If you’re reluctant to expend a lot of effort trying to lose 50 pounds, relax. You’re not lazy. You’re just human. It’s in your DNA to want to conserve energy. So, saunter into the task. Take a few baby steps for some immediate gratification rather than go all keto on that energy conservation project called belly fat.
There’s more than one way to get lean and fit, especially if you’re not in any rush. Herewith, a list of lethargic steps for the listless, a loafer’s guide to torpid fat burning, a full calendar year of lazy ways to lose weight, broken down by three goals to focus on every month of the year for a total of 36 manageable tips.
Take it easy, and for more on healthy eating, don’t miss Simple Ways to Start Losing Weight Immediately, According to Science.
Getting your spouse to start a weight-loss program may help you lose weight even if you make no effort to diet. That’s according to a study in the journal Obesity. The experiment followed 128 overweight or obese couples who lived together. Researchers assigned one member of each couple to an active, all-access Weight Watchers program while the other partner was given only basic dieting information. Both partners were monitored for six months. The researchers found that not only did the partner who participated in the weekly weight-loss program lose pounds but about a third of the non-active dieters lost weight, too, even though they didn’t follow the detailed formal program.
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A 2020 study in the Journal of Nutrition found a significant association between higher coffee consumption and lower adiposity or body fat percentage. Using data from the large National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers determined that women (but not men) who drank two to three cups of coffee a day had less overall fat and less trunk fat than women who drank no coffee. “There are probably a lot of factors going on here, including the antioxidants in coffee and other components like caffeine,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, a dietitian for the Cleveland Clinic and a nutritionist with a private nutrition practice in Denver. But she warns, don’t expect to lose weight if you get your coffee in the form of a huge, sugary coffee drink. “There can be 74 grams of sugar in some flavored coffee beverages,” she says. “You might as well go to an ice cream shop and get a milkshake.” You can sweeten your coffee with a little sugar if you enjoy it that way but recognize where the excess sugar in your diet is coming from. It might surprise you. And be careful about turning your extra cup of Joe into many extra cups. There are some ugly side effects of drinking too much coffee.
Onto a weight scale in the morning, that is. A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics demonstrated that dieters who weighed themselves every day lost an average of six more pounds than dieters who weighed themselves less often. “The scale is your friend,” says Ilana Muhlstein, RD, author of You Can Drop It! “I know you’ve been told to avoid it, but you’ll soon see that it helps you learn what helps your body lose weight and what doesn’t.” Muhlstein advises getting on the scale every morning, without clothes, after using the bathroom, and before you eat or drink anything.
Going to bed a little chilly may help you lose some belly fat. A study published in the journal Diabetes suggests a super simple way to lose pounds while you sleep: Turn down the heat. Adjust your thermostat to 66 degrees before you turn in. In the study when participants were exposed to mild cold temperatures at night for one month the amount of brown fat on their bodies increased by 42% and they experienced a 10% increase in fat metabolism. One of two main types of fat in the body, brown fat burns energy to maintain body temperature. White fat, a characteristic of obesity, stores fat. (Related: 10 Easy Ways to Burn Fat in 30 Minutes)
Treat yourself to some UnReal Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup candies for St. Valentine’s Day. At just 80 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 6 grams of sugar per cup, you can celebrate the holiday with chocolate rich in flavonols, which can help lower blood sugar and decrease body fat, according to the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. We’re also fans of Perfect Snacks Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Peanut Butter Cups and
Eatthis.com has often touted snacking on nuts as a smart weight-loss and health practice. Indeed, studies have shown that eating nuts, especially walnuts, can help overweight and obese people manage their weight and lose fat. Nuts are most effective in small amounts as satiating snacks and when they replace other calorically dense foods as nuts are also calorie-dense.
It doesn’t get any simpler than this: A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2014 suggested that replacing 30 minutes of your sitting on the couch time with sleep was associated with improvements in insulin levels and other markers of heart disease risk. Of course, light and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was linked to greater improvements, but if you want to be lazy about it, lying down to sleep is better than sitting on your ass in front of the tube, according to this study.
Olive oil is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, but it’s still high in calories, 119 in just a tablespoon. You can slash a lot of those calories with a quick squeeze of a spray bottle filled with EVOO into your pan or on your salad instead of pouring the oil in.
One of the most calorie-dense foods you eat on a regular basis is probably a deli sandwich for lunch. Eliminating that practice is one of the best things you can do for your waistline and your health. Think about it: a standard salami and cheese sandwich with just two slices of meat and one of cheese comes with 350 calories and 19 grams of fat. But when was the last time you had a sandwich with just 2 slices of salami? Deli sandwiches are calorie bombs. Plus, “deli meat has a lot of salt and nitrates and nitrites, preservatives that have been shown to increase your risk of cancer and heart disease, according to the World Health Organisation,” says Rameck Hunt, MD, Medical Director of the Princeton Medicine Weight Management Program. (Related: 7 Dangerous Side Effects of Eating Deli Meats, According to Experts)
Make a playlist of your favorite tunes to listen to during a workout and you’ll likely exercise longer and feel happier while sweating. That’s the conclusion of a 2008 study by British researchers at Brunel University’s School of Sport and Education which found that participants who ran on a treadmill and kept in strict time with the beat of motivational pop music were able to run 15% longer than usual and felt more positive—even when working out at an intensity close to exhaustion.
At upwards of 80 calories in a cup of “regular” coffee, you can save 14 pounds in a year simply by leaving out the cream and sugar in your cup.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, do I need that pint of cookie dough ice cream? You don’t have to ask. Simply hanging a mirror in your kitchen may keep you from stuffing your face, suggest research at Cornell University. In an experiment, subjects were given a choice of chocolate cake or fruit salad to eat in one of two rooms. One room had a mirror, the other didn’t. When asked to evaluate the quality of the desserts, those who ate the chocolate cake in the mirror room described the food as less enjoyable than the people who ate cake in the mirrorless room. The mirror had no effect on subjects’ evaluation of the fruit salad.
Instead of queso, go garbanzo. Dip your chip (or better yet, pita triangles) in hummus, a high-fiber appetizer made from garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas). A study in the journal Obesity found that people who ate a single serving every day of pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils) reported feeling 31% fuller than folks who didn’t get their daily beans. Packed with fiber and protein, chickpeas have a low glycemic index, meaning they break down slowly, won’t spike your blood sugar, and keep you feeling full.
When you belly up to the bar, order a vodka and club soda instead of a sweet margarita. The average frozen margarita packs 400 calories and 72 grams of sugar. Choosing a vodka and club instead will save you 332 calories.
Here’s a simple four-step system guaranteed to help you consume fewer calories without changing the food you eat: (1.) Slow down. “A good tip for that is to put the fork down after every bite,” says Hunt, author of The No Guesswork Diet. “Another good tip is to eat in courses: (2.) Have your salad first, then (3) the soup, and then (4) your main meal. You will find that you’ll eat less if you eat in courses.”
The omega-3 acids in fish reduce inflammation throughout the body and allow the satiety hormone leptin to communicate efficiently with the brain. The Satiety Index of Common Foods ranks halibut the #2 most filling food (bested only by boiled potatoes). The study’s authors attribute that to halibut’s high protein content and levels of tryptophan; the latter produces serotonin, one of the hormones that curbs hunger. If you can’t catch halibut at your fish monger’s, snag any oily fish. A study in the Journal of Nutrition comparing fish, beef, and chicken found that people reported feeling the greatest satiety after eating a meal of fish.
By using heavier weights and lifting very slowly during the “eccentric” or negative phase of a lift, you can minimize workout time while maximizing fat burn. “This negative-accentuated style of weight training results in 40 to 50% greater stress being put on your muscles, compared to conventional training methods,” says renowned exercise physiologist Ellington Darden, PhD, author of many exercise books, including The Bodyfat Breakthrough and The New High Intensity Training. Emphasizing the negative or lowering part of a lift may stimulate key hormones that boost muscle growth and oxidize fat faster, he says. Here’s one way to sample the technique with a simple biceps curl: With a dumbbell held palms-up in each hand, curl the weights to your shoulders by bending your elbows. That’s the starting position. Now, slowly lower the weight to your thighs, taking 20 seconds to lower. Next, curl the dumbbells to your shoulders quicker, taking 10 seconds to do so. Finally, take 20 seconds to lower the weights. That’s it. One set. The effort is so intense, you may need to only do a full workout of 8 exercises once or twice a week. There are many ways to “accentuate the negative,” says Darden. Lately, Darden has been training people using a 30-10-30 technique, a 30-second negative repetition, followed by 10 faster positive/negative reps (1 second up, 2 seconds down) and finishing with a 30-second negative rep. It’s really hard, but it slashes exercise time significantly, which makes it a lazy technique in our book. For more, see You Should Exercise This Much to Lose Weight, Says New Study.
Look, we know you gotta have chips with your sandwich. So, try this colorful salty snack alternative that’s lower in calories and richer in nutrients. It takes very little effort. In fact, it’s a really satisfying way to play with knives. Pull some roots out of your vegetable bin: carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips. Slice them super thin and toss the rounds with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange on a cookie sheet and roast in a 400F oven until lightly browned and crispy.
Chew gum while you’re making dinner. It may reduce your hunger and cravings, so you’ll be less likely to snack, suggests a study in Frontiers in Psychology.
An ice cream sandwich, that is, instead of a bowl of ice cream. You’ll save about 100 calories, maybe more, depending on the size of your usual bowl.
Still light out when you hit the hay? Get some light-blocking curtains for your bedroom. They make a huge difference when it comes to falling asleep. Outside light makes it harder for your mind to shut down, even if you think you’re immune to such instinctive signals. Melatonin, the hormone involved in putting your body to sleep (a prime fat-burning opportunity) is compromised when your room isn’t pitch black.
Our eyes tend to be bigger than our stomachs. And we’re often tricked by visual illusions. For example, a study in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that using larger bowls caused people to unwittingly serve and eat an average of 16% more food. So, place that slice of lasagna on a salad plate and trick yourself out of seconds.
Because they are loaded with water, chunks of fresh watermelon as an appetizer or in a salad make a good low-cal (just 40 per cup) way to fill up before a meal and may be a useful weight-loss strategy, according to a study published in 2019 in the journal Nutrients. The study conducted in Southern California involved 33 overweight or obese men and women who were instructed to eat 2 cups of fresh diced watermelon daily for four weeks. During a separate four-week period, the participants were asked to eat a low-calorie cookie snack daily consisting of the same number of calories as the watermelon snack. The subjects ate and exercised normally. At the conclusion of the test, subjects reported that the desire to eat was significantly reduced for up to 90 minutes after consuming watermelon while hunger didn’t change after eating the cookies. The researchers also found that participants lost weight after four weeks of snacking on watermelon and gained after the low-fat cookie intervention.
At a restaurant, use the power of your voice to limit calories without sacrificing enjoyment. Ask the waiter to take the bread basket away. You don’t need the extra calories that go down mindlessly. Ask for your salad dressing on the side, too. That puts you in control of how much you pour on your salad. Order an entrée and split it with your partner; it’ll almost always be more than enough food. Don’t be shy; speak up for your health.
It’s peak apple picking time. Bag a bushel. By replacing apple juice with a whole apple at lunchtime, you can slash your daily calorie intake by up to 20%, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity. Researchers say chewing stimulates satiety hormones. Plus, whole food takes more time to digest, helping you feel fuller longer. You won’t just lose weight by eating the fruit; there are also these 11 Side Effects of Eating Apples Every Day.
Shortly after finishing your oatmeal place your takeout lunch order. You may order healthier fare and save yourself about 100 calories, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, who found that people who order hours in advance tend to choose healthier options.
Back to work? Go COVID casual like you used to do at home. Back in 2004, a University of Wisconsin study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise found that people who wore denim (and pedometers) to work took almost 500 more steps (about a quarter mile) throughout the day than they did on days when they wore more formal attire.
Here’s another way to stick to your weight loss plan from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy: Check in regularly with a tribe of friends who know about your weight loss goals and can provide support and accountability. Studies suggest it’s easier to maintain a weight loss plan when you have support, can share tips on diet and exercise, and have an exercise buddy.
This is easy to remember: go for jelly beans over the milk chocolate or peanut butter filled treats. A mini pack of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans sweetens your tastebuds for just 35 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 7 grams of sugar. By contrast, you’ll swallow 90 calories, 5 grams of fat and 9 grams of sugar for every two Dove Chocolate Mini Squares you pop in your mouth.
Don’t bother driving across town for one of those sugary pumpkin spice lattes. Blend this pumpkin spice smoothie as a snack or meal replacement at home. Unlike those flavored coffees you love, this drink has actual pumpkin in it. Using one-third cup of pumpkin, this 292-calorie shake provides 29 grams of protein, 7 grams of dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and 16% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C: a nutrient researchers say is directly related to the body’s ability to burn through fat.
Not all smoothies are as healthful as this one, so avoid common smoothie making mistakes by reading Smoothie Habits That are Shortening Your Life, According to Science.
Taking a short walk can have a powerful effect on cravings for chocolate and other sugary snacks, according to a study at the University of Exeter. British researchers reported that a brisk 15-minute walk reduced urges for a sugary snack even when the overweight participants were under stress and had the chocolate available nearby.
Now, here’s a tip for all you lazybones: Don’t bother exercising if you want to shed pounds. A 2020 study in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition suggests that it won’t help you lose weight. In the experiment, more than 300 people were randomly broken up into three groups: one followed a reduced-calorie diet, another a diet plus moderate physical activity, and a third a diet and a minimum of 250 minutes of exercise a week. After a year on the program, everyone lost weight, but physical activity did not appear to improve weight loss, the researchers said. Instead, the reduction in bodyweight was attributed to the reduced-calorie diet, suggesting you may forego the sweating as long as you consume fewer calories. Of course, you’ll also miss out on the health benefits of exercise. So, think before you get too comfortable on the couch.
The starch in potatoes becomes a “resistant starch,” meaning it resists digestion and does not spike blood sugar, when it is cooled after cooking. So, eat your leftover Turkey Day mashed potatoes cold. Because their starch is not digested in the small intestine, your gut bacteria processes it, helping to balance your blood sugar and optimize your gut flora, which in turn promotes weight loss. Resistant starch foods are on our list of 20 Foods That Relieve Your Gut Problems, Say Dietitians.
When cookies and other unhealthy treats are out of sight or stored out of easy reach, you’ll be less likely to snag ’em and snack. By contrast, in one study, people who kept calorie-dense snacks in plain view were more likely to be heavier than people who kept only a healthy bowl of fruit within reach on the counter.
Studies suggest that the best tea for losing weight may be green tea thanks to its abundance of the powerful antioxidant compound EGCG (eigallocatechin-3-gallate). “EGCG seems to block the formation of new fat cells and also may reduce hunger and cravings, plus caffeine in green tea has appetite-decreasing effects,” says Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, CNS. Studies suggest that unsweetened green tea may also boost calorie burn. One study, published in the Journal of Research in Medical Science, involved 63 men and women with type 2 diabetes who were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group drank four cups of green tea daily, another grand two cups, and the control group consumed no green tea for two months. After 8 weeks, the group that drank four cups a day experienced significant weight loss as well as decreases in body mass index, waist circumference, and systolic blood pressure.
When you’re ready to toast the holidays or ring in the new year, do so with two drinks in your hand and you’ll effectively slash your alcohol consumption (and alcohol calories) in half. Here’s how: Start your night of revelry off with sparkling water. Then, after every alcoholic cocktail, beer or wine, switch to water. You’ll not only save yourself hundreds of calories, but you’ll stay hydrated and, in all likelihood, avoid a hangover, too. If you want to skip the booze entirely, you can learn more about the Side Effects of Giving Up Alcohol, According to Science.