According to a recent survey by the Food Information Council Foundation, about 77 percent of Americans are trying to lose or maintain their weight, but most of them give up when it comes to counting calories.
Well, dropping a few – or more – pounds doesn’t necessarily require complicated calculations. Just a few simple alterations each day could cut hundreds of calories. In fact, the No. 7 trick on this list could help you drop 10 pounds in three months.
1. Check the serving size
Certain foods are packaged in amounts that you could finish in one sitting, but most of the time you shouldn’t. Check the line on the nutritional label that says, “Servings per container” and keep your consumption to just one serving.
A good example of this is canned or bottled beverages. One of those oversized cans of Arizona green iced tea contains about three servings per can. “When you buy any drink in a can, you assume it’s a single serving,” Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., author of Read It Before You Eat It, told Women’s Health.
A suggested 8-ounce serving of the tea contains 70 calories and 17 grams of sugar. Guzzle down the entire can and you’re up to 210 calories and a whopping 51 grams of sugar – the same amount of sugar found in a king-size Snickers bar.
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2. Put the fruit on top
Substitute a quarter cup of fresh berries and vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt (try Stonyfield’s Oikos vanilla flavor) for a typical fruit-on-the-bottom variety and save up to 90 calories and as much as 20 grams of sugar per serving. Plus you’ll get a cancer-fighting antioxidant boost from the fresh berries.
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3. Eat Eggs for Breakfast
A breakfast featuring protein-rich eggs reduces hunger pangs and decreases calorie consumption for the rest of the day, according to a University of Connecticut study. Researchers found that men who ate eggs for breakfast consumed significantly fewer calories at an unlimited lunch buffet than men who ate a breakfast based on bagels of equal calories. An earlier study found that dieters lost 65 percent more weight and felt more energetic when they ate eggs for breakfast rather than a breakfast based on bagels. Try microwaving a beaten egg in a small bowl for 1 minute and serve it with a whole-grain English muffin and low-fat cheese, or keep hardboiled eggs handy in the refrigerator for an on-the-go breakfast.
4. Chew gum
Instead of mindlessly snacking from the vending machine, have a stick of sugar-free gum. The chewing action will not only ease your oral fixation, but according to Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, you’ll burn 11 extra calories per hour. That might not sound like much, but those calories plus the ones saved from skipping that snack really add up.
5. Exercise less
Yes, you read that correctly. The catch, however, is that you have to mix up your intensity. If you walk, run, or use cardio equipment in the gym, alternate between intense bursts of speed for 30 seconds and about four or five minutes at a more moderate pace. Several studies have shown that the sprint bursts lead to more fat burning. Include a warm-up and cool-down for a 20 minute workout.
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6. Drink colder water
You know that you should drink more water to keep yourself hydrated and healthy, but the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center found that the body uses extra calories when the water is colder. In a 12-ounce glass of ice water, the body will burn 17.5 calories to warm the water up. That doesn’t sound like much, but at the eight glasses per day, the calorie consumption adds up over time with basically no extra effort on your part.
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7. Use mustard instead
Vera Tweed, Newsmax’s nutritional wellness expert, says this about mustard: A dab of mustard on a sandwich isn’t a cure-all but it can help you lose weight. Try replacing high-calorie sauces and cheese with the bright-yellow, zero-calorie condiment. If you eat one fast-food sandwich or burger per day, here’s a possible scenario:
Sauce and cheese – Calories: 400
Replace with yellow mustard; add tomato slices and lettuce – Calories: 10Total calories cut: 390
This is a conservative estimate of sauce and cheese calories, but even so, if you didn’t add 390 calories into other meals or snacks, you would lose about one pound every nine days. That’s 10 pounds in three months with hardly any effort – not too shabby.