If you cut 500 calories a day, you can lose as much as a pound a week. And you don’t even have to go on an extreme diet, either. Here are simple ways for you to lower your calorie intake without even noticing.
Take your coffee black
A cup of regular black coffee has just 2 calories – which is almost like inhaling caffeinated air.
It’s the other extras that make it fattening: a teaspoon of sugar (16 calories) and cream (101 calories). And don’t even think about those Starbucks drinks. The Mocha Frappucino is 416 calories, almost as much as a huge burger. (Similar drinks in other coffee joints will have about the same calories, too.)
If you really need a coffee fix, order a smaller cup, ask for no whip, or just order a cold brew.
Skip or change the sauces
A single teaspoon of mayo is already 100 calories. Trade it for mustard (9 calories) or ketchup (19 calories) or hot sauce (zero calories).
Dressings and sauces can be loaded with hidden sugars, salt and fat. Just 100 grams of sweet and sour sauce is 160 calories, and 100 grams of gravy can range from 80 calories to 200 depending on the amount of butter and oil. If you’re the type who drowns your rice in gravy, that’s about 350 calories right there.
If you love sauce, serve it on the side so you can just dip your food instead of pouring it like soup over rice. You get the flavor, but less of the fat. Voila, you just cut 500 calories without giving up burgers or pasta.
Eat smaller portions
Get single-portion bags of chips, or cut that huge pastry into half and save some of it for tomorrow. You won’t feel deprived, but you won’t binge and regret it later either.
That doesn’t just apply to desserts. The ideal serving of meat is just the size of a deck of cards, but most restaurants will serve more. Just bring a plastic container, cut your order into half, and bring home the rest.
Also train yourself to eat more slowly, savoring each bite rather than wolfing it down in front of the computer or phone. You then enjoy your food more, even if you’re having less.
Skip your afternoon snack
Most of us snack out of stress or boredom. We’re not hungry, but we just want a “break” – and out of habit, that break involves food.
Find other ways to relax in the middle of the workday. Download a fun phone app, watch a funny Youtube, or the best solution of all: read our Beauty insider articles (just sayin’). There are tons of ways to have 15 minutes of fun that won’t break your diet.
Make one meal extra-healthy
Think of it as taking a middle road: you can have a burger for lunch, but have grilled chicken and steamed veggies for dinner. You won’t lose as much weight as someone who counts calories for every meal, but it’s a lot better than nothing.
Try intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting basically involves not eating for 16 hours a day, which prompts your body to burn stored fat instead of carbs. You also — by default — avoid taking midnight snacks or heavy dinners. You cut 500 calories a day, and help your digestion too!
Intermittent fasting is not as hard as it sounds: if you take your last meal at 4pm, you just take breakfast at 7 am.
Don’t drink your calories
Skip the fruit juice and sodas and just take water. If you really need a bit of flavor, try infusing water with lemon, mint or other refreshing herbs.
Swap fruit or fruit juice for a green shake
Fruit is healthy, but some can be very high in sugars. If you usually take more than 2 pieces of fruit a day, swap one for vegetables or a green smoothie. (Try these delicious green smoothies that beat belly bloat and help your skin glow.)