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Drink More Water

Everyone already knows that the importance of water cannot be overstated; I mean, the average adult is composed of between 60% and 65% water. Water seems to play a role (directly or indirectly) in nearly every aspect of our body’s functioning, so it makes sense that water is beneficial when trying to consume fewer calories.

It Helps Satiate You

A man sitting on the edge of a railroad bridge in the wilderness drinking water.
A man stopping to drink water.

Have you ever felt full before you’ve started eating? Well, water can do that; it can even do that without making you feel grossly full afterward. Drinking water before eating a meal can help you to feel somewhat satiated before you begin eating. When you drink water, it takes up space in your stomach and helps you to consume fewer calories. In fact, a study was conducted in 2015 which found that individuals who drank about 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before a meal lost an average of 9.48 lbs. If drinking water allows you to consume fewer calories, then it would also help with fat and weight loss.

It Aids in Digestion

There are those who will ask, “Won’t water disrupt digestion?” That, however, is quite contrary to the truth as water is actually beneficial to digestion. Water aids digestion by breaking down foods so that they are easier to digest. Additionally, water softens stools in order to avoid constipation. This means that water is more than helpful to digestion before, during, and after meals. Clearly, water aids in digestion and consuming fewer calories.

*A quick note: in no way am I advocating drinking water in place of meals. If you’re hungry, you should eat. I’m simply providing a potential solution to avoid eating too much. *

Don’t Skip Meals

While skipping meals may seem like a great way to substantially cut back on calories, it’s actually quite detrimental. Meals provide stable and necessary nutrition throughout the day, and if you skip one (or more) meals over the course of the day, you could be sluggish, lethargic, and your productivity will suffer. Additionally, this will make you extremely hungry which could easily cause you to overeat later in the day (thus increasing overall caloric intake for the day). Conversely, if you steadily eat meals throughout the day, you are getting vital nutrients and the energy required to have an active and productive day. Furthermore, you’ll be less hungry throughout the day which prevents overeating later. For anyone trying to consume fewer calories, skipping meals is something you should never do.

Eat Enough Protein

Protein is a staple of athletes working to build or maintain muscle, but it also a terrific tool for anyone trying to eat less. Protein is a nutrient that is not easily digestible, so it takes some time to move through your system. This means that if you eat enough protein per day you will feel full for longer. Additionally, protein is a very broad nutrient. There are many different types and options for someone looking to increase or diversify their protein intake. There are plenty of animal-based and plant-based options as well as nearly infinite combinations that can be made to fit any lifestyle. Protein is an essential nutrient and is a quintessential aspect of any nutrition plan; this is especially true for anyone looking to consume fewer calories.

Snack Smarter

When done correctly, snacks are an integral part of good nutrition. When done poorly, though, they can hurt even the most thorough nutrition plans. Having strategies for snacking smarter is great for anyone seeking to consume fewer calories.

Stop Eating From the Package

Eating straight from the package is probably one of the worst snacking habits someone can have. Mindless eating is a major contributor to overeating, and when eating out of the package it is far too easy to get distracted and just keep snacking. Before you know it, you’ve downed an entire bag of potato chips or a box of Oreos in one sitting. Luckily, this one has an easy solution: put a set amount of the snack food into a separate container so that you know exactly how much you’re eating.

A small bowl of almonds. This is a common snack of anyone trying to consume fewer calories.
A bowl of almonds.

Choose Snacks Wisely

As we mentioned before, protein is imperative for a nutritious diet, and it is more difficult to digest which will keep you full for longer. This principle applies to both meals and snacks. When snacking, it is important to eat snacks that are high in protein; these snacks will help you to feel more satiated as well as prevent any further snacking. Additionally, fiber is also a nutrient that takes a while to digest; fiber-rich snacks will, like their protein-rich counterparts, help you to feel fuller for longer. When working to consume fewer calories, it is important to choose snacks wisely to avoid eating lots of calories and getting little satiety in return.

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Get Enough Sleep

A digital alarm clock that reads 6:24 AM.
The alarm clock of someone sleeping.

Sleep is very important for your health; it’s importance manifests itself in everything from stress management, to immune function, and even to nutrition. Sleep helps to reenergize you after a long day, and food fuels you for the new day; there is somewhat of a balance. However, if this balance is disrupted, it can wreak havoc. Not getting enough sleep means that your body is not getting the rest and recovery it needs from the previous day (or days). It attempts to make up for this by taking in more calories; these calories are oftentimes in excess of what the body needs and inevitably are stored as fat. Additionally, the longer that you are awake, the more time you have to get hungry. If you sleep enough, you may wake up a little hungry but you won’t have eaten an excess amount of calories. For anyone trying to consume fewer calories, getting enough sleep is a must.

Use Smaller Plates

Using smaller plates has been a staple for eating less for some time now. The idea is that if you use a smaller plate with the same amount of food on it, it appears as though you have more food because the plate is more full. This will help to avoid overeating and can even allow you to eat less if you’re trying to consume fewer calories. If you haven’t heard this one before, you may think it’s silly, but the truth is that it really works. For anyone looking to cut down on their calories, using smaller plates is definitely something to try.

A basket of crisp, fresh vegetables in a garden on a warm, sunny day.
A basket of crisp, fresh vegetables

Eat More Veggies

We were always told as children to eat our vegetables, and now we all know how important vegetables are in a balanced diet. However, what we may not know is that vegetables can be very useful for anyone trying to consume fewer calories. For starters, many vegetables are high in fiber. Fiber digests more slowly, so these fibrous vegetables take longer to digest thus keeping you full for longer. Additionally, vegetables are generally low in calories which means that you can eat far more of them. For example, 100 calories of steak is about 1.3 oz of steak whereas 100 calories of broccoli is almost 10.5 oz; that’s more than 8 times broccoli than steak! When seeking to consume fewer calories, eating more vegetables will enable you to eat more while still reducing your overall caloric intake.

Stop Drinking Liquid Calories

This is very common advice given to those who are working to cut down on calories. Sodas, lattes, mochas, and other sugar-rich drinks are very high in calories. Although these drinks are high in calories, they provide little-to-no satiety; this is mostly because they are liquids and are easily and quickly digestible. Cutting back on liquid calories is a great way to decrease caloric intake.

Stop Watching TV While Eating

This image depicts a family having a picnic in the woods without distraction.
A family meal without the television.

There was a time when the American way was to eat dinner from a tray with the family all while sitting in front of the television. Times are changing, and, although people still watch tv while eating, we are beginning to understand the effects of eating in front of the television. When you watch tv, you’re distracting your brain; when you watch tv while you eat, you distract your brain from eating. This allows you to mindlessly eat without necessarily feeling full. If you remove the television and eat slowly, your brain can focus on eating and tell you when you’re feeling satiated. This is the best option for anyone trying to consume fewer calories as it prevents mindless overeating.

Eat More Slowly

For anyone trying to consume fewer calories, eating more slowly will be very beneficial. Eating at a slower pace allows you to feel full more quickly. When you eat quickly, your body simply cannot process how much you’ve eaten and tell your brain that you’re full fast enough; this results in feeling overly full all of a sudden. If you eat more slowly, though, your body has time to examine how much you’ve eaten and has ample time to tell you that you’re satiated. Moreover, eating more slowly gives you more time to chew which greatly aids in digestion. So, eating more slowly is good for those working to consume fewer calories and helps with digestion.

Brush Your Teeth After Meals

For most of us, brushing our teeth comes when we’ve finished eating. This means that we’ve trained ourselves to know that when we brush our teeth, eating is done (think Pavlov’s Dog and classical conditioning). If we get into the practice of brushing our teeth after meals, then subconsciously we will know that the time for eating is done. This results in little-to-no post-meal snacking and prevents excessive caloric intake.

Eat With Your Nondominant Hand

This image features a woman eating a healthy meal good for anyone working to consume fewer calories.
A woman eating a pleasant meal

This one may seem a bit odd if you haven’t heard it before, but this is a fitness tip that I picked up online a few years back. Eating with your nondominant is a very effective way for someone to eat more slowly and consume fewer calories. This is the case because when eating the dominant hand, it’s very easy to just eat mindlessly; on the other hand, when using the nondominant hand, you’re forced to think about eating. When you have to consciously think about eating, you’ll tend to eat more slowly. An important note, this should only be done in private and in the company of people whom you’re comfortable with; if you do it in public, you’ll likely make a fool of yourself. Overall, though, eating with your nondominant hand is an excellent way to consume fewer calories.

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