Monday, October 1, 2012

Burn Easy Calories

Originally published on Health magazine by Shaun Chavis here

Tap your foot

Your skinnier friends are probably fidgeters, who burn up to 350 calories a day just by tapping their feet or being restless. Try it for a few days. Walk around while you’re on the phone, or tap out a tune with your hands or feet (in the privacy of your own office, of course). In fact, do a couple of swaps a day and you can drop 10 pounds in 5 weeks! So try these 25 easy tweaks—and get the slim body you want in no time.

Step away from the nuts

Especially if they’re in a big bowl. The bigger the serving bowl, the more you’ll eat, Cornell University researchers say. Nuts have heart-healthy fats, but they’re also high in calories: 1 handful (about 1 ounce) of oil-roasted mixed nuts has 175 calories; 3 handfuls have 525. Cut out nuts altogether and save more than 500 calories. Can’t resist ’em? Eat pistachios: 2 handfuls are just 159 calories, and the shelling will slow down your munching.

Don’t eat in front of the TV

You’ll eat up to 288 calories more, according to research from the University of Massachusetts. Instead, eat at the table, and trade 1 hour of TV for a casual walk. Together, that’s 527 calories burned.

Limit salad toppings

A big salad might seem healthy, but all those goodies on top can make it more calorie-laden than lasagna or fettuccine Alfredo. Cheese crumbles, caramelized nuts, bacon, avocado, dried fruit, croutons, and vinaigrettes can add lots of calories. Save 500 or more calories by having just one topping, adding flavorful but lower-cal veggies (roasted bell peppers, grilled onions, or mushrooms), and using half the dressing.

Skip the whip

Or at least size it down. Dessert-like coffee creations can contain as many as 670 calories, with large sizes and options like whipped cream, whole milk, and syrups. Craving whipped cream? Try it on a shot of espresso for a total of just 30 calories. You save 640 calories!

Count your chips (and crackers)

No, you can’t eat your snacks from a large bag or box because it’s waaaay too tempting to eat until the bag is empty. A chip-bender to the bottom of a 9-ounce bag is 1,260 calories sans the dip. So stick to 1 serving, about 15 chips—that’s 140 calories—or pick up some 100-calorie snack packs and save 1,120 calories.

Serve and sit

Family-style meals, with platters and bowls of food on the table, invite people to go back for seconds and thirds. Cut hundreds of calories by filling plates before bringing them to the table; leave serving dishes in the kitchen, too.

Eat less pasta

One cup of pasta is just 220 calories. But typical dinner portions at restaurants can be as much as 480% larger than that 1 cup, according to New York University research. That’s 1,056 calories. Even if you eat 2 whole cups of noodles, you’ll still save 616 calories.

Nix that smoothie a day


A large 32-ounce smoothie can have 800 or more calories. That really adds up if you’re having on-the-go breakfast several times a week. Instead, try a filling lower-calorie starter of oatmeal with brown sugar and banana slices, and a cup of black coffee. You’ll save 518 calories.

Beware the healthy-food trap


People let their guard down when the menu is full of healthy fare, underestimating calories by as much as 35%, research by the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab shows. You’re also more likely to order drinks, sides, and desserts with up to 131% more calories when you have a healthy entrée. Skip caloric sides—a cookie, chips—to save 500-plus calories.

Beware hidden oils


Ask to have your food cooked with a little stock instead of oil, or order steamed or poached entrées: you’ll save 124 calories per tablespoon of oil. Also, have the kitchen skip oils added at the last minute like basil oil or chive oil, and save another 40 calories per teaspoon.

Get enough sleep


A lack of shut-eye can make you snack, new research from the University of Chicago shows. People who got only 5 1/2 hours of sleep noshed more during the day. Snooze more and save about 1,087 calories.

Be the hostess with the mostest

Go grocery shopping for 1 hour, put away your groceries, spend 2 hours cooking a fabulous holiday feast, set the table, and serve. Then toast yourself for the awesome 640 calorie-burn. (A glass of Champagne is only about 106 calories, so you’re still ahead.)

Kick the soda habit

A 12-ounce soft drink has about 150 to 180 calories. If you down two or three a day, you’re getting lots of extra calories. Quench your thirst with water and save as many as 540 calories.

Simple tricks to fill up (with less!)

For breakfast, eat 2 boiled or poached eggs. (You’ll feel fuller and eat about 416 fewer calories the rest of the day.) Before lunch and dinner, enjoy 1 cup low-cal soup. (You’ll eat about 134 calories less at each meal.) And save a total of 684 calories for the day.

Drink sugar-free

A 20-ounce tea with added fruit juices can have 400-plus calories. And Southern-style sweet tea isn’t much better than soda: a 16-ounce bottle of syrupy sweet tea has 180 calories; three of those are 540 calories. Choose sugar-free sips and save more than 400 calories.

 Eat (Yes, Eat!) to Lose Weight
Instead of fasting, fill up on foods that have a lot of water, fiber, or both—such as fruit, veggies, and beans.