Want to lose weight without dieting? Make tiny changes to your daily food choices and you’ll notice a big difference in the long-term, says Alice Whitehead. Sticking to a rigid weight loss regime can test the will of even the most dedicated dieter.
Let’s face it, if boredom and fatigue haven’t set in after the first month, then hunger usually does.
It’s hard to maintain a saintly slimming strategy for months on end, and radically depriving yourself of all the foods you love only makes you binge on them more when you return to your normal eating patterns.
Instead, a daily nip and tuck to your diet can be a winning formula for getting trim – and just 100 calories less each day can make a dramatic difference to your weight over a year, without the dramatic cutbacks.
“It’s easy for naughty extra calories to make it onto our plate when we don’t really need them, but rather than going on a drastic diet, you should be able to eat what you want to by simply slicing off calories here and there,” says life coach and fitness instructor, Georgina Burnett.
You can start by simply paying more attention to what you’re eating, agrees Helen Oades, a nutritionist from Zeal Health.
“Look at food labels: ‘low fat’ doesn’t necessarily mean a product isn’t high in sugar,” she says. “Write a food diary – and be honest in it – and you’ll become more aware of what you’re eating and also identify any bad habits.”
What’s more, by slimming down your portions and eating smaller amounts more regularly you’ll maintain your blood sugar levels and won’t feel you’re running on empty.
“The trick is to find ways to reduce calorie intake without going hungry,” says Dr Ian Campbell, GP and specialist in weight management and Chair of the National Obesity Forum. “Swapping energy dense foods for energy light foods, for example, or avoiding rich creamy sauces and opting for the tomato based sauces, or simply filling your plate with more vegetables, are easy steps. You’ll still feel full, but will have consumed fewer calories.
“After all, a dietary approach you can maintain is essential for long-term weight loss. If you resent it, it won’t last; if it leaves you feeling hungry, you’ll eat.”
Follow our top 100 ways to cut 100 calories and you could be feeling fuller and fitter for longer.
“The trick is to reduce your calorie intake without going hungry”
Calorie-curbing coffee breaks
Think skinny latte not whole milk, which is nearly double,” says Hemmings.
Cut out the sugar in your cappuccino.
Eat; don’t drink your orange juice (there are more calories in fruit juice than whole fruit).
Sweeten tea with cinnamon or nutmeg instead of sugars.
Eat breakfast: studies have shown you’ll consume 100 fewer calories over the day.
Ditch sugar on cereal.
Poach eggs in water for runny yolks without the added fat.
“Eat less by filling up before each meal with fruit or salad,” says naturopath and medical herbalist Kirsten Hartvig, author of The Healthy Diet Calorie Counter, (£6.99, Thorsons).
“Measure your cereal or use a smaller bowl,” says Dr Ian Campbell.
Swap four tablespoons of cornflakes for four tablespoons of high-fibre bran flakes and consume fewer calories over the day.
“Check the sugar content of cereals – aim for no more than 10g of sugar per 100g,” says nutritionist Helena Oades from Zeal Health.
Fry with water in a non-stick pan instead of oil.
Swap bagels for muffins.
1"Cook oats with skimmed milk,” says pregnancy and post-natal fitness trainer Vicky Warr.
Eat two egg whites instead of two whole eggs.
Fill up on wholemeal toast instead of white.
“Opt for an apple (average 50 calories) over a banana (average 150 calories),” says fitness and beauty expert Gina Hemmings.
Spread two teaspoos of fat-free cream cheese on toast instead of butter.
“Fill an omelette with veg instead of cheese,” says Hemmings.
Grill up not fry up.
Swap sausages for smoothies.
“Have a big portion of muesli to give steady energy without the calories,” says Hartvig.
Split your sandwich with a colleague.
Slather bread with mustard rather than mayonnaise.
Opt for an open sandwich and lose a slice of bread.
Ditch the bread altogether and wrap fillings in lettuce.
“Put a third of each meal to one side and eat it two hours later as a snack,” says Georgina Burnett.
Go for tinned tuna in water (100 calories) instead of in vegetable oil (almost 200 calories).
“Use two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon of oil in place of creamy salad dressings,” says Hemmings.
Go mayo-free when choosing pre-packed sandwiches.
Add crunch to salads with grated carrot and celery, not croutons.
Swap chilli for baked beans in jacket potato.
“Don’t eat and work – focusing on food stops you over-eating,” says Oades.
Fill up on vegetable soup or broth and avoid ‘cream of’ anything.
Scoop out the inside of your baguette and eat the shell.
Cup of soup rather than a bowl.
“Read the sandwich pack info,” says Dr Campbell. “Calories can vary by more than 100 calories per pack.”
Go for one per cent cottage cheese.
Skim the fat off soups and sauces.
“Dump processed food and cook yourself so you’re in control,” says Kate Santon, author of Perfect Calorie Counting (£6.99, IPG).
Avoid breaded food that absorbs more fat when cooked.
Go for dressings on the side so you can dip but not drown.
Swap chips for sweet potato chipss.
“Avoid all dairy and replace with plant-based milks, cheeses and spreads,” says naturopath Hartvig.
Eat off a smaller plate.
“Reserve a quarter of your plate for meat and fish; half for veg,” says Dr Campbell.
Grill portobello mushrooms as a main dish in place of meat.
Eat slowly which will reduce your urge for a second helping.
Always choose thin crust over thick crust pizza.
Don’t eat pizza crusts!
Shun bread before the first course in a restaurant.
Remove the skin after roasting chicken and keep the flavour but halve the fat.
Use less of strong-tasting cheeses such as parmesan in recipes instead of more higher-fat and less flavoursome mozzarella and cheddar.
Chill beef for 20 minutes in the freezer to make it easier to trim off the hard fat.
Go for ostrich or venison for burgers in place of beef.
Better still, halve the meat and bulk up with veg or pulses.
“Opt for thick-cut chips rather than fries,” says nutrition scientist Anna Denny. “The thick surface absorbs less fat.”
Trim the fat from pork, lamb and duck.
Halve the minced beef and replace with brown rice in meatballs.
Leave some food on your plate.
“Don’t automatically add a sauce,” says nutritionist Oades. “Quality meat and fish only need simple seasonings.”
Keep meat portions to the size of a deck of cards.
Have a tennis ball of pasta; no more.
Serve up a palm-sized portion of fish or poultry.
Opt for a computer mouse-sized baked potato.
Measure your pancakes against a compact disc.
Eat a thumb of cheese.
Nifty nights out
“Try a white wine spritzer (one third wine, two thirds soda) instead of straight wine,” says Dr Campbell.
Drink everything out of a champagne flute not a gigantic goblet.
“Choose a starter and main course; not main course and dessert – starters tend to have fewer calories,” says Vicky Warr.
Use sparkling water as a mixer instead of tonic.
“Alternate alcoholic drinks with water,” says Oades. “Less calories and less chance of a hangover!”
“When meeting friends, arrive at the pub last, and leave first,” says Dr Campbell. “One less pint of beer cuts at least 160 calories.”
Tricks & treats
“Replace a sugary snack with a cold boiled egg – just 100 cals,” says Gina Hemmings.
Swap ice-lollies for frozen grapes.
Eat crisps from a bowl instead of the bag.
Swap canned fruit in juice or syrup for ones in water.
Eat grapes instead of raisins (dried fruit has more sugar).
Ask for two spoons for dessert and halve the calories.
Choose popping corn not shop-bought popcorn.
Ditch full-sized cupcakes for mini versions (but stick to just one!)
Substitute butter with banana or sweet potato in cakes and puddings.
Scrape the icing off cakes.
Eat ice-cream from a bowl not a cone.
Get dippy with vegetables not crisps.
Swap ice-cream for sorbet.
“Before you reach for a snack have a glass of water,” says Helena Oades. “Then see if you are you still hungry?”
“If you eat chocolate, eat only dark,” says Hartvig.
Have a slither not a slice of dessert.
Stop eating when you hit the crust on baked goods.
Switch your chocolate bar for low-fat Greek yoghurt and honey.
Cycling for 10 minutes is not only great exercise but a great excuse to get everyone out into the fresh air.
Walking is one of the easiest but simplest exercises. Walk to work one day if it’s not too far, or get off the bus earlier than usual. 15 minutes’ of brisk walking will burn at least 100 calories.
Skipping ropes are compact, portable and can be used pretty much anywhere. Not only does skipping for 15 minutes work the heart and lungs, your legs and upper body get a great workout too. Fifteen minutes’ exercise will burn 100 calories or more. Start in bursts of two to three minutes and you’ll be surprised how quickly your body adapts.
Run up and down your stairs for 15 minutes. Not only will you burn 100 calories but you’ll get firmer thighs and a pert bottom in the process too!
Turn up the music and dance around your living room for 20 minutes. Fun and fitness combined!