Losing weight may take time, but it doesn’t have to be a burdensome task that dominates your life.
You don’t have to spend endless hours at the gym, avoid restaurants, count calories, or be overly restrictive with your diet. Instead, you can make small changes to your routine that can help you lose weight more easily.
In this article, you’ll find nine effortless ways to boost your weight loss efforts and say goodbye to unwanted belly fat.
1. Take advantage of your cup of Joe
Let your morning coffee fuel your sweat session. Consuming caffeine an hour before you hit the gym diminishes how tired you feel so you can work out harder and longer, found British researchers. Athletes who consumed 5 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per kilogram (kg) of body weight were able to perform more reps than those who didn’t. They also felt less muscle pain during and after the exercise.
2. Use interval training
Want to crush cravings? Intense intervals might make you eat less, reports new Australian research. Women who completed a sprint session consumed fewer calories during the following 38 hours than those who completed a continuous workout at moderate intensity, the researchers found. Intense exercise suppresses ghrelin, a hunger-stimulating hormone.
3. Dial up your intensity
Even if you feel like you’re killing it at the gym, it might not be enough. Only 5 percent of people correctly gauged how hard they worked during a high-intensity routine, while everyone else overestimated their efforts, according to recent research at the University of Toronto. In other words, most people think they’re going all out, but they’re really working at a moderate or even light intensity. High-intensity exercise calls for your heart rate to be between 77 and 83 percent of your maximum heart rate. That’s why you should wear a heart rate monitor during workouts. It let’s you know if you’re working your hardest and burning as many calories as possible.
To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from the number 220. For example, if you’re 30 years old, your maximum heart rate should be 190 beats per minute. During a high-intensity workout, your heart rate should be between 146 and 158 beats per minute.
4. Snack smart
You don’t have to skip a snack to lose weight—you just need to choose the right snack. Researchers found that people who ate a snack containing 26 grams (g) of protein felt fuller and were less likely to snack later in the day, particularly on unhealthy foods high in sugar and fat.
5. Indulge on the weekends
When trying to drop pounds, put in the majority of effort from Monday to Friday. Due to the combination of social outings and a natural, weekly weight-loss cycle, you’re more likely to gain weight on the weekends and lose weight during the week.
It’s when you don’t take advantage of your weekdays that you’ll find yourself avoiding the scale. So go ahead and enjoy that chocolate dessert with your girlfriend this weekend—just make sure you have plans to get back on track come Monday.
6. Work your biggest assets
If you want to burn a ton of calories in less time at the gym, make sure you hit your lower body. Big muscles like your glutes, quads, and hamstrings take more energy to recover than your smaller muscles. Because of this, you’ll burn calories long after you leave the gym—while you’re in the car, sitting on the couch, or sleeping.
7. Decode your dishware
The color of your plate may decrease your waistline. Eating off bright red plates can help you consume less. You’re more likely to associate the color red with the command “stop,” which causes you to finish your meal before you normally would using a plate of a different hue, according to the researchers.
Other studies have found that your plate size can also affect how much you eat. Plus-size plates can cause your eyes to override your stomach, so switch to smaller plates that are no bigger than 10 1/2 inches when trying to lose weight. The same portions will look much bigger when heaped on the smaller dish.
8. Stick to a plan
Should you cut carbs or cut fats? Should you eat 7 meals a day or only eat 3? Sorting through the myriad of diets will make your head spin. But it turns out that as long as you stick to one healthy-eating plan, you can increase your chances of losing weight.
Researchers at the University of Toronto analyzed the results of more than 7,000 overweight and obese women who followed either low-carb and low-fat diets. After 6 months, the low-carb group lost 19 pounds more and the low-fat group lost 17 pounds more than those who didn’t follow a diet at all.
But by the end of the year, both diet groups lost the same amount of weight—which was still significantly greater than the group that didn’t stick to a plan.
The key: Consistency.
Pick a diet that fits within your lifestyle, and adhere to it for the best results.
9. Get the sleep you need
Numerous studies have shown that getting less than 5–6 hours of sleep per night is associated with increased incidence of obesity. There are several reasons behind this.
Research suggests that insufficient and poor-quality sleep slows down the process in which the body converts calories to energy, called metabolism. When metabolism is less effective, the body may store unused energy as fat. In addition, poor sleep can increase the production of insulin and cortisol, which also prompt fat storage.
How long and how deep someone sleeps also affects the regulation of the appetite-controlling hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin sends signals of fullness to the brain while ghrelin tells your brain you’re hungry.
Without a properly functioning leptin and ghrelin, you’re constantly hungry and nothing you eat will ever make you full.
So, sleep more and sleep well.