Weight loss doesn’t have to be complicated. Some people will try to tell you otherwise, claiming you have to eliminate certain foods and avoid eating at certain times of the day and only eat meals in certain combinations. The truth is it’s a lot simpler than that. By making a few easy changes to your daily routine, you can lose weight without the hassle. Try these 10 weight loss hacks and kiss the fuss goodbye.
1. Order Your Salads with Dressings on the Side
It seems like nothing derails a well-intentioned healthy eater faster than a restaurant salad. What seems like such a light, healthy choice can quickly become a calorie bomb if the restaurant loads on a lot of high-fat toppings like cheese, nuts, bacon and croutons. Even worse, a lot of restaurant salads come drenched in dressing. If you eat a salad with a ton of non-veggie toppings and a pool of creamy dressing, your friend who ordered the burger and fries may actually end up consuming fewer calories than you. Give yourself a fighting chance by ordering your dressings and sauces on the side. It’s a quick, easy choice to make and it can make a huge difference to your diet. Control how much dressing you eat (try dipping your fork in the dressing instead of pouring it on) and walk out of the meal feeling lighter.
2. Bypass Commercials
What does watching TV have to do with losing weight? A lot. The power of suggestion is in full effect when you see an ad on TV: simply seeing a snack that looks good on the screen can trick your brain into thinking you want a snack, too. A Health Psychology study found that people who saw more food ads while watching TV ended up snacking more. Researchers have also found a link between watching cooking shows and obesity. If you want to cut down on mindless snacking while watching TV, skip the food shows entirely and use your DVR to skip ads during other programs.
3. Drink More Water
This one is so simple, but so many people skip it. Drink more water throughout the day and you will feel more satisfied and less inclined to eat when you’re not truly hungry. Thirst and hunger can feel the same in your body, so eliminate thirst and focus on only eating when you’re physically – not emotionally – hungry. Want to challenge yourself? Try drinking a gallon of water a day for 30 days.
4. Use Smaller Plates
Here’s where the brain gets weird. If you eat the exact same amount of food at two meals – one on an oversized plate with lots of white space around the food and one on a smaller plate where the food fills the surface area – you will be more likely to go back for seconds with the larger plate. Blame it on an optical illusion: the white space makes your brain think it’s getting less and needs more. A 2005 study found people who drank soup out of bigger bowls consumed 73 percent more soup than those who ate out of regular soup bowls. Eliminate the optical illusion and use smaller dishes for your meals.
5. Set the Mood
Take the time to give your meals a nice atmosphere. Clear off the table. Use placemats or a tablecloth. Light some candles. Put on mellow music. Arrange your food artfully on the plate. Do all this and you’re much less likely to overeat than if you were eating the same meal over a pile of clutter on the coffee table while watching TV in the dark. One study found people who ate in restaurants with pleasant atmospheres (mellow music, dimmed lights) ate 175 less calories than those who ate at more typical fast food restaurants. Fast food is fast, but food that’s thoughtfully prepared and served is more satisfying.
6. Swap Butter for Avocado
The next time you encounter a baking recipe that calls for two tablespoons of butter, try two tablespoons of mashed avocado instead. You’ll still get the texture and flavor you’re after but you’ll save 154 calories and 14 grams of saturated fat. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
7. Eat Breakfast
Skipping meals will help you lose weight, right? Wrong. Skipping meals throws your metabolism out of whack and makes it more likely you’ll snack on not-so-healthy foods while waiting for the next meal. There’s a long time in between dinner and lunch, so skipping over breakfast will likely leave you famished. You’re much more likely to reach for a donut at your morning meeting if you didn’t start your day with a healthy meal.
8. Put Fruit on the Counter
Some of us know we should eat our fruits and veggies, but we also hate to cook. Here’s an easy solution: buy a bunch of bananas and set them on the counter. Bananas and other fruits don’t need to be cooked or prepared. You can grab one, pop it in your purse, and reach for it when you need a healthy snack. Keeping fruit on the counter where you can see it makes it more likely you’ll eat it.
9. Get on the HIIT Bandwagon
You’ve likely been hearing about high-intensity interval training a lot lately. That because it works: HIIT workouts burn more calories in less time than traditional cardio workouts. By incorporating it into your routine, you won’t just burn more calories during the workout itself; you’ll also burn more calories in the hours after your workout is complete.
10. Schedule Your Snacks
If you find yourself reaching for a snack when you start a new project, watch a TV show, meet a deadline, or get bored at work, you’re probably practicing mindless snacking. You’re eating to satisfy an emotional hunger instead of a physical one. Make sure your physical hunger gets nurtured by scheduling times to eat healthy snacks during the day. When you feel hunger set in, tell yourself which amount of which snack you’ll eat at which time. When the time comes, eat it if you’re still hungry. If you’re not, you just saved yourself from mindless eating.