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7 Healthy Lifestyle Habits That Can Boost Weight Loss

February 24, 2024

Habits are some of the most powerful tools in our arsenal when it comes to long-term wellness and weight management. The more habitual the behavior, the less you need to think about doing those things that can greatly contribute to a sense of well-being. This is especially important when it comes to weight loss habits.

Fortunately, weight loss habits don’t always have to involve eating and exercising. Turning other healthy lifestyle behaviors into habits is one of the most positive, encouraging things you can do toward long-term wellness.

“When it comes to weight loss, we tend to want it yesterday,” says Caroline Cedarquist, MD, co-founder of BistroMD. “This mentality leads people to try fad or crash diets that eventually can cause more long-term weight gain, and this cycle can be frustrating, demotivating, and very taxing on the body. Focusing on other long-term lifestyle factors aside from diet and exercise can help teach both your mind and body how to lose weight naturally, successfully, and sustainably.”

With guidance from nutrition, fitness, and psychology experts, here are seven lifestyle habits that can help boost weight loss.

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1. Get enough sleep

Sleep is critical to a sense of overall well-being, and many of us aren’t getting enough of it. It’s an especially important healthy habit when it comes to weight loss.

“Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to promote weight loss, as a lack of sleep can promote weight gain,” says Dr. Cedarquist. “This is because inadequate sleep can heighten cravings toward comfort foods, plummet energy to be active throughout the day, and can increase stress, which fuels the fire.”

There are many smaller behaviors that can help lead to a good night’s sleep, such as having a consistent bedtime, avoiding naps and caffeine in the later part of the day, and limiting screen time before bed.

2. Proper hydration

Staying hydrated is another healthy weight loss habit.

“You need plenty of water to feel good and look your best,” says Kellyann Petrucci, MS, ND, author of Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Breakthrough, who suggests aiming for a total of eight cups of water daily. “When your body is dehydrated you actually hold on to more water. Water is also what helps move waste through your body and excrete it properly, it also revs up your metabolism, and keeps your muscles and joints happy.”

Keep a refillable water bottle close by, and be sure to sip regularly throughout the day.

3. Rest after exercise

When we’re in weight loss mode, we tend to push ourselves to exercise more — but the quality and quantity of rest between workouts are just as important as the workouts themselves.

You may assume that the more days you spend in the gym the better your results will be, but if you’re not leaving any time to rest, this can slow the process down,” says personal trainer Patrick Dale. “Over-exercising leads your body to exhaustion, thus affecting your performance when working out and preventing you from building strength.”

Letting your body recover properly also helps to prevent overuse injuries, which can keep you out of the gym for more extended periods.

Related: The 3 Best Workout Recovery Tips From a Sports Nutrition Consultant

4. Meal prep

While what we eat is undeniably important when it comes to weight loss, how we prepare for those meals can also have a big impact.

Meal prepping can be a helpful tool for weight loss for a couple of reasons,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN. “For one, you can portion out the recipes you make into separate serving containers so you don’t have to think about whether you’re taking the right amount of food.”

Spending a few hours meal-prepping on a single day also decreases the amount of time you spend thinking about what you’re going to eat throughout the week, which can help you feel more relaxed about meal times, Largeman-Roth notes. She suggests keeping the meal prep low-key, aiming for a few meals and a handful of snacks at a time, so there’s room for changes in the plan as life evolves.

5. Manage stress

Habits that help you manage stress can be extremely beneficial to weight loss.

“Research has shown that stress and weight loss are intricately linked,” says stress and burnout prevention expert Marissa Alert, PhD. When we’re stressed, our bodies release cortisol, a hormone that can contribute to weight gain and other health issues.

“One of the most effective ways to reduce stress is through mindfulness and meditation practices,” says Alert. “By taking time to focus on the present moment and cultivate a sense of calm, we can reduce our cortisol levels and create a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind.” Along with lowering cortisol levels, managing stress can help us to make healthier choices when it comes to food, exercise, and other lifestyle habits.

The best part about mindfulness: There are easy ways to incorporate it that don’t take much time and don’t cost anything.

Related: 6 Expert-Approved Tricks for Handling Your Stress

6. Go outside

On the topic of stress reduction, “there are several lifestyle changes that can make a big impact on one’s weight loss journey,” says physical therapist and registered dietitian Jesse Feder, a contributor to My Crohn’s and Colitis Team. “One of the most impactful things, in my opinion, is being in nature daily.”

Feder’s statement is backed by a 2019 study, which found that spending 20 minutes in nature can effectively decrease cortisol levels.

“Technology, work, and fast-paced life put a lot of stress on us,” says Feder. “Being in nature for a period of time each day can be very therapeutic, helping to reduce fatigue and leading to natural improvements in mood and productivity, which can most definitely help you stay motivated and on track with making healthy choices.”

7. Practice self-love and gratitude

Nutritionist Alissa Essig advises practicing self-love through the process.

“When we want to lose weight we often focus on shaming ourselves into weight loss with negative thoughts about our bodies,” she says. “Love ignites parts of our brain that control goal-oriented motivation. An easy way to habitually practice self-love is to just breathe deeply, going through different parts of your body and expressing love and gratitude for them. The average person has over 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day, and 80% of those thoughts are negative. By replacing some of those negative thoughts with love for your body, you will be surprised how it can help with weight loss.”

Read next: 7 Tips for a Longer Life, Says Famous Blue Zones Researcher

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