If seeing a smaller number on the scale is your biggest priority, start with your diet. Most of the time, unwanted pounds add up over a long period of time, so shedding the weight takes patience. As a general rule, health professionals recommend aiming to lose about one pound per week. Though the intricacies of weight loss are different for each person, this often means you have to cut 500 calories per day.
By combining some of these strategies, you’ll be able to cut 500 calories from your day with ease.
1. Drink a full glass of water before every meal
If you reach for a snack each time you feel a rumble in your stomach, you might want to opt for water instead. Mistaking thirst for hunger is fairly common, so you may wind up eating a few hundred more calories when you would have been completely satisfied simply by properly hydrating.
Drinking water specifically before each meal is also a great idea. One study published in Obesity split subjects into two groups where one downed about 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before a meal and the other imagined their stomachs were full. After 12 weeks, those who preceded meals with a glass of water lost more weight.
2. Get more sleep
Most people are completely aware they should get more sleep, yet few seem to make it a priority. If you’re looking to lose some weight, though, catching some more Zs is one of the best weight-loss tips. According to a 2014 review, sleep deprivation may increase food consumption in a number of ways. The author even suggested sleep should join diet and exercise in the conversation about strategies to effectively lose weight.
Even if getting to bed earlier doesn’t help you shed every unwanted pound, it’s still an important part of your overall health. Without enough rest, you’re more susceptible to diseases and an early grave.
3. Use red plates and cups
The advice to use smaller plates as a strategy to reduce consumption has come under question in recent years. While some studies have shown promising results, just as many indicate a smaller vessel often has no impact on how much individuals end up eating. Curiously, picking the right color is proving to be one of the best weight-loss tips.
Two studies from 2012 set out to see how color impacts consumption, finding people who drank from red cups and ate from red plates tended to ingest less.
4. Make baked versions of your fried favorites
Most nutrition experts warn against eating fried foods, but does this cooking method really make that much of a difference? As it turns out, yes. For some foods, opting for a leaner treatment can save you well over 100 calories just for one small serving of food. For example, Eating Well says baking sweet potato fries instead of dropping them into a vat of hot oil will save you 122 calories and 11 grams of fat.
Opting for baked or steamed versions of foods that are typically breaded before frying makes an even bigger difference, which can be a huge help at restaurants. Steer clear of words like “crispy” and “crunchy.”
5. Don’t eat out of the container
Whether you reach for peanut butter or crackers to tame your between-meal hunger, you’d be wise to portion your snack instead of eating straight from the container. One study found people presented with pre-portioned snacks consumed less than those who were given the same foods in larger packages.
It’s also smart to actually measure out your portions, at least until you truly have a sense of what a serving is. You may be surprised by how much smaller a tablespoon is in reality. And it’s just as true for meals as it is for snacks, so always keep portions in mind.
6. Sip a skinnier drink
For some reason, many of us forget to take into account the liquid calories we consume. It’s a little ridiculous when you consider just how caloric some of our favorite beverages are, particularly booze. Some cocktails and craft beers are basically the equivalent of a meal. You can easily cut 500 calories per day by making some smarter drink choices.
Let’s start with happy hour. When you’re headed out for drinks, Glamour suggests opting for slim drinks like Champagne or tequila and soda. If you’re staying in, you can have even more fun with flavors. Check out some great options from Health.
7. Start your meal with soup
Trying to starve yourself to lose weight is never a good idea because you’ll just end up going overboard when you finally do sit down to eat something. Instead, use food to your advantage by filling yourself up with something healthy first. You can do this with salad or other veggies, but soup might be the best option of all. Research published in Appetite found subjects who ate soup prior to their meals reduced their intake by 20% compared to those who didn’t.
8. Step away from the TV or computer
Multitasking might be one of the skills that makes you great at your job, but applying it to your eating schedule is a diet disaster. When you munch while delving into a project at work or when you sit down to watch your favorite TV show, you often end up eating far past the point of satisfaction.
9. Swap the sugary latte for black coffee
How accustomed are you to having two cups of sugary, calorie-laden coffee each day? According to Prevention, one grande latte is already 220 calories and that’s without sugar. Meanwhile, a cup of black coffee is a whopping two calories and has no fat.
10. Take your time chewing
When eating, we typically don’t think about how fast we are consuming our meal. But studies show chewing our food just a tad bit longer can reduce the amount of food we eat in a single sitting. By doing this on a regular basis, a person can easily shave off quite a few calories over the course of a day.
Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec
Additional reporting by Jordan Porter-Woodruff