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5 Easy Ways to Cut Calories Every Day

Get expert tricks to say bye to unnecessary calories—and potentially boost weight loss.

Updated on November 2, 2022

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You've been working out and eating a healthy diet, but 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, it’s important to consider how many calories you’re eating on a regular basis. 

"Most people are taking in more calories than they realize," says Tracy Kuzava, RDN, a dietitian and nutritionist in Snellville, Georgia.

With that in mind, here are five tips Kuzava says can help cut excess calories—and possibly, 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, you can get a handle on your calorie intake and take stock of what 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 17 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

Though drinking water is crucial to keeping you healthy, more water doesn’t necessarily translate directly to more weight loss. That said, some research suggests it may help, especially if it’s used as a replacement for high-calorie beverages like soda and juice. 

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

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 mealtime 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. That’s partly because sleep deprivation may boost your appetite and also increase your cravings for fatty, sugary foods. What’s more, the longer you’re awake, the more opportunities you have to eat.

Most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of shuteye 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.

 

Slideshow sources open slideshow sources

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Develop a Personal Plan Based on Evidence. Accessed April 19, 2021.
Nutrition.gov. Interested in Losing Weight? Accessed October 28, 2022.
Ingels JS, Misra R, et al. The Effect of Adherence to Dietary Tracking on Weight Loss: Using HLM to Model Weight Loss over Time. J Diabetes Res. 2017;2017:6951495. 
Bracamontes-Castelo G, et al. Effect of water consumption on weight loss: a systematic review. Nutr Hosp. 2019 Dec 26;36(6):1424-1429. 
Paz-Graniel I, Becerra-Tomas N, et al. Baseline drinking water consumption and changes in body weight and waist circumference at 2-years of follow-up in a senior Mediterranean population. Clinical Nutrition. June 2021. 40(6); Pages 3982-3991
USDA. What Is My Plate? Accessed October 28, 2022.
Zhu Y, Hollis JH. Increasing the number of chews before swallowing reduces meal size in normal-weight, overweight, and obese adults. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Jun;114(6):926-931.
Simon SL, Pan Z, et al. Body mass index and variability in meal duration and association with rate of eating. Front Nutr. 2022 Jul 26;9:941001.
Sleep Foundation. Weight Loss and Sleep. Updated September 19, 2022. 
Sleep Foundation. How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? Updated August 29, 2022.
Tasali E, Wroblewski K, et al. Effect of Sleep Extension on Objectively Assessed Energy Intake Among Adults With Overweight in Real-life Settings: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2022;182(4):365–374. 
EC Hanlon, E Tasali, et al. Sleep Restriction Enhances the Daily Rhythm of Circulating Levels of Endocannabinoid 2-Arachidonoylglycerol. Sleep. 2016; 39 (03): 653.
Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep and Sleep Disorders: How Much Sleep Do I Need? Last reviewed September 14, 2022.

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