Health

6 Tiny Tweaks That’ll Help Melt Pounds Fast

Looking and feeling your best is easier than ever with simple secrets to trim down without deprivation.

Snack smarter by moving healthy foods to the left.

Find yourself eyeing that bag of chips every time you open your kitchen cabinet? Try storing high-calorie indulgences on the right side of the shelf and good-for-you snacks like dried fruit and granola bars on the left. University of South Florida researchers say that because the brain is wired to read numbers from left to right, seeing foods displayed this way subconsciously reminds you that foods on the left are lower in calories, helping you make healthier choices.

Lose weight faster with an afternoon snack.

One easy way to scale back on mindless eating: Shift your morning snack of an apple and peanut butter or a handful of nuts to the afternoon. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that women who did so dropped 57 percent more weight. That’s because there’s often a bigger gap between lunch and dinner, making us more hungry, and a healthy snack prevents overeating come suppertime.

And weigh in: Hopping on the scale each morning can help you spot — and reverse — sneaky weight gain. So much so that Finnish researchers found women who weighed themselves daily shed significantly more weight than those who did so less often.

Munch on more produce by paying with cash.

While filling your cart at the grocery store, it’s easy to toss in a pack of cookies. But you can effortlessly skip the snacks by deciding ahead of time to pay with cash. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found this reins in impulse junk food purchases, helping you stock up on significantly more healthy foods than if you paid with a credit card. Researchers say the “pain” of paying with cash makes you less likely to part with your hard-earned money and splurge on unhealthy extras.

And sprinkle on the salt: British scientists found that women who seasoned veggies with salt raised their daily produce intake by 71 percent. The flavor enhancer makes vegetables so much tastier that you’ll actually start to crave them in as little as three days.

Dodge weight gain with a glass of red wine.

Sounds too good to be true, but unwinding with a little vino can help keep the pounds off. Polyphenols in red wine help the body process excess blood sugar before it can be turned into fat. It’s so effective that Purdue University investigators found women who sip a glass of red wine daily are 30 percent less likely to experience weight problems than teetotalers.

And go bite-size: Before indulging in a bar of chocolate, break it up into small pieces. Arizona State University scientists say cutting a food into bite-size bits tricks your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you are, triggering the release of appetite-taming signals.

Curb cravings by texting a friend.

At a party and feel the urge to head to the buffet for seconds? Send a loved one a short message about your weight-loss progress so far. Exchanging words of encouragement reminds you of your goals, something Duke University scientists say doubles your odds of sticking to a healthy eating plan, plus helps you drop up to 6 pounds a month.

Or think happy thoughts: When cravings strike, recall a positive memory, like decorating for the holidays with your family. Cornell researchers found that being in a happy frame of mind switches off your desire for the instant gratification of biting into calorie-dense treats and encourages you to make healthier choices.

Cut calories by counting to 10.

Ever wish you could have your cake and eat it too? You can! Just close your eyes and count to 10. Harvard scientists found that people who do this (or any simple ritual) prior to eating consumed significantly fewer calories, less sugar, and less fat, allowing them to drop two pounds a month without dieting. Why? Repeating familiar behaviors, or “rituals,” stimulates the part of the brain responsible for self-discipline.

Or listen to this: Cue up soft music before a meal, and you’ll eat 175 fewer calories, enough to shed 15 pounds a year, a study in Psychological Reports found.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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