We’ve all heard stories about the guy who stops drinking soda and quickly drops 10 pounds in a few months. Although the results may seem too good to be true, small lifestyle changes can result in big-time fat loss.
Let’s say you drink two bottled sodas a day. At roughly 240 calories each, you’ll cut 3,360 calories a week just by switching your soft drink for water. That means you’ll lose almost a pound, which is 3,500 calories, just by omitting soft drinks.
Even if you don’t drink soda, there are dozens of simple, everyday habits you can follow to lose weight. In fact, Andy Yurechko, MS, RD, of Augusta University Medical Center in Georgia, believes the most successful dieters avoid fads and focus on long-term sustainable practices.
“A healthier type of diet is something you can do every day of your life,” he said.
Start with one of these easy habits–today!—and you’ll lose weight and feel better.
1. Have a clear goal. It should be one that anyone in the world can measure and understand. Write out your goal and keep it posted somewhere as a reminder when you want to give up. If you have a set amount of weight you’d like to drop, step on the scale when you begin dieting. Then, weigh yourself every single day. Studies show daily weigh-ins enhance weight loss efforts. But don’t live and die by the number. And remember a scale doesn’t decipher between fat and lean body mass–but it can help keep things “in check.”
2. Drink the right fluids. First, everyone should drink plenty of water because your body needs it to run properly. However, research shows that water can help with weight loss. Professor Dr. Brenda Davy and her team from Virginia Tech University found that giving people 2 cups of water before each meal resulted in greater weight loss after 12 weeks. The reason? It helps fill you up.
Need something more than plain water? Try adding fresh fruit or sip on tea. Research indicates that drinking tea—black, green, or white—is also associated with lower BMIs and less body fat.
3. Decrease/eliminate processed carbs and junk food. They do nothing for you outside of creating a favorable environment for gaining fat. If you have trouble moderating specific treats, keep all chips, dips, and cookies out of the pantry. It’s not about willpower; it’s about being realistic. Instead, buy healthy snacks—like jerky—for your glove compartment or desk drawer so you’re prepared at all times.
4. Eat more produce. They fill you up, provide plenty of fiber and have few calories. Just avoid high-calorie dressings. If you have trouble sneaking in the veggies, start every meal with a salad. Salad provides bulk to help fill you up – so that you eat less calories overall.
Although some people fear fructose, fruit will not make you gain weight, and that includes the so-called “high sugar” fruits like bananas and melons.
5. Lift weights. Develop an exercise plan that includes heavy weights. Build more muscle, burn more calories. Make sure to cut down on rest time between sets. This keeps your heart rate elevated, causing an increase in calories burned.
6. Do intervals. Study after study continues to show intervals are more effective and time efficient than longer activity performed at a lower intensity.
7. Eat more protein. Replacing refined carbohydrates with lean protein will not only help satiate you, but will also increase your metabolism—through something called the thermic effect of food. While you’re at it, time your intake so you’re eating protein regularly throughout the day—not just in one lump sum, like most do at dinner. Every meal and snack should include some protein.
8. Do full body exercises. Your exercise plan shouldn’t just focus on one area. Instead incorporate exercises that use your whole body. Think: squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, and pushups. You’ll get more bang for your buck out of each workout. If you have trouble hitting the gym after work, wakeup early to exercise.
9. Cycle your carb intake based on your activity level. Sure, carbs are important. But on the days you don’t work out, you simply don’t need as many compared to the days you exercise hard. Rule of thumb: The more active you are, the more carbs you can eat, and vice versa. Plain rolled oats are a great complex carbohydrate that fills you up more than the high sugar breakfast counterparts.
10. Track your food. There’s no better way to track what you’re putting in your mouth. Use a free app, like MyFitnessPal, which makes it easy to log from anywhere. Chances are you’re eating more than you think, which makes it a good idea to weigh food, too. This ensures your tracking is precise and that you’re not incorrectly estimating calories in your food journal.
11. Eat whole eggs. Daily. A study published a couple years ago showed that those who ate whole eggs versus a bagel for breakfast ate less at the next meal. A similar study showed eating whole eggs increases HDL (good) cholesterol.
12. Eat breakfast. A review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that those who eat breakfast are more successful with long-term weight maintenance. Other research has shown the same for weight loss. Grab hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, Greek yogurt, a piece of fruit and handful of nuts, or make a smoothie. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
13. Eat the bulk of your meals in the A.M. Then eat progressively less throughout the day. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that eating most of your calories earlier in the day positively influences weight changes.
14. To burn more calories, stay active. This means not sitting in front of a computer, TV, phone, etc all day. Stand and you’ll burn more and be more productive. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help burn more calories, too. This won’t make or break success, but every little bit helps when it comes to physical activity.
15. Don’t grocery shop hungry. If you do, you’ll buy everything in the aisle – instead of sticking to your list. And most of the time, the foods you buy when hungry will the kinds that sabotage your weight loss efforts.
16. Replace side dishes with steamed veggies. Restaurants will often allow you to substitute the fries or chips with steamed veggies. All you have to do is ask.
17. Bake, don’t fry. You’ll save calories and lower your risk of heart disease. Or, use the fat-burner in your backyard: the grill, which offers plenty of flavor without the need for frying.
18. Don’t be extra. Order dressing on the side and dip your fork into the cup and then in the salad. This saves a ton more dressing than if one was to order it on the side, and the pour the entire cup on the salad anyway. Skip the “Venti lattes” and opt for plain coffee. The “designer” coffees can pack a belly-inflating 500 or more calories per serving!
19. Laugh often. A study presented at the European Congress on Obesity found those who laughed hard for approximately 10 to15 minutes each day burned an additional 10 to 40 calories/day. Multiply that by 365 and those calories can add up!
20. Eat Less. This means opting for a small side of fries instead of large.Avoid buffets and try to leaving something on your plate atthe end of the meal. When dining out, split a meal with your date and skip dessert. Treat cakes, pies and cookies as occasional treats.
21. Don’t socialize around the food tables at parties. You’re more likely to munch mindlessly, even though you may not be hungry.
22. Don’t eat your kid’s leftovers. Every little bit of food adds up, including what we call “BLTs” (bites, licks and tastes).
23. If you have a dog, take him for a walk. It’s better for both him and you than just letting him out the back. (Bonus: He’ll love you even more!) If you don’t have a pet, offer to walk a neighbor’s dog. Make friends; lose weight.
24. Decrease your food intake by 100 calories per day. Theoretically this translates to losing nearly 1 pound per month (1 lb = 3500 calories)—with hardly any effort. Using smaller plates and bowls can help achieve this goal. There will be less room for you to fill up and it makes less food seems like more. Similarly, eating slower can cut out extra calories since it takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes for your stomach to sense it’s full.
25. When possible, walk or bike to do your errands. You’ll get fresh air, burn a few calories and get your heart rate up. Buy a pedometer and aim for at least 10,000 steps each day.
26. Plan ahead. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
27. Take before pictures. You’ll be amazed at the progress you’ve made
28. Get active friends. If your friends prefer pizza, wings, nachos and beer on a regular basis, find one’s who are like-minded and want to be healthy. Research has suggested that friends enhance (or can hurt) success. Join a running club or other group focused around physical activity.
29. Put yourself first. Many people put everyone else ahead of themselves and let their health fall by the side.
30. Remember: It’s not all or nothing. If you fall off the bandwagon, jump right back on. Don’t let yourself continue to fall until all progress has been lost.