Did you know that one pound of fat equals a whopping 3500 calories? By cutting just 500 calories each day, you can lose up to one pound a week to reach your goal weight. The good news is that you don’t have to suffer from starvation or exercise burnout to achieve this. By making a few tweaks to your diet and exercise routine, you will be cutting those calories almost without even realizing it! If cutting 500 calories a day sounds overambitious, start with cutting just 250 each day.
1. Downsize Your Cups and Plates
Some studies show that we tend to eat everything on our plate, even if we are already full. Centenarians I have interviewed shared a common habit – they all stopped eating when they were three-quarters full, which is less taxing on the digestive system than overeating. We can work toward this same habit by making a few dish switches. Opt for a 10-inch plate instead of a 12-inch one and you can save up to 500 calories by eating 20-25% less. Beware of those oversized coffee beverages, which can contain up to 700 calories! Lose the whipped cream, flavored syrups, and full-fat milk and save yourself even more calories.
2. Dress Salads for Less
What’s healthier than indulging in a big green salad? Although you are on the right track, watch out for those toppings and dressings that can pack on the calories. Tossing in a small handful of nuts or dried fruit is okay, but those buttery croutons, extra cheese, bacon, and sugar-laden dressings can sabotage your health goals. Stick with 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette that contains heart-healthy olive oil and calorie-free balsamic vinegar. You can also swap out the vinegar for a fresh squeeze of lemon and add herbs and spices for a flavor kick! If you must choose that blue cheese dressing, stick to just one tablespoon.
3. Don’t Go Nuts!
Although nuts should be eaten for their heart-healthy fats and trove of nutrients, it is easy to overindulge in these crunchy companions. Depending which nut you choose, one handful contains about 175–200 calories. If you are not careful, you may find yourself eating a bowl – and about 500 calories. To save some calories, portion out one handful and eat nuts that require shelling like pistachios, which will slow down your munch time.
4. Exercise Boosts Metabolism and Burns Calories
Multiple forms of cardiovascular exercise will improve the power in your muscles, burn calories, and boost your cardiovascular health. Pick what you like best, and make a plan to practice regularly!
Run: Running at a rate five miles per hour helps you burn at least 250 calories in about 30 minutes, depending on your age and weight.
Walk briskly: One hour of brisk walking burns around 250 calories.
Swim: Try freestyle, breaststroke, or any other style you enjoy for 25 minutes to burn about 250 calories.
Play: Tag, hopscotch, and swinging on the jungle gym; join your children in the park to play and burn 250 calories with 45 to 60 minutes of fun activities.
Backyard fun: Gardening, mowing the lawn, or cleaning your house can easily burn 250 calories in just 40 minutes.