2. How to naturally lose weight
While there are endless diets, supplements, and meal
replacement plans claiming to ensure rapid weight loss, most
lack any scientific evidence. There are, however, some
strategies backed by science that do have an impact on
These strategies include exercising, keeping track of calorie intake, intermittent fasting, and
reducing the number of carbohydrates in the diet.
In this article, we consider nine effective methods of weight loss.
Alexander Spatari/Getty Images
Methods of weight loss that scientific research supports include the following:
1. Trying intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that involves regular short-term fasts and consuming
meals within a shorter time period during the day.
have indicated that short-term intermittent fasting, which is up to 24 weeks in
duration, leads to weight loss in overweight individuals.
The most common intermittent fasting methods include the following:
Alternate day fasting
(ADF): Fast every other day and eat normally on non-fasting days.
The modified version
involves eating just 25–30 percent of the body’s energy needs on
The 5:2 Diet: Fast on 2 out of every 7 days. On fasting days eat 500–600 calories.
Science-backed ways to lose weight Takeaway
Science-backed ways to lose weight
Medically reviewed by
Daniel Bubnis, M.S., NASM-
CPT, NASE Level II-CSS —
Written by Tracey Williams
Strudwick on July 3, 2018
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3. The 16/8 method: Fast for 16 hours and eat only during an 8-hour window. For most
people, the 8-hour window would be around noon to 8 p.m. A study on this method found
that eating during a restricted period resulted in the participants consuming fewer calories
and losing weight.
It is best to adopt a healthy eating pattern on non-fasting days and to avoid over-eating.
2. Tracking your diet and exercise
If someone wants to lose weight, they should be aware of everything that they eat and drink
each day. The most effective way to do this is to log every item that they consume, in either a
journal or an online food tracker.
Researchers estimated in 2017 that there would be 3.7 billion health app downloads by the end
of the year. Of these, apps for diet, physical activity, and weight loss were among the most
popular. This is not without reason, as tracking physical activity and weight loss progress on-the-
go can be an effective way of managing weight
found that consistent tracking of physical activity helped with weight loss.
Meanwhile, a review study
found a positive correlation between weight loss and the frequency
of monitoring food intake and exercise. Even a device as simple as a pedometer can be a useful
3. Eating mindfully
Mindful eating is a practice where people pay attention to how and where they eat food. This
practice can enable people to enjoy the food they eat and maintain a healthy weight
As most people lead busy lives, they often tend to eat quickly on the run, in the car, working at
their desks, and watching TV. As a result, many people are barely aware of the food they are
Techniques for mindful eating include:
Sitting down to eat, preferably at a table: Pay attention to the food and enjoy the
Avoiding distractions while eating: Do not turn on the TV, or a laptop or phone.
Eating slowly: Take time to chew and savor the food. This technique helps with weight
loss, as it gives a person’s brain enough time to recognize the signals that they are full,
which can help to prevent over-eating.
Making considered food choices: Choose foods that are full of nourishing nutrients and
those that will satisfy for hours rather than minutes.
4. Eating protein for breakfast
Protein can regulate appetite hormones to help people feel full. This is mostly due to a decrease
in the hunger hormone ghrelin and a rise in the satiety hormones peptide YY, GLP-1, and
on young adults has also demonstrated that the hormonal effects of eating a high-
protein breakfast can last for several hours.
Good choices for a high-protein breakfast include eggs, oats, nut and seed butters, quinoa
porridge, sardines, and chia seed pudding.
5. Cutting back on sugar and refined carbohydrates
The Western diet is increasingly high in added sugars, and this has definite links to obesity
even when the sugar occurs in beverages
rather than food.
Refined carbohydrates are heavily processed foods that no longer contain fiber and other
nutrients. These include white rice, bread, and pasta.
These foods are quick to digest, and they convert to glucose rapidly.
Excess glucose enters the blood and provokes the hormone insulin, which promotes fat storage
in the adipose tissue. This contributes to weight gain.
4. Where possible, people should swap processed and sugary foods for more healthful options.
Good food swaps include:
whole-grain rice, bread, and pasta instead of the white versions
fruit, nuts, and seeds instead of high-sugar snacks
herb teas and fruit-infused water instead of high-sugar sodas
smoothies with water or milk instead of fruit juice
6. Eating plenty of fiber
Dietary fiber describes plant-based carbohydrates that it is not possible to digest in the small
intestine, unlike sugar and starch. Including plenty of fiber in the diet can increase the feeling of
fullness, potentially leading to weight loss.
Fiber-rich foods include:
whole-grain breakfast cereals, whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain bread, oats, barley, and rye
fruit and vegetables
peas, beans, and pulses
nuts and seeds
7. Balancing gut bacteria
One emerging area of research is focusing on the role of bacteria in the gut on weight
The human gut hosts a vast number and variety of microorganisms, including around 37 trillion
Every individual has different varieties and amounts of bacteria in their gut. Some types can
increase the amount of energy that the person harvests from food, leading to fat deposition and
Some foods can increase the number of good bacteria in the gut, including:
A wide variety of plants: Increasing the number of fruits, vegetables, and grains in the diet
will result in an increased fiber uptake and a more diverse set of gut bacteria. People
should try to ensure that vegetables and other plant-based foods comprise 75 percent of
Fermented foods: These enhance the function of good bacteria while inhibiting the growth
of bad bacteria. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, tempeh, and miso all contain good
amounts of probiotics, which help to increase good bacteria. Researchers have studied
kimchi widely, and study results suggest that it has anti-obesity effects. Similarly, studies
have shown that kefir may help to promote weight loss in overweight women.
Prebiotic foods: These stimulate the growth and activity of some of the good bacteria that
aid weight control. Prebiotic fiber occurs in many fruits and vegetables, especially chicory
root, artichoke, onion, garlic, asparagus, leeks, banana, and avocado. It is also in grains,
such as oats and barley.
8. Getting a good night’s sleep
Numerous studies have shown that getting less than 5–6 hours of sleep per night is associated
with increased incidence of obesity
. There are several reasons behind this.
that insufficient or poor-quality sleep slows down the process in which the
body converts calories to energy, called metabolism. When metabolism is less effective, the
body may store unused energy as fat. In addition, poor sleep can increase the production of
insulin and cortisol
, which also prompt fat storage.
How long someone sleeps also affects the regulation of the appetite-controlling hormones leptin
and ghrelin. Leptin sends signals of fullness to the brain.
9. Managing your stress levels
Stress triggers the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which initially decrease
the appetite as part of the body’s fight or flight response.
5. Regular meals increased the food’s thermic effect, which is the amount of energy the body
needs to process food. This may be beneficial for weight management.
Regular meals also caused lower glucose responses, which can help balance blood sugar and
3. Restock the refrigerator
If a person’s cupboards and refrigerator are full of appealing but unhealthy foods, the person
may feel inclined to eat them when they feel bored.
Restocking the kitchen and pantry with healthy food and snacks can make eating through
boredom less harmful and less tempting.
4. Balance blood sugar
Balancing blood sugar can help avoid dips in energy, which may trigger eating out of boredom.
It is advisable to eat regular meals throughout the day and choose the foods that do not cause
blood sugar spikes.
For example, including protein and healthy fats in meals and snacks can prevent a spike in
blood sugar levels, which can lead to cravings once the body has processed the glucose.
People can keep their blood sugar stable by including snacks such as:
apple slices with peanut butter
carrot sticks with hummus
olives and a small piece of feta cheese
a handful of nuts and blueberries
Importantly, people should avoid consuming refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and
pasta, sweet treats, and sugary drinks. The body quickly digests the sugar in these foods and
tells the brain it is hungry again.
Learn more about foods that stabilize insulin and blood sugar.
5. Avoid alcohol
indicates that alcohol may cause people to consume more food and amplify their
perception of appetite.
Therefore, it is advisable to avoid alcohol if a person has a tendency to eat when bored. Instead,
they can try making a healthy beverage, such as:
sparkling water with fruit slices and mint
soda with a dash of lime
Learn about the best apps to help a person stop drinking alcohol.
There can be a link between eating when bored and emotional eating.
suggests that emotional eating often happens as a response to loneliness, boredom,
or anxiety. Therefore, taking care of one’s mental health is an essential aspect of avoiding eating
out of boredom.
6. Address emotional eating
A 2015 study
observes that people eat when they feel bored to escape self-awareness of
negative states. As a result, they typically choose unhealthy foods. However, the researchers
suggest that people may opt for healthy foods if they perceive them as “exciting.”
6–7. Support mental health
6. Addressing how someone feels when they experience boredom or have time to think, possibly
with the support of a mental health professional, may help them avoid emotional eating.
Furthermore, having healthy snacks that excite the palate may help avoid consuming excess
calories if a person comfort eats.
Learn about the different mental health resources available.
7. Seek support
If a person links their eating habits to how they feel psychologically, they may wish to seek
support from a healthcare professional.
People who have symptoms of anxiety or depression should seek guidance from a doctor. A
doctor may also refer them to a psychotherapist or counselor.
If a person thinks they are experiencing disordered eating, they should contact a doctor for
Additionally, people may seek extra support from their social networks, family, or friends.
Learn about the different types of eating disorders.
Mindfulness is essential in helping people become aware of their eating habits, triggers, and
moods. Additionally, it can help the body regulate appetite hormones.
8. Eat mindfully
A 2020 study reports that students who ate to alleviate boredom had lower levels of mindful
Additionally, some research suggests that mindful eating can positively affect leptin and ghrelin,
the hormones that play a part in appetite regulation.
Individuals can try slowing down when eating, and appreciating the aromas, tastes, and textures
of food to allow their body to send the signals to the brain that they are full.
Another method to eat mindfully is to count the number of chews a person makes before
swallowing the food and to try to increase that number.
9. Be aware of triggers
Mindfulness can help people avoid reacting to triggers that may cause them to eat when they
are not hungry.
Rather than focusing on feeling bored or any negative feelings associated with this, a person
can try paying attention to their breath and being present. Mindful breathing involves noticing
any thoughts or sensations without judging them, and gently bringing the focus back to the
A person can try downloading a 5-minute mindful breathing exercise to have ready to play
when they experience a trigger that leads them to eat.
Learn about the best apps for mindfulness.
The same environment can cause people to become bored and overeat. However, a simple
change of the surroundings may be enough to stimulate the brain and improve mood.
Additionally, where someone eats can be key in regulating their appetite and when they eat.
10. Have a place for eating
8–9. Stay mindful and aware
10–12. Change the environment
7. If a person eats in front of the TV or computer when bored, they may overeat or eat unhealthy
foods. Similarly, eating while on the go or while traveling may cause overeating and lead to
unhealthy dietary choices.
While not everyone may have a table to sit at, having a dedicated space for eating where there
are no screens or other distractions can help a person become more aware of what they eat
and when. This strategy may also help them eat mindfully, which can regulate appetite
11. Get outside
Changing the environment by getting outside can alleviate boredom and improve a person’s
For example, research
suggests that vitamin D from sunshine can reduce an afternoon slump,
carbohydrate cravings, and symptoms of depression when a person combines getting outside
People can aim to get outside at least once per day, and in the winter months, they may
consider using a light therapy device, which can also be effective
at improving mood.
endorphins and “feel-good” chemicals, such as serotonin, and can alleviate
anxiety and stress.
Therefore, if a person is eating because they are feeling bored or down, doing some exercise
may lift their mood and help them avoid eating for the sake of it.
Exercise also positively affects
appetite hormones, which may make someone less likely to
Learn more about the mental and physical benefits of exercise.
Having a new interest can help prevent boredom. In addition, interests that stimulate the brain
may diminish a person’s cravings for excess food.
13. Take up a hobby
People can try taking up a hobby or activity by attending a class, joining a group, or learning
Planning an activity at times when a person would usually eat through boredom, such as in the
evening, may prove effective.
Additionally, recruiting a friend to join them may also lift a person’s mood and help them commit
to sustaining the new activity.
14. Make time for treats
Instead of eating, a person can treat themselves in other ways. For example, they may consider
buying flowers for the home, taking a bath with relaxing essential oils, or getting a massage or
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13–14. Make new interests