50 Easy Tips for Summer Weight Loss
By the time summer rolls around, most of us aren't as motivated to tackle our weight loss goals as we were when planning out New Year's resolutions. So if summer snuck up on you this year and you're not where you want to be, don't get discouraged. You've still got time to shed a few extra pounds. As long as you're willing to make the right changes, your goals are already within reach.
Before you stop reading and sprint to the gym, slow down. There's no need to beat yourself up over the empty calories you consumed all spring. Instead of jumping into a fast or designing an intense workout regimen, simply incorporate these tips into your daily routine.
Whether it's snacking on nutrient-rich foods that dominate the warmest season (we're looking at you, protein-packed passion fruit) or using the longer, sunnier days to your advantage, these helpful tidbits will have you rocking a bathing suit in no time.
By putting our summer guide into action, you'll slim down just in time for the warm weather months. Especially if you pair these tips with our 35 Instant Weight-Loss Secrets.
Eat Some Watermelon
Watermelon is a summer fruit, and it also happens to be great for weight loss. In addition to being about 90 percent water (and thus low in calories) the fruit's vibrant color is also part of what makes it such a slimming choice. Scientists have found that flavonoids, the waist-whittling compounds that exist in higher concentrations in red fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, and plums, have the power to induce weight loss. In fact, a 2016 study in the journal BMJ found that people who eat a diet rich in flavonoid-heavy food tend to gain less weight, which could be promising seeing as many people tend to put on pounds as they age. What's more? Anthocyanin, a specific flavonoid compound that gives red fruits their color, has been shown to reduce fat-storage genes.
Wake Up With Water
Since the warmer temperatures in the summer months increase the likelihood of sweating and perspiration, it's especially important for you to consume water. Not only does the hydrating beverage fill you up so you're less inclined to eat your calories, but it also keeps your metabolism running clean and smooth, which is an important component of weight loss. A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking 17 ounces of water can bump up fat burning by 30 percent. To jazz up a boring glass of H2O, in ways that can still shrink your waistline, peruse the 50 Best Detox Waters for Fat Burning and Weight Loss!
And Continue Drinking It Throughout The Day
Remember how we said water can be satiating? That's why it's important to not only load up on H2O in the morning, but to continue drinking it throughout the warmer days. According to researchers at the University of Birmingham, drinking water prior to meals is an easy weight loss trick. The British smarties know this because they recruited 84 obese adult participants and split them into two groups. The first group was comprised 41 people who were instructed to drink 16.9 oz. of water 30 minutes before their three daily meals every day for 12 weeks and the second group consisted of 43 people who were told to imagine having a full stomach before every meal without drinking any water. What researchers found was that the water drinkers lost an average of 9.48 pounds over the three month period—roughly 3 pounds more than the group who was instructed not to drink.
Add A Squeeze of Lemon
To make a glass of water even more beneficial for your body, consider flavoring it with some lemon. In addition to adding a pop of color and flavor to a tall glass of H2O, the bright citrus fruit can also help encourage weight loss. Just one lemon contains an entire day's worth of vitamin C, a nutrient that has the power to reduce levels of a stress hormone called cortisol that triggers hunger and fat storage. Additionally, lemons also contain polyphenols, which researchers say may ward off fat accumulation and weight gain.
Dress Up For Your Meals
The summer months are all throwing on whatever makes you feel comfortable as the temperatures approach (and sometimes surpass) triple digits, but if you put a bit of effort into what you wear prior to chowing down, it could impact your physique. Clinical psychologist Katie Rickel notes that you can keep your goals front and center by dressing up before a meal. Showing that you care about your appearance is a great reminder to eat in a way that reflects that, whether you're throwing on a nice sundress or sporting your favorite bathing suit.
Eat A Salad
As the temperatures rise you'll likely be less inclined to make soup or dishes that require a bunch of time spent in a hot kitchen, so why not throw together a healthy salad instead? Greens and other veggies are excellent sources of satiating fiber and protein, and you can also get protein from lean meats such as turkey or chicken. For an added nutritional boost, throw a handful of healthy almonds or walnuts into your salad, as they'll deliver nutrients such as magnesium and heart-healthy omega-3s, respectively, in addition to more filling fiber and protein. Just be sure to stay away from heavy dressings and dried fruits, as those items to have too much belly-bloating sugar.
Hang A Mirror In Your Kitchen
In a 2015 study in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, scientists instructed subjects to choose either a fruit salad or a chocolate cake, then eat and evaluate their snack. Those who ate the chocolate cake in the room with the mirror found it less appealing than those who didn't have a looking glass nearby, but those who opted for the fruit salad reported no difference in taste. In other words, the presence of a mirror makes unhealthy foods less appealing. So hang one in your kitchen to discourage the consumption of cake and the like, and then use it to watch your waistline shrink each day!
Though it may be hard to believe that "doin' it for the 'gram" can help you shed a few pounds, research suggests there's an advantage to photographing your food. Several studies in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who recall their last meal as being filling and satisfying tended to eat less at their next meal. So if you're one of those people who can't remember what they had for dinner last night, 'gram away.
Opt For Overnight Oats
If you're looking for something cool and refreshing to start your day with, try overnight oats. As the name suggests, they can be prepared the night before, and are cold and ready to be eaten come morning. A bowl of oats is high in fiber and will keep you satiated well into the day, especially if you toss in some fiber-rich berries or chia seeds as well. According to a Dutch study, consumption of oats reduces body weight, BMI, body fat and the waist-to-hip ratio, so get some inspiration from this list of 50 Overnight Oats Recipes for Weight Loss and eat up!
Get A Good Night's Sleep
Sure, the balmy summer weather may make it more difficult to get a good night's sleep, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do everything in your power to ensure you get approximately 8 hours of shuteye a night. According to Wake Forest researchers, dieters who sleep five hours or less put on two and a half times more belly fat, while those who sleep more than eight hours pack on slightly less than that. Similarly, 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.
Keep Your House Cool
To ensure some solid shuteye, keep your house cool. Though it might make your electric bill go up, it will help your waistline get smaller. An easy way to stimulate the development of that metabolism-engaging brown fat is to lower the temperature in your home. According to a study published in the journal Diabetes, blasting the AC or turning down the heat in winter may help your body attack belly fat while you sleep because colder temperatures subtly enhance the effectiveness of our stores of brown fat. Participants in the study spent a few weeks sleeping in bedrooms with varying temperatures, and after a month those who slept in 66 degree Fahrenheit rooms (the lowest temperature tested) had nearly doubled their volumes of "good" brown fat.
Get Some Early Morning Sun
Once you're awake, do yourself a favor and let the sun in. Numerous studies have shown that sun exposure between 8:00 a.m. and noon is associated with higher fat burning and significantly lower BMIs, regardless of exercise, calorie intake, sleep, or age. If going for a run in the morning is too daunting, simply open your blinds and let the sunshine pour in so you get a healthy dose of vitamin D.
But Avoid Artificial Light
While early morning sun is good for the body and waistline, artificial light is not. In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that being exposed to artificial light leads to weight gain regardless of what you eat. Since the blue light that's emitted from electronic devices can also wreak havoc on your physique because it throws off your sleep patterns, power down at least an hour before bed to stay lean.
Work Close To A Window
Given all this talk about the benefits of sunlight and the drawbacks of artificial light, it should come as no surprise that researchers discovered those who sit near a window tend to be healthier than those who don't. Per a 2014 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, workers with a window got 46 more minutes of sleep a night on average, while workers not near a window had more sleep disturbances. Additional research shows those exposed to natural light during the workweek tended to be more inspired to get outside and exercise.
Jeans might not be the ideal summer attire, but wearing them (on a casual Friday, perhaps?) can help you shed some unwanted pounds. A study by the American Council on Exercise suggested that casual clothing, as opposed to conventional business attire, can increase physical activity levels in daily routines. Participants in the study took an additional 491 steps and burned 25 more calories, on days they wore denim than when wearing traditional suit wear.
Cook With Saffron
As far as spices go, saffron is one of the most expensive ones around, but it's also a substance that preliminary research suggests can contribute to weight loss. According to a study published in the journal Antioxidants, saffron extract may inhibit weight gain in a number of ways similar to how antioxidants function. The research suggests the colorful spice could decrease calorie intake by blocking dietary fat digestion, act as an antioxidant and suppress inflammation, suppress food intake by increasing satiety, and enhance glucose and lipid metabolism. Though scientists aren't totally sure what makes saffron so weight loss friendly, they suspect it has something to do with crocetin and crocin—two antioxidant-rich compounds found in saffron that give it its distinct color.
Get A Green Tea
Speaking of antioxidants, drinking green tea is a surefire way to guarantee you're getting enough of 'em. Though a refreshing sugary beverage may be especially appealing as the temps creep up, keep it simple and sip on unsweetened green tea. Not only will you be saving yourself hundreds of calories and tons of belly-bloating sugar, but the green tea acts as a worthy weight loss ally because of its catechins—a type of antioxidant that hinders the storage of belly fat and facilitates rapid weight loss. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that after just two weeks, those who sipped four to five cups of the green brew each day, in addition to working out for 25 minutes, lost more belly fat than those who didn't imbibe.
Frequent The Farmer's Market
The faster food gets from the farm to your plate, the higher its nutritional value, so stay healthy by heading out to your neighborhood farmer's market to stock up on fruits and veggies. The walk around the market is a great way to elevate your heart rate a bit, and the beneficial finds can't be beat. To make the most of your nutritionally-minded outing keep an eye out for what's in peak season during the summer. Standouts include high-fiber raspberries, anti-inflammatory strawberries, and nutritious leafy greens.
Grab A Grapefruit
Whether you're at the farmer's market or the supermarket, stock up on grapefruit. Though researchers don't exactly know why, it's a great fat-burning fruit. According to a study in the journal Metabolism eating half a grapefruit before meals may help reduce visceral fat and lower cholesterol levels. Participants in the 6 week study who ate a Rio Red grapefruit fifteen minutes before each meal saw their waists shrink by up to an inch, and LDL levels drop by 18 points. Impressive!
And Some Tomatoes
While we're on the subject of summer foods that can aid weight loss, let's talk about tomatoes. The tasty fruits have a high water content that will help keep you hydrated, and they're also low in calories. What's more? Lycopene, the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their rich red color, has been shown to help combat sunburns during hot summer months. And as if that isn't convincing enough, a 2015 study published in Nutrition Journal found that eight weeks of tomato juice consumption helps the body burn about an additional 100 calories per day.
When you're not stocking up on summer fruits and veggies, pause for a minute to take in the world around you. In a 2015 study, Brown University researchers asked nearly 400 people to complete a mindfulness-awareness survey, which asked whether subjects agreed with such questions as "I find it difficult to stay focused on what's happening in the present." Then, they X-rayed the subjects' bellies to determine their degree of belly fat. The results showed that the higher people scored on the mindfulness survey, the less visceral fat they were likely to have. People who are less mindful have, on average, an extra pound of fat inside their bellies than those who are more in tune with their everyday lives and the world around them.
Grow It Yourself
With nicer weather on the way you'll likely be inclined to spend more time outside, and gardening is a great way to do that while also being healthy. Research conducted by the University of Utah shows that people who garden are about 11 to 16 pounds lighter than those who don't, so throw on some gardening gloves this summer and get to planting. For added weight loss benefits, consider planting herbs such as cilantro and mint, which combat bloating and suppress your appetite, respectively.
Though snacking might not seem like a trusted weight loss method, munching on the right snacks throughout the day is one of the best ways to shrink your waistline. According to a recent study, researchers found participants lost significantly more body weight when they incorporated low-sugar, high-protein snacks into their daily food routine. Fitting in healthy, high protein snacks (such as a handful of unsalted almonds) helps to maintain blood-sugar levels—which keeps your brain from triggering hunger pangs—and stops your body from indulging in unhealthy foods after what feels like a long day of starvation.
And Snack After Lunch
If you're going to snack, however, try to do so after lunch (perhaps during a nice break outside?) as opposed to the mid-morning. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that mid-morning snackers tended to consume more throughout the day than afternoon snackers. Afternoon snackers, on the other hand, tend to choose good snacks. Need help deciding? We have your back with these 40 Healthy Snack Ideas to Keep You Slim.
Spice Up Your Meals
Despite the increasingly hot air, don't let the spring and summer months discourage you from putting some heat on your plate, especially since certain spices can help facilitate weight loss. That's thanks to capsaicin, a fat-burning chemical found in foods such as cayenne pepper, mustard, and chili peppers that can rev up your metabolism and help you feel satiated. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those who supplemented their diet with capsaicin consumed 200 fewer calories during their next meal.
Sip On A Smoothie
Is there anything more satisfying in the summer than sipping on a tasty smoothie? Luckily, the weather appropriate habit corresponds with significant weight loss. In fact, when researchers at Columbia University crunched the numbers on six separate studies following dieters on either a smoothie-based plan (one or two smoothies a day) or a reduced-calorie plan, they found that although both groups lost weight, those on the smoothie-based plan experienced "significantly greater weight loss" at both the 3-month and 1-year marks. Just make sure your smoothie of choice is packed with fiber and protein, but low in sugar. For inspiration, check out these 56 Smoothies for Weight Loss!
Have A BBQ
Cookouts and barbeques are a summer staple, and it just so happens that research has shown grilling may help make healthy foods even healthier: a study in the journal Meat Science found that grilling a pork chop could decrease its fat content by nearly a third. Firing up the grill in the backyard also gives you more control over how the meat is prepared and what you eat. Stick to tasty rubs as opposed to sugary sauces to flavor your protein, and throw some veggies on the grill as well so you can up your intake of fiber and other nutrients.
Marinate The Meat In Beer
Alcohol isn't exactly a weight loss ally, but using it to flavor the meat at your summer cookout could help you drop a few pounds and stay healthy. According to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, if you marinate meat with beer for four hours, you can lower the harmful chemicals in it by up to 68 percent.
And Pick The Right Beef
If beef is your prefered source of protein to throw on the grill in the summertime, make sure to use the grass-fed stuff. Ground beef, a T-bone steak, or prime rib are amongst the healthiest cuts because they're lower in unhealthy fats than other forms of beef and actually contain more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than some fish. Just be sure to limit your red meat consumption to around two three-ounce servings per week in order to keep your cholesterol in check.
Choose The Right Condiments
Speaking of summer BBQs, watch the condiments you use at any outdoor shindigs. While ketchup and BBQ sauce are popular choices, they're not the healthiest. Ketchup may pair well with burgers and hotdogs, but it typically contains around 19 calories and 4 g of belly-bloating sugar per tablespoon, and BBQ sauce is just as unhealthy, if not worse. To avoid consuming empty calories and unhealthy added sugar, have condiments on hand such as mustard and sauerkraut. While mustard will rev up your metabolism, sauerkraut will help balance the bacteria in your gut.
Keep It Colorful
Apparently laying out in the sun isn't the only way to get that perfect summer glow. According to a 2015 study in the Journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, people who ate more portions of brightly-colored produce had a healthier and more sun-kissed complexion than those who didn't consume as much. Scientists suspect the faux glow is the result of cancer-fighting plant pigments called carotenoids, which are responsible for bright red, yellow and orange hues in many fruits and vegetables. Some of the best summer sources of the sunless stuff like carrots, bell peppers, and cantaloupe also happen to be particularly low-calorie, so you can snack to your heart's (and belly's!) content while you get your glow on sans sun damage.
Summer is known for its colorful fashions, but those aren't the only hues you should be paying attention to if you're looking to lose weight. That's because research has shown that the color of your dishware as it relates to color of your food can determine whether you eat more or less. Per a recent study from Cornell University, diners actually serve themselves more food if the color of their food matches the color of their plate. In other words, if you're eating from a white plate, you're more likely to help yourself to more rice or pasta. Conversely, if your goal is to eat less, select plates that have high contrast with what you plan to serve for dinner.
Surround Yourself With Blue
In addition to eating colorful foods and coordinating with your dishes, the hues you surround yourself with while you chow down can impact your appetite. According to several studies, blue is an appetite suppressant. Scientists suspect this is because there aren't many naturally-occurring blue-hued foods aside from blueberries and a handful of others. This behavior might also stem from our ancestors, who when foraging for food, stayed away from sources that were blue, black and purple because they were believed to be poisonous. So buy some blue dishes for summer, or freshen up your eating area with a blue tablecloth or placemats.
Choose Your Dining Partners Wisely
Summer is a great time to catch up with old pals or join your co-workers for a celebratory happy hour, but if you're watching your weight it's important to take note of who you choose to break bread with. According to an Eastern Illinois University study, you're in danger of consuming 65 percent more calories if you're eating with someone who gets seconds. In other words, while the old friend visiting from health-conscious L.A. may make a great dining partner, you should steer clear of the co-workers who keep ordering rounds of drinks and chicken wings.
Pass The Dip
Inviting some friends over to enjoy the warm weather in the backyard? Skip the cheesy dips and calorie-packed chips, and opt for veggies and hummus instead. Dippable veggies such as carrots and broccoli are loaded with satiating fiber and other healthy nutrients, while hummus is an excellent source of belly-filling protein. If the Middle Eastern staple isn't for you, try some fresh, spicy salsa instead. It's low-cal and chock-full of fat-burning tomatoes and metabolism-stimulating spices that will keep you looking slim all season.
Or The Guacomole
If you're not a fan of salsa, then make guacamole your go-to. Though the avocado-based dip has more calories than salsa, the monounsaturated fats found in avocados make you feel less hungry. Need proof? A study in Nutrition Journal found that participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterwards. What's more? Unsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados seem, to prevent the storage of belly fat. In other words, those green goddesses can help you shrink your waist in two different ways.
Go For A Swim
When you're done dipping your veggies, why not take a different kind of dip in the pool? In addition to cooling you off during those long spring and summer days, a quick swim is a great way to burn some calories. Per a report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, swimming lowers the risk of early death by 28 percent, and lowers the risk of death due to heart disease and stroke by 41 percent. Go ahead and grab your bathing suit!
Laugh Out Loud
Summer is typically a time when people feel more relaxed and carefree, and while the reduction in stress alone can help you lose weight, the presence of laughter is apparently just as important. According to a 2007 study published in the International Journal of Obesity, laughing can increase your basal energy expenditure and resting heart-rate by up to 20 percent, so go ahead and laugh the weight away.
Snack On Kiwi
As spring inches closer, kiwi is in season, and the green fruit can help you get in tip-top shape thanks to its ability to aid digestion. Though small, kiwifruit contains a hefty amount of actinidin, a natural enzyme that helps facilitate digestion by breaking down protein in the body. The tropical fruit also contains prebiotic fiber, which primes the gut for healthy digestion. In fact, according to a study published in Nutrition Research, a daily serving of green kiwifruit helps increase bowel movements.
As the weather warms up lighter meals become increasingly popular, and one way to eat healthy with your summer physique in mind is to consume fish. The ocean dwellers provide one of the best sources of fatty acids known as omega-3s, which will help fend off waist-widening inflammation, and are an excellent source of high-quality, lean protein. This allows them to help you maintain muscle mass, thus reducing excess fat accumulation. Some of our favorite healthy fishes include wild salmon, Atlantic mackerel, and bluefish.
Cook With Coconut Oil
If you can't relax on a tropical beach this summer, then why not at least feel like you're there by incorporating coconut oil into your diet. A study printed in the journal Lipids found that consuming coconut oil reduces abdominal obesity. Half the study participants ate two tablespoons of coconut oil daily; the other half were given soybean oil. Only those in the coconut-oil group saw their waistlines shrink. If you're cooking with coconut oil, just make sure you rotate in other oils as well, such as EVOO.
Try An Outdoor Workout
Jogging in the snow is no fun, but as temps rise there's no reason you can't ditch the gym in favor of an outdoor workout instead. If you need some incentive, consider that research has shown that breaking a sweat outdoors may be more beneficial than burning calories inside. According to a 2011 study published in Environmental Science and Technology, exercising in a natural environment outdoors may improve energy levels and decrease stress more than working out indoors.
Stock Up On Pomegranate And Passion Fruit
Like kiwi and coconut, snacking on pomegranate and passion fruit is bound to get you in a summery mood, but that's not all these fruits are good for. Not only is pomegranate packed with protein (which is found in its edible seeds) but it also contains anthocyanins, tannins, and high levels of antioxidants, which research published in the International Journal of Obesity says can help fight weight gain.
Like pomegranate, passion fruit (which is in season during the summer months) also delivers protein via its edible seeds, and a half-cup of the colorful fruit gives you 12 grams of fiber and more than half a day's vitamin C. Snack on these fruits raw or toss 'em into a smoothie and you're good to go!
Be Motivated By Your Bathing Suit
For many, bathing suit season can be incredibly stressful and daunting, but instead of letting it inspire fear try using it as a motivator to get in your best shape. Believe it or not, it works! We know this because a study in the International Journal of Psychological Studies tracked how women coped when they were asked to imagine themselves modeling a swimsuit in front of friends. While 77 percent of the participants noted feelings of avoidance (like, avoiding going to the fitting), a surprising 60 percent responded with thoughts of "appeasement," such as "Try to eat healthy for the next few weeks," and "Tell yourself there is still time to lose weight. So if you've got a bikini gathering dust in your closet, let it incentivize you to look, and feel better.
Let The Heat Do The Work
If you've ever noticed that you're less hungry when it's hot outside, there's a scientific reason for that. Researchers believe the heat tames your insatiable appetite, and they've got data to back it up. According to Loughborough University researchers, men who exercised in a hot environment (86° F) tended to eat less than those in a neutral (68° F) environment, whereas those who exercised in a cooler setting (50° F) tended to eat more. Overall, athletes in warmer environments consumed 12 percent fewer calories and reported feeling 15 percent less hungry than those who were chilly, even though there were no differences in appetite-related hormones.
School's Out For Summer
For many, getting the kiddos off to school in the morning and ensuring they're successful and happy throughout the school year can be a source of stress and anxiety, but once summer break rolls around those stressors are MIA. The reduction in stress alone is enough to stimulate weight loss, but make the most of the school-free months by spending more time working on yourself and your body goals.
You're Instinctively Healthier
Just as the heat makes you less hungry, the longer spring and summer days help to make you healthier. According to a study by Eat This, Not That! Magazine's advisor, Brian Wansink, PhD, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, the summer light may actually help you make healthier choices. A 2016 study of Wansink's, published in the Journal of Marketing Research, found that those who dined in well-lit rooms were about 16-24% more likely to order healthy foods than those who noshed in dimly lit rooms. Wansink and his co-authors speculate that the effect is mainly because brighter lights make us feel more alert, which allows us to make more "forward-thinking decisions."
Take Advantage Of The Longer Days
After daylight saving time the days get gradually longer, meaning you have more time to stay active and accomplish what you need to during the waking hours. Use the extra sunlight to try an outdoor exercise class, head to the farmer's market to pick up a healthy dinner, or simply relax outside with a book and get some vitamin D. According to Italian researchers, vitamin D deficiency is linked to a higher risk of obesity and obesity-related complications, while taking vitamin D supplements might result in weight loss in obese and overweight people who are vitamin D deficient.
Forage For Food
Though humans no longer forage the way our ancestors did, warmer weather means you can hit a local farm and pick your own fruits and veggies. In addition to getting your heart rate up, the outdoor activity allows you to stock up on healthy summer staples such as antioxidant-rich blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, which are packed with powerful antioxidants that can help you lose weight.
Choose Light Booze
Alcohol is an integral part of any season, and summer is no exception. In fact, the warmer weather may even make you more likely to imbibe, so it's especially important you do so in a healthy way. That means staying away from frozen syrupy margaritas and pina coladas in favor of lighter beverages such as a grapefruit-centric sea breeze or a refreshing red wine spritzer. That way you get the waist-shrinking flavonoids found in red wine, including resveratrol, which is believed to have heart-healthy benefits because it helps prevent blood vessel damage and reduces your 'bad cholesterol' while consuming fewer calories. For more alcohol-related weight loss wisdom, check out The Secret To Drinking Booze Without Getting Fat!