The Blue Zone Diet: Here's How It Could Help You Lose Weight

There are so many weight loss programs out there — keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, Weight Watchers, Noom, Jenny Craig, Atkins — all of them proposing strategies to help you eat less and feel fuller, so those extra pounds will just melt away. The blue zone diet, however, based on the book The Blue Zones Solutions by Dan Buettner, is not a weight-loss strategy, per se; it's actually about living longer and being happier. The foods and lifestyle this diet proposes are grounded in the eating habits of the longest-living people in the world, who reside in what Buettner calls "blue zones" — Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California. These blue zoners will hang around the planet until age 90 to 100, while the average American's life expectancy is just under 80 years old (per CDC). 

Because of their largely plant-based diet, lack of processed and sugary foods, and active lifestyles, blue zoners also tend to be thinner, without any crash diets required. Indeed, about 17 percent of people who've borrowed this approach to eating have lost weight, Buettner pointed out in CNN. So how will following a diet that's geared towards longevity (and not getting bikini-ready) help you lose weight?

Only eating until you're 80 percent full will help you lose weight on the blue zone diet

One of the principles of the blue zone diet is called hara hachi bu, which translates to "stop eating when you're 80 percent full." It's based on the habits of Okinawans, who push their plates away when they're no longer hungry, while Americans tend to eat until they're stuffed (per BlueZones.com). You won't need a food scale or measuring cups or calorie-counting to achieve hara hachi bu; you simply need to focus on your food while you're eating it, chew more slowly, and use smaller plates. Nutrition experts have embraced this concept. "Blue zone populations... have lower BMIs indicating that they can effortlessly maintain healthy body weight without counting calories or restricting their food intake," exercise physiologist Drew Harrisberg commented in The Daily Mail

One other principle of the blue zone — relying less on your car to get around — may also aid your weight loss efforts. A study of 103 British commuters found that those who walked, biked, or took public transportation to work had a body mass index up to one full point lower than those who drove (per The BMJ).