JANUARY is the time of year people make drastic changes to their lifestyle in the hope of sudden weight loss.
But it’s often the small daily tweaks that add up to huge results in the long-term, helping you stick to a pattern of healthy habits forever.
It's also a lot less daunting than overhauling your whole diet.
Researchers have found that those who use small changes gain less weight over time than those who do not.
It could be an extra 30 minute walk a day, eating fewer potatoes at dinner, or swapping to diet fizzy drinks.
In the grand scheme of things, these don’t feel like revolutionary weight loss hacks.
But they each burn (or cut from the diet) around 100-200 calories a day.
Claire Madigan and Henrietta Graham, researchers in sport, exercise and health and Loughborough University, wrote in the Conversation: “Our recent review found that eating 100-200 calories less, or burning an extra 100-200 calories each day, may be enough to stop ourselves from gaining weight in the long run.”
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The pair said their analysis of 19 trials proved the “small-changes approach”, first proposed in 2004 by James Hill, an American expert on obesity, to help people manage their weight.
Some of the successful techniques used in the trials were:
1. Get off the bus one stop earlier
It’s all about getting those extra steps in.
On your way to work, get off the bus, tram or tube one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
“You may end up walking ten to 15 minutes more and this could help you burn up to 60 calories,” the experts said.
“Doing this on the way home as well could mean you burn up to 120 calories.”
2. Skip sides
Skipping the little extras when eating out could make a big difference, especially if they are chips.
“Small portions of oven chips served alongside main meals contain hundreds of calories,” the experts said.
“Saying no to these – or opting for a salad or vegetables as a side instead – could help you reduce your daily calorie intake by up to 200 calories.”
3. Chose diet sodas
One fizzy or sweet drink can contain more than your recommended daily sugar limit.
When it becomes a habit, you could be adding heaps of unnecessary sugar and calories into the diet.
“Switch from a regular to a diet drink,” the experts said.
“Although it might not taste the same, making this switch could reduce your calorie intake by 145 calories.
“However, recent research suggests that switching to diet drinks may not be great for weight management – so choosing to drink water instead of your regular fizzy drink might be best.”
4. Careful with coffee
Are you guilty of picking up a latte, cappuccino or mocha every morning before work?
“The milk in a regular latte can contain up to 186 calories, so switching to an Americano could prevent weight gain,” the experts said.
You could still treat yourself to your favourite coffee once a week, but by cutting it out every other day could slash almost 800 calories from your diet a week.
5. Use less oil
The experts recommend using less oil when cooking – an easy way to cut back on extra calories without ruining the taste of food.
“One tablespoon of olive oil, for example, contains slightly over 100 calories, so using less can be one way of avoiding additional calories,” they said.
6. Cut the sweet stuff
If you are committed to going the extra mile this year, try to look at what sweets you struggle to say no to.
It’s these little treats – biscuits, chocolates, pastries – that are often to blame for a bulging belly if you have them all the time.
The experts said: “Saying no to cakes, biscuits and other sweets could help you easily cut an extra 100-200 calories from your diet – maybe more, depending on the food.”
7. Eat treats in moderation
No one is saying you have to stop eating chocolate all together.
In fact, depriving yourself of life’s luxuries may make it harder to stick to healthy habits.
The experts advised: “If you have something sweet, save half of it for tomorrow.
“Eating only half a KitKat, for example, could reduce your calorie intake by about 102 calories – and give you something to look forward to tomorrow.”
You may not even fancy the extra portion come the next day.
8. Don’t over-serve
It’s easy to pile your plate up high at dinner time. But taking more than you need may be the reason you can’t shift weight.
The experts said: “Take one or two fewer potatoes in your roast dinner.
“One medium roast potato can contain as many as 200 calories, so be mindful of how many you put on your plate.”
9. Double the walk
Try and get an extra 30 minute brisk walk each day.
The experts said taking your dog out for this extra stroll “could burn over 150 calories”.
10. Walk and talk
Experts often recommend moving more than you usually do to burn fat.
It can be difficult to find the time to do so – so why not take all your phone meetings while walking?
“You could burn an extra 100 calories if you opted to take a 30-minute phone call on the go,” the experts said.
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