You probably already know what not to do for weight loss (like literally any of these things), but there are really only two things that work when you want to drop pounds the healthy, sustainable way: eating well and exercising regularly.
TBH, though, both of those things are pretty vague (and can take a lot of time and effort to get used to). And sometimes, you need a few quick, healthy-eating tips instead of one big lifestyle overhaul.
Here are five simple tricks that can be added to any diet to help when you’re feeling bloated or stuck, or just want to feel… better. Try one on for size or adopt them all—these small changes can jumpstart your weight loss, wherever you are in your journey.
1. Eat meals, not snacks
We’ve long been told to eat frequently, in small amounts, to level blood sugar. But a new study found those who ate fewer, larger meals weighed less. How so? You burn more cals processing a larger meal than lots of little ones. Stick to noshing breakfast, lunch, and a small dinner, says study coauthor Gary Fraser, M.D., a professor of medicine at Loma Linda University in California.
2. Sweat a little less
Really! In a study comparing groups who ran or cycled for 30 versus 60 minutes a day, the half-hour group dropped 33 percent more weight and spent 20 percent more time being active later in the day. Since we are programmed to conserve cals, when we burn lots of them through exercise, our bodies may hoard them later—by moving less and eating more.
So, two options: Cap your cardio at 30 minutes, four times a week. Or if you love a longer workout, keep moving later in the day to ensure your metabolism hums.
3. Go for whole grains
People who eat them tend to be slimmer than those who don’t. Why? These sturdy carbs require extra energy to break down. Their fiber also traps some of their cals, whisking them out of your body before they can be stored away as fat.
Shoot for several servings a day, and sneak whole grains into snacks and desserts, says Amy Gorin, R.D., a nutritionist in New York City. “Add oats into smoothies or put a healthier spin on rice pudding by swapping in brown rice for white.”
4. Sleep in a cool room
Humans carry two kinds of body fat: white (stores energy) and brown (burns it). Ambient temperature can influence which wins.
Researchers had volunteers spend one month sleeping in a 75-degree room, and another in one set to 66 degrees. After 30 days of dozing in the chillier quarters, their brown fat was 42 percent more active and their metabolism was 10 percent faster. So set that thermo to 66!
5. Don’t clean your plate
“That means you’re eating with your eyes rather than listening to your body’s satiety cues,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, R.D., author of The Belly Fat Diet for Dummies. “You almost always end up eating more than your body needs.”
Forgo the last 10 percent of each meal by leaving a few bites on your plate. Nutritionists estimate this trims almost 200 calories a day, helping you ax 10 pounds in six months.
This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Women’s Health. Pick up a copy, on newsstands 5/22.