20 easy ways to ditch 250 calories (or more) a day
Simple calorie slash #1:
Measure your cereal
Thanks to supersized bowls, you're likely eating up to three times the recommended serving size of cereal every morning. If your favourite cereal has 190 calories per cup (before milk), you can easily shave off 250 calories (or more) at breakfast just by eating the right amount. 'Using measuring cups will help you better understand the actual serving,' says Rania Batayneh, a certified nutritionist, eating strategist and owner of Essential Nutrition for You in San Francisco, California.
Simple calorie slash #2:
Better your bagel
If you love your morning bagel from the coffee shop, try this simple improvement: Cut your bagel in half, and swap high fat cream cheese for a protein-rich topping like peanut butter or a scrambled egg, recommends Batayneh. 'Bagels are nothing more than 300 calories of refined carbs (most have as many carbohydrates as four slices of bread) which will send your blood sugar soaring.' By eliminating some of the carbohydrate and calorie count and balancing it with protein, you’ll not only shave off an extra 250 calories, but you’ll be more likely to stay full (and energized) till lunch. Share the other half of your bagel with a friend, or save it to have with your salad (in place of croutons) or with your soup (instead of a sandwich) at lunch.
Simple calorie slash #3:
Order a skinnier frappucino
We know you love your special coffee treat in the morning (so do we!), but ordering up a grande caramel frappuccino every day can set you back 410 calories and 15 grams of fat, and that’s before you’ve had breakfast! Here’s the good news: there’s no need to switch to black coffee - you can have your treat, just hold the whip and switch to a tall, non-fat caramel frap instead, says Batayneh. You’ll eliminate 250 calories but still enjoy every sip. 'Research shows that the first few bites and sips of a food are the most satisfying, so you won’t miss those last four ounces.'
Simple calorie slash #4:
Go easy on the sweets
Who doesn’t love the sweets bowl at the office? Your waistline, that’s who! Sure, those small little handfuls may seem innocent during your workday, but they really add up. 'Each M&M is 3.4 calories, which means eating one [rounders]ball-sized portion over the course of a day is 250 calories,' says Carrie Harper, a certified lifestyle and weight management coach in Lake Jackson, Texas.
Chances are you aren’t even enjoying them that much and probably won’t even remember having eaten them by the end of the day (and yes, amnesia calories count too). If you just can’t resist indulging your sweet tooth, then do it! But instead of grabbing handfuls here and there, take the time to enjoy what you’re eating. If you love chocolate, sit down and savor two small pieces of dark chocolate (about 40 calories).
By allowing your senses more time to register what you’re eating (versus tossing the M&M in your mouth while walking through the office, typing or chatting with co-workers) you are more likely to be satisfied with less (and the dark chocolate’s rich, robust flavour helps too). Avoiding two handfuls of the candy bowl is an easy way to eliminate over 250 totally unnecessary calories, or the equivalent of a 35-minute jog.
Simple calorie slash #5:
Downsize emotional eating
Had a rough day at the office? Resist the urge to plop down on the couch with a full size bag of crisps and mindlessly munch away your frustrations. One 2007 study published in the journal Obesity found that eating portions that are only 50 percent larger than serving sizes can add an average of 400 extra calories to your daily calorie total, says Kathleen Dunn, a registered dietitian and Director of Scientific Affairs at Revo Biolabs in Woodland Hills, California. And the easiest place to start slimming down your portion size is with processed snack foods, says Dunn.
We’re not saying you can’t have a few crisps - just don’t eat the whole bag (it won’t help you get back at your boss anyway). A single ounce serving (about 15 crisps) is only 160 calories, so you’ll save a whole lot of guilt (and way more than 250 calories) by sticking with a handful instead of downing the 2,240 calories of crisps contained in just half of a 795g bag.
Simple calorie slash #6:
Play with the kids
Designate an hour after school as playtime with the kids. Join them for an hour of art projects, outdoor games or swimming in the pool. Not only will you melt off 250 calories (or more), your children will appreciate the time you spend together, and it’s great way to relieve stress and take a break from your hectic daily routine - both of which may help you lose weight.
One 2009 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that the psychological stress caused by job demands, finances and family tension caused weight gain in women, especially those with an already high body mass index (BMI). So play more to stress less, for a healthier, happier body!
Simple calorie slash #7:
Skip the ‘sampling’
We know, we know - ‘tasting’ samples of food, eating off your kid’s plate or consuming a broken cookie doesn’t really count, right? Sorry, it does, and it can quickly pack on the pounds (and these aren’t even worthy splurges!). Skip that bite sized cheese cube at the store (100 calories) and avoid sneaking three bites of your son’s mac n’ cheese at lunch (150 calories) and you’ve pretty effortlessly shaved off an extra two pounds this month alone. 'In the world of weight loss, ‘sampling’ can prevent success since these extra calories can easily add up. You want to eat at specific times and forget about the accessories that may weigh you down,' says Batayneh.
Simple calorie slash #14:
Leave the last three bites
Skipping the last three bites of your typical lunch and dinner can save you a minimum of 250 calories without having to miss out on much. 'By this point in the meal, you are most likely full so give your body time to recognise this,' says Batayneh. (We hate to waste food too, so share the extra bites with your husband or kids, or add it to your compost pile).
Simple calorie slash #8:
'Supplement’ your starches
Making mashed potatoes for dinner? Easily eliminate 250 calories per serving by substituting cauliflower for ¾ of the potatoes and using plain, non-fat yogurt instead of butter in your favourite recipe, recommends Batayneh. 'You can cut down on the caloric impact of your favourite comfort foods by using mashed cauliflower (which has only 26 calories per cup) in place of higher calorie starches like pasta (which has 220 calories per cup) or mashed potatoes made with butter (320 calories a cup). And since cauliflower has a relatively mild flavour, mashed, it will blend right in with creamy mashed potatoes and cheesy pasta.' (It’s also a really helpful way to sneak more veggies into your family’s daily diet).
Simple calorie slash #9:
Cook with broth
Instead of sautéing veggies in 120-calorie-per-tablespoon vegetable oil or butter, use chicken broth instead, says Batayneh. 'When you sauté your vegetables in oil, you probably add enough to prevent the vegetables from sticking - but your vegetables absorb all that oil. Most of us easily use 3-4 tablespoons (or about 480 calories worth) when cooking. Instead, sauté your vegetables in broth (one cup contains 38 calories) to easily erase 250 (or more) calories from dinner.
Simple calorie slash #10:
Order two starters, not a main
Eating dinner out? Instead of ordering an starter and a main, order two starters, recommends Batayneh. 'Restaurant dishes are supersized, sometimes packing four times the recommended serving size.' That means you could be swallowing more calories in one meal than you should be eating in a single day! 'To save more than 500 calories, order two appetizers, one subbing in for the entree. Appetizers are, of course, smaller - but they’re often comprised of lean protein, without being weighed down by hefty sides like mashed potatoes,' says Batayneh.
Simple calorie slash #11:
Slim down your margarita
If your favourite happy hour treat is a frozen margarita, slimming it down can be a simple way to save some calories without missing out on the fun. A typical restaurant size blended margarita weighs in at about 470 calories, which is almost enough to count as dinner! You can still order a drink, but make it light - many chains are now offering ‘skinny’ versions of your favourite cocktails.
Simple calorie slash #12:
BYOP (bring your own popcorn)
Who doesn’t love popcorn at the movies? Satisfy your taste buds and save your hips by bringing your own popcorn to the cinema. Sure, it may seem a little strange to smuggle in a bag of popcorn in your purse, but trust us, it’s really worth the odd looks from strangers.
'Cinema popcorn is a disaster,' says Batayneh. 'Not only is it covered in ‘butter flavouring’ (which includes trans fats), artificial ingredients, and preservatives, it’s served in massive tubs: a large popcorn tops out at 1,030 calories and 59 grams of saturated fat.' Yikes! Bringing your own 100-calorie, single pop bag (which is conveniently purse-sized) means you can still munch in the movie and shave off 930 calories and 58 grams of fat.
Simple calorie slash #13:
Pump up protein
Aiming to make 15-30 percent of your daily calorie intake come from protein sources can help you easily shed 250 calories (or more) a day. One 2011 study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism found that subjects who increased their daily protein intake to 30 percent of their daily diet ate 450 calories less and lost 11 pounds (on average) over a 12 week period without making any other lifestyle changes. 'Your best flat-belly bets are found in complete proteins like skinless chicken or turkey, eggs and egg whites, seafood, venison, pork, and (grass-fed) lean beef, says Ester Blum, a registered dietitian in New York City and author of Eat, Drink and Be Gorgeous: A Nutritionist's Guide to Living Well While Living It Up. Blum recommends protein sources like fermented soy like tempeh, natto, and miso, protein powder, buckwheat and quinoa.
Simple calorie slash #15:
Take three, 15-minute brisk walks
Going for three, 15-minute brisk walks a day is enough to burn up 250 calories without breaking a major sweat. A brief power walk to pick up your morning latte, during your lunch break and after dinner is a great way to boost your calorie burn, and if you tread outdoors, it may even help to boost your mood too. One 2011 study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that people who exercised outdoors reported increased energy and decreased feelings of depression, so get some fresh air and go an extra mile - your body will thank you.
Simple calorie slash #16:
Stand up more
Spend 90 minutes of your day standing and you’ll zap 255 calories before bedtime. While 90 minutes sounds like a lot all at once, if you take a standing break (while on the phone, helping the kids with homework, etc.) for 10 minutes every hour during a 9-hour day you won’t even notice the extra effort. Set a timer to help you remember to do it!
Simple calorie slash #17:
Get 7 hours (or more) of shut eye
Does your busy schedule have you burning the midnight oil? If you’re sleep deprived, research shows you could be eating up to 300 calories more per day. One 2011 Columbia University study found that subjects ate an extra 296 calories (and female subjects also consumed an average of 31 grams of fat more) per day when they were sleep deprived than on days when they had slept more. Researchers say ice cream was the preferred snack of the sleep deprived - sound familiar? We think sleeping more is a much easier way to eliminate 300 calories a day than say, running 3 miles, so aim to get at least 7-9 hours of shut eye per night.
Simple calorie slash #18:
Clean & organize your house
Forgo the dishwasher, and cook a homemade dinner and you can easily burn off 250 calories by the day’s end. Instead of relying on technological conveniences to wash your dishes (for 20 minutes), clean your home (vacuum, mop or walk around the house, picking up and organising for 30 minutes) or make your meals (for 40 minutes), use your own horsepower and wipe away some extra calories without ever having to leave home.
Simple calorie slash #19:
Shop at a warehouse store
Going on a 40-minute shopping spree at a warehouse store like Costco can help you burn off an extra 250 calories and help you check off your to-do list at the same time! Shopping in larger stores stocked with bigger, bulk-sized items means more traveling through aisles and lifting heavier products off of shelves and into your cart. (Expect to burn even more if you go with the kids, as you’ll probably spend some of your time chasing them down the aisles too).
Simple calorie slash #20:
Stick with water after breakfast
After your morning coffee and OJ, stick with water for the rest of the day. Eliminating that sweet tea at lunch (60 calories), lemonade in the afternoon (100 calories) and wine with dinner (140 calories) means you'll be 300 calories lighter by the end of the day. 'You want to try to reserve your calories for solids, not liquids,' says Batayneh. 'Studies find that individuals feel more satiated when they chew versus the act of drinking their calories.' And if you just can’t bear the thought of switching to plain water, don’t resort to belly bloating diet fizzy drinks! Instead, try some sparkling water with a lime or lemon squeezed in, or with just a splash of fruit juice to add flavour, or make your own iced tea and sweeten it with a little naturally calorie-free sugar subitutes.
Next Up: 95 ways to slim without the gym
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