21 Quick and Easy Hacks That Support Weight Loss

Lauren Krouse
by Lauren Krouse
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21 Quick and Easy Hacks That Support Weight Loss

Losing weight and keeping it off is a lifelong endeavor of stacking good habits on top of more good habits. The most successful transformations are built on the seemingly fleeting decisions you make during the day. “Small habit changes are the perfect building blocks to lead to successful and sustainable weight loss,” confirms Melissa LaGrant, a certified personal trainer and licensed nutritionist. “Because they’re easy and simple to follow through, they quickly create positive feedback loops, resulting in increased confidence and motivation to push you through the rough stretches of your weight-loss journey.”

To jumpstart your slim-down plan, add these simple weight-loss tricks to your life. Each one takes only 60 seconds or less.

NUTRITION

USE SMALLER PLATES 
Total time: 5 seconds

Regardless of how large the plate is, research shows we tend to eat until we’ve cleared it. Another portion control hack for weight loss: “Serve your meals on salad plates instead of dinner plates,” says Ruiz. Using smaller bowls or mugs instead of large soup bowls can help prevent overeating, too.

21 Quick and Easy Hacks That Support Weight Loss

“Allow your thermostat to be slightly more frigid in the winter,” says Richard Ruiz, a certified personal trainer. “You’ll save on your fuel bill and burn more calories to stay warm.” It’s true: Research shows 65°F (18°C) is the perfect temperature to reap fat-burning benefits.

CUT DOWN ON ADDED SUGAR
Total time: 10 seconds

Many of us eat far too much sugar each day, but combatting your sweet tooth to shed pounds doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Simply add 1 spoonful of sugar to your coffee instead of 2, says LaGrant. Another small change: Halve the added sugar in dessert recipes and replace it with natural sugar that comes with filling fiber like applesauce.

HIDE THE COOKIES
Total time: 15 seconds 

“We eat what’s in front of us, so it’s best to put treats away,” says Young. Instead of leaving a line of processed snacks like cookies and chips on your counter or open shelving, revamp your pantry storage by putting them away on higher shelves or inside cabinets so they’re out of sight.

SCOOP OUT CEREAL 
Total time: 20 seconds

Rather than pouring cereal straight into the bowl, use a measuring cup. “We tend to over-pour cereal and think we haven’t eaten so much, so scooping out your portion helps keep your portion sizes in check,” says Lisa R. Young, PhD, RD. This trick is also useful for other foods you might overestimate, such as granola or oatmeal or nuts.

PORTION OUT NUTS
Total time: 20 seconds

Nuts make for a surprisingly smart snack for weight loss. Case in point: Regular nut consumption is linked to a lower risk of weight gain and obesity, per a study from the Harvard School of Public Health. However, “eating too many can lead to weight gain,” says Young. The fix: Portion them out into baggies with 1/4 cup (or 1-ounce) servings — a healthy portion size.

“Aim to eat half a plate of vegetables at every meal,” says Elliott Upton, senior personal trainer at Ultimate Performance. They’re packed with satiating fiber, which keeps your gut healthy and supports digestion as well as loads of essential vitamins and minerals. In particular, add a handful of low-calorie leafy greens like kale, arugula and spinach to each meal. They’re packed with antioxidants and can fill you up without making a large dent in your daily calorie goal.

SERVE PALM-SIZED PORTIONS
Total time: 20 seconds

Of course, what you put on that plate matters, too. Serve portions of carbs (like quinoa, potatoes or pasta) and protein (chicken, fish and beans) in portions no larger than the palm of your hand, says Ruiz.

 PAUSE MID-MEAL 
Total time: 30 seconds

“Many times, people are eating for reasons outside of actual hunger,” says LaGrant. Whether you’re stressedsleep-deprived or bored, it’s easy to eat more than your body needs. A simple fix: When your plate’s half full, check-in with yourself. Put your fork down, take a deep breath, root yourself in the present, and ask, “Am I still hungry?” A small moment of mindfulness can help you learn to listen to your hunger and fullness cues to avoid overeating.

Drink a glass of water (or about 2 cups) before your meal, and you could potentially lose 44% more weight than if you hadn’t, finds a study of overweight and obese adults in Obesity“By filling up before eating, you can reduce your calorie intake by 74 calories per meal,” says Brandon Nicholas, a NASM-certified personal trainer and fitness nutritionist.

SHOWCASE FRESH, WHOLE FOODS
Total time: 60 seconds

When you’re putting your groceries away, reorganize your fridge to support weight loss by storing fresh fruits and vegetables at eye-level in clear containers. Add a bowl full of fruit to your counter, too. Make grab-and-go snacks healthy and accessible, and you’re more likely to reach for them when you’re hungry, says Young.

LOG YOUR FOOD
Total time: 60 seconds

“You have to track your food intake in order to know if you’re meeting your goals,” says Dr. Rameck Hunt, founder and medical director of an obesity medicine clinic at Penn Medicine Princeton and author of “The No Guesswork Diet.” That’s why step one is to commit to accurately logging what you eat and drink each day. Download an app like MyFitnessPal, which can help you spot trends and make logging a breeze with time-saving features such as Meal Scan.

21 Quick and Easy Hacks That Support Weight Loss

If you tend to eat more in the evening, make a cup of tea after dinner before you reach for more food. Young suggests treating yourself to a flavored herbal tea like relaxing chamomile or spicy chai tea. “These teas have a dessert-like quality, and they’re a great way to end your meal,” she says.

CHEW GUM
Total time: 60 seconds

A minty fresh piece of gum is a welcome distraction from hunger pangs and can keep mindless snacking at bay. Furthermore, some studies suggest chewing gum can help with weight-loss by dialing back cravings and preventing overeating of other high-calorie snacks.

WALK AWAY FROM THE TABLE 
Total time: 60 seconds

Take a minute to walk away from the table, especially if you’re at a gathering where it’s easy to hit the buffet for seconds and thirds. This can help you reassess if you’re actually hungry, says Ruiz.

MOVEMENT

MOVE DURING COMMERCIAL BREAKS
Total time: 30–60 seconds

Mute your TV, pop up and squeeze in a mini, one-minute workout, suggests Dunn. Commercial breaks are a great time for some bodyweight exercises like pushupssitups, wall sits or squats.

SCHEDULE MOVEMENT BREAKS 
Total time: 60 seconds

Increasing your nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) or the calories you burn during day-to-day activities can help tip the calorie balance in your favor, says Nicholas. What to do: Set an interval timer for a 1-minute break every 30 minutes to get your body moving. Take a brisk walk, do jumping jacks or hold a plank to activate your core.

SQUEEZE IN EXTRA STEPS
Total time: 60 seconds

Another way to increase your NEAT for weight loss is to make it a habit to take the stairs, says Kesha Dunn, RD. For a midday boost of energy that could help get your creative juices flowing and up productivity, consider jogging or sprinting up them. Or, when you’re running errands, park your car as far as possible from the front of the store to up your NEAT and your step count, says Dunn.

WELLNESS

 WIND DOWN
Total time: 30 seconds

Sleep is crucial when you’re trying to lose weight,” says Nicholas. It helps your body recover and recharge, keeps stress levels down, and even allows you to better manage cravings and mood swings. Practice good sleep hygiene by setting an alarm to remind you to wind down before bed. Getting in the habit of going to bed and getting up at the same time each day better supports your circadian rhythm and weight loss.

TAKE DEEP BREATHS
Total time: 30–60 seconds

Stress-management is important for weight loss,” says Hunt. Easing stress can help you cut down on emotional eating and get the restorative sleep your body needs to keep your hormones in balance and your appetite and fullness signals under control. While what works for everyone is different, doing breathing exercises, a brief meditation or a short stretching routine each day can help dial down your stress response and reduce muscle tension and pain.

BRUSH YOUR TEETH
Total time: 60 seconds

While this is a no-brainer in the morning and evening, brushing after meals can be a helpful weight-loss tool. Doing so acts as a deterrent to further eating and drinking — after all, who wants to drink orange juice with a minty fresh clean mouth? It can also be a great way to stack other healthy habits such as drinking a glass of water afterward.

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About the Author

Lauren Krouse
Lauren Krouse

Lauren Krouse is a freelance writer and researcher based in North Carolina. A graduate of the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program at UNC-Wilmington, she loves writing about all things health, fitness, politics, and activism. When she’s not typing away, you can find her meditating, weightlifting, playing soccer, or walking in the woods with her partner and two rescue dogs.

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