We like our weight loss plans the same way we like our Wi-Fi--fast and fail-proof. Science shows that when it comes to dropping pounds, small changes can yield big results.
So even if you have less than a minute to spare, you've got time to cut calories and curb cravings. These weight loss tricks take a half-minute to complete, but you'll reap the rewards long after those 30 seconds are up. (RELATED: 78 Ways to Cut 100 Calories)
Researchers from University of Eastern Illinois say that when people eat this snack twice a week, they're less likely to gain weight than those who don't. What food is it?
In a nutshell, the study also found that people who snacked on in-shell pistachios ate 50 percent less than those who ate the shelled kind, yet they reported feeling just as full and satisfied. What other snacks are good for weight loss?
Sometimes a few simple tricks can curtail mindless snacking. "Do a quick 30-second manicure in the evening," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "A coat of clear nail polish just makes it harder for you to stick your hand into a bag of chips." What other small rewards can be used for reaching your weight loss goals?
Can good manners help you slim down? Exhibit A for why table manners ought to make a comeback: Cutting your food into smaller portions slows down your food intake, and it also visually tricks you to think that you're eating more. Researchers from Japan's National Food Research Institute found that people thought piles of sliced meats and veggies were 27 percent larger than when the food was kept in one piece. Satiety is affected by visual cues, so making your portions appear larger will help you feel satisfied with less.
Think you can guesstimate how well you're losing weight? Study after study shows that regularly stepping on the scale can help you drop pounds. How much more weight? People who log weekly and daily weigh-ins lose about 12 to 18 pounds more than those who check less frequently, concludes a review study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Sprinkle this healthy extra on your oatmeal, casserole, or soup for a light, nutty kick, says Sari Greaves, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and Nutrition Director at Step Ahead Weight Loss Center in Bedminster, NJ. The extra fiber will help fill you up for only 35 calories a tablespoon, and you'll get the added benefits of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Take advantage of Casual Friday. A University of Wisconsin, La Crosse study found that people who wear jeans to work take 491 more steps a day than those in business wear. How many calories could you burn if you walked for 30 minutes a day?
Tap into years of Pavlovian training (watch videos of Pavlov's theories), and brush your teeth soon after you've finished supper. Traditionally, brushing your teeth is a signal to stop eating, explains Blatner, so you're primed to resist after-hours snacking. The essence of peppermint has been reported to suppress appetite, and cleaning your chompers with strong-tasting toothpaste may help distract your taste buds from craving another flavor. Try these other tips to curb late night snacking.
Whipped versions of classic foods contain more air per volumetric unit, so you're eating fewer calories per serving. (Bing: Can high-water foods help?) Choose whipped yogurt over the regular kind (save 30 calories) or whipped butter over sticks (save 50 calories). But remember, this doesn't mean whipped cream is a health food. See how many calories in whipped cream.
Bottled dressings can be a nutritional nightmare--even 2 tablespoons of blue cheese dressing packs about 140 calories and 14 grams of fat. Instead, mix together a quick dressing that's 2 parts lemon juice to 1 part oil. (Bing: What's the calorie count for your favorite dressing?) Pour your homemade vinaigrette into a spray bottle and spritz on your salad for extra portion control.
Place your hunger on hold: The next time you have a hankering for a Mars bar, take your thumb and forefinger and squeeze the flap of skin that juts out by your ear canal (not your earlobe). Activating this pressure point may help curb cravings, says Blatner.
Cornell researchers examined the eating habits of diners at a Chinese buffet and found that the fattest patrons tended to sit facing the serving area, while the skinniest sat with their backs to the food. Just seeing that you can get seconds may encourage you to eat more, so sit strategically during mealtime. Same goes for when you're mixing and mingling at a party--talk facing away from the tables of food. Need more tips on how to avoid overeating at a party?
Rather than eyeball portions, place a measuring cup in your pantry so that you'll know exactly how much you're doling out, recommends Blatner. Keep a serving of cereal to one cup, a portion of dry macaroni to ¼ cup. Check out these portion size examples.
Reach for the phone, not the potato skins, the next time you're feeling blue. Emotional eating can spiral out of control really fast, so instead of turning towards food for a pick-me-up, dial a friend to vent or schedule some Frisbee to blow off some steam. (Bing: Tips on how controlling emotional eating.)
Here are even more time-saving strategies that can help you slim down, get in shape, and look better than ever--no matter how busy you are!