Counting or following a rigid diet plan isn't for you, but you would love to drop a couple of kilos? The good news is that there are plenty of changes you can make that can naturally help you reduce your energy intake throughout the day. Here is a list of 8 easy ways to cut calories.
Drink your coffee plain
Research published in the journal Public Healthshow people who drink black coffee instead of adding milk, sugar or syrups consume on average 69 fewer calories per day. However, if you are a coffee addict, this difference could be much higher! If black coffee isn't for you, switch reduced fat milk which will also help lower the energy content of your coffee. Remember that coffee can actually help reduce calories by acting as a natural appetite suppressant.
Get more fibre early in the day
Research published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolismrevealed that people who had oats for breakfast consumed 31% fewer calories over the course of the rest of the day. Choosing a high fibre breakfast helps you feel full, and also puts you in the right frame of mind to carry on eating well for the rest of the day.
Swap soft drink for carbonated water
If you only cut out 1 can of soft drink a day you will save about 150 calories. “My favorite tip for cutting back on soda is to switch to sparkling water,” says Kristi King. “You can add fruit or even a little sweetener if you want some extra flavor, but even then you’ll be cutting way back on the sugar in soda.” If soda water isn't for you, make the switch to sugar free and still experience the calorie reduction.
Eat more protein
Eating meals and snacks that include protein can stop you from feeling hungry by mid-afternoon. This is supported by research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics which found that high-protein meals have a greater effect on fullness than low-protein ones.
Ideas for high protein foods include eggs, Greek yogurt, tuna, lean poultry or red meats. Of these, yogurt is the fastest and most convenient option, but if you are particularly time poor or always on the go, consider adding a protein shake alongside your regular meal or as a snack between meals.
Beware of salad toppings, and low calorie salads
It may be counter intuitive, but choosing salad for a meal can make calorie reduction difficult for two reasons:
1. If your salad has high fat or sugar dressings, and toppers such as croutons, cheese or bacon, it may not actually be low calorie at all.
2. If your salad is trule low calorie, it may leave you feeling uninitiated and leave you feeling depleted and hungry later in the day. In turn this can lead you to reach for high calorie pick me ups like cookies or chocolates. To avoid this, always ensure that your salad contains a protein source and some carbohydrate such as sweet potato.
Eat before you are hungry
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Marketing Research found that people who ordered food at least an hour before eating tended to eat less calories. If you're not actually ordering your food each day (and who does?) you can try the following:
1. Plan your next meal in your head, immediately following your last meal, then stick to that plan.
2. Pack and prepare your meals ahead of time.
Switch to low fat varieties
Before I say anything else, let's put to rest the myth that "low fat foods are full of sugar". While this might be true for some highly processed and flavoured foods, it is not true for many others. Ways to cut your calorie intake include:
1. Switching from full fat to skim milk.
2. Switching from full fat cheese and to low fat cheese.
3. Switching to reduced fat Greek Yoghurt from full fat.
4. Replace oil with oil spray when cooking.
Don't eat in front of the TV
We overeat when we are not paying attention to portion sizes (because we are watching TV) and our brains may not fully register that we’ve eaten at all, triggering hunger sensations soon after. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who watched an action movie ate more calories than those who watched a low-key talk show.
Always try and be mindful and focused when eating your main meals of the day.