When it comes to losing weight, the little things add up—trying just one new thing every day can quickly make a big difference. With that in mind, we’ve taken science’s best weight-loss strategies and created a week’s worth of slimming to-do’s.
Sunday: Shoot it, and shed pounds.
Studies show that recording meals may help you lose up to 5 percent of your weight, says Robert A. Carels, PhD, an associate professor in the psychology department at Bowling Green State University.
Start today: Snap before and after photos of each meal with your camera phone. Keeping a visual food diary is a more accurate way to see what and how much you’re eating, United Kingdom researchers say. Afterward, download the pics so you’ll have a record.
Monday: Pop a vitamin to kill hunger.
Taking a daily multivitamin may make you less hungry, two studies in the British Journal of Nutrition suggest; people who take one tend to weigh less and have lower BMIs.
Start today: Pop a multi with at least 100% of the RDA for vitamins included in the studies: chromium, copper, folic acid, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamins B6 and B12, and zinc.
Tuesday: Speed up to burn more calories.
Strength-training circuit-style torches more calories than the traditional way, says Jim Stoppani, PhD, author of the Encyclopedia of Muscle and Strength. Research shows that the shorter the rest period between sets, the more calories you blast off. “In addition,” Stoppani says, “doing a whole-body workout employs more muscle, which in turn burns more fat.”
Start today: Turn your usual strength-training routine into a circuit by doing one set of 15 reps for each exercise with no rest in between; wait 20 seconds and repeat the circuit twice.
Wednesday: Triple your C and burn more fat.
Regularly consuming 500 milligrams or more of vitamin C may help you burn 30% more fat while working out, according to research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Start today: Eat at least three servings of vitamin C–rich whole foods like citrus fruits, broccoli, and cantaloupe. Try this to knock a couple servings off: “Pack a vitamin C–rich, easy-to-transport snack, such as a mix of baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and cherry tomatoes,” suggests Debra Wein, RD, the president of Wellness Workdays, in Hingham, Mass.
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Thursday: Have a gab session and drop pounds faster.
Not only can an exercise buddy help you show up for your workouts, but she can also help you melt fat faster too, says Tim Lohman, PhD, a professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, and an expert on the connection between exercise and body composition.
Start today: Create your own weight-loss network. “The buddy system works best when you can turn to someone you’re already friends with,” Lohman says. Meet at least once a week (even if it’s in cyberspace) to discuss obstacles and celebrate successes.
Friday: Color yourself slim.
An apple a day will do more than keep the doctor away—it’ll keep pounds off too. Filling up with a range of fruits and vegetables is an easy way to cut your calorie load, a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests.
Start today: “Follow the rainbow,” Wein suggests. “Do your best to eat from all of the color groups during the day.” Add blueberries to your cereal, snack on apples, and load your lunchtime salad with carrots, tomatoes, and peppers.
Saturday: Inhale and conquer cravings.
When we’re stressed we tend to look for quick-fix calories. “Yogic breathing offsets this. When you’re relaxed, you don’t have as much hunger pain,” says Ralph LaForge, an exercise physiologist in the endocrine department of the Duke University Medical Center. “People make better food choices when they’re relaxed.”
Start today: When hunger strikes, try this exercise from Kristen Eykel, creator of the DVD series, Yoga Emergency: The 12-Minute Workout. Rest your right thumb near your right nostril, ring finger and pinky by your left nostril. Close the left side and inhale through the right for four counts, then close your right nostril and hold for four counts. Open your left nostril and exhale through that side for four counts. Repeat cycle again on other side; continue alternating for at least a minute. You’ll relax in no time—and may even forget about that cookie you longed for.