If you’re looking to make some healthy changes to your lifestyle, there are plenty of small tweaks you can make that can add up to a big impact on your weight and overall health.
It’s important to approach weight loss in a gradual and sustainable way, rather than relying on quick fixes or fad diets.
Here are ten simple yet effective techniques that can help you on your weight loss journey and improve your well-being in the process.
1. Opt for the side salad
Cut back 100 calories per day, the thinking goes, and you’ll lose 10 pounds over the course of a year.
And the easiest way to do that is with a simple side dish swap.
A salad with all the trimmings—two cups of leafy greens, a cup-and-a-half of crisp veggies (like tomatoes or cucumbers), and two tablespoons of light dressing—amounts to a little over 100 calories.
A medium order of fries has about 350.
So, if you’re a habitual fry-eater, swap fries for a salad on just three meals each week and you’ll slash 750 calories from your weekly diet—or about 100 per day.
2. Cut out soda
Every 12-ounce soda contains 150 calories. So removing one per day from your diet will save you 1,050 weekly calories.
And if you think that drinking calorie-free diet options are safe when it comes to weight-loss, think again:
According to a study in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, people who regularly drink diet soda actually end up gaining weight.
3. Wait 20 minutes
It takes your brain about 20 minutes to “catch up” to your stomach—to realize that, hey, you’re full.
Because of this, it’s incredibly easy to eat more calories than you need.
A good way to stop doing this is to eat 80 percent of what you’d normally eat and then stop.
20 minutes later, reassess: Are you still hungry?
If so, keep eating.
But chances are, you won’t be, and you’ll have just reduced your calorie intake by 20 percent.
If you’re on a 2,500-calorie diet, that’s 500 calories just like that.
4. Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night
Skipping out on sleep bolsters your belly twofold.
For one thing, if you’re sleep-deprived, chances are, you’re going to eat more.
According to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who get five-and-a-half hours or less each night eat 300 more calories the following day than people who get seven hours or more.
And for another thing, sleep deprivation causes your cortisol levels to spike. Cortisol, if you didn’t know, is the hormone that your body uses to store fat.
5. Lift weights
Let’s do some math. Every pound of muscle you have burns about 6 calories an hour.
So if you add just five pounds of muscle to your frame, you’re burning an additional 700 calories a day just by doing nothing.
6. HIIT it up
If lifting’s not your thing, you could always try high-intensity interval training, or HIIT.
Instead of lengthier, steady-as-she-goes workouts, HIIT is all start-stop-start-stop.
For instance, maybe you sprint for two minutes and walk for one minute—and then repeat a few times.
The goal is to push yourself toward exerting 80 to 90 percent of your energy without giving your body time to fully recover.
This method gets your heart rate up, kicks your metabolism into overdrive, and torches calories like nothing else—and, according to one study in the Journal of Obesity, is more effective at reducing “abdominal body fat than other types of exercise.”
7. Black coffee, please
Think about your morning coffee. Do you drink it with cream and sugar? If so, that’s a 100-calorie beverage.
But by taking it black, your daily dose of caffeine is only 5 calories.
Sure, it’s bitter, but there’s an easy fix to that: Just add cinnamon.
Not only is it delicious, but, per a recent study, a mere half a teaspoon of cinnamon each day can keep your blood sugar and LDL cholesterol (that’s the “bad” kind) levels in check.
8. Make it spicy
According to research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, folks who consume capsaicin—that’s the stuff in chili peppers that brings on the spiciness—ate 200 fewer calories during the following meal.
What’s more, some experts say that spicy foods can speed up your metabolism, leading to more weight loss, though others assert there’s not enough evidence to support that.
In any case, adding a sprinkle of chili pepper flakes to your next meal can’t hurt—unless you seriously can’t handle spice.
9. Get frisky
Did you know that sex counts as a bona fide workout? Seriously!
According to research out of the University of Montreal, you burn anywhere from 70 to 100 calories per “sex session.”
In other words, having sex more frequently can directly lead to you having a better body.
Curious about how long those “sessions” run? About 25 minutes, start to finish, including foreplay.