There are many small changes you can make on a daily basis to lose weight, that doesn’t include extensive meal planning or arduous exercise. Although diet and exercise do play a big role, there are smaller steps you can take to lose some weight if you’re not ready to jump into 6 AM spinning classes.
INSIDER spoke with registered dietitian-nutritionist Lisa Moskovitz, the CEO and founder of the NY Nutrition Group, registered dietitian-nutritionist Whitney Stuart, the owner of Whitness Nutrition, and registered dietitian-nutritionist Andy Bellatti, the strategic director of Dietitians for Professional Integrity. Here is what they suggest.
1. Invest in a water bottle.
Many people mistake thirst for hunger.
It’s very important that you are drinking enough water throughout the day. Moskovitz said that "upping the water intake can have a huge impact on how much you eat during the day,". Some people find it difficult to drink the recommended amount of water per day because they don’t have a physical reminder. Eliminate this issue by always carrying a water bottle with you. This will help remind you to drink more water. Moskovitz also recommends that you set yourself goals. We’re not suggesting that you carry around a gallon of water and finish it by the end of the day. Set simple goals such as having a glass of water when you first wake up in the morning and then also two glasses before each meal. "Not only will that help curb your appetite a little bit right before you eat, but it's a good way to remember to drink first," said Moskovitz.
2. Eat more fat.
Stay full longer by eating healthy fats.
Before you vouch to eat more cupcakes, you should know that we aren’t talking about those kinds of fats. Eating healthy fats such as those found in avocados, olives, nuts, and salmon can increase satiety and prevent bingeing later, Stuart said. He recommends opting for nutrient-rich plant-based fats. These fats are known as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat.
3. Pay attention to the texture of your food.
The reason why it’s so easy to consume 1,000 calories of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is that you don’t have to chew it.
Don’t feel bad. It happens to the best of us. Bellatti said, that ice cream is one of the easiest foods to overeat because of its soft texture. "One reason why things like ice cream or mashed potatoes are easy to overdo is because the texture is such that it's very easy to just keep eating spoonful after spoonful," Bellatti said. "Whereas, if you eat raw vegetables, you have to chew them longer." Even though eating ice cream isn’t recommended when on the Smart for Life Diet, we know that you need to treat yourself every now and then. Try your best to be mindful of the portion size when indulging.
4. Get more sleep.
Decrease your junk food cravings by getting more sleep.
According to the American Psychological Association, not getting enough sleep can raise your stress levels, weaken your immune system, impair your memory, increase your risk for depression, as well as cause you to gain weight. Stuart said, "When you don't get enough sleep, your levels of the stress hormone cortisol rise,". A study has found a direct link between cortisol and increased junk food cravings. Our bodies try to fight cortisol by eating fatty and unhealthy foods. These foods release serotonin, which helps calm us down. Stuart said that another way that we gain weight from sleeping less is because the longer we are awake, the more time we have to eat. Stuart recommends getting at least seven hours of sleep every night.
5. Make plans that don’t revolve around eating or drinking.
Suggest doing something more active, such as going for a walk.
When you haven’t seen your friends in a while, the typical reunion tends to involve restaurants and bars. There are many other activities that you could suggest instead, which would help you stay more active. This allows you to be social and burn calories at the same time. You'll be able to get your steps in without even realizing it. Sightseeing and visiting local places such as museums, zoos, or shopping centers can help you stay up on your feet. If there's great weather, take advantage of it and go for a walk or bike ride. If you’re looking for more of an adrenalin rush, try paddle boarding, rock climbing, kayaking, bowling, or rollerblading.
6. Prepare breakfast ahead of time.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
According to Rush University Medical Center, eating breakfast can help you focus, speed up your metabolism, and prevent weight gain. Stuart said that she finds that many of her clients skip breakfast because they don’t have enough time in the morning. She always tells her clients that a lot of time can be saved by preparing something in advance that can last the week. "I'm a big promoter of making your meals on Sunday and having a nice breakfast casserole or breakfast frittata ready to go that you can eat," Stuart said. Breakfasts that are egg-based with vegetables keep you full, last a whole week, and are rich in protein. There are many recipes that can take as little as 15 minutes to whip up, Stuart said.
7. Watch how much oil you use.
Although olive oil is healthy, be careful not to use too much.
Even though avocado oil and coconut oil are much healthier than some other oils, they are calorically the same as the others, said Bellatti. "Just because olive oil is much healthier than soybean oil, it doesn't mean that you can just liberally use oils," he said, emphasizing that it's easy to add hundreds of calories a day just from using too much oil. Bellatti recommends getting your healthy fats from whole foods as opposed to oils. "Adding half an avocado to a meal gives you the healthy fats but also fiber," he said. "Whereas cooking with avocado oil, while it's healthier from a fat perspective, doesn't really have anything that fills you up."
8. Fill up on vegetables.
There are many veggies that are easy to incorporate into your meals.
You don’t need to eat smaller meals to lose weight. Instead of reducing the size of your meals, try filling most of your plate with vegetables. This allows you to eat the same size portions while reducing your calorie intake. There are some vegetables that are going to be better for weight loss than others. Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and butternut squashes, are going to contain more calories than water-heavy vegetables like cauliflower and zucchini, said Stuart. There are countless ways to use cauliflower and zucchini as substitutes for other elements in many of the meals that you are already eating. One example, Stuart provided, was using cauliflower rice, instead of white rice, in recipes like stir-fry. You could use zucchini noodles instead of lasagna sheets or spaghetti squash in replace of traditional spaghetti.
9. Keep a food log.
This will help you keep track of what you are eating.
Stuart said, "Food records can be really helpful to write down what you're eating and really examine it," Stuart said. Studies show that when you write something down, you’re more likely to remember it. If you can’t be bothered to physically write down everything that you eat, download an app to help you instead. There are many apps that help you keep track of your food intake but one that stands out is MyFitnessPal. This app allows you to scan the barcode of whatever you’re eating. The app then automatically logs the food for you.
10. Don’t multitask while you’re eating.
Being distracted can lead to overeating.
You may want to sit down on the couch and eat your dinner in front of the tv, but you would be better off waiting until after you eat to turn on your favorite show. It’s important to stop what you are doing and solely concentrate on your meal. "When people are on their laptop working on something, there can be a lot of mindless eating because you're focused on the task at hand," Bellatti said. Take ten minutes away from your work to eat and your work will still be waiting for you when you finish your meal.
11. Find a workout you enjoy.
Working out doesn’t always have to involve cardio machines at the gym.
It’s now easier than ever to find workouts that are fun because every week new innovative workouts are created. Doing the same boring workout every day will leave you unmotivated and will prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals. Classes tend to be held at specialty studios. Some unique workouts include goat yoga, hula hooping, pole fitness, and aqua cycle. You can find classes in your area from many Facebook pages and apps. One app, ClassPass, lets you try out different classes at multiple studios. Most gyms offer a variety of classes as well.
12. Cut down on alcohol.
This small change can lead to a great amount of weight loss.
Even if you ate healthy all day, having a few drinks at happy hour can make all your hard work worthless. You usually don’t realize how many calories are in your favorite alcoholic beverages. You can easily and quickly rack up the calories without knowing it. Just one shot of liquor is usually 100 calories. Some drinks, like margaritas, can be up to 680 calories.
13. Read the label on your nutrition bar.
Avoid the energy bars that have added sugar.
Many people think that grabbing an energy bar is a healthy option when you’re tight on time. A small bar could contain hundreds of calories. "Very few nutrition bars are balanced and most of them are very concentrated," Stuart said. "They're smaller than your palm so they don't provide a huge amount of satiety and many of them have lots of added sugars or poor sources of protein." Don’t trust buzz words printed prominently on the front of the boxes. The best thing to do is to look on the back of the box, at the nutritional facts and ingredients. INSIDER reported that energy bars shouldn’t contain added sugar or more than 2.6 grams of saturated fat, and should contain around five grams each of fiber, protein, and fat. One tip they suggest is to possibly opt for the kid-sized bars because they often contain fewer calories.
14. Do a short workout from a video on YouTube.
YouTube has workout videos, as short as 5 minutes, that you can follow.
"With YouTube, there are so many videos where you don't need any equipment," said Bellatti. "You can type in pretty much any time interval and you'll find a guided workout." You can access these videos 24/7, so there’s no way that you can’t fit a short workout into your day. They are also free to access, which saves you the money that you would be paying for a gym membership.
15. Eat more protein.
Protein is the best way to build muscle and fill you up.
Lean protein is a very important part of any diet. Examples of lean protein include chicken, eggs, turkey breast, beans, tuna, salmon, almonds, and tofu. According to the Food and Nutrition Center of the United States Department of Agriculture, the recommended amount of protein is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. This isn’t exact for every person so the best way to find out your recommended amount is by using their calculator.
16. Fill up on fiber.
Fiber, such as black beans, can also keep you feeling full.
It’s best to try to eat meals with a good amount of protein and fiber. This will help fill you up and keep you from overeating. Bellatti said, in general, any whole, plant-based food is going to have fiber. To get more fiber, he recommended eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Lentils, black beans, almonds, split peas, broccoli, brown rice, sweet potatoes, avocados, and apples are all also high in fiber. Bellatti recommends eating foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains to get more fiber. Many plant-based foods will have fiber. Other foods that are high in fiber include lentils, avocados, and apples. Smart for Life's delicious protein bars are another great source of fiber and protein to keep your diet on track.
17. Take the stairs.
You don’t have to go to the gym or plan a full workout to burn calories.
Make small changes in your daily routine to be more active, such as walking down to the shop instead of driving or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Over time, these small changes can make a big difference on your overall health. "If you've been sitting at your desk for more than two hours, take a brisk walk to get your body moving," Stuart said. You can burn calories and lessen your chance of cardiovascular disease by walking short distances throughout the day. Anything that gets you up off your chair and moving, will help make a difference.
18. Stop eating by the clock.
There’s no need to eat a meal if you’re not hungry.
"I don't like the idea that there is one-size-fits-all," Bellatti said. "Part of the success is not eating by the clock, or not eating by rules." If you know that you have eaten enough and you’re not hungry, there’s no reason to eat another meal just because it’s “dinner time”. Bellatti recommends listening to your body. "Some days you might want a large dinner and other days you might just want a bowl of soup," Bellatti said. "As long as you're honoring your hunger, meaning that you're not just having a bowl of soup because you think you look bloated and you want to lose five pounds overnight."
If you continually follow these suggestions, you should have no problem losing weight and keep it off.