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Ways to Lose Weight: 42 Fast, Easy Tips

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Ways to Lose Weight: 42 Fast, Easy Tips

Reader’s Digest Editors

If you’re trying to drop a few pounds fast, these expert tips will make it easy for you to lose the weight quickly.

Write down what you eat for one week, and you will lose weight

human hand holding pencil prepare to writing on blank notebook.narmacero/Shutterstock

Studies found that people who keep food diaries wind up eating about 15 percent less food than those who don’t. Watch out for weekends: A University of North Carolina study found people tend to consume an extra 115 calories per weekend day, primarily from alcohol and fat.  Then cut out or down calories from spreads, dressings, sauces, condiments, drinks, and snacks; they could make the difference between weight gain and loss. Here are 50 easy ways to lose weight naturally.

Add 10 percent to the amount of daily calories you think you’re eating

Glass of cold brew coffee and latte at cafe Wanwalit Tongted/Shutterstock

If you think you’re consuming 1,700 calories a day and don’t understand why you’re not losing weight, add another 170 calories to your guesstimate. Chances are, the new number is more accurate. Adjust your eating habits accordingly. For instance, your cup of coffee might have more calories than you thought.

Get an online weight loss buddy to lose more weight

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A University of Vermont study found that online weight-loss buddies help you keep the weight off. The researchers followed volunteers for 18 months. Those assigned to an Internet-based weight maintenance program sustained their weight loss better than those who met face-to-face in a support group. These are 50 ways you can lose weight without a lick of exercise.

Get a weight-loss mantra

Basic muffin recipe. Banana chocolate oatmeal chip baked muffin cake overhead casanisa/Shutterstock

You’ve heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? If you keep focusing on things you can’t do, like resisting junk food or getting out the door for a daily walk, chances are you won’t do them. Instead (whether you believe it or not) repeat positive thoughts to yourself. “I can lose weight.” “I will get out for my walk today.” “I know I can resist the pastry cart after dinner.” Repeat these phrases and before too long, they will become true for you.

After breakfast, stick to water

Water on the window sidejazz3311/Shutterstock

At breakfast, go ahead and drink orange juice. But throughout the rest of the day, focus on water instead of juice or soda. The average American consumes an extra 245 calories a day from soft drinks. That’s nearly 90,000 calories a year—or 25 pounds! And research shows that despite the calories, sugary drinks don’t trigger a sense of fullness the way that food does.

Eat three fewer bites of your meal

Empty dirty plate or dish. Finished food after lunch or dinner. Kitchenware concept good for restaurants, cafes or kitchen Viktor Kochetkov/Shutterstock

Watch one less hour of TV

Interior of sunny TV room with remote controls set on a wooden table. Gray sofa in the background. Copy spaceB.Forenius/Shutterstock

A study of 76 undergraduate students found the more they watched television, the more often they ate and the more they ate overall. Sacrifice one program (there’s probably one you don’t really want to watch anyway) and go for a walk instead—in even just 15 minutes, you’ll reap some amazing benefits from walking.

Wash something thoroughly once a week

cleaningPaul Biryukov/shutterstock

Whether that’s a floor, a couple of windows, the shower stall, bathroom tile, your car, a 150-pound person will burn about four calories for every minute spent cleaning. Scrub for 30 minutes and you could work off approximately 120 calories, the same number in a half-cup of vanilla frozen yogurt.

Wait until your stomach rumbles before you reach for food

Hand a woman is opening a refrigerator doorArt_Photo/Shutterstock

It’s stunning how often we eat out of boredom, nervousness, habit, or frustration—so often, in fact, that many of us have actually forgotten what physical hunger feels like. If you’re hankering for a specific food, it’s probably a craving, not hunger. If you’d eat anything you could get your hands on, chances are you’re truly hungry. Learn how to recognize these feelings mistaken for hunger, then find ways other than eating to express love, tame stress, and relieve boredom. But talk to your doctor if you think you’re always hungry for a medical reason. Here are 10 medical reasons you might be hungry.

Sniff a banana, an apple, or a peppermint when you feel hungry

Peppermint CandyMary Terriberry/Shutterstock

You might feel silly, but it works. When Alan R. Hirsch, MD, neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, tried this with 3,000 volunteers, he found that the more frequently people sniffed, the less hungry they were and the more weight they lost—an average of 30 pounds each. One theory is that sniffing the food tricks the brain into thinking you’re actually eating it.

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Stare at the color blue

Empty plate on light blue wooden backgroundGigra/Shutterstock

There’s a good reason you won’t see many fast-food restaurants decorated in blue: it functions as an appetite suppressant. So serve up dinner on blue plates, dress in blue while you eat, and cover your table with a blue tablecloth. Conversely, avoid red, yellow, and orange in your dining areas. Studies find they encourage eating.

Eat in front of mirrors and you’ll lose weight

Enormous mirror accompanied by plants in the living roomPhotographee.eu/Shutterstock

One study found that eating in front of mirrors slashed the amount people ate by nearly one-third. Having to look yourself in the eye reflects back some of your own inner standards and goals, and reminds you of why you’re trying to lose weight in the first place. Here are 7 more easy mind tricks that help you lose weight.

Spend ten minutes a day walking up and down stairs

Modern staircase of oak wood beside front door in contemporary home horizontalJodie Johnson/Shutterstock

Walking of any kind is one of the best ways to lose weight, but stairs in particular work wonders for weight loss. The Centers for Disease Control says that 10 minutes walking on stairs is all it takes to help you shed as much as 10 pounds a year (assuming you don’t start eating more).

Walk five minutes for at least every two hours

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Stuck at a desk all day? A brisk five-minute walk every two hours will parlay into an extra 20-minute walk by the end of the day, and getting moving is more beneficial than a standing desk. Plus, getting a break will make you less likely to reach for snacks out of antsiness.

You’ll lose weight and fat if you walk 45 minutes a day, not 30

skinny woman body with Loose pants,Light weight body with loose clothes,slender and Healthy body low fat concept.yougoigo/Shutterstock

The reason we’re suggesting 45 minutes instead of the typical 30 as one of the ways to lose weight is that a Duke University study found that while 30 minutes of daily walking is enough to prevent weight gain in most relatively sedentary people, exercise beyond 30 minutes results in weight and fat loss. Burning an additional 300 calories a day with three miles of brisk walking (45 minutes should do it) could help you lose 30 pounds in a year without even changing how much you’re eating. Here are 20 hidden reasons your diet isn’t working.

Don’t buy any prepared food…

Cookie in plastic wrap packaging.Teerasak Ladnongkhun/Shutterstock

… that lists sugar, fructose, or corn syrup among the first four ingredients on the label. You should be able to find a lower-sugar version of the same type of food. If you can’t, grab a piece of fruit instead, especially if you show signs you’re eating too much sugar. Look for sugar-free varieties of foods such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressing. Also, avoid partially hydrogenated foods, and look for more than two grams of fiber per 100 calories in all grain products. Finally, a short ingredient list means fewer flavor enhancers and empty calories. Sounds impossible, but you can actually learn how to give up sugar without missing it.

Put your fork or spoon down between every bite

Plate and silverwaregowithstock/Shutterstock

At the table, sip water frequently. Intersperse your eating with stories for your dining partner of the amusing things that happened during your day. Your brain lags your stomach by about 20 minutes when it comes to satiety (fullness) signals. If you eat slowly enough, your brain will catch up to tell you that you are no longer in need of food.

Throw out your “fat” clothes for good

Pile of clothes on tableAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Once you’ve started losing weight, throw out or give away every piece of clothing that doesn’t fit, and fill your closet with dresses that show off your favorite body part. The idea of having to buy a whole new wardrobe if you gain the weight back will serve as a strong incentive to stay fit.

Close the kitchen for 12 hours

popcornBojan Milinkov/Shutterstock

After dinner, wash all the dishes, wipe down the counters, turn out the light, and, if necessary, tape closed the cabinets and refrigerator. Late-evening eating significantly increases the overall number of calories you eat, a University of Texas study found. Learning how to stop late-night snacking can save 300 or more calories a day, or 31 pounds a year.

Walk before dinner and you’ll cut calories AND your appetite

Close up of person walking on streetconnel/Shutterstock

In a study of ten obese women conducted at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, 20 minutes of walking reduced appetite and increased sensations of fullness as effectively as a light meal. Here are 13 quick weight loss tips from nutrition pros.

Make one social outing this week an active one

Easy-Ways-to-Lose-Weight-in-the-SummerJacob Lund/shutterstock

Pass on the movies and screen the views of a local park instead. Not only will you sit less, but you’ll be saving calories because you won’t chow down on that bucket of popcorn. Other active ideas: a tennis match, a guided nature or city walk (check your local listings), a bike ride, and bowling.

Hook on a step tracker, and aim for an extra 1,000 steps a day

Step CounterKanut Srinin/Shutterstock

Are you showing signs you need to move more? On average, sedentary people take only 2,000 to 3,000 steps a day. Adding 2,000 steps will help you maintain your current weight and stop gaining weight; adding more than that is one of the ways to lose weight.

Put less food out and you’ll take less in

From above photo of hands of unrecognisable people at lunch table.LStockStudio/Shutterstock

Conversely, the more food in front of you, the more you’ll eat—regardless of how hungry you are. So instead of using regular dinner plates that range these days from 10 to 14 inches (making them look empty if they’re not heaped with food), serve your main course on salad plates (about 7 to 9 inches wide). Instead of 16-ounce glasses and oversized coffee mugs, return to the old days of 8-ounce glasses and 6-ounce coffee cups.

Eat 90 percent of your meals at home

African american couple in aprons standing at table and cookingLightField Studios/Shutterstock

You’re more likely to eat more—and eat more high-fat, high-calorie foods—when you eat out than when you eat at home. Restaurants today serve such large portions that many have switched to larger plates and tables to accommodate them. You’ll gasp when you see just how bad the unhealthiest restaurant meals in America are. Don’t miss these 9 ways your kitchen setup can help you lose weight.

Serve food on your plate instead of on platters

Meat stew with peas and carrots in a rustic style. Selective focus.ziashusha/Shutterstock

If you eat your dinner restaurant style on your plate rather than family style, helping yourself from bowls and platters on the table, you’ll lose weight. Most of us tend to eat an average of 150 percent more calories in the evening than in the morning. You’ll avoid that now because when your plate is empty, you’re finished; there’s no reaching for seconds.

Don’t eat with a large group

Wine and cheese served for a friendly party in a bar or a restaurant.Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock

A study published in the Journal of Physiological Behavior found that we tend to eat more when we eat with other people, most likely because we spend more time at the table. But eating with your significant other or your family, and using table time for talking in between chewing, can help cut down on calories.

Order the smallest portion of everything

Healthy salad with buckwheat, chicken, broccoli, crispy kale and red cabbageMagdanatka/Shutterstock

If you’re out and ordering a sub, get the six-inch sandwich. Buy a small popcorn, a small salad, a small hamburger. Again, studies find we tend to eat what’s in front of us, even though we’d feel just as full on less.

Eat water-rich foods and you’ll eat fewer calories overall

Chicken soup on a rustic wooden table, top viewPT1565/Shutterstock

A body of research out of Pennsylvania State University finds that eating water-rich foods such as zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers during meals reduces your overall calorie consumption. Other water-rich foods include soups and salads. You won’t get the same benefits by just drinking your water, though (but you will get other benefits of staying hydrated). Because the body processes hunger and thirst through different mechanisms, it simply doesn’t register a sense of fullness with water (or soda, tea, coffee, or juice). Here are 15 weight loss tips doctors wish you would stop following.

Bulk up your meals with veggies

One pot orzo primavera. Orzo pasta with asparagus, broccoli, green peas and cream in a saucepan. On a light background, top view Kiian Oksana/Shutterstock

You can eat twice as much pasta salad loaded with veggies like broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes for the same calories as a pasta salad sporting just mayonnaise. Same goes for stir-fries, omelets, and other veggie-friendly dishes. If you eat a 1:1 ratio of grains to veggies, the high-fiber veggies will help satisfy your hunger before you overeat the grains. Bonus: Fiber is highly beneficial for preventing constipation, which can make you look bloated.

Avoid white foods

cooked rice thailandThaninTae/Shutterstock

There is some scientific legitimacy to today’s lower-carb diets: Large amounts of simple carbohydrates from white flour and added sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and lead to weight gain. While avoiding sugar, white rice, and white flour, however, you should eat plenty of whole-grain breads and brown rice. One Harvard study of 74,000 women found that those who ate more than two daily servings of whole grains were 49 percent less likely to be overweight than those who ate the white stuff. Eating whole grains is not only one of many great ways to lose weight; it can also make you smarter.

Switch to ordinary coffee

Iced coffee to go. Frozen coffee ice cubes in vacuum flask poured with milk. Hand putting a thermos lid over the bottle. White background, body parts, personal point of view shot. Isolated, copy spaceNatalia Ruedisueli/Shutterstock

Fancy coffee drinks from trendy coffee joints often pack several hundred calories, thanks to whole milk, whipped cream, sugar, and sugary syrups. A cup of regular coffee with skim milk has just a small fraction of those calories. And when brewed with good beans, it tastes just as great. You can also try nonfat powdered milk in coffee. You’ll get the nutritional benefits of skim milk, which is high in calcium and low in calories. And, because the water has been removed, powdered milk doesn’t dilute the coffee the way skim milk does. Here are 11 metabolism myths you have to stop believing.

If you’re going to indulge, choose fat-releasing foods

Honey JarJulia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock

They should help keep you from feeling deprived and bingeing on higher-calorie foods. For instance: honey has just 64 fat-releasing calories in one tablespoon. Eggs have just 70 calories in one hard-boiled egg, loaded with fat-releasing protein. Part-skim ricotta cheese has just 39 calories in one ounce, packed with fat-releasing calcium. Dark chocolate has about 168 calories in a one-ounce square, but it’s packed with fat releasers. And a University of Tennessee study found that people who cut 500 calories a day and ate yogurt three times a day for 12 weeks lost more weight and body fat than a group that only cut the calories. The researchers concluded that the calcium in low-fat dairy foods triggers a hormonal response that inhibits the body’s production of fat cells and boosts the breakdown of fat.

Enjoy high-calorie treats as the accent, not the centerpiece

Chips and DipCatherine Murray/Shutterstock

Eating dessert every day can be good for you, as long as you don’t overdo it. Make a spoonful of ice cream the jewel and a bowl of fruit the crown. Cut down on the chips by pairing each bite with lots of chunky, filling fresh salsa, suggests Jeff Novick, director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Florida. Balance a little cheese with a lot of fruit or salad.

Eat cereal for breakfast five days a week

Smoothie bowl with granola, chia pudding and hemp seeds in coconut shell bowl, top view.Nina Firsova/Shutterstock

Studies find that people who eat cereal for breakfast every day are significantly less likely to be obese and have diabetes than those who don’t. They also consume more fiber and calcium—and less fat—than those who eat other breakfast foods. Make oatmeal, or pour out a high-fiber, low-sugar cereal like Total or Grape Nuts.

Try hot sauce, salsa, and Cajun seasonings

Different type of saucesMikhail Valeev/Shutterstock

They provide lots of flavor with no fat and few calories, plus they turn up your digestive fires, causing your body to temporarily burn more calories. Choose them over butter and creamy or sugary sauces. These are the 17 weight loss “tricks” that don’t actually work.

Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice

Sliced watermelon backgroundKaterina Maksymenko/Shutterstock

For the calories in one kid-size box of apple juice, you can enjoy an apple, orange, and a slice of watermelon. These whole foods will keep you satisfied much longer than that box of apple juice, so you’ll eat less overall.

Drop your milk type and you cut calories by about 20 percent

pouring milk into glass. filling a glass with milk.Hafiez Razali/Shutterstock

If you drink regular, go to 2%. If you already drink 2%, go down another notch to 1% or skim milk. Each step downward cuts the calories by about 20 percent. Once you train your taste buds to enjoy skim milk, you’ll have cut the calories in the whole milk by about half and trimmed the fat by more than 95 percent. One disclaimer: There are times when fat-free dairy isn’t the best option.

Snack on a small handful of nuts

mixed nuts on grey background. Healthy food and snack. Walnut, pecan, almonds, hazelnuts and cashewsbeats1/Shutterstock

Studies have found that overweight people who ate a moderate-fat diet containing almonds lost more weight than a control group that didn’t eat nuts. Snacking once or twice a day is one of the ways to lose weight that helps stave off hunger and keeps your metabolism stoked. You can also pack up baby carrots or your own trail mix with the healthiest nuts you can eat, plus raisins, seeds, and dried fruit. Here are 30 healthy snacks that can help you lose weight.

Get most of your calories before noon

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Studies find that the more you eat in the morning, the less you’ll eat in the evening. And you have more opportunities to burn off those early-day calories than you do to burn off dinner calories.

Brush your teeth after every meal, especially dinner

Cup with toothbrush on table. Dental careNew Africa/Shutterstock

Serve food in courses

Soup saltwort with lemon, meat, pickles, tomato sauce olives in a bowl on a sacking, bread on a wooden board background Nadya Kubik/Shutterstock

Instead of piling everything on one plate, bring food to the table in individual courses. For the first two courses, bring out soup or veggies such as a green salad or the most filling fruits and vegetables. By the time you get to the more calorie-dense foods, like meat and dessert, you’ll be eating less or may already be full. Nothing wrong with leftovers!

Don’t pour dressing

Dressingvanillaechoes/Shutterstock

You already know to get your dressing on the side because restaurants tend to drown salads with too much. But instead of pouring it on or even dipping the leaves in, do the “fork dip.” Stick the tongs of an empty fork into the dish of dressing before skewering any salad. You’ll be surprised by how much flavor you’ll get, but with way fewer calories. Next, check out these 30 tiny diet changes that can help you lose weight.

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