If you’re serious about losing weight and keeping it off for good, slow and steady is the way to go. That’s all it takes to achieve sustainable weight loss—regardless of how many pounds you still have to go.
But how many (virgin) calories should you sacrifice to the weight loss gods to see results?
The Math of Losing A Pound
In theory, to drop a pound, you’d need to burn at least 3500 calories. So, for example, if you were to reduce daily calorie intake by 500 calories, you’d shed one pound a week.
Here is the good news:
For most dieters, cutting roughly 500 calories a day is within reach. It’s, by no means, extremely restrictive nor too challenging to sustain for as long as it’s required.
Once you can do that for a few months in a row, you’ll, eventually, reach your weight loss goals. In fact, in a matter of a couple of months, you may lose up to 8 pounds.
6 Simple Ways to Cut 500 Calories a Day
Here are seven easy, calorie-reducing strategies that will help slash 500 calories from your daily eating menu in ways that you’ll barely notice.
1. Practice Undistracted Eating
Multitasking might sometimes be the productive thing to do at work, but when it comes to your waistline, the practice causes more harm than good.
When you have your meals while watching TV, responding to emails, or planning your next project, you’ll, often than not, end up consuming far past the point of satisfaction.
And this is not something I just made up. Research out of the University of Massachusetts revealed that eating in front of the TV results in subjects consuming up to 288 calories more than usual.
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who had their meals while checking their phones consumed about 200 more calories a day.
So, during your main meals, remove all distractions: put away your phone, turn off the TV, disconnect from social media, etc.
Instead, sit down, eat at a table, keep your focus on the plate. Next, go for a short walk to help you digest the food you just had.
2. Put The Fork Down
The simple act of putting your silverware down between each bite can help you slash up to 200 to 250 calories per meal, according to research reported in the Journal of American Dietetic Association.
Over the course of a day, your savings will be well over 500 calories.
How does this trick work?
It’s simple. This strategy forces you to slow down your eating rate. And the slower you eat, the more satisfied you’ll feel.
Also, remember that it takes 15 to 20 minutes for the feeling of satiety to reach the brain.
The act also makes you more aware of how much you’re consuming as opposed to using the fork as if your life depended on it.
3. Eat Smart Snacks
One of the common mistakes many people make when snacking is allowing for total calories to get too high. This, sooner or later, results in weight gain.
On the other hand, many weight-conscious dieters think that snacking when trying to lose weight is out of the question.
The proper approach is something in between.
In fact, as long as you’re opting for the right snacks, you’ll make drastic weight loss progress. Smart snacking can help you satisfy your hunger, provide critical nutrients, and supply your body with energy.
So what is it all about?
In essence, calories and content.
As a rule of thumb, as long as you choose low-calorie snacks—roughly 150 calories or less— in controlled portions, you’re good to go.
The Best Snacks Around
Instead of a bag of tortilla chips (400 calories), a handful of cookies (300 calories), or pretzels (380 calories per 100g!), go for any of the following:
- A cup of low-fat cheese stick and grapes (180 calories)
- Almonds with apple slices (140 calories)
- One cup of baby carrots (40 calories)
- A banana with fresh raspberries (150 calories)
- Two kiwis (84 calories)
- Medium apple (90 calories)
- Medium peach (60 calories)
- A bowl of air-popped popcorn (30 calories).
4. Drink Plenty of Water Instead of Liquid Calories
The human body is roughly 60 to 70 percent water, and the latter is essential for many bodily processes. That’s why staying well hydrated is non-negotiable for optimum health.
More importantly, drinking plenty of water can also help you shed the pounds. In fact, subjects who had about 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before a meal lost more weight than the control group, according to a study published in Obesity.
What’s more, research also shows that drinking 30 to 60 ounces of water daily may help fire up your metabolism, so you burn even more calories.
Water is also the ideal substitute for sugary drinks. As you already know, when it comes to weight gain, liquid calories are the supervillain.
In fact, a 12-ounce—350ml—soda has roughly 160 calories, and a 16-ounce flavored latte contains more than 250 calories.
So, a couple of sugary beverages a day can quickly add up to 400 calories or more. And by eliminating one glass of the stuff from your menu each day, you’ll slash more than 1800 (empty and junk) calories per week.
Instead of dawning higher calorie beverages, such as soda, fruit juices, sweet tea, alcoholic drinks, and milk, drink water.
To make HO2 more appealing, add slices of oranges, cucumbers, or lemons.
5. Eat in A Smaller Plate
Research shows that people usually consume less food and feel more satisfied when they eat from a smaller plate.
But here is the sad truth: research shows that today’s plates are, on average, 40 percent larger than they were in the 1980’s.
Not only that, further research has drawn a direct correlation between larger plates and larger serving size.
And when people are exposed to larger sized portions, they consume more food without even realizing it.
An example is this study that revealed that when subjects had their meals on larger dinner plates they consumed 45 percent more food than the smaller plate group.
Consequently, swap your 12-inch plate for a 10-inch one. Research shows that you’ll consume 20 to 25 percent less without feeling deprived. This might translate to 500 calories a day!
6. Try Intermittent Fasting
One of the most convenient—and my favorite—ways to reduce calorie intake is to miss a meal or two in what’s known as intermittent fasting.
In essence, IF is about consciously skipping specific meals on purpose, consuming your total calories during a specific window of the day.
As long as you’re opting for healthy choices and not compensating by overeating during the feeding period, you’ll take in fewer calories.
There are plenty of IF methods to experiment with. The three most popular ones are:
The 16/8 Protocol
During this method, you fast for 16 hours, then consume your calories within a specific 8-hour window. For example, skipping breakfast, then only eating during an 8-hour feeding window, such as from 1 pm to 9 pm.
You go for a couple of 24-hour fasts each week, aiming for a complete break from eating throughout the fast.
For example, you may eat normally until 9 p.m. on a Monday, then fast until 9 p.m. on Tuesday.
The Warrior Diet
This method involves 20 hours of fasting (or underfeeding where tiny amounts of raw fruits and vegetables are allowed), followed by four hours of overfeeding at night, typically having one colossal dinner.
In other words, you fast all day, then feast at night.