By Olivia Tarantino&Grant Stoddard
Feel like you can't even spare a minute for your weight-loss goals today? No problem! These healthy hacks take mere seconds.
Before we begin, let's put things in perspective: If you adopt just one of the habits in this list and changed nothing else about your diet or lifestyle, you'll begin improving your body right away. If you adopt a handful of certain changes—all of which take less time than it took you to read this sentence—you could as much as 40 pounds in a year! Read on to see how and don't miss these essential 55 Best-Ever Ways to Boost Your Metabolism, too.
1. Take a Deep Breath
Breathe in—one, two—and out—three, four.
When you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed, you put yourself at risk of weight gain, according to an Ohio State University study, which found that in the 7 hours following a stressful event, women burn 104 fewer calories than more chillaxed ladies after eating a high-fat meal. And a few deep breaths can help you calm down. According to The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, deep breathing exercises can "stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which brings on relaxation and reduces stress. This will also reduce levels of your stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with belly fat, sugar cravings, and decreased lean muscle tissue." And when you have more muscle, your body burns more calories! Breathing exercises aren't the only thing that'll help you calm down, so will these 32 Foods That Turn Off the Stress Hormone That's Making You Fat.
2. Saute With Broth Instead of Oil
When you're sauteing veggies, leave the 120-calorie-per-tablespoon Crisco on the counter. Instead, add a couple of tablespoons of low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth to your skillet along with your veggies of choice. You'll save 119 calories in the process! When you're ready to serve, use a misto to lightly spray your favorite Extra Virgin Olive Oil on top to help make those fat-soluble nutrients available for absorption.
3. Sit Up Straight
Your mindset certainly affects your body, but did you know your body also can affect your mind? Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy, Ph.D., MA, believes you can actually boost your mood by partaking in certain "power poses," like sitting up straight in your chair. Great news as a mood boost can help decrease levels of the fat-storing stress hormone, cortisol. Plus, instead of slouching at your desk, by sitting up straight with your shoulders back and your abs tight you'll engage more muscles and may torch a few more calories.
4. Dab Your Pizza
Pizza surely isn't one of the best low carb snacks, but that doesn't mean it'll derail your slim-down goals. By merely grabbing a napkin and dabbing the oil from the surface of your slice, you'll start cutting calories. A recent study found that a dabbed pizza slice has 40 fewer calories than one that hasn't been blotted. Since the average American eats 23 pounds of pizza annually, if you dab all your slices, you could lose two pounds in a year.
5. Press Pause When Munching
Weight loss is just a touch of a button away! A study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference found that people who listened to music with headphones actually ate more of the exact same food compared to those who weren't jamming out while eating. The simple solution is to press pause on your TV remote or Spotify playlist during your meals.
6. Put a Mirror in Your Kitchen
Research 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 pause and reflect before making food choices.
7. Don't Eat If You're Not Hungry
A trip to the movie theater or office kitchen that has a box of donuts aren't signals to eat. Hunger is the best signifier of when it's time to eat. Obey your hunger cues and make the decision to avoid eating for the sheer reason that there's food in front of you to help cut unnecessary calories.
8. Invest in A Set Of 10-inch Plates
Perception is reality. Cornell University professor and head of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab Brian Wansink showed that using 10-inch-diameter plates instead of the traditional 12-inch-diameter plates decreases the amount of food people eat without having an effect on their fullness or satisfaction. Go on Amazon and get a new set now; you can find it among our 21 Tools To Help You Get Serious About Losing Weight.
9. Drink Before You Eat
Drink two big glasses of water before you sit down to eat. If you can remember to wash your hands before you start a meal, you can remember to guzzle some water. It'll make you feel more sated and far less likely to overeat. Participants in a British study who drank 16 ounces of water before they ate lost an average of 2.87 pounds in 90 days. That's almost 11.5 pounds in a year if you keep up the habit!
10. Brew a Cup of Tea
If you're not drinking green tea with your workouts, you might be wasting your time at that barre class. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that after just two weeks, exercisers who sipped four to five cups of green tea each day and logged 25-minutes at the gym lost more belly fat than their non-tea-drinking counterparts. What makes the drink so powerful? It contains catechins, an antioxidant that hinders the storage of belly fat and aids rapid weight loss. Discover how to blast fat with tea thanks to Kelly Choi's The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse! Test panelists lost 10 pounds in one week!
11. Head To The Stairs
If riding an elevator is part of your routine, substitute the stairwell. In buildings with five floors or less, it's almost always quicker to take the stairs anyway. Studies show that office workers save up to 15 minutes a day by forgoing the elevator. Plus, per minute, taking the stairs burns more calories than jogging.
12. Fast Forward Through Commercials
There's a reason why advertising is so expensive; People really do respond to it. Especially food ads. Multiple comprehensive studies published in Health Psychology, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and Obesity Review found that exposure to food commercials caused people to snack more by increasing cravings—even when the participants weren't physically hungry. Make sure to DVR your favorite shows so you can fast forward through commercials and avoid temptation, and brush up on the reasons behind why you're always hungry.
13. Unfollow Social Food Channels
Make The Barefoot Contessa persona non grata in your home. It's not just food advertising that causes waistlines to expand. Cooking shows and your favorite food blogger's Instagram posts have been linked with weight gain and even obesity. Monkey see, monkey do, and our bodies are conditioned to increase levels of our hunger hormone (ghrelin) when we see decadent food photos. Keep your time in front of the TV to a minimum when you're on the Food Network and make a point of unfollowing particularly junk-foodie social channels.
14. Chew Longer
"Nature will castigate those who don't masticate," said healthy-eating pioneer Horace Fletcher more than 100 years ago. Modern science agrees. Taking time to chew your meal gives your body more time to register satiety, so you can stop when you feel full rather than when you're stuffed. And it'll give the enzymes in your saliva a head start on breaking down food before it gets to your stomach.
15. Get Under The Covers
Plenty of research has shown that people who sleep fewer hours a night are more likely to be overweight. If you're burning the candle at both ends, you'll not only feel hungrier the next day than you would with quality rest, but recent studies have also found that short-term sleep deprivation is connected to a preference for high-calorie, high-carb foods, a greater likelihood of serving yourself bigger portions, and a higher chance you'll choose unhealthy foods when shopping for groceries.
16. Eat an Apple Before Shopping
Speaking of grocery shopping, make sure to have a nutritious snack first. A recent study from Cornell University showed that eating something healthy before going to the grocery store made shoppers less likely to purchase junk food. Researchers say it gets you into a healthier mindset.
17. Move Your Junk Food Out of Sight
An experiment published in the International Journal of Obesity found that office workers ate fewer pieces of candy from a bowl when the bowl was opaque or covered, compared to when it was clear. So store those donuts and cookies in the back of your pantry, and put one of these 50 Snacks With 50 Calories or Less in front of them!
18. And Put Healthy Food in Reach
In a separate study, researchers compared the consumption of apples and popcorn based on proximity and found that people ate more of whichever offering was closer. While it's smart to keep fruit on hand so you have smart snacking options, there's another reason: studies have shown that smelling fresh fruits can curb appetite and make sugary desserts less appealing. Scientists speculate this is because the scent of the produce makes you subconsciously think about making healthier choices.
19. Dress for The Body You Want
"Wearing stylish clothing that makes you feel attractive—as opposed to comfy sweats and clothes for lounging that hide your body—will encourage you to eat in a way that shows you care about your appearance and your body," says clinical psychologist Katie Rickel.
20. Dump That Diet Soda
A study at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio showed that people who drink diet soda are more likely to gain weight than dieters who don't drink soda at all. Although diet soda is marketed as a smart choice, it's been found to sabotage weight loss.
21. Take Your Coffee Black
If you take your coffee with cream and sugar, you're adding tons of calories without realizing it. Instead, drink it black or with a splash of skim milk. You could save yourself up to 100 calories per cup. Over the course of a year, that's the number of calories in more than 10 pounds of visceral fat!
22. Throw Some Almonds in a Baggie
Carry some raw almonds with you for an instantly-satisfying snack that's packed with protein, healthy fats, and contains plenty of endurance-boosting magnesium, and many other micronutrients. Snacking can be healthy as long as you're not eating any of these 35 Worst "Healthy" Snacks on the Planet.
23. Turn Down The Thermostat
"High indoor temperatures occur in offices, in dwellings and is most pronounced in care centers and hospitals. By lack of exposure to a varied temperature, whole populations may be prone to develop diseases like obesity," wrote researchers from Maastricht University Medical Center in a study published in Trends in Endocrinology&Metabolism in 2014. Take things down a notch and make the ambient temperature a weight-loss ally.
24. Ask for Half To Go
Considering a recent study found that the average meal at an American, Italian, or Chinese sit-down restaurant contains a whopping 1,500 calories, you'll easily save 750 calories by requesting to box up half the meal before it even reaches the table.
25. Change the Color of Your Plate
It can actually discourage overeating. A Cornell University study found that eating food from a contrasting-color plate helped people reduce the amount they consumed. The study called this mind-over-matter practice "critical" for some people's portion control.
26. Leave A Bite Behind
Despite how you may have been brought up, you shouldn't feel pressured to slurp up all the food that's on your plate. Some experts estimate that leaving just one bite behind at each meal could save you about 75 calories a day. That adds up to nearly an eight-pound weight loss in one year!
27. Throw On a Pair of Jeans
Forget the suit and tie, leave the heels at home and if your office culture allows, make every day casual Friday. A study by The American Council on Exercise suggests casual clothing, as opposed to conventional business attire, can increase physical activity levels in our 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. That may sound trivial, but the calories add up! Researchers say keeping it casual just once a week could slash 6,250 calories over the course of the year—enough to offset the average annual weight gain (0.4 to 1.8 pounds) experienced by most Americans. Shimmy into your jeans to lose weight, but also for one of these 33 Reasons to Lose Weight Besides Fitting Into Your Old Jeans.
28. Walk Away From Your Desk To Eat
Let lunch break be what its name implies: a break! Multitasking may allow you to get more work done, but research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people eat while distracted, they consume an average of 288 calories more in one sitting than they would otherwise. Experts explain that keeping your mind busy while eating can prevent certain satiety cues from instructing your brain that you've had your fill. So grab your brown bag and sit in the break room!
29. Wrap Your Burger in Lettuce
On average, a burger bun has about 150 calories. If you eat one burger a week and wrap it in a lettuce leaf instead of a bun, you'll save more than 7,000 calories a year—as much as two pounds of stomach fat!
30. Choose Plain Yogurt Over Flavored
This supermarket swap is an easy way to scorch belly fat. Sure, your favorite key lime pie yogurt tastes great, but you're only fooling yourself if you think it qualifies as health food. Opt for a plain Greek yogurt topped with a handful of berries instead. It will run you about 20 calories less and nix an average of 20 grams of added sugar. (Plus, it'll come with 12 grams of muscle-building protein!) Making this change every day for a year can put you in the position of losing about three pounds!
31. Pull Up a Chair
Stand more! Just, not while you're eating. Research indicates that people who stand while munching end up gobbling down 30 percent more during their next meal than those who sit! Researchers speculate that when we eat standing up, our body subconsciously denies it as a "real meal," which causes us to eat more later in the day.
32. Top Your Salad With Avocado
Ever have a salad for lunch only to feel hungry a mere half an hour later? For a salad to be truly filling, it needs a healthy dose of protein and healthy fats. Not only do these satiating nutrients help fill you up (a Nutrition Journal study found that those who ate half an avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward), fats play a special role in helping your body absorb more fat-blasting vitamins. In fact, a study in the Journal of Nutrition found that adding avocado to salad allowed participants to absorb three to five times more carotenoids than those who didn't dollop on the green fruit.
33. Reach For a Bite of Dark Chocolate
Cease your suffering from sweet tooth syndrome. Instead of noshing on a couple empty-calorie cookies, quiet your sugar cravings with a small piece of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains pure cocoa butter, a source of digestion-slowing, healthy fat stearic acid; that means it can help you eat less, which accelerates your weight loss wins!
34. Blast Tunes During Your Workout
Besides your shoes, one of the most important pieces of equipment you need when working out is a set of earbuds. Brunel University researchers found that jamming out to tunes while you exercise 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.
35. Sub out Fries for a Side Salad
Guess what? You can still eat your favorite burger while losing weight—just switch out the fries for a side salad. Consider this: A side salad with low-fat Italian dressing from McDonald's has 70 calories while a small order of Ronald's fries complete with a packet of ketchup (and let's be real, who uses just one packet of ketchup) racks up 240. While the calorie saving will vary depending on the food joint, as long as you go light on the dressing, you can be sure you'll easily cut calories each time you dine.
36. Stick To The Same Lunch Time
Make a point of setting a lunch date before 3 p.m. every day—even if it's just with yourself. That's because Spanish researchers found that obese women who ate lunch before that time lost five pounds more than those who waited to eat lunch after 3 p.m. It's even more shocking since both early-bird diners and late lunchers ate the same foods and the same amount of calories. Scientists believe that pushing out lunch until you're starving may spark cravings for more food later in the day. Need some lunch inspo? Check out these 25 Super-Healthy Lunches Under 400 Calories.
37. Order A Vodka Soda
Start shedding the pounds in as much time as it takes for you to say three words: "vodka soda, please." If you have three drinks over the course of an evening, ordering vodka with plain soda water means you'll consume about 300 fewer calories than your friends drinking wine, beer or cocktails with juice or soda. If you have a weekly night out, you'll save 10,400 calories in a year. That's enough to burn off your muffin top. Curious about going cold turkey? Check out these benefits of going alcohol-free.
38. Chase Your Cocktails
With H2O, that is. By drinking two glasses of water between each alcoholic beverage, you'll slow down your drinking. Plus, the water will help fill you up so you can prevent yourself from heading mindlessly to McDonald's after happy hour.
39. Up That Incline Button
Get the most of your workout with just a touch of a button. Increase the incline grade from 0 to 1 percent and you'll incinerate a whopping 420 calories in 30 minutes as opposed to only 388 when doing the same workout on a flat surface.
40. Crack a Can of Seltzer
Instead of a can of soda, and you'll save yourself roughly 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar. You can see where your vice lands on our list of 70 Popular Sodas Ranked by How Toxic They Are.
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