Forgetting diet pills, metabolic science, and complicated eating plans for the moment, many weight-loss experts will tell you this: Once you burn more calories than you ingest, only then will you lose weight.
To keep it simple, let’s figure that the goal in a week is to lose a pound of fat. A pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories (roughly the amount of calories in one of those big Mexican enchilada dinner plates, plus chips and salsa, and a margarita).
In order to burn off those 3,500 calories in seven days, you’d need to deduct 500 calories per day from your life. Does a 500-calorie drop in food seem too significant? (That’s an average lunch.) How about a 200-calorie cut in food intake paired with a workout that slashes another 300? That sounds more doable.
Here are seven real-life scenarios that you can easily adapt each day this week . . . and watch at least a pound of fat melt away. 1. Start the day right
Eating 300 to 400 calories for breakfast is about right (300 for women, 400 for men). Breakfast kick-starts the day, so you don’t want to cut back too much here (be sure to include some protein such as eggs). But here’s how to trim your 500 calories before most people even have their coffee:
Swap out a 16-ounce vanilla latte for plain coffee and two tablespoons of creamer.Calories saved: 146
Have two slices of wheat toast instead of a whole cinnamon raisin bagelCalories saved: 190
Take a 30-minute swimCalories burned (155-lb. person for all examples): 223Total calorie reduction: 559
[--pageBreak:"Mini Fixes"--] 2. Mini fixes
You can make small changes all day long to get to your magic 500:
Before breakfast, sneak in 15 minutes of yogaCalories burned: 75
Instead of grabbing a full-sized Snickers, have two minisCalories saved: 186
At lunch, swap 2 ounces of regular potato chips for 1 ounce of bakedCalories saved: 80
During dinner, skip the rollCalories saved: 83
Take an after-dinner walk for 15 minutesCalories burned: 84Total calorie reduction: 508
[--pageBreak:"Midday Makeover"--] 3. Midday makeover
Here’s a way to take control of calorie counts during your lunch hour.
Grab your gym bag and hit the elliptical for 30 minutesCalories burned: 335
Instead of that sit-down deli meal, chow down on your homemade turkey sandwich with Swiss cheese on whole wheat and five baby carrots as you race back to work, post shower, of course.Calories saved: 270Total calorie reduction: 605
[--pageBreak:"Sweet Swaps"--] 4. Sweet swaps
Got a sweet tooth? You can indulge and still tackle your 500 calories in a day.
At breakfast, swap out a cinnamon roll for a cinnamon-raisin English muffinCalories saved: 370
For dessert, have a pre-proportioned serving of chocolate pudding instead of a half-cup of chocolate ice cream.Calories saved: 160Total calorie reduction: 530
(with no exercise!)
[--pageBreak:"Dinner Do-over"--] 5. Dinner do-over
The last meal of the day tends to be the biggest, since we usually have the most time to savor it. But you can keep the flavor while you cut the calories.
After work or in the early evening, hit the ball on the tennis courts for 30 minutes Calories burned: 260
Swap 3 ounces of sirloin steak for 3 ounces of tilapiaCalories saved: 130
Instead of the Caesar salad, have a regular green salad with vinaigretteCalories saved: 50
Cut your serving of rice from one cup to half a cupCalories saved: 100Total calorie reduction: 540
[--pageBreak:"Snacks Attacked"--] 6. Snacks attacked
Nibbling throughout the day can keep hunger at bay. But be sure you snack wisely.
Instead of a pack of fruit snacks, opt for an applesauceCalories saved: 80
Trade Reese’s Peanut Butter cups for a quarter cup of tropical trail mixCalories saved: 70
Don’t give in to that giant chocolate chip cookie. Have a quarter cup of honey roasted almonds instead.Calories saved: 190
Drop the fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt for vanilla and add a few fresh berriesCalories saved: 40
Take the dog for a 30-minute walkCalories burned: 126Total calorie reduction: 506
[--pageBreak:"Better Beverages"--] 7. Better beverages
A lot of calories are hidden in our drinks. Here’s how to get a handle.
Instead of coffee with cream, have a cup of teaCalories saved: 80
Drop the can of cola for a glass of iced tea with 1 tablespoon of real sugarCalories saved: 100
Instead of a blended frozen coffee, have iced coffee with milkCalories saved: 180
Swap a 12-ounce beer for a vodka-sodaCalories saved: 50
Take a 30-minute water aerobics classCalories burned: 150Total calorie reduction: 560