From fad diets to special pills, people will follow absolutely food and nutrition articles to lose weight.
But what if it is really as easy as using a few simple tools – ones that don’t require anything strange, expensive, or out of the ordinary?
Here are 5 easy tools and tips that you can use to shed a few extra pounds this new year, while improving your overall lifestyle!
1. Track your calories
Weight loss really just boils down to one thing: you need to burn more calories than you consume. It’s really that simple!
Learning to count calories is the single most helpful starting point for losing weight. Although things like eating “clean” can help, tracking your calories will give you extra freedom and flexibility in your eating habits, as well as nailing down on the accuracy and reliability of your results.
Perhaps the nicest thing about knowing know how to track calories is that you can often get away with having a guilt-free snack or two, and still make progress – just as long as you make sure that you’re burning more than you’re eating!
A great place to start is using a tracking app like MyFitnessPal.
This gives you an easy way to log what you eat, and seeing how many calories you’re consuming each day. You can even scan barcodes on food products to automatically count them.
A little extra insight into nutritional information is also great for learning about the nutritional value of your everyday food choices. Educating yourself is the most powerful thing of all!
2. Exercise regularly
Although it’s very cliché, it is definitely repeated for good reason – exercise is very important for weight loss. It adds calories to the “burnt” side of the equation above, which can significantly speed up your weight loss. At the very least, it means you can eat more and get away with it!
All types of exercise are great, which means there’s plenty to choose from. One great choice is resistance training – which includes activities such as lifting weights. This more intense use of your muscles encourages your body to prioritize the “good” meat on your body, while targeting fat more directly. Another perk is that the recovery process can make your body burn extra calories throughout the day, even at rest!
In addition to burning calories, regular exercise will also improve your mood, health, and overall wellbeing. Whether it’s walking, lifting weights, or playing sports, any of these activities will contribute to your goals. You can choose an option that you find most enjoyable, or try a whole range of activities and enjoy the new experiences!
3. Eat your greens
Vegetables are simply amazing for dieting! They have surprisingly few calories for the immense space that they take up in your stomach – which means they’re great for filling you up easily! The high fiber content of vegetables contributes to this even more (1)!
Fiber is a vital type of carbohydrate that we could all do with some more of. Although it’s most abundant in vegetables, you can also find it in fruits, beans, and whole grains. In addition to helping you feel full, it’s vital for things like aiding digestion and lowering blood sugar levels (2).
As if that wasn’t enough, they’re also packed with vitamins and minerals that will improve your general health and wellbeing.
4. Cut the sugar!
If you pay close attention to the amount of added sugar that you consume throughout the day, you’ll be astounded at how many unnecessary calories you’re taking in! Excess sugar can spike blood sugar extremely quickly, leading to unwanted fat storage, especially in sedentary people. It also has a strong link to many health issues including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, among others (3).
In addition to providing unnecessary calories, refined sugar also gives you almost zero nutritional value in terms of extra vitamins and minerals – which you could be getting from smarter food choices. Try to minimize the products you consume with added sugar, such as candy and sodas. Leave these for the occasional treat!
5. Water is your friend
We know that drinking sufficient water is essential for general health. What you may not know, however, is that it can also have great effects specific to weight loss (4). Drinking extra water can reduce the urge to drink sodas, juices, and other calorie-packed drinks. As mentioned earlier, this can drastically cut down your calories if you’re a sweet drink lover.
Another nifty trick is drinking a glass of water before meals – this can control your portion sizes by filling you up a little, reducing the amount of food you consume in a sitting. Try to ensure that you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day, and even more if you’re exercising!
6. Keep yourself busy
This one is simple – if you don’t give yourself time to eat extra food, you won’t eat extra food! Taking up an extra hobby or sport is a great way to make use of your spare time, and to keep your mind off eating. This is particularly effective for those who are prone to excessive snacking when they are at home. It can also significantly increase your activity levels, allowing you to burn more calories for the day – especially in those pesky weekends! Perhaps the biggest benefit of all, though, is the exposure you’ll have to new experiences, new friends, and more life opportunities.
Is tracking calories a pain in the butt?
We all know tracking calories can be a chore. The fortunate thing is, if you can abide by just a few of the rules in 2-6, you won’t need to track them at all!
Cutting sugar, eating your vegetables, and increasing your activity levels can all automatically improve your weight loss, without having to suffer over the math. Simply make sure you stick to at least 3 of these points religiously, and you won’t have to count a thing!
Try out these tools and tips, and let us know how you go in our comments below!