Imagine this scenario: you’re considering investing money in a hot new stock. You’ve looked into several other stocks and really feel like this is the right one for you. You’ve read about several people striking it rich on this stock, and you’re about to pull the trigger and invest some dough.

At the last minute, you find out some insider information. The stock will likely net you a short-term gain, but there is an 80 percent chance you will lose all the money you gained along with your initial investment within 6 months to a year.

Would you still invest your hard-earned money after learning this?

Absolutely not.

So what does this have to do with weight loss?

This: only only one out of five people is successful at losing weight and keeping it off. We know this, yet we still continue to pour billions of dollars into dietary supplements and diet programs that clearly don’t work.

Here’s a better solution: take the time to learn about what “healthy” really means (most people skip this step). Then apply that knowledge with a series of tiny steps.

Ready to get started? You’re about to find out what science says about the foods you should and shouldn’t eat to keep the weight off, and you’ll get some tips to get started along a healthier path.

Foods to Eat and Avoid

A clinical study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that the four eating habits associated with the most weight loss after six months were:

  • Eating less desserts
  • Eating out at restaurants less
  • Drinking less sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Avoiding fried foods

After four years, the four eating habits associated with keeping the weight off were:

  • Eating fewer desserts.
  • Eating more fruits and veggies.
  • Drinking fewer sugary beverages.
  • Eating meat and cheese in moderation.

In another study that included over 120,000 healthy women and men and spanned 20 years, researchers determined the foods and drinks most responsible for weight gain were:

1. Potato chips

2. Potatoes

3. Sugar-sweetened beverages

4. Red meats

5. Refined grains

6. Sugary foods

These are the foods you should and shouldn’t eat. If only it were that simple though, right? Not to worry, because here are some tips to help you start changing those unhealthy habits into healthy ones.

6 Tips to Keep the Weight Off

1. Eat out less.

If you eat at restaurants often, you’re going to have a much harder time keeping the weight off. Research shows fast food is detrimental to your health. And the average meal at chain restaurants has 1128 calories! That doesn’t include appetizers, drinks, and dessert either!

2. Eat more vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and yogurt.

Research shows these foods are associated with long-term weight loss.

3. Turn your bad habits into good ones.

Habits make up a large part of our daily actions. When you create a new habit, you will partake in healthier behaviors without even thinking. That’s the secret to losing weight and keeping it off: make healthy eating and exercise automatic, routine behaviors. It’s easier than you think. You just need to start small.

4. Take the time to learn about what “healthy” really means.

Most people skip this step, and it’s why they keep failing every time they try and lose weight. I write a lot about the science of healthy behavior change on this site because understanding this stuff can help you retrain your brain to make healthier decisions. Keep soaking up as much knowledge as you can–just make sure what you’re reading is backed by clinical research studies.

5. Get your head in the right place.

Your mindset will have a huge impact on whether or not you can keep the weight off. The good news is, you can learn how to change your mindset into a healthy one.

6. Go public with your goal.

A research study found that telling your friends and family members about your weight loss goals can substantially increase your odds of achieving them. Lean on your support network and ask for help when you need it.

Use these tips to help you lose weight and, more importantly, keep it off. Long-term weight loss isn’t easy. That’s why you should stick with what works. Use these proven methods and you’ll drastically increase your odds of success.

Featured photo credit: Charlotte Astrid via flickr.com

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