says.
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Hit the Weights
Incorporate weight training into your workout routine. According to research, men who included weight training in their fitness regimen found a 9% increase in resting metabolism.
Try Interval Training
Consider trying a HIIT class, circuit training, or a few rounds of tabata to blast fat and get your heart rate up quickly. The idea is to burn more calories in a smaller amount of time, which makes for a more effective way to lose weight fast through exercise, says Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer, and cookbook author.
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Back Off the Beer
Remember what happened when actor Craig Robinson stopped drinking alcohol? If you’re trying to drop those pounds, ditch the beers and find a lower-calorie boozy beverage (if you’re not eliminating booze completely, that is).
Always look for the ABV count, which can help you estimate calories. “The higher the %ABV, the higher the calorie count, so there’s a chance that one beer actually counts as two in the calorie department,” White says. Look for “session” style IPAs, which have a good flavor and a low ABV of between 4-5 percent, like Two Roads Lil Heaven, she says.
Go for Natural Sweetness
Ditch added sugars and go for natural sweetness, instead. You’ll curb sugar cravings with fruit instead of junk food—the latter of which could cause your cravings to increase, and leave you feeling hungry an hour later.
“Cutting back on added sugar from highly-processed junk foods can yield a big reward for weight loss,” White says.
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Mind Your Condiments
“It’s very easy to exceed your calories needs with an abundance of salad dressings, ketchup and other condiments,” White says. “If you’re heavy handed with the BBQ sauce and wondering why the pounds aren’t coming off, consider a lighter pour. Better yet, ditch the salty, sweet or fattening condiments for a homemade sauce or dressing instead. If you miss the creamy texture, make a dip with spices, fresh herbs, and plain Greek yogurt, she adds.
If you simply can’t go without your favorite condiments, take note of the best and worst to choose from. Sugary items like BBQ sauce and honey mustard, or high-fat condiments like mayonnaise and creamy salad dressings should be limited.
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