A few years ago, one of my friends at Men's Health stepped on the scale and was horrified by the result. He'd somehow managed to pack 20 pounds of flab onto his previously skinny frame. When he looked into the mirror, he saw a fat guy staring back. He decided to make a change, quick.
That day, he gave up his beloved soda. He was only drinking two or three bottles a day, but over the course of six months, he dropped those 20 pounds. It was a small change to his lifestyle -- no big deal, really. And yet, it had a massive impact on his health and his body. (No surprise: Drinking calories is one of the 20 Habits That Make You Fat.)
My point: Making small decisions each day can result in big-time fat loss.
Below are dozens of simple ways to lose weight. Start with one -- today! -- and watch the weight begin to melt away. Trust me, this is going to be easier than you think.
1. Have a clear goal. It should be one that anyone in the world can measure and understand.
2. Drink tea. Research suggests that those who drink tea -- black, green, or white, as long as it’s from real tea versus herbal tea -- have lower BMIs and less body fat than those who don’t consume tea.
3. Eat cayenne pepper. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that when compared to placebo, capsaicin -- the active ingredient in cayenne -- increased fat burning.
4. Decrease/eliminate processed carbs. They do nothing for you outside of creating a favorable environment for gaining fat.
5. Eat more veggies. They fill you up, without providing many calories. Just avoid the high-calorie dressings.
6. Eat more fruit. No one ever gained weight from eating more fruit. And that includes the so-called "high sugar" fruits like bananas and melons.
7. Lift weights. Heavy weights. Build more muscle, burn more calories.
8. Cut down rest time between sets. This will keep your heart rate elevated causing an increase in calories burned. The good news: You can sky-rocket your heart rate and torch belly-fat fast with The Spartacus Workout for Men and The Spartacus Workout for Women -- the most popular fat-blasting workouts in Men's Health and Women's Health history.
9. Do intervals. Study after study after study continues to show intervals are more effective and time efficient than longer activity performed at a lower intensity.
10. Eat more protein. Replacing refined carbohydrates with lean protein will not only help satiate you, but will also increase your metabolism -- through something called the thermic effect of food.
11. Eat protein more frequently. It's important to also time your intake so you're eating protein regularly throughout the day -- not just in one lump sum, like most do at dinner. Every meal and snack should include some protein.
12. Supplement with fish oil. A study published in Lipids fed mice diets enhanced EPA and DHA -- a.k.a. fish oil. The researchers learned that the mice fed diets higher in omega-3 fats had significantly less accumulation of body fat. Other studies have shown similar results.
13. Do full body exercises. Think: Squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, and push-ups. You'll get more bang for your buck out of each workout. Want even better results? Discover the 100 Greatest Fitness Tips of All Time.
14. Cycle your carb intake based on your activity level. Sure, carbs are important. But on the days you don't work out, you simply don't need as many compared to the days you exercise hard. Rule of thumb: The more active you are, the more carbs you can eat, and vice versa.
15. Start your meals with a salad. Salad will provide some bulk to help fill you up -- so that you eat less calories overall.
16. Don't forget the fiber. Think of fiber like a sponge; it absorbs water and makes you feel full.
17. Drink water. Professor Dr. Brenda Davy and her Team from Virginia Tech University found that giving people 2 cups of water before each meal resulted in greater weight loss after 12 weeks. The reason? It helps fill you up.
18. Add beans to your salads. It's a nice way to add some additional fiber, protein and healthy carbs.
19. Replace one meal a day with a large salad and lean protein. This is a simple way to instantly improve your diet.
20. Keep a food journal. There's no better way to track what you're putting in your mouth.
21. Watch your portions. Avoid the buffet line and never supersize. Instead make sure you're following what the nutrition label recommends for a serving.
22. Switch to calorie-free drinks. All calories count, whether they're liquid or solid. So unless it's low-fat milk, opt for tea or water. Or something I was introduced to in the Netherlands -- large bunches of mint, lemon and hot water.
23. Weigh yourself. Studies show daily weigh-ins help enhance weight loss efforts. Don't live and die by the number. And of course a scale doesn’t decipher between fat and lean body mass, but it can still be of benefit to keep things "in check."
24. Eat whole eggs. Daily. A study published a couple years ago showed that those who ate whole eggs versus a bagel for breakfast ate less at the next meal. A similar study showed eating whole eggs increases HDL (good) cholesterol.
25. Eat breakfast. A review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that those who eat breakfast are more successful with long-term weight maintenance. Other research has shown the same for weight loss. Grab hardboiled eggs, scrambled eggs, Greek yogurt, a piece of fruit and handful of nuts, or make a smoothie. It doesn't have to be fancy.
26. Eat the bulk of your meals in the A.M. Then eat progressively less throughout the day. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that eating most of your calories earlier in the day positively influences weight changes.
27. To burn more calories, stay upright. This means not sitting in front of a computer, TV, phone, etc., all day. Stand and you'll burn more and be more productive. This could even save your life. Discover Why Your Office Chair is Killing You.
28. Use the stairs. That's right: Skip the escalator and elevator. This won't make or break success, but every little bit helps. So get in all the movement you can.
29. Eat low-energy, dense foods. These are foods that are high in water and lower in calories, such as fruit, veggies, soups, and salads. Studies at Penn State University have showed that the inclusion of these foods helps individuals eat less total calories overall.
30. Don't grocery shop hungry. If you do, you'll buy everything in the aisle -- instead of sticking to your list. And most of the time, the foods you buy when hungry will be the kinds that sabotage your weight loss efforts.
31. Replace side dishes with steamed veggies. Restaurants will often allow you to substitute the fries or chips with steamed veggies. All you have to do is ask.
32. Bake, don't fry.
33. Use the fat-burner in your backyard: Your grill. (And make sure you have a copy of Grill This, Not That! -- the extraordinary guide to grilling that can help you lose 10, 20, 30 or more pounds.)
34. Order dressing on the side. But here's the bigger secret: Dip your fork in dressing, and then in the salad. This saves a ton more dressing than if one was to order it on the side, and the pour the entire cup on the salad anyway. Fewer calories equal less weight.
35. In the airport: Carry your luggage, don't roll it. Again, not a deal breaker in terms of success -- just another way to increase energy expenditure.
36. Skip the "Venti lattes" and opt for plain coffee. (Or better yet, tea.) Those extra large "designer" coffees can pack a belly-inflating 500 or more calories per serving!
37. Embrace oats. Plain rolled oats will help fill you up more than the high sugar breakfast counterparts. Moreover, one serving provides a lot less calories than the sugar coated alternatives.
38. Fidget. A study published in the journal Science showed that those who fidgeted more often -- for example, changed their posture frequently -- weighed less than those who didn't. This extra movement was termed NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis).
39. Laugh often. A study presented at the European Congress on Obesity found those who laughed hard for approximately 10 to 15 minutes each day burned an additional 10 to 40 calories/day. Multiply that by 365 and those calories can add up!
40. Leave something on your plate at the end of the meal. Every little bit counts.
41. When out to eat, split a meal. The portions are usually big enough to feed a family.
42. Skip dessert.
43. Don't socialize around the food tables at parties. You're more
likely to munch mindlessly, even though you may not be hungry.
44. Don't eat your kid's leftovers. Every little bit of food adds up, including what we call "BLTs" (bites, licks and tastes).
45. Keep chips, dips, and other high fat junk foods out of the house. It's not about willpower; it's about being realistic.
46. If you have a dog, take him for a walk. It's better for both him and you than just letting him out the back. (Bonus: He'll love you even more!)
47. If you don't have a pet, offer to walk a neighbor's dog. Make friends; lose weight.
48. Use smaller plates and bowls. There will be less room for you to fill up and it makes less food seems like more.
49. Skip buffets. It's a foregone conclusion: If you don't, you'll feel like you have to get your money's worth and overeat. For more instant weight-loss secrets – delivered to your inbox every day -- sign up for the FREE Eat This, Not That! newsletter.
50. Slow down. It takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes for your stomach to sense it's full. If you wolf down your food like a starving dog, you'll likely out-eat your hunger.
51. Decrease your food intake by 100 calories per day. Theoretically this translates to losing nearly one pound per month (1 lb = 3,500 calories) -- with hardly any effort.
52. Buy a pedometer and accumulate at least 10,000 steps each day.
53. When possible, walk or bike to do your errands.
54. Don't buy in bulk. The more that is there, the more that you'll eat.
55. Plan ahead. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
56. Keep some healthy snacks -- like nuts -- in your glove compartment so you're prepared at all times.
57. Take before pictures.
58. Get new friends. If your friends prefer pizza, wings, nachos and beer on a regular basis, find one's who are like-minded and want to be healthy. Research has suggested that friends enhance (or can hurt) success.
59. Put yourself first. Many people (women in particular) put everyone else ahead of themselves and let their health fall by the side.
60. Remember: It's not all or nothing. If you fall off the bandwagon, jump right back on. Don't let yourself continue to fall until all progress has been lost.
61. Wake up early to exercise. You're more likely to get it done if you don’t wait until after work.
Looking for more than simple lifestyle tweaks? Discover the doctor-approved eating and fat-loss guide in Dr. Travis Stork's best-selling book, The Lean-Belly Prescription.
-- Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D., is a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant, and the owner of MohrResults.com.