25 Ways to cut 500 calories a day!

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 9.38.28 AMIf you’re like most of us, you’ve spent the summer enjoying barbecues, hot dogs at ball games, and a few beers on the beach instead of hitting the gym. And even though summer’s nearly over, it’s never too early to start cutting calories so we’ll be ready to fit into that great swim suit next season.

For most of us, our fitness goals include shedding pounds, and when it comes to cutting calories, small changes in our daily habits can add up to big results.

In fact, just by cutting out 100 calories from your daily intake you’ll lose more than 10 pounds in one year. And you can lose up to 26 pounds in one year if you just cut out 250 calories per day.

But maybe you want more immediate results, like trying to look good for that vacation or high school reunion this winter. By cutting 500 calories a day, you’ll be able to eliminate 3,500 calories from your diet each week. Cutting 500 calories a day equals 3,500 a week, and since one pound of fat contains exactly 3,500 calories, you’ll lose one pound per week. Of course you can go to the gym and sweat it out and lose more, but just by using these tips and tricks in your daily routine you’ll be on your way to health – and looking great next summer.

Eating at home:

Eating out has its pros and cons: it’s convenient and there is no cleanup, but on the other hand, it costs much more than eating at home and you can’t control which ingredients go in your food or how it’s prepared. A study at the University of Texas found that female dieters took in an extra 226 calories and 10 grams of fat on the days they dined out. There are a number of reasons why, including portion sizes, ingredients used, and paying attention to everything landing on your plate.

Here are a few tricks to use at home to help cut out calories at home:

1. Plan ahead! According to one study, a planning your meals ahead of time really does help you lose weight. Perhaps it’s because having a plan forces you to keep healthier foods on hand, but planning ahead also helps you keep your eating on schedule: if you already know what you’re having for lunch, you’re less likely to let 6 or 7 hours pass without having something to eat—a situation that usually results in eating too much when you finally do sit down to a meal.

2. Swap your 12-inch plate for a 10-inch one. You’ll eat 20 to 25% less. If you normally eat 2,000 calories or more each day, you’ll cut 500 calories.

3. Measure your meals—overestimating by just a little can add over 100 calories.

4. Spray calories away! Avoid a heavy hand with cooking oil: Use an olive or canola-oil spray. A two-second spritz is roughly one-half teaspoon of oil — 100 calories fewer than the three teaspoons that could end up in your frying pan.

5. Bulk your meals up with leafy greens, like kale, spinach, collards, Swiss chards and a few others. They have several properties that make them perfect for a weight loss diet. They are low in both calories and carbohydrates, but loaded with fiber. Eating leafy greens is a great way to increase the volume of your meals, without increasing the calories. Numerous studies show that meals and diets with a low energy density make people eat fewer calories overall. Leafy greens are also incredibly nutritious and very high in all sorts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. (And this includes calcium, which has been shown to aid fat burning in some studies!)

Calorie saving tips when dining out:

6. Speak up…! When you eat out, ask your server for foods made with low-calories cooking methods, such as poached instead of fried, or grilled or baked instead of breaded. That alone could save you several hundred calories.

7. Limit salad toppings. A big salad might seem healthy, but all those goodies on top can make it more calorie-laden than a pasta dish! Think about it: 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—or cutting out the dressing altogether and squeezing a lime or lemon on top.

8. Break your bread basket habit. The fresh baguette offered by many restaurants may make your mouth water, but one portion dipped in a tablespoon of olive oil equals 300 calories. Ask your waiter to bring a small bowl of olives instead and nibble on five while you wait for your entrée, saving 280 calories.

9. Share! Cut your calories in half (and your bill!) by ordering and splitting your meal with a friend. You probably will still feel full, as most restaurants have portion sizes that are double (and sometimes quadruple) the size of what we should be eating.

10. Ask for a takeaway box. While it isn’t the sexiest thing to do on your date, ask your server for a box to come with your food. Once your food arrives immediately put half into the box; you won’t miss it if you can’t see it!

Don’t drink your calories!

11. Whatever you do, do NOT drink your calories. This is perhaps the easiest way to cut calories. For someone trying to watch their weight or consume a proper diet the calories that sneak in via beverages are usually forgotten. This is especially true when we are talking about sugary drinks, including fruit juices and alcoholic drinks. The absolute worst culprit is soda and fancy coffee drinks.

12. Drink LOTS of water. Hydrating is not only good for your health, it will keep you feeling more full and help you avoid sugary and high-calorie drinks.

13. Stick to drinking your coffee black. (Skip the milk and sugar!)

14. Drink tea or even hot water with lemon on a cold day instead of hot chocolate or sweetened coffee drinks.

15. Fruit juices sound like they should be healthy, but many of them are loaded with artificial sugars and high in calories.

16. Don’t drink soda. Ever! Soda consumption is probably the #1 contributor to childhood obesity, and will bloat you with nothing but harmful and empty calories.

17. Don’t drink alcohol, but…If you’re going to drink, try to stick to one glass of red wine.

18. If you’re more of a liquor drinker, why not skinny up your cocktails? Just try to skip the syrups, sour mix, sugary fruit juices, and creamy additions that turn drinks into desserts: an indulgent Mudslide can have more than 800 calories!

19. Instead, 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 100’s of unnecessary calories.

Burn big calories with small changes to your routine:

20. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep. Most of us assume our bodies burn more calories when we are awake longer, but that’s not true.

In fact, your metabolic rate is down-regulated with less sleep. Translation: When you sleep less, your body starts to burn calories at a slower rate to preserve energy. In a recent study, people burned on average 400 more calories by sleeping for 3 more hours, which adds up to an additional 2,800 calories burned in just one week! With less sleep, the body seeks to meet the increased metabolic needs of longer waking hours by shifting into a lower gear, so to speak, that it burns fewer calories and less fat.

And remember…the more calories you burn, the fewer calories you’ll need to cut. So make sure to get in some daily exercise.

21. Take the stairs. Do some stair climbing instead of hopping on the elevator at work, and you’ll be surprised how many calories you end up burning.

22. Park far away when you are at a mall, shopping center, or work, for a little built-in exercise.

23. Take a walk after dinner. When the food coma from dinner starts kicking in and you feel like melting into the couch and watching television all night, take a brisk walk instead. It will help with digestions, give you some energy to get through your evening without being a sloth, and you’ll burn a few calories.

24. Start a home exercise regimen. I love working out at home because there are no excuses. You don’t need fancy weights or machines – even simple pushups, air squats, abdominal work, stretching, jumping rope in the garage, yoga, etc. can be done for 20 minutes in the morning before work, once you get home, or even during the commercials while you watch TV! Do these as a family to make them fun.

25. Eat at your desk and go to the gym or take a walk. Instead of going out to lunch every day and then back to work, eat at your desk while you work and use your lunch hour for physical activity, like walking around or even a quick session at a nearby gym. You’ll be amazed how invigorated (instead of sleepy) you feel during the afternoon, and you’ll cut calories!