28 Easy Ways to Be Healthier Right Now, Backed by Science
What if we told you that you could totally transform your health in just seconds? It's true. The idea of getting healthier may seem daunting, but it all boils down to simple choices and tweaks you make throughout the day. For just a few seconds a day, you can help undo years of bad habits and totally transform your health.
Don't believe us? Just take a look at this list that proves you can make healthier swaps and choices throughout your day that add up to major change. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Let The Sunshine In
You've heard that opening your blinds first thing in the morning can help you wake up, but did you know it can help you slim down, as well? One PLoS ONE study found that people who got direct exposure to sunlight in the morning on average had significantly lower BMIs than those who had most of their light exposure late in the day, despite what they ate throughout the day. Researchers predict that exposure to the morning sun helps your body synchronize its metabolism, allowing you to burn fat more efficiently.
Order Your Coffee Black
Skip the cream and sugar, and opt for your cup of joe black. Not only is black coffee low-calorie, but 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.
Opt for Matcha
Pass on herbal teas and check out matcha, which is like green tea on steroids. Matcha is a green tea powder that has a concentration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that's 137 times greater than that most store-bought green tea. What does that mean exactly? Listen to this: In one three-month study, participants who drank green tea equivalent to one serving of matcha lost four times the belly fat and two times the weight compared to a group given a placebo.
Step on a Scale Once a Day
A new study published in the journal Obesity discovered that weighing in daily can help the number on the scale drop faster. Participants who consistently weighed themselves lose 4% more weight over the course of 3 months and then over 6% more weight in 6 months compared to those who didn't keep track of their weight. Daily self-weighing gives you more opportunities to see the impact of your behaviors on your weight and it helps you to identify when you may need to make adjustments sooner rather than later.
Take a Selfie
It may sound silly, but taking a selfie can help you stick to your weight-loss goals. That's because you'll be able to visualize changes occurring in your body that might not be apparent on the scale. (If you're building muscle while losing weight.) According to a PeerJ study, full-body and waist-to-hip ratio pictures make the biggest difference for people who need some help staying on track.
Cut Your Food into Smaller Pieces
Here's an interesting fix for your raging appetite. Arizona State University researchers suggest you should cut your food into smaller pieces to eat fewer calories. The study found that when people ate a whole bagel cut into small pieces for breakfast, they consumed 25 percent fewer calories at lunch compared to those who ate the same bagel whole.
Order a Small
Just don't want to give up that caramel macchiato? No problem. Having an indulgence is fine by us, just as long as you don't take it too far. The next time you're in front of the barista, simply order your favorite beverage in a smaller size to cut calories.
Snack Before You Shop
This common-sense advice goes a long way. Hitting the supermarket starving means you'll be more likely to stock up on the high-calorie processed foods that make you gain weight. Cornell researchers found that participants who ate an apple before grocery shopping were more likely to pick up better-for-you items than those who indulged in a cookie.
Set Your Alarm for Earlier
Cut 248 calories from your diet and eat more healthily when you wake up earlier. A recent study from Northwestern Medicine that found those who woke at about 10:45 a.m. consumed more calories, ate half as many fruits and vegetables, and consumed twice the fast food of those who set their alarm clock earlier. A second study by researchers from the Roehampton University found that 'morning people'—those who leap out of bed at 6:58 a.m., were generally healthier, thinner and happier than the night owls, who start their day at 8:54 a.m.
Use Only One Slice
A super simple way to trim calories is to make your sandwich open-faced. Opting for one slice of bread instead of two will save you anywhere between 70 and 140 calories. It'll also leave you with more room to pile it high with healthy toppings like lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and avocado.
Say 'No' To A Second Round
Your new mantra can be "one and done." Just by saying no to a second glass can save you calories from alcohol as well as those extra calories you consume when tipsy. Researchers speculate that booze makes us more sensitive to food aromas and less likely to resist indulgent fare. One Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study found that drinking alcohol causes people to eat an extra 384 calories daily, on average.
Clean Your Kitchen
A messy kitchen could lead to a messy waistline. A study published in the journal Environment and Behavior discovered that people eat 40% more food when they're in a messy kitchen. Even worse, the research also found that women who were the homeowners of this mess were twice as likely to eat from the cookie jar compared to women who kept their kitchen tidy. So, clean up to slim down!
Grab the Hot Sauce
Forget bland dishes. Spice up your favorite foods with a few dashes of hot cayenne pepper sauce. Hot peppers contain capsaicin, a potent appetite suppressant; a study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate capsaicin consumed 200 fewer calories at the next meal. Bonus! Researchers have also found that capsaicin can help you lose belly fat.
Jot it Down
While you're enjoying your meal or snack, be sure to take a few seconds to jot it down. Kaiser Permanente researchers found that, in a 6-month study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 1,700 dieters who kept a food record lost an average of 13 pounds. Pen-and-journal approach or a food app like MyFitnessPal will both work the same.
Snap A Photo Of Your Food
We're serious! This faux pas social media habit could end up helping you eat less. A review 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 photo album before you eat next.
Turn Off Your Phone In Bed
That blue light emitting from your phone? It's disrupting your body's production of melatonin, a hormone that tells you it's time to sleep. When you sit on your phone for hours on end, you cut into your sleep time, which could have serious repercussions. Researchers find that when you don't get a good night's rest, you're more likely to crave and snack on high-calorie comfort food the next day. 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.
Stand at Work
Get up from your chair at work! Standing burns 10-12 more calories per hour than sitting, according to Mayo Clinic researchers. It may not be much, but every little bit counts when you're reducing calories to lose weight. 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.
Put Down the Salt Shaker
It's time to stop mindlessly sprinkling salt on your food. A recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation found that eating salty foods actually makes you hungrier. If that's not a reason to cut it out, there's always the classics that extra sodium in the diet can lead to water weight gain and bloating, which will make your pants fit tighter.
Put Your Fruit In A Bowl
Instead of leaving candy on your counter, keep healthy snacks visible and within reaching distance. A 2012 study published in the journal Environment and Behavior found that when fruits and vegetables are within arm's reach—like in a fruit bowl—participants were more likely to eat them. Unsurprisingly, this helped participants increase their intake of fruit. A fruit bowl full of apples, oranges, and bananas will make you much more likely to grab a healthy snack on your way out the door than if they were put away.
Turn On the AC
Blasting away fat could be as simple as cranking up 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 balmy 81 degrees.
Grab a Handful of Nuts
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. An International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders study of overweight adults found that people who ate ¼ cup of almonds each day for 6 months had a 62 percent greater reduction in weight and BMI than those who weren't chomping on the instantly-satisfying snack.
Check Yourself Out
Here's an interesting hack: A Journal of Applied Psychology study has shown that keeping a mirror near the fridge or pantry can trick us into eating better and losing weight. Why? It forces us to reflect before making potentially poor food choices.
Get your playlist ready! Brunel University researchers found that jamming out while you work out could increase your endurance—and, thus, subsequent calorie burn—by up to 15 percent! The researchers hypothesized that music helps to ward off fatigue and makes exercisers feel like they can do anything they put their mind to.
Shimmy Into a Pair of Jeans
Make today a dress down day. When you opt for jeans over formal business attire, you're more likely to move around during the day—which increases your potential calorie burn. 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.
Turn Off the TV
Sorry, but your TV is making you fat. 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 when eating without visual and auditory stimulation. 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.
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. University of Southern California researchers found that simply switching the hand you eat with can curb your calorie consumption. In other words, eat with your left hand (or right hand if you're a lefty) and you'll eat less!
Ask for Half To Go
Restaurant portions seem to be getting bigger and bigger every day. If you know you tend to lose focus when you're eating out–and end up polishing off your plate before you know it—take some precautionary measures and ask your server to box up half your meal before it even touches your plate. You'll slash your calories in half!
When you chew your food more, you may end up taking in fewer calories, which may help you control your weight. Chewing food 40 times instead of a typical 15 times caused participants in an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study to eat nearly 12 percent fewer calories! For more ways to cut calories, check out 40 Food Swaps That Cut Thousands of Calories.