1. Don’t Drink Sugar Calories
Sugary drinks are the most fattening things you can put into your body.
This is because liquid sugar calories don’t get registered by the brain in the same way as calories from solid foods (1).
2. Eat Nuts
Despite being high in fat, nuts are incredibly nutritious and healthy.
They are loaded with magnesium, vitamin E, fiber and various other nutrients (9).
Additionally, about 10-15% of the calories in nuts aren’t even absorbed into the body, and some evidence suggests that they can boost metabolism (13).
3. Avoid Processed Junk Food (Eat Real Food Instead)
All the processed junk foods in the diet are the biggest reason the world is fatter and sicker than ever before.
They are also low in fiber, protein and micronutrients (empty calories), but high in unhealthy ingredients like added sugar and refined grains.
4. Don’t Fear Coffee
Coffee has been unfairly demonized. The truth is that it’s actually very healthy.
Coffee is high in antioxidants, and studies show that coffee drinkers live longer, and have a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and numerous other diseases (16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21).
5. Eat Fatty Fish
Pretty much everyone agrees that fish is healthy.
This is particularly true of fatty fish, like salmon, which is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and various other nutrients (22).
6. Get Enough Sleep
The importance of getting enough quality sleep can not be overstated.
It may be just as important as diet and exercise, if not more.
What’s more, it is one of the strongest individual risk factors for future weight gain and obesity. One study showed that short sleep was linked to 89% increased risk of obesity in children, and 55% in adults (30).
7. Take Care of Your Gut Health With Probiotics and Fiber
The bacteria in your gut, collectively called the gut microbiota, are sometimes referred to as the “forgotten organ.”
These gut bugs are incredibly important for all sorts of health-related aspects. A disruption in the gut bacteria is linked to some of the world’s most serious chronic diseases, including obesity (31, 32).
A good way to improve gut health, is to eat probiotic foods (like live yogurt and sauerkraut), take probiotic supplements, and eat plenty of fiber. Fiber functions as fuel for the gut bacteria (33, 34).
8. Drink Some Water, Especially Before Meals
Drinking enough water can have numerous benefits.
One important factor, is that it can help boost the amount of calories you burn.
The best time to drink water is half an hour before meals. One study showed that half a liter of water, 30 minutes before each meal, increased weight loss by 44% (37).
9. Don’t Overcook or Burn Your Meat
So, eat your meat, just don’t overcook or burn it.
10. Avoid Bright Lights Before Sleep
An interesting “hack” is to use a pair of amber-tinted glasses that block blue light from entering your eyes in the evening.
11. Take Vitamin D3 if You Don’t Get Much Sun
Back in the day, most people got their vitamin D from the sun.
The problem is that most people don’t get much sun these days. They either live where there is no sun, or they stay inside most of the day or use sunscreen when they go out.
According to data from 2005-2006, about 41.6% of the US population is deficient in this critical vitamin (43).
If adequate sun exposure is not an option for you, then supplementing with vitamin D has been shown to have numerous benefits for health.
12. Eat Vegetables and Fruits
Vegetables and fruits are the “default” health foods, and for good reason.
They are loaded with prebiotic fiber, vitamins, minerals and all sorts of antioxidants, some of which have potent biological effects.
13. Make Sure to Eat Enough Protein
Eating enough protein is incredibly important, and many experts believe that the recommended daily intake is too low.
Protein is particularly important for weight loss, and works via several different mechanisms (53).
A high protein intake can boost metabolism significantly, while making you feel so full that you automatically eat fewer calories. It can also cut cravings and reduce the desire for late-night snacking (54, 55, 56, 57).
14. Do Some Cardio, or Just Walk More
Doing aerobic exercise (or cardio) is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health.
15. Don’t Smoke or do Drugs, and Only Drink in Moderation
If you’re a tobacco smoker, or abuse drugs, then diet and exercise are the least of your worries. Tackle those problems first.
If you choose to include alcohol in your life, then do so in moderation only, and consider avoiding it completely if you have alcoholic tendencies.
16. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on the planet.
17. Minimize Your Intake of Added Sugars
Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.
Small amounts are fine, but when people eat large amounts, it can wreak havoc on metabolic health (68).
18. Don’t Eat a Lot of Refined Carbohydrates
Not all carbs are created equal.
Refined carbs have been highly processed, and have had all the fiber removed from them. They are low in nutrients (empty calories), and can be extremely harmful.
19. Don’t Fear Saturated Fat
The “war” on saturated fat was a mistake.
It is true that saturated fat raises cholesterol, but it also raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and changes the LDL from small to large, which is linked to a lower risk of heart disease (79, 80, 81, 82).
20. Lift Heavy Things
Lifting weights is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your body and improve your body composition.
The best approach is to go to a gym and lift weights, but doing body weight exercises can be just as effective.