It’s a tale as old as time. You’ve come far in your weight loss, found a diet and exercise that work for you, and shed your goal weight — well, most of it. The last five to 10 pounds can be the hardest to shake, and often the old tricks don’t work.
There’s a method behind the madness; the slimmer you become, the fewer calories you burn just going about your day, explains Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D. For every pound you lose, your metabolism slows by up to 20 calories a day. We found the sneaky, day-to-day changes you can make to drastically improve your chances of dropping that last bit of weight.
1. Take your coffee black
A plain cup of black coffee can do wonders for your weight loss but is significantly less tempting than a blended, flavorful coffee or latte. Frappuccinos, breves, and flavored lattes pack higher calories and cost more than zero-calorie black coffee. Opt for a skim, soy, or low-fat cappuccino, doppio, or sugar-free flavors if black coffee won’t do it for you. Registered dietitians agree that it’s also important to regulate liquid calories when trying to lose weight.
2. Log each meal
A study found that keeping a food diary six days a week helped dieters lose around twice as much weight as those who only recorded their meals once or twice. Food journaling helps you remain accountable for your choices while figuring out where those extra, sneaky calories may be coming from. Write as you go and track your cheat meals, too, for the best results.
3. Load up on chia seeds
Chia, an edible seed that reportedly controls hunger, is high in dietary fiber, which is proven to jump-start weight loss and rev up your metabolism. “Chia seeds have a total natural phenolic (antioxidant activity) that has been shown to stop up to 70 percent of free radical activity, making chia seeds one of nature’s highest antioxidant-containing foods,” says Jessica Young, Chef & Head of Product at Daily Harvest. Work chia seeds into your morning oatmeal or smoothie for a healthy breakfast that’ll help you shed pounds.
4. Replace your daily meat with fish
Eating less meat or replacing your meals with fish is a great way to reduce your fat intake and lose those last few pounds. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine condones using a vegetarian and vegan diet to lose weight and points out that cutting out food that’s high in fat and devoid of fiber, like certain meat products, is a safe and easy way to shed pounds. You don’t need to adopt a fully vegetarian diet, however; eating less meat will do the trick. A Brigham Young University study found that 53% of women who ate about 10 ounces of meat a day were overweight, compared with 16% of those who ate less than 6 ounces.
5. Get the appetizer salad
Losing weight doesn’t just entail changing up what you eat. It helps to alter how and when you eat, too. Starting your meal with a salad will lead you to eat fewer calories in one sitting according to a study from Pennsylvania State University. Women who ate salads topped with low-fat mozzarella and low-calorie Italian dressing instead of high-fat alternatives ate 10% fewer calories over the course of the day. It’s crucial that the salads are low-fat; participants who ate large portions of salad with regular dressing actually increased calorie consumption during meals by 17%.
6. Step out of (and around) the office
The more you workout throughout the day, the less likely you are to spend time standing, walking, and burning calories when you aren’t exercising. These small changes can add up, and researchers say it could make a difference of 300 calories a day. If you stand for over an hour per day, whether at your desk working or while watching TV, you can burn over 100 more calories than if you were sitting. Make your own standing desk to help increase the calorie burn.
7. An apple a day keeps the pounds away
Apples aren’t just tasty fruits. Fox News reported that a Food Chemistry study found that apples can aid in weight loss. The fruit contains non-digestible compounds that promote the growth of good bacteria associated with weight loss. Nix the apple pie, though, as cooking the fruit destroys the polyphenols, one of the compounds. The typical apple has 5 grams of fiber, so like chia seeds, they’ll help you feel fuller longer. Eat an apple before your meal to help ward off overeating.