Cut calories without noticing

Save calories every day

No-sweat, non-food ways to boost metabolism

You don’t need to be a gym junkie living on a diet of vegetable soup and water to lose weight. Sometimes it’s the little things you do that matter most. In fact, you could burn an extra 200-300 calories a day simply by making a few tweaks to your routine.

As a society, we are obsessed with convenience. Day-to-day activities, such as shopping, paying bills and ordering dinner, can all be done online without even leaving the house, let alone the sofa. It’s no wonder our waistlines are getting wider.

Research led by Professor James Levine from the Mayo Clinic in the US suggests your basal metabolic rate (BMR), the energy expended by your body at rest, accounts for about 60-75% of the calories you burn everyday. That is, the majority of the calories we burn are from non-exercise activities rather than intentional exercise. Here’s how …

Get up, stand up

Kick your metabolism into gear by boosting your daily incidental activity level. Professor Levine refers to this as non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT and he claims NEAT activities account for 15-50% of total daily energy expenditure. NEAT can vary by 2000 calories a day.

Through his research, Professor Levine found that people who tap their feet, prefer standing to sitting and generally move more burn up to 350 calories more a day than those who sit still. That adds up to almost 17kg a year! And unsurprisingly, it’s the leaner people who are the ones who can’t stop moving.

So take yourself off cruise control, reduce sedentary time and up the ante on everyday activities:

  • Forget the lift and take the stairs
  • Stand, don’t sit
  • Fidget, twitch and tap your toes
  • Get into a house-cleaning frenzy
  • Mow the lawn and tend to the garden
  • Park further away from your destination. Or better still, leave the car at home and walk.
  • Don’t forget the dog!

Get more sleep

Possibly the most-celebrated weight loss tip of all – have at least 7 hours sleep. Scientific research has proven that regularly missing out on vital snooze time can lead to significant weight gain.

Studies have found sleep-deprived people have more of the appetite-stimulating hormone, ghrelin, and less of the appetite supressing hormone, leptin. To make matters worse, lack of ZZZs can also send the body into panic mode causing the release of cortisol, the stress hormone that stimulates hunger. With the body in a spin from all the hunger signals, the biscuit jar looks more enticing and exercise plans are put on the backburner.

Resting up makes it easier for you to control your calorie intake and stick to your training regime.

Water wise

Water is invaluable when it comes to weight loss. It’s calorie-free, so replacing fizzy drinks and other high-sugar drinks with H2O will cut hundreds of empty calories. Plus, it boosts your metabolism too.

On average, 6 to 8 glasses of water should be enough to stay hydrated. However, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink up. Thirst can be mistaken for hunger causing you to overeat, so try satisfying your hunger pangs with water first.

Not swallowing it? Sure to have you gulping it down in no time, new research suggests drinking water before meals significantly enhances weight loss. The US study found people who drank just 2 glasses of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner ate less food, shed more kilos and kept the weight off.

Get chewing

Do you struggle to get through the mid-morning and 3pm munchies? Slip a piece of sugar-free chewing gum into your mouth to avoid mindless snacking. Trading the chocolate chip biscuit, 60 calories, for one piece of sugar-free gum, 3 calories, is a saving of 57 calories.

Also, a University of Rhode Island study found that people who chewed gum for 1 hour in the morning consumed 68 fewer calories at lunch and didn’t compensate by eating more later on. Do this every day and you can shave kilos off your waistline.

Plus, chewing gum burns calories – every little bit counts!

Get the giggles

While it won’t churn through as many calories as a stint on the treadmill, laughing can help you slim down.

Research published in the International Journal of Obesity suggests that laughter increases energy expenditure by as much as 20% and the longer you giggle, the more calories you burn. In fact, laughing for just 15 minutes a day could amount to a weight shift of up to approximately 4kg a year.

Stay cool

Turn down the air conditioning, have cool showers, enjoy your drinks ice cold and shiver away those unwanted calories. Fiona Johnson of University College London says that the colder our body temperature, the harder our BMI has to work to warm us up, and that means a resulting increase in energy expenditure. Don’t get all hypothermic on us, but think about it next time you reach for a jumper.

Less is more

Are your eyes bigger than your belly? Do you eat those last 2 mouthfuls even though you’re full, just to clean your plate? Research suggests the more food placed in front of you, the more you eat – hungry or not.

According to veteran US researcher Dr Brian Wansink, deep bowls and large plates increase your food consumption by 20%.

Replace your oversized dishes with smaller salad plates or vintage plates (plates have increased in size since 50 years ago), enjoy your morning latte in a cup instead of a mug and, connoisseur or not, swap the red wine glass for the white. While you won’t even notice the unnecessary calories you have just shaved from your diet, your shrinking waist will.