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5 Easy Ways to Cut Calories Every Day

Get expert tricks to say bye to unnecessary calories—and unwanted weight.

Medically reviewed in December 2020

Updated on September 1, 2021

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You've been working out and eating healthy but still aren’t losing weight. What gives? A variety of factors, including sex, age and even stress levels can affect how your body burns calories. But before you blame a slow metabolism for your weight woes, it’s just as important to take into consideration how many calories you’re eating on a regular basis.

"Most people are taking in more calories than they realize,” says dietitian and nutritionist Tracy Kuzava, RDN, of Eastside Medical Center in Snellville, Georgia.

But never fear. Kuzava’s five no-fail tips can help you rid your diet of excess calories and ditch those extra pounds.

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Count your calories—including condiments

Log your food intake in a journal. If you always have your smartphone by your side, it may be even easier to record your diet using an app, such as Sharecare (available on iOS and Android). Sharecare allows you to track the quality and size of each meal.

When you journal, not only will you start to get a handle on your calorie intake, you’ll take stock of the impact of everything you eat, from your daily soda down to the dressing on your sandwich. “Lots of people forget to add condiments in. It can be a big factor,” says Kuzava. For example, just 1 tablespoon of mayo can have up to 100 calories per serving. And while ketchup has only 15 calories per tablespoon, it adds up if you’re using it regularly without thinking. “When I tell folks to log their food, it needs to be everything,” Kuzava says.

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Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water doesn't automatically equal weight loss, but it can help keep your body healthy. A 2016 study in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that adding one, two or three cups of water to your usual daily intake could help you eat 68 to 205 fewer calories each day.

To start sipping water throughout your day, carry a refillable bottle with you, especially at work. Every time you get up from your desk, take a trip to the water cooler as well. Make your H2O even more refreshing by infusing it with slices of fresh fruit or cooling veggies. And don’t forget—seltzer is hydrating, too!

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Build a better plate

“You can’t exercise away a bad diet,” Kuzava says, “so you better start in the kitchen.” A great way to make sure you’re eating the right foods is to use this plate trick: At dinnertime, fill a salad plate halfway with fruits and vegetables. Then divide the remaining half between proteins (think lean meats, eggs, beans, lentils and tofu) and healthy carbohydrates or starches. These can be standards like whole-wheat pasta or brown rice, or something different like farro, wheat berries or barley.

Using a salad plate is built-in portion control. Plus, making healthy food choices tends to leave you feeling fuller longer than you would with sugary and fatty foods—and it all translates to less overeating.

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Chew your food

This advice might sound obvious, but Kuzava says it’s a no-brainer shortcut to cutting calories. "Most people take 10 or 15 minutes to eat a meal, but it takes 20 minutes for signals to get up to your brain to let you know that you're full,” she says. Extend your meal time by chewing more thoroughly. Kuzava says that you’ll get that full feeling that can help you control your overall intake.

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Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep can lead to numerous health issues, including overeating. A 2016 study published in the journal Sleep found that sleep deprivation may boost levels of a chemical that enhances the pleasure you get from eating, particularly sweet or salty foods that are high in fat. Lack of sleep can also lead to more caffeine intake. If you’re someone who likes sugar in your coffee, this can pour more calories into your day.

Most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of shut-eye per night. If you have trouble sleeping, try establishing a nightly routine, which can include writing out goals, doing a few stretches and turning off electronics before bed.

Sources:

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Develop a Personal Plan Based on Evidence.” 2021. Accessed April 19, 2021.
R An, J McCaffrey. “Plain water consumption in relation to energy intake and diet quality among US adults, 2005-2012.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016 Oct;29(5):624-32.
M Shah, J Copeland, et al. “Slower Eating Speed Lowers Energy Intake in Normal-Weight but Not Overweight/Obese Subjects.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2014 Mar;114(3):393-402.
EC Hanlon, E Tasali, et al. “Sleep Restriction Enhances the Daily Rhythm of Circulating Levels of Endocannabinoid 2-Arachidonoylglycerol.” Sleep. 2016; 39 (03): 653.

 

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