Yikes! According to research released today by the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 40 percent of US adults are obese, the highest rate ever. That ain’t good. However, there’s hope for those who’d love to drop a few pounds or a ton. Just look at what Jonah Hill has pulled off. And for all the talk about exercise, the real key is calorie reduction. So here are six simple ways to cut massive calories from your diet, including one that can chop 50,000, the equivalent of 14 pounds, in a year. The best part is, you can still eat (most) of your favorite foods. Follow these tips closely and you’ll be sittin’ skinny soon.
1. Use Smaller Plates and Bowls: I call it “Regression to Progression.” Regress back to the way you ate as a child, when everything was served to you in tiny portions. Which means, first of all, never eat directly out of a food container, like a carton of ice cream or a bag of chips. You’ll end up finishing the whole thing. Instead, put that scoop of Ben & Jerry’s in a bowl. And secondly, make it a small bowl. Why? Because people eat whatever’s in front of them. If you fill up a large plate with food, you’ll eat too much and feel stuffed. But if you fill up a small plate, you’ll eat just enough and feel energized. Photo: iStock/Maria_Lapina
2. In Fact, Use Smaller Blue Plates and Bowls: The color blue is a natural appetite suppressant. (Think about it: not many foods are blue. Other than, OK, blueberries.) So go get a whole bunch of small blue plates and bowls at your local superstore and start serving yourself on these. Their blueness will naturally calm you down and make you feel less hungry. If you want to be an overachiever, go ahead and use blue utensils as well. Photo: iStock/luchezar
3. Pound the Spices: Do yourself a favor: add spices like cayenne pepper, jalapeño peppers, hot mustard and ginger to your meals. (Yes, even your precious Eggs Benedict.) Not only do they add flavor, those spices will raise your metabolism by 20 percent—a huge, calorie-shredding amount—for up to three hours. They’ll also reduce your appetite. And gingerol, the active ingredient in ginger, increases the amount of fat released from your fat stores to be burned as fuel. So start building up your spice rack today. Photo: iStock/5PH
4. Trade in Soft Drinks for Water: If you’re downing Cokes on a regular basis, stop immediately. And don’t just switch to diet sodas. Switch to water. Trust me, it’ll pay huge dividends. Simply making the move from one sugary beverage to water every day will save you 50,000 calories a year—more than 14 pounds!* Now imagine if you’re currently drinking two or three sodas per day. Cut those out, start drinking water and you could be shopping for smaller pants (and a hotter girlfriend) very soon. *EDITOR’S NOTE: We kicked the Coke habit after college and dropped 10 pounds in a few months. True story.
5. In Fact, Make It Ice Water: Recent studies show that ice water actually raises your metabolism by up to 24 percent for 90 minutes. So put ice in your water. And while you’re at it, drop a slice or two of lemon in there. Lemon has valuable fiber that will make you feel full. Plus, it will help fend off the development of type 2 diabetes. Which we know you don’t want. (Again.) Photo: iStock/jarih
6. Sleep More: I can’t emphasize this one enough. You should be getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night. If you’re getting less, it will significantly reduce your levels of leptin, a hormone that tells your brain that you’re full. And it will increase your levels of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you desire comfort foods. In other words, insufficient sleep will have you craving doughnuts and pasta like nobody’s business. Not good. So whatever else you do, make time for your Zs. And if you’re having trouble falling asleep, try cherry juice. It’s a natural melatonin. Six to eight ounces of that, with a side of C-SPAN, should do the trick. Photo: iStock/vadimguzhva Health and fitness expert Jay Cardiello has worked with every from 50 Cent to J-Lo. Learn more about him here.