By the time you finish this sentence, you could have burned 100 calories. How? By discovering these 35 essential secrets, revealed by Eat This, Not That!
We know that shedding unwanted pounds used to mean giving up your favorite foods, logging hours at the gym, and being hungry (and hangry) all the time. Fortunately, dropping a dress size (or two) doesn’t have to be that complicated or torturous. Sure, losing any significant amount of weight requires lifestyle changes and some hard work, but it all boils down to simple choices.
By making these 35 Instant Weight Loss tweaks, you can kick-start your fat-burn efforts in no time. And for more no-sacrifice ways to melt fat, check out these amazing 30 No-Diet Diet Tricks.
Let The Sunshine In
Rise and shine — literally! Researchers from Northwest University found that people who were exposed to bright daylight earlier in the day tended to weigh less than those who didn’t get sunlight until later. So right after you wake up, open the blinds and let the sunshine in. Or better yet, step outside and enjoy your morning cup of coffee on the front porch
Order Your Coffee Black
Skip the cream and sugar in your cup of joe, and opt for it black. Black coffee has zero calories, and it can help you burn calories faster. According to a study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee was 16 percent higher than that of those who drank decaf.
Recycle Your Plastic Water Bottle
Drinking plenty of water is essential for overall health, and is a great way to boost your weight-loss efforts. But if you’re getting your H2O from cheap bottled water, the bottle itself could pose a problem; Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, has been linked to obesity, and it’s still found in many cheap plastics. A 2011 Harvard study found that adults with the highest concentration of BPA in their urine had significantly larger waists and a chance of being obese than those without as much of the chemical in their systems. So if you must drink store-bought bottled water, check to see if the bottle is BPA-free. And whatever you do, don’t reuse the same bottle; constantly refilling the same plastic bottle can cause BPA to leak into the water.
…And Grab a Reusable Aluminum One
Instead of constantly refilling the same throw-away bottle over and over, grab a BPA-free bottle, preferably one made of glass or aluminum. Not only is this better for your waistline, but carrying a bottle around with you will prompt you to drink more H2O throughout the day. Drinking more water means you’ll be less hungry, and you’ll give your metabolism a boost. For more hydrating health benefits, check out What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Water.
Squeeze a Lemon in Your Water
Squeezing in some refreshing lemon will not only help you drink more water; it also has detox benefits. Lemons are rich in polyphenols, which are compounds that contain antioxidants. A study in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry found that mice who were fed lemon polyphenols were less likely to gain weight and accumulate body fat.
Swap Your Soda for Unsweetened Tea
Sugary sodas are terrible for you and are likely to pack on the pounds. One can of Coke contains 140 calories, and 39 grams of sugar — more than your total daily amount! Swap instead for unsweetened tea, hot or iced. Tea has no calories and has its own fat-melting properties. Opt for green or oolong, which are some of our Best Teas for Weight Loss.
Grab a Smaller Plate
Trade your large dinner plate for a smaller salad plate, and eat your meals off of it. By eating off a smaller plate, you’re more likely to eyeball more accurate portions. You’re also likely to trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more, thereby feeling fuller, quicker.
Swap Your White Bread for Whole Grain
Refined white breads are simple carbohydrates that your body processes as sugar, and can really hinder your weight-loss efforts. Whole grain bread, on the other hand, is chock-full of slimming fiber and can help you feel fuller, longer. Just be sure to read your labels. “If the ingredients at the top of the ingredient list read sugar, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, white or wheat flour, these foods contain mostly simple carbs and should be limited,” Rebecca Lewis, RD, told Eat This, Not That! in our article for 20 Secrets for Eating Bread Without Getting Fat. “A food is only considered a whole grain if the first ingredient on the packaging says, ‘whole grain’ or ‘whole wheat.’”
Make Your Sandwich Open-faced
Another way to trim carbs and calories is by making your sandwich open-faced. Opting for one slice of bread instead of two will save you 70-90 calories, and leaves you more room to pile it high with healthy toppings like lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and avocado. Still hungry? Pair your sandwich with a side of baby carrots or bell pepper strips. The water and fiber in the veggies will fill you up and help with your weight-loss efforts.
Eyeball Portion Sizes
You don’t need to bust out the measuring cups to properly portion out your food: A serving size of meat is roughly the size of a deck of cards or the size of the palm of your hand. Your entire fist should be the size of a serving of veggies (although the more, the better!). A serving of fat, such as butter or coconut oil, should be the size of your thumb. Your carb serving should be no bigger than what can fit in your cupped hand.
Take Your Vitamins
If you’re eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, odds are you are getting the necessary vitamins and minerals you need to help boost weight-loss. But it’s also a good idea to take vitamins that can supplement your diet; B vitamins (especially B2 and B12) can boost energy, vitamin D can regulate appetite and aid in weight loss, and magnesium can trigger lipolysis, a process where your body releases fat from where it’s stored.
Grab the Hot Sauce
Spice up your favorite foods with a few dashes of hot cayenne pepper sauce. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, an appetite suppressant; a study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate capsaicin consumed 200 fewer calories at the next meal. Not only will this help you cut back on calories and boost weight loss, but researchers have also found that capsaicin can help you lose belly fat.
Write it Down
While you’re enjoying your meal or snack, be sure to take a few seconds to jot it down. Whether you prefer the old school pen-and-journal approach or a food app like MyFitnessPal, recording what you eat can help you cut back on calories.
Instagram Your Food
No, seriously. This annoying social media habit could end up helping you eat less. An analysis of attentive eating studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that if people recall their last meal as being filling and satisfying, they tend to eat less during their next meal. So snap your delicious-looking food, and scroll back through your feed before you eat next.
Scroll Past Unhealthy Recipe Videos
You know all those high-calorie, sugar-laden recipe videos that litter your Facebook newsfeed? Fast-paced hands arranging layers of cookie dough, peanut butter cups, and chocolate brownie batter that come together to make a mouthwatering, decadent dessert that’s also ridiculously fattening. “The internet and social media sites are basically making you fat,” Lisa Hayim, MS, RD, and founder of The WellNecessities, told us for our article on The 30 Worst Flat Belly Mistakes Women Make. “If it isn’t 25 ways to eat tater tots then it’s [another] national [something] day. The internet has made it basically impossible to stay away from cravings and indulgences. These are not excuses to eat unhealthy food.” Next time you see one of these videos, scroll quickly past. Or better yet, unfollow the page completely, and follow Eat This, Not That! On Facebook for healthier videos and more slimming tips.
Stand at Work
One of the easiest ways to burn some extra calories is to get up from your chair at work; standing burns 50 more calories per hour than sitting, according to a British study. If you are lucky enough to have a standing desk, make sure you utilize it. If not, you can easily make your own by stacking books or boxes on your desk and standing up to work. At the very least, make sure you’re taking a break every hour to stand up and stretch, and possibly go for a walk around the office. Every bit of movement counts!
Put Down the Salt Shaker
Do you mindlessly sprinkle salt on your food without even tasting it first? Stop it! Seriously. Extra sodium can lead to water weight gain and bloating, which will make your pants fit tighter (and the number on the scale tick up). Be sure to read your labels, too; sodium is typically lurking in in processed foods, even “healthy” ones like frozen dinners and canned soups.
Choose Plant-based Protein Powder
There are so many protein powders on the market, and sometimes it can be hard to decide which one is best for your weight-loss goals. But by swapping out a whey or creatine powder for something plant-based, you could cut down on belly fat. Although whey powder is chock-full of muscle-boosting protein, it can also cause a belly bloat. Instead, try one of the 100+ recipes in Zero Belly Smoothies, made with vegan protein that will still have the same muscle-building, fat-burning, and satiating effects, just without the bloat.
Blasting away fat could be as simple as turning down your heat (or cranking the AC) before bed. A study published in the journal Diabetes found that participants who slept in bedrooms at a chilly 66 degrees burned almost twice as much brown fat after a few weeks as those who slept in rooms that were a neutral 75 or a toasty 81 degrees.
Simply popping a few almonds in your mouth could help you shed pounds, and not just because almonds are better for you than, say, candy. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that eating 1.5 ounces of almonds a day reduced belly and leg fat. And another study of overweight adults found that people who ate ¼ cup of almonds for 6 months had a 62 percent greater reduction in weight and BMI.
Keep Healthy Snacks Within Reach
If you keep your purse, car, and office desk stashed with healthy snacks, you’ll be less tempted to hit the vending machine or drive-thru. Try raw almonds, bananas, or one of our Eat This-approved nutrition bars for a satisfying and nutrient-dense option to feed those hunger pangs.
Pack Leftovers Right Away
When you’re done cooking, portion out just enough for your meal, and pack the rest away. The more your food sits out, the more likely you are to nibble and go back for seconds (or thirds). Same goes for when you’re dining out: Ask for a to-go box along with your meal, that way you can pack away the leftovers and aren’t tempted to overeat.
Find the Perfect Pair
Of carbs and protein, that is. Carbs certainly aren’t the enemy; you can totally enjoy carbs and still lose weight. The trick is to choose something complex (like brown rice, quinoa, or whole grain bread) or something refined (like white rice, white pasta, and white bread), and pair it with a protein. So if you’re having crackers for a snack, make sure you also eat some almonds or a stick of string cheese. “I always incorporate a protein and carbohydrate at every meal,” Jim White, RD, ACSM Health, and owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios told us in our 30 No-Diet Diet Tricks article. “It can curb your appetite and it slows down the glycemic index of some of your higher sugar foods.”
Put on a Pair of Jeans
Opting for jeans instead of more formal business attire could help keep the pounds off. A study from the University of Wisconsin found that people who wore denim to work took almost 500 more steps throughout the day than on days where they wore more formal clothes. If your office allows it, try to make casual Friday happen more than once a week.
Turn off the TV
There’s no way to sugarcoat this — your TV is making you fat. It prevents you from being active, gives you the munchies, and makes you distracted while you’re eating. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate in front of the TV consumed 10 percent more than they normally would. Eating while distracted disrupts your satiety signals, so shutting off all your electronics while munching will help you stick to your portions, and feel full.
Silence the Music
Even listening to music while you eat can lead to weight gain, according to a study published in the journal Appetite. Research showed that people who listened to music ate more food, and it didn’t matter the pace or volume of the music playing. It’s best to focus on the food you’re eating while you’re chowing down, which help you tune in to signals of feeling full.
Look Up Restaurant Menus
Going out to dinner? Decide what you’re going to order before you even sit down by looking up the restaurant menu beforehand. You’ll be less likely to order on impulse, and be able to select the healthiest item without thinking about it. For more ways to lose weight while dining out, check out our list of 35 Tips for Being Healthy at Restaurants.
Stop and Smell the Fruit
Taking a whiff of fresh green apples, bananas, and pears can help curb appetite and lessen cravings for sugary desserts, studies have shown. If you keep a fruit basket on your counter, stop and smell the produce if you find yourself craving something sweet. Otherwise, scented lotion will have the same effect.
Skip the Hand Sanitizer
You may think hand sanitizer will zap germs and prevent you from getting sick, but it could also be making you fat. Hand sanitizer contains triclosan, which researchers have found to be an “obesogen,” meaning it could cause weight gain by disrupting your body’s hormones. A study published in the journal PLOS One found that people who had detectable levels of triclosan in their bodies were associated with a 0.9-point increase in body mass index (BMI). If you’re really worried about germs, it’s best to rely on good ol’ soap and water.
Eat With Your Non-Dominant Hand
It sounds silly, but switching which hand you eat with can save you calories, and help boost weight loss. “It takes 15 minutes for your brain to realize that you’re full,” celebrity personal trainer Jay Cardiolleo told us in our article 40 Weight Loss Tips for Over 40. “To give your mind time to catch up to your mouth, simply switch your fork to non-dominate hand. It may be frustrating, but it’s a simple and unnoticeable way to curb overeating and lose weight.”
Stop at One Glass of Wine
Red wine can actually be good for your health, thanks to the antioxidant resveratrol, which studies have shown is good for your health and could help you lose weight. But any more than one glass, and you’re opening yourself up to extra sugar, empty calories, and a boozy buzz, which may inhibit your ability to make healthy food choices. If you’re out to happy hour, stop at one glass and opt for club soda (which is calorie free) or water with lemon instead.
Brush Your Teeth Right After Dinner
Stopping eating after dinner is an easy way to easily cut back on mindless munching and extra calories, and can help boost weight loss, White says. One way to prevent that post-dinner grazing is to brush your teeth almost immediately after your last meal of the day. The minty flavor in your mouth will make all your favorite foods taste gross anyway, and you won’t want to go back and brush your teeth all over again.
Set Out Your Sneakers the Night Before
Getting up early for an a.m. workout is always tough, especially as you slog through getting dressed before the sun rises. Leaving your sneakers out within view of your bed will make it easier to get out of bed, and remind you of why you’re waking up early in the first place. Plus, setting out your entire workout ensemble will cut down on getting ready time, so you can get dressed and leave the house before you have time to change your mind.
Put Your Phone Away at Night
Scrolling through your social media one last time may be most people’s pre-bed ritual, but it can seriously mess with your sleep cycle. The light from your screen can suppress melatonin, the hormone that controls sleep. And getting plenty of shut-eye is important for your waistline; a study published in the journal Sleep found that people who didn’t get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night were more at risk for weight gain. Try to put your phone away 20 minutes before your bedtime to avoid the light distraction.
Go to Bed Earlier
Sleeping for more than five hours a night might seem like a luxury for some, but it can have a serious impact on your overall health. Not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of shut-eye a night puts you at risk for fatigue the next day, which means you’re more likely to crave and snack on high-calorie comfort food. Try to go to bed sooner so you can get a little more sleep, which will help you eat less. And to blast fat even faster, don’t miss these essential 55 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.