Weight loss is about the big picture—setting goals and keeping a healthy mindset as you work to achieve them. But there are tiny tricks that can help tons along the way. Self Magazine tapped experts and sifted through the science to bring you a no-fail stash of little-known tips you can start using immediately to succeed at losing weight, and keeping it off.
1. Cut down on the cardio. "Don't be a cardio queen, or you'll risk becoming skinny-fat," warns Christy Brissette, M.S., R.D., president of 80Twenty Nutrition. "The best way to boost your metabolism is to build muscle by lifting weights or doing resistance exercises. Weight lifting increases your metabolism for days, not just for an hour like cardio does." That’s because muscle burns more calories just by existing in your body.
2. Eat your meals in a quiet spot. People tend to eat more when they're distracted by other tasks, like reading, checking their phones, or watching TV. University of Illinois researchers have found that even noise coming from another room can make a person eat more cookies at dinner than they would have otherwise. To make sure you're eating only what you meant to eat, and only what your hunger is really asking for, sit down for a mindful meal in a quiet place, and really pay attention—savor it.
3. Try the vegetable soup trick. "Have a bowl of vegetable soup before your lunch and dinner and you'll eat about 250 fewer calories," suggests Brissette. "The water and vegetables fill your stomach so you end up eating less without going hungry."
>> Recipe: Skinny Chicken Noodle Soup
4. Eat with chopsticks. Using them instead of a fork or spoon causes you to eat more slowly and consume less food. (Assuming you’re not a pro at it already.) "It takes time to figure out how to put food on chopsticks—that can help you eat more mindfully," explains Tanya Zuckerbrot, M.S., a registered dietician and founder of the F-Factor diet. Aim for eating with chopsticks two to three meals per week, at home or at your desk, to see benefits.
5. Stick to a standard breakfast. "Rituals take the thinking out of weight loss," says Andrea Metcalf, a certified personal trainer and the author of Naked Fitness. "Have the same breakfast for seven to 10 days. You can plan your meal ahead." (That's a morning time-saver, too.) Get a jump on your days by prepping the ingredients for a yummy omelet with spinach and low-fat cheese, plus fresh fruit on the side.
6. Fire up with fiber. "Having foods rich in soluble fiber, such as oats, barley, beans and lentils, can help you stay full longer so you end up eating fewer calories," says Brissette. Fiber-rich foods help your body use those calories more efficiently, too. "They provide a slow-release energy so you avoid the dreaded blood sugar/insulin peak that leads to fat storage," Brissette adds.
>> Read more: Spot-On Tips From Women Who Have Lost 20 Pounds Or More
For the other weight loss tricks you never knew, click here!