When it comes to health and fitness, sometimes it can feel like you’re doing it all wrong, just because you are not at the gym 24/7. But be rest assured that working towards a weight loss goal doesn’t have to be difficult. These 20 simple tricks can help anyone drop a few kilos and you don’t have to be at the gym all day long!
1. Don't hit snooze
Experts say working out early boosts your metabolic rate by 13 per cent for the first three hours after exercising, and then four per cent for the following 16 hours. Which means you could burn around 100 extra calories by the end of the day – all while doing absolutely nothing!
2. Walk down the stairs
We all know that walking up the stairs or hills burns calories, but guess what: walking down stairs is good too. The American Heart Association says that it makes your body stabilise blood sugars – so no more cravings – and works less-used muscles around your hips. Bonus!
3. Give up your bus seat
Get a mini complete-body workout just by standing up on the bus or train on your way to and from work. The jolts and rolls will engage your thigh, bottom and tummy muscles to stabilise you and keep you upright.
4. Always start a meal with two glasses of water
Are you really hungry, or are you actually just thirsty? A study in the journal Physiology & Behavior suggests people inappropriately respond to thirst over 60 per cent of the time by eating instead of drinking.
A study published in the journal Obesity found that people who drank two cups of water before eating consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories over the course of a meal than they would otherwise. This may simply be because water is filling, but researchers note the added H20 may well be displacing calories otherwise spent on calorie-laden beverages.
5. Have an avocado
Researchers at Nutrition Journal found that people who added half an avocado to their lunch felt fuller for longer, and were 40 per cent less likely to want to eat again for three hours.
6. Drizzle olive oil on your salad
An Australian study found people who ate food made with olive oil consumed around 170 fewer calories a day. Experts believe olive oil boosts your level of serotonin – the hormone that makes you feel full. Strangely, they also found even the smell of olive oil can help people feel they’ve eaten enough.
7. Add tomatoes to your sandwich
Adding a few slices of tomato to a cheese sandwhich could make it easier to say no to a biscuit later, say British scientists. It’s thought that eating tomatoes suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin.
8. Sprinkle cinnamon
The latest news is that cinnamon improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin, according to findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a powerful effect that helps ensure incoming calories are converted to energy, not fat. And earlier research has shown that cinnamon heightens cognitive processing and brain function. Dust a spoonful on coffee, oats and Greek yogurt, or stir it into a protein shake.
9. Cut the fat with Greek yoghurt
It’s not just the huge protein boost that makes Greek-style yogurt so great; the thick, creamy texture and pronounced tang give it a versatility that other yogurts don’t have.
10. Have a piece of dark chocolate for dessert
Instead of opting for the cookies in the break room, quiet your sugar cravings with a piece of dark chocolate. It may not feel quite as satisfying the first few times, but as you wean yourself off your sugar addiction, you’ll be glad you’re saving calories while having a healthy yet decadent treat.
READ MORE: 6 Biggest Chocolate Myths Debunked
11. Have an afternoon snack
A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that mid-morning snackers tended to consume more throughout the day than afternoon healthy snackers. Afternoon munching was associated with a slightly higher intake of filling fibre and fruits and vegetables.
12. Have an expresso before you hit the gym
Not only does an espresso shot contain a fraction of the fat of a latte or flat white, Canadian scientists believe that coffee’s pain-relieving qualities mean that if you drink it before your Zumba class, it could keep you going at maximum effort for one-and-a-half times longer. So you’ll burn half as many calories again!
READ MORE: 8 Reasons Why Coffee Is Good For You
13. Keep moving
Even if you’re not dedicating an entire chunk of time to a workout, you can burn a few extra calories by making an effort to move a little more during the day. Taking breaks to walk around the office, opting for the stairs instead of the escalator, and parking a little farther from the office entrance are all simple ways to up your calorie burn.
14. Don't drink your calories
It’s a common reason you’re not seeing results — those empty calories from a daily soda, morning juice, or large glass of wine at dinner can really add up. Stick to water flavored with fresh ingredients like cucumber, lemon or mint in order to save on important calories.
15. Don't go hungry too long
A little hunger can be good for you, but starving yourself all day in order to “splurge” on dessert at night is both unhealthy and a diet sabotage. Eat well-timed meals and snacks in order to avoid low blood-sugar levels that cause you to crash.
16. Snack on high-protein, high-fibre foods
Steer clear of the empty, high-calorie options like chips and crackers, and go for protein- and fiber-rich foods that taste good and fill you up too. You’ll be able to eat fewer calories while still feeling satisfied.
17. Have an early dinner
Try to keep your dinner to about 25 per cent of your daily calories, and have it at least two to three hours before going to bed. Eating too much too late can cause digestion and sleep issues that make it hard to stick to a healthy routine.
18. Hide your guilty pleasures
A study, conducted at the search engine’s New York office dubbed “Project M&M” found that placing chocolate candies in opaque containers as opposed to glass ones, and giving healthier snacks more prominent shelf space, curbed M&M consumption by 3.1 million calories in just seven weeks. A similar study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones.
READ MORE: 10 Weight Loss Booby Traps You Should Avoid
19. Stand on one leg while brushing your teeth
Stand on the opposite leg to the hand you’re brushing with for one minute, then switch over to the other side. Trying to balance will activate your “waist-whittling’ muscles. Go on, try it today!
20. Get more sleep
Lack of sleep can cause you to eat more throughout the day and not have enough energy for your workouts, so aim for seven to nine hours of sleep every night. It’s an easy and effective way to keep your weight-loss goals on the right track.
Text: Bauer/ Woman’s Day/ Additional Reporting: Shenielle Aloysis