If you’ve got an extra 5 kilograms on your frame, you might assume that erasing that weight will be a cake walk (minus the cake). But in some ways it’s even more challenging to drop 5kg than it is to drop 10kg+.
“People who have a lot to lose likely have poor eating habits, and it’s clear what they need to do in order to change,” says Keri Gans, author ofThe Small Change Diet.
“On the other hand, if you’re already pretty healthy overall, the shifts you’d have to make in order to reach your target weight aren’t as apparent,” Gans says.
That being said, “it is 100 per cent possible to lose a small amount of weight,” Gans says. “The key is to recognise the tweaks that will improve your diet even further.”
Here’s where to start.
1. USE YOUR HANDS TO MEASURE PORTIONS
It’s easy to go overboard on serving sizes, but measuring everything you eat can make you crazy.
A good way to eyeball the right amount is to rely on your hands as a guide.
“Aim for two handfuls of vegetables, one fistful of whole-grain carbohydrates, a palm full of lean protein, and a drizzle of plant-based fat at every meal,” says San Francisco-based registered dietitian Edwina Clark.
2. DON’T OVEREAT HEALTHY FOODS
When you know something’s nutritious, you’re more prone to overindulging, says Gans. For example, you might feel virtuous about starting your day with yogurt and granola—but you’re so generous with the granola pour that you’re actually eating several servings.
Eat off smaller dishes to keep your portions in check.
In a study from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, participants who used 10-inch dinner plates served themselves 22 per cent fewer calories than those eating off of traditional 12-inch plates.
Researchers suggested that downsizing for one year would lead to an 18-pound weight loss for the average adult.
If you’re already eating healthy, using a smaller plate can help you eat less and inch closer to your 5-kilo goal.
3. WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING YOU EAT FOR A WEEK
It might feel like you’ve been making all the right choices, but sneaky things could be adding to your calorie count.
To find out what they are, track your food intake for several days using an app like MyFitnessPal, and then analyze the results to see where the surplus calories might be hiding.
For example, you might undercover that you’re grabbing a few pieces of Halloween candy when you’re at the bank, or eating the last quarter of your preschooler’s sandwich.
“This can help you see where you can cut back,” says Clark.
4. SLEEP SEVEN TO NINE HOURS A NIGHT
“When you’re lacking sleep, you become too tired to make healthy decisions,” Gans says. “You’ll crave a carb-heavy breakfast, and in the evening you’ll be more likely to order takeout instead of cook.”
If you’re clocking an adequate amount of shuteye, you’ll be better equipped to make healthy, lower-calorie food choices throughout the day and kick ass during your workout.
Both of these habits can help you curb your calorie intake and drop a few pounds.
5. MEASURE YOUR SALAD DRESSING
Salad dressing is one of the most common hidden calorie sources that Gans sees in her practice.
“When you pour salad dressing straight from the bottle, it’s easy to use too much,” says Gans.
For example, overdoing it by two tablespoons of some dressings could cost you an additional 120 calories. And if you do that every workday, that’s an extra 600 calories added to your intake for the week.
“The correct serving size of salad dressing is two tablespoons,” says Gans.
Measure this amount and pour it on your salad so you can get a visual of how it looks on your lunch. Eventually you won’t have to measure anymore.
To take your calorie count down even more, sub your store-bought dressing for vinegar and oil. Pour equal parts vinegar and oil in a spray bottle, shake, and then mist it over your greens. That tweak can save you tons of calories over time, Gans says.
6. KEEP FRUIT ON YOUR TABLE
Another study by the Food and Brand Lab found that people who kept cereal and soda out in plain sight weighed 10-15kg more on average than their neighbours who didn’t.
And even if you don’t keep much junk food around in the first place, keeping fresh fruit out for easy snacking can help you lose that extra 5kg or more.
According the same study, people who kept fruit on their table weighed an average of 7kg less than those who didn’t.
7. REARRANGE YOUR PLATE
If your vegetables are off in a corner of your plate with meat and grains taking centre stage, you could be filling up on unnecessary calories, says Gans.
“Even if you’re having a healthy meal like vegetables, salmon, and quinoa, vegetables should be the main attraction,” Gans says. “They should take up 50 per cent of your plate and should be placed in the centre.”
Meat and grains should be co-stars, each getting one-quarter of the real estate.
Filling up on low-calorie vegetables consistently can lead to a 5kg weight loss over time, she says.
The article 9 Tiny Tweaks to Make If You Want to Lose 10 Pounds or Less originally ran on WomensHealthMag.com.