A crueler writer would kick this off with a classic bait and switch: “The secret to weight loss is that there is no secret!”

But I am not a cruel writer, and the real secret to weight loss is that there are a few secrets to weight loss. The most important secret is simple…so simple, I think, that most people forget it. The #1 secret to weight loss is this: burn more calories than you consume. If you do that every day, you’ll lose weight…it’s that simple.

Doesn’t seem like much of a secret, does it? And yet hundreds and thousands – and maybe even millions – of people can’t seem to figure it out.

So let’s break it down into more digestible (pun intended) pieces…5 smaller secrets to weight loss that will make the big secret a whole lot easier.

Secret #1: Eat breakfast, and make sure it’s a filling one. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” isn’t just a cute saying…it’s actually true. Dieters who eat breakfast are significantly less likely to overeat during the rest of the day. A good breakfast includes protein and fiber, both of which boost energy and increase feelings of satisfaction.

Secret #2: Up your fruits and veggies intake. There’s a reason fruit and vegetables occupy a sizeable portion of the food pyramid. They’re filled with the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are essential to a healthy diet. Swap higher calorie items with fruits and veggies when you can, like using chopped veggies instead of pasta as the base for a dish.

Secret #3: Get your beauty sleep. Common sense says that weight loss happens when you’re working hard and burning calories. That’s true, but getting an adequate amount of sleep is also an important part of weight loss. When you don’t catch a sufficient number of Zs, your body increases production of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and fat retention. Aim for at least 7 hrs a night.

Secret #4: Eat more often. It sounds totally counterintuitive, but it works. Try not to go more than 5 hours without eating. When you’re overly hungry, you’re more likely to choose unhealthy foods and stuff yourself to excess when you finally do sit down to eat. Eating smaller meals at regular intervals also helps manage cravings by keeping your blood sugar steady.

Secret #5: De-stress. Lower stress levels = an increased likelihood of weight loss. Stress causes the body to produce cortisol, the hormone responsible for storing body fat and increasing cravings for fatty foods. Added bonus: de-stressing is good for your entire well-being, not just your waistline!

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