30 ways to drop a dress size
Power up your probiotics
Jackie Warner, celebrity trainer, BRAVO TV star and author of 10 Pounds in 10 Days, recommends adding probiotics rich foods like low-sugar Greek yoghurt to your diet to aid in weight loss. In fact, one study done by the Stanford University School of Medicine found that patients who were given a probiotic supplement after bariatric surgery lost significantly more weight than those that didn’t take the supplement. 'Probiotics are live, active cultures (healthy bacteria); scientists feel that the more of these bacteria you have, the more calories they extract from food,' says Warner. 'So you’ve got microscopic friends in your intestinal tract gobbling up excess calories and keeping them from being stored as fat.'
Substituting high sugar and high fat snacks for foods that are naturally rich in probiotics (such as Greek yoghurt) will help you lose weight by reducing your calorie and fat intake and curbing hunger. And while all yoghurts contain lactose, a naturally occurring milk sugar, look for a brand with 15 grams (or less) per 6 ounce serving, recommends Rania Batayneh, a certified nutritionist, eating strategist and owner of Essential Nutrition for You in San Francisco, California.
Your daily weight loss plan: Swap out 110g of vanilla ice cream (290 calories, 15grams of fat, 30 grams of sugar) for 0% Vanilla Greek yogurt (160 calories, 0grams of fat, 11 grams of sugar) for your evening snack and save 3,900 calories (or a little over a pound) this month.
Weigh less with whey
Warner loves whey protein because of its superstar ingredient, the amino acid leucine. 'Leucine helps prevent muscle loss, and triggers a greater loss of belly fat. It takes energy from rich fat cells and gives it to undernourished muscle tissue.' While leucine is found in other food sources, whey protein contains more leucine than milk, egg protein or soy protein,' says Warner in her book, 10 Pounds in 10 Days.
One 2008 study, published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, found that when subjects followed a reduced calorie diet and ingested a whey protein supplement twice a day, they lost significantly more body fat than those that only reduced their caloric intake. While both groups lost weight (about the same amount), the whey protein appears to have helped the participants improve their body composition in addition to losing weight – those who ingested it twice a day lost more fat and less muscle mass that those who didn’t.
Your daily game plan: Mix up a protein shake with one scoop of whey protein isolate and 6-8 ounces of water and drink it 20 minutes before breakfast and 20 minutes before dinner (200 calories for both), in place of your mid-morning snack (like that scone from Starbucks) to save 260 calories, or 2.2 pounds this month.
Get quality sleep
You’ve probably heard that getting enough sleep is important for weight loss, but did you know that getting enough quality sleep is really what helps keep the pounds off? A lack of deep REM sleep can leave you tired and gaining weight, Warner says. 'Our pituitary glands crank out the highest levels of growth hormones while we are in deep sleep. Growth hormone is what repairs damaged tissues, burns fat and builds muscle.' And new research shows that a lack of sleep can throw our appetite hormones out of whack – leptin (the hormone in charge of signaling to your brain that you’re full) levels are lower and ghrelin (the one that tells your brain you’re still hungry) are higher in the sleep-deprived.
One study from Columbia University found that women who slept only four hours a night ate, on average, 329 calories more (and 31 grams of extra fat) the next day, versus when they were well rested. Yikes!
Your daily game plan: Schedule sleep, go to bed within 15-20 minutes of the same time each night and be sure you log in enough hours (experts recommend 7-9 hours depending on what feels best for your body) to potentially drop more than two pounds this month. Have trouble waking up in the middle of the night or falling asleep? Practice relaxation techniques before bed to help you unwind and give your body a better chance of getting into (and staying) in a deep sleep.
Get your move on
'Exercise burns fat,' says Warner. How? 'When fat is burned by exercise, blood picks up fat and carries it to the exercising muscle fibres to be burned for fuel. An increase in blood flow to fat cells means that more fat has been removed from fat cells and delivered to muscles.' Not to mention, exercise burns extra calories, boosts your mood and may help you feel more energised.
Your daily game plan: Make an exercise appointment with yourself every day for at least 30 minutes. That’s enough time to get your heart rate up and burn off at least 250 calories a day (which will leave you two pounds lighter by the end of the month). And there’s no need for a gym membership – go for a brisk walk, a bike ride, or try any of these 95 ways to get slim without the gym.
Eat a protein-rich breakfast
Research has shown that eating protein-rich eggs instead of carb-heavy foods like bagels can help you lose up to 65 percent more weight. But, if you can’t stomach eating eggs first thing in the morning, try a smoothie instead. We love Warner’s 220 calorie breakfast smoothie recipe (which also includes whey protein so you’ll double your pound shedding benefits): In a blender, mix together one scoop of whey isolate protein powder, 1 teaspoon of no-sugar added peanut butter, 40g of instant, uncooked oatmeal, 40g mixed frozen berries, 30g frozen spinach and a dash of water (add more or less water depending on how thick you like it.)
Your daily game plan: Replace your 450-calorie bagel with cream cheese and eat two hardboiled eggs and a slice of plain, whole-wheat toast, or mix up Warner’s smoothie, to save about 230 calories every morning, and almost two pounds this month.
Swap juices for fruit
Fruit juices are a sneaky source of calories, especially since most are labeled as healthy sources of nutrition. The truth is most bottled juices are loaded with sugar, and many are no better for you than fizzy drinks. And while fresh fruit juices are full of vitamins, they lack the filling fibre that whole fruits provide.
Your daily game plan: Sub in a real orange (62 calories) for your daily 16-ounce glass of OJ (224 calories) to save 162 calories a day, or a little over a pound this month.
Add protein to every meal
'Protein helps curb your appetite, has a direct fat burning and hormone-balancing effect, helps relieve anxiety, and builds and maintains muscle,' Warner says.
One study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when subjects increased their protein intake to 30 percent of their daily diet, they ate 441 calories less a day and reported greater feelings of satiety. Warner recommends eating protein at every meal for sustained energy and curbed hunger. Some of her favorite sources of protein? Lean meats, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Your daily game plan: Pump up your protein and shave major calories off your dinner (and five pounds this month) by swapping out fettuccine alfredo (900 calories) for Warner’s delish, 279 calorie chicken dish: sauté a 6 ounce chicken breast with 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of minced garlic and salt and pepper, and serve with steamed broccoli and three small new potatoes.
Bin the nightcap
While you may enjoy a good glass of wine (or two), alcoholic drinks are one of the easiest and fastest ways to rack up your calorie count for the day. If you use a nightcap to unwind, try switching to green tea instead. Warner acknowledges that most people have oral fixations that compel us to snack when we’re bored, or stressed. Her favourite way to combat this is with green tea (decaf or regular) – you’ll get the added benefits of catechins (natural compounds that speed up your metabolism and trigger the release of fat) and antioxidant-rich, disease fighting polyphenols, Warner says.
Your daily dress size dropper: Just for the next 30 days, switch from a 10 ounce glass of red wine to a cup of green tea in the evenings. You’ll save about 250 calories a night, or a little over two pounds.
Brown bag your lunch
Lunchtime can be stressful – trying to fit in food during a busy workday can often mean greasy pizza from the cafeteria or grabbing a loaded sandwich from the nearby deli to eat at your desk. Not knowing what you’ll have for lunch everyday before you leave the house is an easy recipe for a lunchtime calorie disaster.
Your daily game plan: Avoid the food court, and pack a brown bag lunch instead. We love Warner’s simple, portable (and yummy) veggie sandwich: stuff two pieces of whole-grain bread with ¼ of a medium avocado, sliced, 40g of sprouts, 50g of fresh spinach, 1 slice of a beefsteak tomato and one tablespoon of mustard – all for only 227 calories. Ditch the high fat, topping loaded salad bar lunch and swap in this nutrition-packed sandwich instead to save, on average, 500 calories a day, or over four pounds this month.
Drink two to three liters of water a day
'Water helps cleanse your liver and kidneys, allowing your body to excrete hormones efficiently,' says Warner. 'It also tames cravings – a craving is often a sign of dehydration, not a cry for food.' Warner says drinking two to three liters of water a day burns 50 to 75 additional calories and speeds up your metabolism.
Water has even more weight loss power when you drink it in place of other higher calorie beverages like soda or sports drinks. And, some studies show that gulping down two glasses just before a meal may even help you eat less.
Your daily game plan: Drink 2-3 liters of water a day, and sub in water for at least one 8-ounce can of a fizzy drink or juice a day (about 150 calories) to drop a pound this month.
Practice portion control
Portion control is probably one of the most important tools for losing and maintaining weight loss. Did you know, for example, that only 20 years ago a regular sized cup of coffee (with milk and sugar) would have only set you back 45 calories, and today’s 16 ounce mugs now serve up over 350 extra calories from milk and sugar? And don’t even get us started on those dessert coffee drinks! Bottom line – portion control from your morning coffee to your evening dessert is key to achieving and maintaining weight loss.
One tip that may help you make eating less even easier? Dining from plates that don’t match your food. New research recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that when people ate pasta (covered in white sauce) off of red plates they served themselves 21 percent less than when those who piled their pasta on a matching white colored plate. Researchers believe that by creating a greater color contrast between our plate and the food on it, our brains have an easier time registering the amount of food on our plates and we end up naturally limiting our serving size.
Your daily game plan: Stick with an 8 ounce coffee in the morning (average calorie savings: 305), have only one serving of chips in the afternoon (average calorie savings: 150) and stick with a 3 ounce serving of meat at dinner (average calorie savings: 189) and serve up your meals on non-color coordinated plates whenever possible to save over 600 calories per day, or almost five pounds this month alone!
Combat emotional eating by writing a diary
If a fight with your spouse or a long day the office has you running towards the biscuit tin, taking a fifteen-minute time out to journal could help you resist the urge to eat based on your feelings. According to a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science, women who were asked to spend fifteen minutes writing about what they valued most in their life lost, on average, about 3.41 pounds (versus the control group who actually gained an average of 2.76 pounds) when they were weighed again one to four months later. Researchers believe that writing a diary about their values helped the women feel better about themselves, which may have helped them make better choices that led to weight loss. If you know you are an emotional eater, journaling regularly can be an effective strategy for coping with feelings instead of trying to bury them with food.
'If you turn to food to cope with emotions and stress, you’re not giving yourself an appropriate outlet to deal with and solve your problems,' says Batayneh. 'Studies show that journaling has multiple benefits - it can reduce stress, improve immune system function, reduce the symptoms of chronic inflammatory conditions, and help individuals solve problems, and it may eliminate the reason for emotional eating (be it boredom, stress, or anger) by helping you to focus on actively solving a problem.'
Your daily game plan: Next time the urge to snack hits you, spend fifteen minutes writing about something that is important to you or about your feelings in reaction to a stressor. The result? You’ll easily lose one pound (or more) over the next 30 days.
Pare down using the 'pistachio principle'
'Research shows that choosing in-shell pistachios helps slow consumption and the empty shells offer a visual cue, reducing calorie intake - that’s known as the ‘Pistachio Principle’,' says Jackie Newgent, a registered dietitian, culinary nutritionist and author of Big Green Cookbook. Newgent recommends using the ‘pistachio principle’ with other shelled foods on a daily basis to help lose weight without deprivation. For example, choose 30 in-shell pistachios (100 calories) instead of 18 pretzel thins (220 calories) for a crunchy snack; enjoy 160g edamame in pods (180 calories) instead of the equivelent of creamy macaroni salad (300 calories) for a picnic-friendly side; or savor 7 ounces (or one dozen) Mussels (170 calories) instead of 3.5 ounces of Italian meatballs (290 calories) with a pasta entrée,' suggests Newgent. 'Each of these options helps you cut about 120 calories a day—which can easily add up to a one pound weight loss in a month.'
Your daily game plan: Swap out one snack or side dish a day for a ‘shelled’ food to eat, on average, about 120 calories less (and be one pound lighter) in a month.
Swap seeds for nuts
Speaking of pistachios... while nuts are definitely a nutritious, protein-and healthy fat-packed snack, they do serve up a nice amount of calories too. If you love snacking on nuts, try switching to seeds to shed pounds, recommends Batayneh. 'Seeds and nuts contain about the same number of calories per serving (most have between 140 and 180) but because of seeds’ smaller size, you may end up eating less.' In fact, one study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that participants who ate cut up sweets, as opposed to whole sweets, consumed 60 fewer calories, Batayneh says. 'Both groups ate about the same number of pieces, leading researchers to believe that the quantity of a snack, and not necessarily the calorie content, may drive eating behaviours.'
Your daily game plan: Switching from a handful of walnuts (about 200 calories) to a handful (or two tablespoons) of sunflower seeds (about 94 calories) can shave off 106 calories from your daily snack, and help you shed almost a pound by the end of the month.
Keep a food diary
Tasting while cooking, sampling your husband’s entrée at dinner, finishing off your kid’s biscuit - while it may not seem like a lot in the moment, over time, each little bite really adds up. One simple solution to calorie amnesia? Keep a food diary. One 2008 study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that overweight participants who wrote down everything they ate, six days a week, lost twice as much weight as those that didn’t.
Your daily game plan: Write down, or take a photo, of everything you put in your mouth over the next 30 days. Just the thought of having to take the time to write or photograph that little morsel of food may be enough to discourage you from eating it, and could save you around 250 excess calories a day (or over two pounds).
Pack on a few pounds of muscle
Pack on a few pounds of lean muscle mass, and you'll burn more calories even at rest. While the exact extra calorie count isn't clear, experts believe that for each pound of lean muscle mass you carry on your frame, you'll burn an extra 25-50 calories every day. That may not sound like a lot, but five pounds of lean muscle mass translates into about 125 - 250 extra calories burned a day, or about one or two extra pounds lost this month, says Liz Neporent, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise and co-author of Weight Training for Dummies.
And while building muscle may not drop tons of scale weight right away - you may be more likely to lose inches as you start to change your body composition by reducing your body fat and increasing your lean muscle mass. Muscle also gives your body shape and tends to pull things in tighter, so you may even weigh the same, but look 10 pounds lighter in that little black dress, explains Neporent.
Your daily game plan: Commit to a regular strength training routine, challenging your muscles to fatigue, at least 3 to 4 days a week (this can be a part of your daily 30 minute exercise allotment) to burn up extra calories, even at rest. While the exact calorie burning boost you receive will vary depending on how much muscle mass you develop, the good news is that regular strength training can help you appear several pounds lighter in just a month even before the scale says that you are!
And you don’t even need weights to start – this total body workout uses just your bodyweight to get you started. Once your workout starts to feel easy, be sure to increase your intensity by adding additional weight or progressing into more advanced versions of the exercises with moves like these.
Set high expectations for success
In addition to diet and exercise, having the right mindset may also help you achieve your weight loss goals. One study led by psychologist and researcher Gabriele Oettingen, published in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research, found that women who expected they would succeed at their diet lost (on average) 26 pounds more than those with lower expectations.
That’s not surprising, says Samantha Clayton, an Olympic sprinter and ACE and AFAA certified trainer. 'Power of the mind is not a new concept in the world of sports, and after reading several books on success in the business world, icons such as Richard Branson, Magic Johnson and Warren Buffett have a few key things in common - they each believed in themselves and their ability to achieve anything they put their mind to!' Clayton believes that this powerful, positive ‘I can do it’ approach is just as effective with weight loss and health goals.
Find a way to believe your goal is possible, recommends Clayton. 'To make it happen you need to write it down as if it already has happened! Instead of saying I want to lose 50 pounds, say I am thankful for the 50 pounds I have lost, and write down how you think you will feel once the weight has gone.'
Your daily game plan: Simply believing you can succeed at your dress size goal may help you say no to that extra cookie (250 calories) to shed an extra 2 pounds, not to mention help you stay on track with your plan, this month. Make it work for you by spending a few minutes writing down (or repeating to yourself) a daily affirmation, such as 'everyday I get stronger and slimmer' or 'I am losing weight because I am taking care of my body.' (And if you need some help with this, we recommend taking a cue from this 4-year-old girl and remind yourself that you 'can do anything good!').
Partner with your pet
There’s no better accountability partner than a furry friend who relies on you for exercise. 'Research shows that having an exercise buddy or partner increases the likelihood that you will reach your weight loss goal,' says Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University in Montgomery, AL. 'Having a pet increases the amount of exercise one gets by 40 minutes per week - which is over two extra miles of movement. If you don't want a pet, offer to help out your neighbour with his or hers.'
Your daily game plan: Boost your weight loss pet benefit by walk a dog twice a day (or go for two fifteen-minute walks on your own) to burn off an extra 120 calories, or one pound this month.
Turn couch time into cardio
Just as every little bite of food counts, so does every little bit of exercise! 'If you’re watching TV, hula-hoop, lift weights, or jog on a mini-trampoline during commercials,' recommends Dr. Lisa Davis, Director of Research and Development for Medifast, a leading portion-controlled clinically proven weight loss program and co-author of the book, Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Health. Catch up on your favourite shows while you burn up extra calories (you are less likely to notice the effort of the exercise while you are distracted by your favourite characters, and may be more motivated by watching fit actors on screen too – Glee anyone?).
It really does make a difference. One study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that subjects who marched in place during commercials during a one hour TV session walked for about a mile in about 25 minutes, burning off about 148 calories (or about 15 pounds in a year).
Your daily game plan: In addition to your daily exercise appointment, fit in little exercise breaks (for a total of thirty extra minutes) doing jumping jacks, crunches, lunges, etc. during the commercials throughout your two hours of TV time every night to zap away an extra 272 gym-free calories (or two and a half pounds this month).
Use spice and ice to burn extra calories (sans sweat)
Studies show that spices like cayenne pepper, chili pepper and turmeric can help you slim down with benefits like speeding up your metabolism and appetite suppression. Turn up the heat on your favourite foods with cayenne pepper, which can actually boost your metabolism and help you burn calories, suggests Dr. Davis.
And if things get too spicy, be sure to cool down with some ice water! According to some experts, your body burns about 17.5 calories (per 16 ounces) warming ice-cold fluids up to body temperature after consumption, says Dr. Davis. 'So if you drink the recommended 64 ounces of water a day, drinking them ice-cold could help you expend an additional 70 calories each day.'
Your daily game plan: Sprinkle some chili pepper on your eggs in the morning, try some turmeric on your chicken breast in the evening, and serve your daily dose of 2-3 liters of water on the rocks to help burn up an additional 70 calories a day. It may not sound like much, but over the course of one year, that’s seven pounds lost without major effort.
Stop the downward splurge spiral
Did you cave and eat that jumbo chocolate chip cookie? Forgive and forget – and don’t feel guilty or stress about it, Batayneh says. In fact, enjoy it. 'You know that you wanted to eat it and the hope is that you enjoyed it,' she says. 'The body can sense stress and when you eat and feel guilty, your body will know it and this can lead to even more overeating.' So put the brakes on those 'I cheated, so why even bother' thoughts that usually race through your head after that last bite is finished.
Letting go of those kinds of self defeating thoughts and getting back on the track right away is crucial to preventing a splurge from snowballing into an all out binge that could derail your diet completely.
'Make the rest of the day successful - if you have splurged mid-day then that night, skip your 100 calorie dessert or glass of wine,' suggests Batayneh.
Your daily game plan: Think of your daily calorie count like a bank account – if you withdraw too much at one meal (or at one snack) adjust the rest of your ‘spending’ accordingly. Eat a few less bites at dinnertime or skip your dessert or wine to stay within your calorie budget and on track for weight loss. Think of it this way – avoiding even just one 1,080-calorie binge (that’s one pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream) per week can help you keep off more than one pound this month.
Make dinner at home
Do you really want to shed the pounds quick? Stop eating out. One 2011 study by the USDA found that eating just one restaurant meal per week can translate into a two pound weight gain over the course of one year (and many of us are eating most, if not, all of our meals out - not just one per week.) And while you can eat healthier at restaurants, it can be quite a challenge with oversized portions, menus that can have calorie counts that are off by as much as 100-500 calories, and cooking methods or ingredients you can't always control.
'When you prepare your meals at home, not only do you have more control over what you are eating, but also the quality of your ingredients. Planning is key to successfully executing this goal. Set aside one day a week and plan out meals for at least the next 3 days. You can also start with taking lunch to work and then work dinner in. Soon enough, dinner’s leftovers will be lunch,' recommends Batayneh.
Your daily game plan: Find healthy, easy alternatives to your favourite takeout meals. In the mood for Chinese? Whip up this delish Honey Sesame Chicken dish (280 calories) instead of eating that carton of deep fried, honey chicken which could set you back almost 1,400 calories (and that is before rice!) And if you just can’t resist, order steamed, not fried, when it comes to your takeout dish – and share half of your order as most takeaway carton sizes are double, sometimes triple, the average serving size.
Have a strategy for food pushers
Don't get caught off guard by the 3 p.m. birthday cake celebration at the office, your Mum's pushy second helping or your slightly jealous BFF who encourages a ‘cheat night’ almost every time you see each other. Having a strategy to cope with various 'food pushers' can help you stay on track towards your goals. 'As it turns out, eating behaviour is contagious,' Batayneh says. 'In fact, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which analyzed data from 32 years, found that your chances of becoming obese actually increase by 57% if you have a friend that’s obese, a chance that’s even greater than sharing genes.'
We certainly aren’t suggesting you ditch any overweight friends, but just be prepared to stay on track with some possible responses and strategies. 'If your overweight friend orders dessert, you assume it’s okay to do the same; but that means you’re changing your eating habits to mirror hers,' says Batayneh. Instead, stick to your guns and order a glass of decaf tea to sip while she enjoys, and if she starts to push you to take a bite (or two), be ready with a polite, 'no thank you, I am working hard to reach my weight loss goals,' response and stand your ground.
As for that birthday cake? It doesn’t mean you can’t join in the festivities, says Batayneh, who recommends sticking with your own snacks in this kind of scenario. 'Let them eat cake after you sing Happy Birthday to your colleague, and then stick with the snacks you brought in.' Or, if you just can’t bear the thought of missing out on a little cake, stick with the three-bite rule and enjoy a little taste of the cake, Batayneh says.
And Mum? 'Let her know that your intentions are not to hurt her feelings and that you love her food, but one serving is enough and you want to take the rest home for lunch or dinner tomorrow. Communication is key,' says Batayneh.
Your daily game plan: Prepare for daily scenarios in advance – for example, if you know you are headed to your parents’ house for a family dinner, volunteer to bring a healthy dish that everyone can enjoy, and prep your communication strategy ahead of time (you can even start it beforehand on the phone with Mum, and explain to her your goals and how important her support is). Avoiding that 400-calorie slice of office birthday cake and a 500-calorie second helping at the family dinner once a week can translate to a full pound lost in a month.
A cup of coffee can perk up both you and your metabolism, says Lucy Danziger, SELF Editor-in-Chief and author of The Drop 10 Diet. Not that we’re encouraging you to become a caffeine-junkie, but studies show that two to three 8 ounce cups a day of antioxidant rich java could help you boost your overall calorie burn and even improve your workout. Just be sure to time your sips – if you are affected by caffeine too close to bedtime it could interfere with your sleep. And be sure to keep it slim by going light on the milk and sugar to avoid canceling out any extra calorie burning benefits.
If you aren’t a fan of coffee, don’t worry; you can also enjoy caffeinated green or black tea as well for similar benefits. And, you may soon be able to take a ‘green’ (unroasted) coffee bean supplement that appears to offer even better weight loss benefits that a plain cup of Joe. A small study conducted by researchers in India (and paid for by the makers of the extract) found that subjects who took the supplement three times a day and didn’t make any other changes to their lifestyle lost an average of 17.5 pounds and reduced their body fat by an average of 16 percent more than those who took a placebo pill. More research needs to be done to prove its effectiveness, but it certainly appears that coffee may aid weight loss.
As with anything, there are downsides to ingesting too much caffeine too, so don’t get carried away.
Your daily game plan: Enjoy up to two to three, 8 ounce cups of caffeinated coffee (or tea) a day (and an hour before a workout) to help to help keep your energy level high. And that extra energy boost could help keep you moving more throughout the day – zapping away (on average) extra 125 daily calories, or about one pound, through activities like pacing while on the phone, tapping your foot at your desk, or even just twirling your hair! Of course, it’s important to know what’s best for your body, so if you start to feel jittery or anxious, or your coffee consumption starts to interfere with your sleeping habits, be sure to cut back.
Try a 6 minute HIIT
Stuck on a day when you just don’t have time for a 30-minute workout session? Don’t skip sweating altogether; instead try HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for a super short, but super effective workout, recommends Amy Dixon, an exercise physiologist, and star of the 'Breathless Body 2' DVD. 'Burn 120 extra calories per day by kicking it hard for a short amount of time - 6 minutes, to be exact,' says Dixon.
She recommends doing one straight forward cardio drill like squat thrusts for 45 seconds as hard as you can, and then resting for 15 seconds (repeated six times) for a total of 6 minutes of hard work.
Your daily game plan: If you just can’t squeeze in your daily 30-minute workout session, do a HIIT session instead. Try 6 minutes (alternating between 45 seconds of all out intensity followed by 15 seconds of recovery) of your favourite cardio move or modality to burn off an extra 120 calories, or one pound. (Better yet? Do one 6-minute session in the am, and one in the pm, for a total daily calorie burn of 240).
Pare down with produce
Studies show that women who increase their produce intake are 24 percent less likely to become obese, says Danziger. 'Produce is filling and naturally low in calories, so the more of it you eat, the less hungry you’ll be for junky snack foods and the easier it will be to eliminate excess calories and fat.' To achieve this, Danziger recommends adding at least five more portions of veggies per day.
Try snacking on broccoli, edamame, or other crudités at least a per day, and include as many veggies as you can into your meals - mushrooms, kale, artichokes and sweet potatoes go with almost anything - scrambled eggs, soups, sauces, pasta, stir-fry dishes—you name it, she says.
Your daily game plan: Aim to include at least one piece of produce at every meal, and you may find you are satisfied with less of your usual meal if it’s packed with filling produce. One simple swap: try serving 160g cup of mashed cauliflower in place of a cup of buttery mashed potatoes to easily slash about 294 calories a day, or over two pounds this month. Eating more veggies could help you eat less overall and will certainly improve the nutritional quality of your daily calories, which is even more important when dieting.
Fend off fat with fibre
'The more you fill your stomach with fibre, the better your chances of flattening your belly,' says Danziger. 'Aside from warding off hunger and fat-promoting spikes in insulin, increasing your fiber intake to 34 grams daily can prevent the absorption of up to 120 calories a day from your meals - that is more than 12 pounds a year!' She recommends tossing 160g blueberries into your yogurt at breakfast, adding 140g lentils to a lunchtime salad or sandwich wrap, snacking on almonds and whipping up mashed sweet potatoes for dinner to add in more fiber every day.
Your daily game plan: Be sure to reach your daily 34 gram total with naturally high fiber foods every day to zap away 120 extra calories every day (or an extra pound this month).
Soup up to slim down
Do you find yourself starving by dinnertime and eating too much as a result? Try starting your meal with a broth based soup. 'Because of the amount of water in broth-based soups, they fill you up on fewer calories than other foods,' says Danziger. In fact, one recent Penn State University study found that subjects who ate a vegetable or broth based soup before a meal; they ate about 20 percent less. 'Soups are a snap to make at home, but for a fast fix, look for canned or boxed varieties low in sodium and fat and rich in vegetable and fibre,' recommends Danziger.
Your daily game plan: Eat less and fill up faster with a bowl of lentil or vegetable soup before you eat your main course at dinner, to help shave 20 percent (or 120 calories) off your average 600-calorie main course and shed a pound in a month.
Fidget, tap your pen, stand up at your desk, pace while you are on the phone, all these little NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) activities can help you burn off an extra 10 pounds a year, says Olson. Research backs this one up too – according to the Mayo Clinic, leaner people spend about two hours a day pacing or fidgeting.
Your daily game plan: Spend about two hours of your day ‘fidgeting’ (computer and phone time is a perfect opportunity to focus on moving a little more) and you’ll zap away an extra 350 calories (or three pounds this month) without even breaking a sweat!
When it comes to weight loss, all we seem to focus on is speeding up – raising metabolism, burning calories, moving – but losing weight may come more easily if you slow down instead. Eat slowly, chew more, breathe more and relax more. 'In the U.S., the average meal lasts 11 minutes - and some breakfasts or lunches are consumed in as little as 2 minutes,' Batayneh says. 'Slowing down not only allows you to digest better, but equally important, allows you to better sense when you are full. Studies show that ‘fullness’ is a complex concept that combines the number of times you chew, the time you spend eating, the look of the food on the plate, as well as the actual amount of food you eat. By slowing down, you may feel full with less,' says Batayneh.
And we’re not just talking about slowing down while you eat either – a packed schedule can leave you harried, anxious and stressed, which may stall or inhibit weight loss as well. According to a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, women experiencing psychological stress were more likely to gain weight, especially if they already had a high BMI (body mass index).Researchers believe that women who were already overweight may turn to food in times of stress to help them cope, thus leading to the extra weight gain.
Your daily game plan: Taking just a few minutes each day to sit down, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths can go a long way towards help you calm your system down, especially in the midst of a busy day. And practice mindful eating techniques, eat slowly, and without distraction (i.e. no TV, computer or smart phone) and allow your body enough time to register that you are full before reaching for seconds to reduce stress, calories, and ultimately, your weight. Studies show that mindful eating can help you eat about 40 percent less at mealtimes, shaving off 240 extra calories (that’s 2 more pounds gone over a month!) from your average dinner.
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