Wish you had your own get-slim dream team? Well, you’re in luck: We tapped celebrated weight-loss pros and asked them to share the one strategy they feel makes the biggest difference.
Weave these seven wonders into your daily routine, and you’ll be wowed by how the little changes really do add up.
Trick your taste buds
"Taste buds are malleable little fellas," said David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. "When they can’t be with the foods they love, they learn to love the foods they’re with.
"Make a short-term commitment to choosing more wholesome closer-to-nature foods with less added salt, sugar, saturated fat, and trans fat. Within weeks, you’ll start to prefer these now-familiar foods."
Indulge every day
"Eat a small amount of dark chocolate—I’m talking a 100-calorie piece that’s made of at least 70% cacao—every day," Cynthia Sass, RD, author of Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches and co-author of The Ultimate Diet Log, said. "I consider it ‘the daily dark chocolate escape.’
"Doing this curbs your cravings for both sweet and salty foods. You’re much more likely to be satisfied and not reach for those cookies or chips.
"My clients say this allows them to pass up samples at the market without feeling deprived."
Bury your cravings
"If you’re a soda-lover—or have another favorite calorie-laden indulgence like potato chips—hide your stash in a really inconvenient place, like your basement," Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, said. "I do this myself. You’ll be less likely to go and grab it. And if you do make the trek, you’ll have to burn extra calories to get the treat."
Go for omega-3s
"Get into the habit of popping DHA-based omega-3s—take two 200-milligram capsules about 30 minutes before both lunch and dinner. Or have 4 ounces of non-fried salmon or trout three times per week, along with six walnuts before each meal," Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic and co-author of You: On a Diet and You: Stress Less (out this month), said.
"This will decrease your desire for food later on, since this type of omega helps release the hormone cholecystokinin, which reduces appetite. Less food equals a smaller waist!"
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Order with ice
"At a restaurant, make sure your water glass is always topped off and that it’s ice cold. Drinking water throughout your meal makes you feel fuller faster, and the coldness causes you to burn more calories to bring the water’s temperature up," said David Kirsch, New York City–based celebrity trainer (clients include Heidi Klum and Liv Tyler) and author of The Ultimate New York Diet.
Plate like a french woman
"French women eat smaller portions of more things, and American women eat larger portions of fewer things. So plate your meal like a French woman!" Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat, said.
For breakfast, eat a slice of toast, a sliver of butter, a bit of jam, and a fruit—like half a banana—plus coffee or tea. Variety, color, and presentation go a long way toward fooling the stomach into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are."
Up the burn
"Eating protein within 45 minutes after a moderate to intense workout (of at least 45 minutes to an hour) helps your muscles rebuild and repair—and also helps increase the number of calories you burn," said Teddy Bass, L.A.–based celebrity trainer who has worked with Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate.
"So for maximum fat-melting throughout the day, bring a small protein-rich 100- to 200-calorie snack with you to the gym, or keep a stash of yogurt or string cheese at work."