Food Tips

How to Cut 550 Calories a Day Without Noticing

Research shows these five small changes could save you up to 550 calories a day—almost 5 pounds a month without dieting!

By Christy Brissette

Think it takes a massive diet overhaul to lose weight and keep it off? Not necessarily. Small changes in your daily routine can add up to make you eat fewer calories every day. Incorporate these five small diet tweaks and you could be losing weight with minimal effort.

1. Have soup before your meal (save ~134 calories)

A study of 60 men and women found that when they ate soup before lunch, they ate 20 percent fewer calories (an average of 134 calories less) than if they didn’t eat soup first. How does soup help with weight loss? It’s mostly water and vegetables, and it fills your stomach for fewer calories. The study used a broth soup with vegetables and a small amount of butter. Aim for a low-calorie soup (not creamy) to sit down to before your meal. Try having my homemade Vegetable Stock before meals, or have my fiber-packed Best Ever Lemony Lentil Soup for lunch for extra staying power!

2. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full (save 100 calories)

Seems like a no-brainer, but we all overeat at times whether due to stress, boredom, or just smelling that amazing delivery pizza. If you find yourself overeating, a mindful eating program can help you binge less often. It includes meditations and reflecting on why you choose to eat and whether you are truly hungry. Mindful eating can help people lose an average of 7 pounds over 10 sessions. Even if you don’t binge, increasing your awareness of hunger and fullness could help you maintain a healthy weight. Ask yourself, “How hungry am I on a scale from 1 to 10?” before and during eating. Stop eating when you are at about a 7, not when you’re at a 10 (the fullest you’ve ever felt—think after Thanksgiving dinner).

3. Weigh yourself once a week (save ~100 calories)

Make peace with your bathroom scale if you want to lose weight. In a study of 40 dieters, the more often people weighed themselves, the more weight they lost. Keeping track of your weight regularly can help you avoid going too far off track. I typically recommend people weigh themselves twice a week, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Weighing yourself every day will capture fluctuations in fluids based on factors like whether you had a salty meal the night before or because of changes in hormone levels with your monthly cycle. Look at the pattern week by week rather than being focused on day to day changes.

4. Eat breakfast and include protein, fruit and vegetables (save ~100 calories)

Regularly eating breakfast can help you lose weight and keep it off. Slim by Design, an online registry of people who are lean without dieting, asked 147 people to share information about their breakfast habits. Ninety-four percent of these effortlessly slim people said they eat breakfast every morning, and more than half of them include fruit and vegetables in their breakfast. Research has also shown that breakfast skippers tend to gain weight over time, probably because they eat higher-calorie foods later in the day. Waking up your metabolism is key to weight loss. Literally breaking the fast lets your body know it doesn’t have to preserve calories, it’s time to burn them! Don’t have time for a morning meal? Try myBlueberry Turmeric Smoothie for a quick and portable breakfast that packs in both protein and produce.

5. Drink a big glass of water before your meal (save ~125 calories)

We’ve all heard that drinking water helps you lose weight, but the amount and timing make a difference. Along with healthy eating and regular exercise, drinking 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before every meal can help you eat 125 fewer calories a day. In a study of 84 obese adults, everyone was given general healthy eating advice and then they were split up into two groups: One of the groups was told to drink 16 ounces of water half an hour before each meal for three months. The other group was told to visualize having a full stomach before every meal. The people who drank water before each meal lost an average of 9 pounds—3 pounds more than the group who imagined they were full before eating. Time to invest in a 16-ounce water bottle!

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