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Four healthy habits that support weight loss

Weight loss is difficult in practice, but easy in theory. If you want to guarantee your results, the most consistent route is to track calories using a mobile application and kitchen scale: I have written an extensive article about it and starting your weight loss journey in general – the four very healthy habits mentioned in this post greatly support weight loss and weight control as well.

To get the most of these habits, you should try each one first and see which one you like doing most. Then, try doing your favorite consistently for one week on top of your calorie deficit or whatever method you're using to lose weight – don't try to implement all four habits at once as it might quickly become overwhelming. Remember that the impact of these habits is based on their consistency, not intensity.

Consider a high protein diet

A diet high in protein increases satiety, maintains or reduces fat mass while also guarantees that your retain muscle mass (or increase it if you do resistance training). The challenges of dieting are certainly different for everyone, but a big reason for my personal failures when dieting have been caused by hunger. Adding just one or two small protein-dense foods to your day such as tuna, tofu, lentils, eggs or various nuts can have a big effect: you can add them as a snack or as a side with your bigger meals.

I recently lost 26 lbs (12 kg) and my biggest challenge was figuring out how to retain this lower weight. I started taking two scoops of protein powder per day (~60 grams of extra protein) to help with satiety and muscle gain. Not only did I stay at my new weight, but I also experienced a great performance increase in my training. Protein powder isn't very nutritious or tasty, but it is affordable and is generally okay to take in conjunction with a healthy diet.

If you want to consider adding protein powder to your day too, I recommend normal whey powder (isolate is more expensive) or alternatively soy powder if you are lactose intolerant or are following a plant-based diet. Use it very modestly and supported by a healthy and diverse diet – I take two scoops a day because I'm tall and thus need more energy per day.

Try the 25/25/50 food model

With protein being established as one of the solutions for satiety above, eating meals with the ratio of 25% protein, 25% carbohydrates and 50% vegetables is a fantastic way to massively reduce appetite while ensuring your diet stays fresh and healthy. As vegetables are very light on calories, making sure that 50% of your meal consists of vegetables reduces your appetite efficiently: An average (500g) head of iceberg lettuce is just 75 calories.

A really good example of a meal that follows this example is either a chicken pasta salad or a tofu pasta salad. Add in an equal amount of protein and carbohydrates (measured by volume, not weight) and then top it off with a double dose of vegetables. This will definitely help you feel full. This recipe is really easy to alter as well: if you don't like pasta just swap it with rice and add the vegetables as a small salad on the side. Same goes for your preferred protein and vegetables, just combine whatever you prefer most. This meal also works really well with meal prep as you can make one batch of salad, protein and carbohydrates and just distribute it into individual daily portions.

Start exercising daily for more energy

I wrote a useful article on this topic just recently, but being consistent with just a small amount of exercise every day can contribute significantly to weight control (and can thus also help with weight loss). Just be very mindful of the fact that 99% of people, you and I included, overestimate how many calories they burn and underestimate how many calories they consume, so you shouldn't adjust your diet based on how much you exercise (unless you're doing a lot of intense exercise).

If you can get into the habit of going on a 20-minute walk every single day, it can have a considerable impact on both weight control and your well-being. Stop for a moment and think of all the nice things you can enjoy whilst walking: Maybe it can be a particularly good podcast, or your favorite album, or just listening to the sounds around you and enjoying the fresh air. Some devoted online show fanatics even save up for a treadmill and walk while watching their favorite show – this is an extremely interesting way of combining "work" and fun.

Avoid liquid calories, "snacking" and excess sugar

A habit of drinking a lot of liquid calories (milk, orange juice, sodas) and snacking on small things over the course of the day can really contribute to your calorie goals, despite the individual snacks being relatively small amounts of calories. If you're doing a modest calorie deficit, something generally recommended to minimize muscle atrophy and intense cravings, just a few drinks or snacks might entirely negate your target deficit and put you at maintenance calories or even a slight surplus.

Being aware of excess sugar is also important. There's a lot of sugar and calories in condiments and other sides, so lathering your meal with ketchup or your toast with butter might contribute significantly to your daily calorie target. Start this habit by observing what different foods and ingredients make up your daily calories, and what you're comfortable eliminating to improve your deficit and health.


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