12 ways to cut 500 calories a day
Many skinny people have a habit that helps them burn calories without even thinking about it.
1. A little here, a little there
The most basic way to lose weight is to slash calories. That’s Diet 101. But how many do you really have to cut or burn to see results? It’s simple: You can drop a pound a week by trimming 500 calories each day. (Calories burned are based on a 150-pound woman.)
2. Tap your foot
Your skinnier friends are probably fidgeters, who burn up to 350 calories a day just by tapping their feet or being restless.
Try it for a few days. Walk around while you’re on the phone, or tap out a tune with your hands or feet (in the privacy of your own office, of course).
3. Step away from the nuts
Especially if they’re in a big bowl. The bigger the serving bowl, the more you’ll eat, Cornell University researchers say.
Nuts have heart-healthy fats, but they’re also high in calories: 1 handful (about 1 ounce) of oil-roasted mixed nuts has 175 calories; 3 handfuls have 525. Cut out nuts altogether and save more than 500 calories.
Can’t resist ’em? Eat pistachios: 2 handfuls are just 159 calories, and the shelling will slow down your munching.
4. Don’t eat in front of the TV
You’ll eat up to 288 calories more, according to research from the University of Massachusetts.
Instead, eat at the table, and trade 1 hour of TV for a casual walk. Together, that’s 527 calories burned.
5. Limit salad toppings
A big salad might seem healthy, but all those goodies on top can make it more calorie-laden than lasagna or fettuccine Alfredo. Cheese crumbles, caramelized nuts, bacon, avocado, dried fruit, croutons, and vinaigrettes can add lots of calories.
Save 500 or more calories by having just one topping, adding flavorful but lower-cal veggies (roasted bell peppers, grilled onions, or mushrooms), and using half the dressing.
6. Use smaller plates
Swap your 12-inch plate for a 10-inch one. You’ll eat 20 to 25% less—and save up to 500 calories. You won’t feel any less full, either, researchers say.
7. Skip the whip
Or at least size it down. Dessert-like coffee creations can contain as many as 670 calories, with large sizes and options like whipped cream, whole milk, and syrups.
Craving whipped cream? Try it on a shot of espresso for a total of just 30 calories. You save 640 calories!
8. Count your chips (and crackers)
No, you can’t eat your snacks from a large bag or box because it’s waaaay too tempting to eat until the bag is empty. (Remember Oprah’s blue corn–tortilla chip confession?)
A chip-bender to the bottom of a 9-ounce bag is 1,260 calories sans the dip. So stick to 1 serving, about 15 chips—that’s 140 calories—or pick up some 100-calorie snack packs and save 1,120 calories.
9. Serve and sit
Family-style meals, with platters and bowls of food on the table, invite people to go back for seconds and thirds.
Cut hundreds of calories by filling plates before bringing them to the table; leave serving dishes in the kitchen, too.
10. Skinny up cocktails
Syrups, sour mix, sugary fruit juices, and creamy additions turn drinks into desserts: an indulgent Mudslide can have more than 800 calories.
Order drinks mixed with club soda, tonic water, cranberry juice, or a squeeze of citrus; or try distilled liquors on the rocks. You’ll save up to 800 calories.
11. Don’t clean your plate
Leave 25% of your food on the plate at every meal, says weight-loss expert James O. Hill, PhD, author of The Step Diet. Save what’s remaining as leftovers for a yummy lunch the next day.
If you normally eat 2,000 calories or more each day, you’ll cut 500 calories.
12. Get enough sleep
A lack of shut-eye can make you snack, new research from the University of Chicago shows. People who got only 5 1/2 hours of sleep noshed more during the day. Snooze more and save about 1,087 calories.