However, like all goals with perspective and a plan, shedding the weight becomes totally attainable. Think of it this way: If you cut 200 calories each day through diet or exercise, you’ll be on track to lose a fiver in 3 months. Want to speed things up? Eliminate 500 calories from your daily intake to lose roughly 5 pounds in a month.
1. Drink More Water
Research indicates that chugging H2O curbs appetites. In fact, in one study by the American Chemical Society, dieters who drank water three times a day before meals over 12 weeks shed about 5 pounds more than those who did not boost their water intake. Water’s benefits don’t stop there: Agua also keeps you energized, so you’ll have the vigor needed to burn additional calories in the gym, on the tennis court, or wherever the day takes you. “Even being slightly dehydrated can lead to feeling fatigued,” says personal trainer Jim White, RD, owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach, VA. And soda fiends out there can chop more than 200 calories from their diets by replacing a 20-ounce bottle of nondiet cola with some refreshing H2O.
2. Say No to a Side of Fries or Potato Chips
A 4-year study on the effect of lifestyle on weight gain revealed potatoes and potato chips were closely linked to packing on pounds, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, a medium order of french fries is loaded with 380 calories, and a 1-ounce serving of potato chips adds 150 calories. Replace these greasy sides with fresh veggies to save yourself hundreds of calories in a week.
3. Cut Down on Added Sugars
On average, Americans consume 475 calories of added sugars daily, estimates Rachel Johnson, RD, PhD, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont. You, too, can do the math. Eliminating added sugars could save you thousands of calories in a week. In fact, a study review published in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages contributed to 20% of weight gain between 1977 and 2007. Other offenders included cookies, cakes, doughnuts, and dairy desserts. To trim hundreds of empty calories from your daily diet, check nutrition labels. “Look for anything that ends in the letters "ose,” the biochemical ending for sugars, such as sucrose, dextrose, fructose, and maltose, and the word syrup,” Johnson says. If it’s sweetened, skip it.
4. Beware of Hidden Calories
We’ve got to give credit where it’s due: Following reports about their high-calorie eats, many restaurant chains have begun to disclose calorie information on their menus. But while these eateries are off to a good start, a recent study from Tufts University showed that the calorie counts that appear may be incorrect. Researchers found that 19% of the foods they tested contained at least 100—and in one case 1,000—calories more than what was stated on the menu. Additionally, the biggest culprits of this calorie miscalculation were items usually viewed as healthy choices (think salads and soups). This means even diligent dieters may inadvertently consume more calories than they intend. The best way to fight back: Learn appropriate portions for common foods and skip calorie-laden condiments and dressings.
5. Move More
Not all calories are lost at the kitchen table. Daily physical activity chips away at unwanted pounds.
If lifting weights and running the treadmill have become a snooze, shake things up with some unconventional training, suggests White. “Choose an activity that you enjoy, whether it’s yard work, pole dancing, Zumba, or Pilates—anything that gets your body going.”
Whether you already work out or haven’t hit the gym in a year, slash even more calories by integrating these activities into your weekly routine.
More than 100 calories, try:
Walking for an hour at 2 miles per hour (183)
Cooking for an hour (176)
More than 200 calories, try:
Raking the lawn for an hour (281)
Cleaning the house for an hour (246)
Bowling for an hour (219)
Leisurely bicycling (less than 10 mph) for an hour (292)
More than 300 calories, try:
Golfing for an hour while carrying your clubs (329)
Mowing the lawn for an hour (387)
Dancing for an hour (317)
Playing baseball or softball for an hour (365)
More than 400 calories, try:
Doing high-impact aerobics for an hour (493)
Hiking for an hour (438)
Stationary bicycling or rowing for an hour (493)
More than 500 calories, try:
Playing basketball for an hour (584)
Jogging at 5 miles per hour (584)
Using a stair treadmill for an hour (657)
Swimming laps for an hour (511)
*Based on the average calories burned for a 160-pound man according to the compendium of physical activities.