Cutting calories is easier than you might think. These 10 tweaks will have you taking in less so you start weighing less – without even realizing it.
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1. Cut Out Alcohol
We know, we know. The horror! But swap your booze for water or seltzer and you’re saving a ridiculous amount of calories. Think about it this way: One glass of wine is about 100 calories, a can of beer can run more than 200 calories (depending on the brand). A few drinks at a party, and you may as well have had a third meal. If you absolutely must indulge, choose from one of these healthier bevvies.
2. Swap Your Salad Dressing
Depending on which dressing you choose – and how much you drizzle on – you could be taking in hundreds more calories than necessary. For example, two tablespoons of Hidden Valley Ranch has 140 calories, while Thousand Island dressing and Caesar varieties can amount to 150 calories or more. Even worse, most pre-made dressings have all kinds of added sugar and chemicals. Instead, make your own healthy dressing at home with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon or lime juice. Add salt, pepper, spices, garlic, chilli flakes and onion to taste.
3. Ignore The Words ‘Low-Fat’
It may seem counter-intuitive, but foods that are labelled as low-fat tend to be higher in sugar and processed chemicals, leaving us feeling less full than the full-fat versions. In addition, these sneaky foods can lead to the “Snackwell” effect, in which you eat more of a food that’s been labelled “healthy” to compensate for being virtuous. Instead, embrace healthy fats and lots of ’em – they not only taste delicious, but keep you feeling full longer. (A recent study says up to 40 per cent of your daily calories should come from healthy fats).
4. Take The ‘Apple Test’
The next time your have a craving, ask yourself whether you’re hungry enough to eat an apple. If the apple is appealing to you, you’re probably physically hungry – go ahead and eat that apple! If, however, the apple is not appealing to you, you probably aren’t as physically hungry as you think you are. Before mowing down on that bag of chips, ask yourself why you’re emotionally eating if you’re not actually hungry.
5. Cook At Home
We know it’s awesome to have someone else do the cooking – and the dishes – for you. But restaurants tend to go crazy with butter, oil and salt, and the portions can be out of control too. In fact, one recent study proved that the number one thing you can do to lose weight is to simply stop eating out. When you cook at home, you can regulate exactly what goes into your food. You also tend you eat less, too.
6. Skip The Movie Munchies
It’s tempting to buy popcorn, candy, soda – or all three – when treating yourself to a nigh out at the movies. But a small bag of theatre popcorn can have more than 400 calories, especially with all that butter drizzled on top.
Before catching a flick, enjoy a healthy meal at home, or sneak in a healthy banana to munch on. If you want to sneak in your own pop corn, try sneaking in some air-popped popcorn – it’s only about 30 calories per cup.
7. Walk Everywhere
Okay, so this tip isn’t cutting calories – it’s burning them. Either way, it works, and it’s really easy to incorporate into your day. Don’t automatically hop into your car or uber, and consider if you can simply walk the distance instead. Make a rule to walk anywhere that’s under an hour away, and pile on those podcasts for some entertainment along the way. The number of calories you burn depends on your weight and how fast you walk, but think of it this way: A 160-pound person burns about 100 calories per mile.
8. Drink Lots (And Lots) Of Water
Often, we mistake dehydration for hunger. Next time hunger hits, indulge in some H20 to make sure you’re actually hungry before grabbing a bite. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning; drink water throughout the day at your desk. Swap in some herbal tea if you’re struggling to get that water in, but the better hydrated you are, the better you’ll feel. It also goes without saying that you should always choose water over drinks with empty calories. Sodas and energy drinks are filled with sugar and empty calories, while even “healthy” juices pack a calorific punch.
9. Start With A Solid Breakfast
Skipping breakfast can be a tempting way to cut out calories, but it ends up backfiring, as hunger leads to overindulging and overeating later on in the day. Avoid this by enjoying a low-sugar, high-protein breakfast with some complex carbs, like a green smoothie, an omelette, or this #breakfastgoals breakfast bowl before starting your day.
10. Become A Part-Time Vegetarian Or Vegan
Do you eat more meat than vegetables? Consider trying vegetarianism or veganism for a week, and see how your body feels. Cutting out high-calorie meats and replacing them with low-calorie veggies and legumes might be what you need to drastically drop your calories (and save on your next grocery bill).