Seven ways to lose weight with minimal effort, according to science


If you want to lose weight but know full well you can’t keep up with a crazy fitness fad and celebrity crash diet — you’re in luck.

Studies show that, contrary to popular belief, tiny modifications to your daily routine can be just as effective over time.

Being too strict with food or exercise raises the risk of binging or quitting entirely, research suggests, even if you enjoy a short burst of motivation at the start of a restrictive plan.

One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so to lose roughly half a pound per week, you only need to burn or skip out on roughly 250 calories per day, the equivalent of one glazed Dunkin donut or a large latte from Starbucks.

Keep it up for a year and you will have lost more than 20lbs.

The average person burns off 250 calories by walking at a leisurely pace for just 45 minutes — easily incorporated into a daily routine by taking the stairs over the elevator and parking slightly further away from the store entrance.

But if you’re still struggling with the willpower and motivation to do those things, here are seven hacks that experts recommend and science backs up. 

Nutritionists and weight loss experts said losing weight does not have to mean exercising intensely everyday or eliminating your favorite foods from your diet. Instead, people can make simple, sustainable changes like opting to walk home or filling up their [smaller] plates with fiber-rich berries after dinner instead of a high-calorie sweet treat

How many calories do I need to burn to lose weight?

Eating fewer calories than you expend through exercise and daily living is called a calorie deficit.

A calorie is a unit of energy; 3,500 calories burnt equals one pound of fat lost.

Typically, a calorie deficit of around 500 calories is enough to shed about a pound per week, which is considered safe by weight loss experts.

HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR EXACT WEIGHT-LOSS GOALS 

  • When trying to lose weight, it’s helpful to calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which represents the number of calories you need just for your body to function. 
  • For men, BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years) 
  • For women, BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years) 
  • Then, depending on your weight loss goals, subtract between 500 and 1,000 calories, meaning you will eat fewer calories or burn more off through exercise. 

For example, a 30-year-old man weighing 175lbs and measuring 5 feet 10 inches who exercises one to three times weekly will need to stay below 2,170 calories per day to lose half a pound per week.

A 30-year-old woman weighing  150lbs and measuring 5 feet 5 inches who exercises one to three times per week would need to consume fewer than 1700 calories to lose half a pound in a week.

People can plug in their information like weight and height into online calculators to determine how many calories they can consume to lose weight safely. 

To do a manual calculation, a person who exercises moderately (3 to 5 times per week) should multiply their bodyweight by 15 to determine how many calories they would need each day. 

To determine their safe calorie deficit, they can subtract roughly 500 calories from that number. 

Small plates, big impact! 

Experts recommend changing the way you serve yourself. Presentation is not just for restauranteurs. 

Eating on smaller plates can help reduce calorie intake and keep portions in check. 

Skeptical? In 2016, Cornell University researchers collated a handful of disparate studies examining the effect of smaller plates on consumption in the hope of finding medical consensus.

They concluded that halving the plate size led to a 30 per cent reduction in the amount of food consumed on average. 

‘Eating is very visual,’ according to Joan Salge Blake, a nutrition professor at Boston University.

‘When you put petite portions on a big plate, it looks skimpy and you’re not feeling that you’re satisfied. But if you put the same portion on a smaller plate it makes the plate look more robust, and you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself.’

Reaching for a small fork or a teaspoon to eat your dessert could also keep an urge to binge at bay. 

A 2018 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that the speed of eating was slower and bite sizes were smaller with teaspoons over larger spoons. 

In fact, subjects who used small spoons ate eight per cent less food than people who ate with larger spoons. 

It’s no secret that portion control is strongly linked to weight loss. The speed at which people eat is too, and using a small spoon can slow people down to a healthier pace. 

Fast eaters are more likely to hold onto extra pounds and are up to 115 per cent more likely than slower eaters to be obese, according to a 2011 study. 

Tea is your best friend, coffee is an acquaintance

Caffeine is a stimulant and increases your metabolic rate which can aid weight loss, and coffee and teas have a lot of it.

While coffee has between 95 and 200 milligrams of caffeine, black tea has between 14 and 70 milligrams, green tea has between 24 and 45 milligrams, and white tea has between six and 60 milligrams of caffeine.

Unsweetened tea is a good alternative to coffee. Green tea, for instance, is loaded with antioxidants and active plant compounds boost the effects of fat-burning hormones like norepinephrine.

A diet rich in antioxidants is integral to helping you shed pounds.

The drinks are also very low in calories, provided you don’t load them up with sweeteners and dairy. 

Caffeine may also help reduce your appetite and the number of calories you consume throughout the day overall. 

But too much of it can disrupt sleep, which is key to personal health and weight loss. That is why tea, not coffee, should be the first thing you reach for when the afternoon doldrums set in.   

Chug! Chug! Chug!

The human body needs water to survive. We are mostly made up of water, so it should come as no surprise. Drinking a sufficient amount of water is key to staying on course in the weight loss journey. 

Typically, a person is advised to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day which equals about two liters. While water is crucial not only to weight loss but to every bodily function, the 8×8 rule is not set it stone.

Graca said: ‘I don’t believe there is a magic number that works well for everyone. And what I mean by that is, I am five foot two inches on a good day, the amount of water that my body needs is going to be very different than what a six foot nine man needs because our bodies are just shaped so differently.’

She recommends drinking 1 ounce of water for every pound of bodyweight. 

Staying hydrated throughout the day is also an easy way to keep your appetite in check. Thirst, triggered by dehydration, is often mistaken for hunger by the brain.

Drinking water also spurs the process of thermogenesis, or heat production in the body. Increasing thermogenesis increases metabolism, thereby helping the body burn more calories.

In a 2013 study, 50 overweight girls were instructed to drink about two glasses of water about 30 minutes before breakfast, lunch, and dinner without any additional dietary changes. At the end of eight weeks, the girls lost weight and saw reductions in body mass index as well as body composition scores.

Water doesn’t have to be boring. Graca recommends cutting up fruit or mint to infused to your water or add a small amount of Crystal Light to make it more enticing.  

Get off public transport a stop or two early

For many people embarking on their weight loss journey, exercise is a necessary evil. 

WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE? 

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the

• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy and almond milks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

 

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide 

But this guide is meant for people who are not looking to sweat profusely at the gym for an hour or run sprints on the track. 

Making a physical activity like walking a habit is key. Adding just 30 minutes of walking to your daily routine can ignite up to 200 extra calories per day.

The stroll might not make you break a sweat but the expenditure adds up. One week of walking for half an hour everyday burns between 700 to 1,400 calories.

A simple way to sneak in some cardio is to park the car deep in the lot farther from the entrance to the grocery store, or get off the bus a few stops early so that you’re forced to walk the rest of the way, according to Chicago-based weight-loss and fitness coach Sarah Pelc Graca. 

Sarah Pelc Graca told DailyMail.com: ‘People tend to have that all or nothing mentality so they say to themselves if I’m going to lose weight, I have to exercise intensely 30 minutes a day five times a week.

She added: ‘I recommend to all of our clients is to really start small and build from there. 

‘Can you set an alarm on your phone for once every hour or two hours and all you do is get up? And maybe you walk down one flight of stairs, up one flight of stairs and then go sit down and work for another hour or another?’

Lainey Younkin, a weight-loss dietitian from Boston, told DailyMail.com: Walking helps you lose weight because it contributes to NEAT, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which is the calories burned doing daily activities, not including formal exercise, eating, and sleeping. Increasing NEAT will make it easier to not only lose weight but also keep it off.’ 

Exercise also boosts energy levels and improves mood – essential for when the going gets tough on your weight-loss journey. Exercising regularly can even alleviate long term depression symptoms.  

Fill up on veggies and berries

Vegetables and berries are chock full of fiber that make you feel fuller because they are digested at a slower rate than foods lower in fiber.

The high water content in fruits and veggies also helps keep you feeling full for longer, which discourages snacking on caloric or fatty foods. And they provide a gradual release of energy into the bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels stable. 

Fruits and vegetables pack another health punch – potentially warding off chronic diseases like cancer and heart conditions. 

Broccoli, for instance, is packed with sulforaphane, a compound that helps flush out cancer-causing toxins and calms inflammation that can lead to cancer. And blackberries contain high concentrations of anthocyanins, or antioxidants that protect you from conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and various forms of cancers.

Don’t eat when the sun goes down 

Eating too late at night or too close to bedtime is a risk factor for weight gain. It doesn’t help that the snacks we often reach for at night are the least healthy ones that pack a lot of empty calories.

Nutrition experts encourage people to eat consistently nutrient-rich foods while the sun is out with the heaviest meals reserved for earlier in the day. 

Late-night meals interact poorly with the body’s circadian rhythm, the 24-hour internal clock that regulates myriad bodily functions including sleep, digestion, and metabolism. 

The internal clock synchronizes bodily functions with the rising and setting of the sun. 

‘If any of us eat a large indulgent meal close to bedtime research does suggest we’re just not going to get high quality sleep because our bodies are so busy metabolizing that food that they can’t rest,’ Pelc Graca said.

The recommended window for eating includes the hours when the sun is out, which mirrors the body’s internal clock. Eating beyond that window is associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease, prediabetes and obesity. 

 Many people struggle with late night snacking, Pelc Graca said, ‘and they kind of have the ‘treat yourself’ mentality. They’re like, oh my God, it was a busy workday, the kids are in bed. Let me break out the chocolate covered almonds and the wine and the cheese and crackers and all of this.’

And when those cravings hit, you don’t need to deprive yourself. That deprivation actually increases the risk of a regrettable binge.

Get some Z’s

Pop a low dose melatonin, steep some chamomile tea, slip on some cotton pajamas, and turn all screens off at least 30 minutes before getting under the covers.

Insufficient sleep has been linked to higher body mass index and weight gain. An analysis of 20 studies including more than 307,000 people concluded that people who slept for fewer than seven hours had a 41 percent increased obesity risk. 

The amount of sleep a person needs changes as they age. Toddlers and young children require between 11 and 16 hours per night, school-age children and teens need eight to 12, and adults require seven or more hours.

But more than a third of American adults get too little sleep on a regular basis, which could be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

Sleeping too little can also wreak havoc on hunger levels, which raises the risk of reaching for unhealthy high-fat high-calorie foods.

Sleep deprivation alters the hormones that govern hunger – leptin and ghrelin. Little sleep is linked to a drop in leptin, the hormone that sends signals to the brain that helps you feel full. Ghrelin, meanwhile, sends those signals to the brain when your stomach is empty and needs to eat.

Getting a good night’s sleep also leads to healthier food choices and more sustainable energy to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk