When it comes to fitness and weight loss, we’re a society of do-ers. You’ve got the ultramarathoners, the uber-vegans, the cleansers, the Crossfitters, the Weight Watchers and the calorie-counters, all punishing themselves in a Herculean quest for a fitter physique. Diets are tough! Workouts are tough! And if your journey’s not marked by blood, sweat and tears, you’re probably doing it wrong. Or so the diet and fitness industry would have you believe.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Not only does weight loss not have to be hard work—it can actually be no work at all. These seven simple tweaks, based on new research by Eat This, Not That!, can help even the laziest of weight-loss seekers drop serious pounds without lifting a finger. So stay in your PJs, throw on some cartoons, and feel smug about your slim-slacker status, while the rest of the suckers slave away on the treadmill.
Slacker Slim-Down #1
Water down your weight
Are you really hungry, or are you actually just thirsty? A study in the journal Physiology & Behavior suggests that 60 percent of the time we respond to thirst, it’s by eating, instead of drinking. Even if you’re not hankering for a thirst-quencher, preloading meals with plain ol’ calorie-free water can shave hundreds of calories from your daily intake. A study published in the journal Obesity found that people who drank two cups of water before eating consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories over the course of a meal than they would otherwise. This may simply be because water is filling, but researchers note the added H20 may well be displacing calories otherwise spent on calorie-laden beverages. (By the way, not all liquids are created equal: Drinking cola is an H2No.)
Slacker Slim-Down #2
Eat like the Japanese
Hara hachi bu is a Japanese expression that means “Eat until 80% full,” which, if you put the advice to practice at every meal, translates roughly to a 300 calorie-per-day saving for the average American. Here’s how it works: It can take up to 30 minutes for the body to register satiety signals, according to research, so eating until you’re almost full, then waiting a while before you order dessert, might slash your total calorie intake dramatically. Want to really ramp up your Asian-inspired weight loss? Learn how to use chopsticks. According to a restaurant study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, healthy-weight customers were nearly 3 times more likely to use chopsticks than obese customers.
Slacker Slim-Down #3
Have a snack—later
About two-thirds of adults snack at least twice a day, according to a study by the U.S Department of Agriculture—a habit researchers associate with accumulation of belly fat. But you don’t have to go snackless to snack less. Just watch the clock. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that mid-morning snackers tended to consume more throughout the day than afternoon snackers. Afternoon snacking, on the other hand, was associated with a slightly higher intake of filling-fiber and fruits and vegetables. Procrastinate—and win! AND: Strip away belly fat and lose up to 16 pounds in just 14 days—while eating the foods you love.
Slacker Slim-Down #4
Throw on some jeans
Forget the suit and tie, leave the heels at home, and take advantage of every casual Friday. A study by The American Council on Exercise suggests casual clothing, as opposed to conventional business attire, can increase physical activity levels in our daily routines. Participants in the study took an additional 491 steps, and burned 25 more calories, on days they wore denim than when wearing traditional suit wear. That may sound trivial, but the calories add up: Researchers say keeping it casual just once a week could slash 6,250 calories over the course of the year—enough to offset the average annual weight gain (0.4 to 1.8 pounds) experienced by most Americans.
Slacker Slim-Down #5
Celebrate your snacking
Before you break apart that Kit Kat, tell yourself, “I’m going to enjoy this!” You may gain less weight as a result. Pleasure creates relaxation and boosts the rate at which you metabolize your food, according to research published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism. That means fewer of the calories in your meal wind up on your middle. And psyching yourself up for a treat is one way to max out your bliss. In one study, participants who were assigned to eat a chocolate bar in accordance with a particular breaking and unwrapping ritual found the candy much more enjoyable—and even more flavorful—than a group who ate the bar informally. In other words, don’t eat your feelings–feel your eatings.
Slacker Slim-Down #6
A recent study published online in Health Promotion Practice found that people who received weekly text reminders of their daily “calorie budget” and motivational emails made healthier meal and snack choices. Solicit a friend to be your weight-loss coach, or take matters into your own hands; set up labeled alarms on your smartphone, so when 6 a.m. rolls around, it’s: You make 1,200 cals-a-day look so good!
Slacker Slim-Down #7
Our laziest tip of all? Take a nap
We’ve discovered the best piece of exercise equipment of all for the lazy dieter: The bed. You absolutely can sleep your way to slender. In fact, getting enough quality sleep is crucial for healthy weight loss. A recent study found sub-par sleep could undermine weight loss by as much as 55 percent! Inadequate or broken sleep can throw hunger-regulating hormones out of balance. Ghrelin, the “I’m hungry” hormone, shoots up; leptin, the “I’m full!” hormone, decreases. Sometimes, the best weight-loss move is…no movement at all.