By Jon Ewald, M.D. — I was browsing the health news a few days ago (as we at Life and Health often do) and I came across an article that I initially found mindless. It was about how Paris Hilton lost 5 pounds by quitting fast food. The article seemed about as newsworthy as an article about David Beckham’s newest tattoo. I’m much more accustomed to seeing stories about people dropping 100 or so pounds from quitting soda, or starting to walk around the block a few times each day.
I had a chuckle with one of my colleagues and put it out of my mind; but later in the day I realized I might have judged the article rashly. While it may not have been the author’s intent, the story highlighted an important truth: simple changes in our lifestyle can have profound effects. Paris Hilton didn’t have a lot of weight to lose, but she still dropped 5 pounds with minimal effort. If she can do it, you can too.
To this end, we’ve come up with 10 simple ways to lose weight with minimal effort.
Drink more H20
Drinking more water is standard health advice, but most of us still don’t get enough. For weight loss, water is beneficial for several reasons. First, water in the stomach gives people a full feeling, which suppresses hunger. While this does not directly affect weight loss, it does make us less likely to snack between meals (which can dramatically reduce our daily caloric intake). Additionally, most people lack the ability to differentiate between the body’s hunger and thirst signals. Oftentimes, when we feel hungry, our body is really asking for water. If we give it the water it wants, the “hunger” will go away.
Stop drinking soda, juice, alcohol, etc.
This tip is related to the previous one. Sodas, fruit juices, specialty coffees, and alcoholic beverages contain a lot of empty calories. For example, a can of coke contains 140 calories. A venti (20 oz) mocha Frappuccino contains 400+ calories (depending on the milk chosen and optional whipped cream). Alcoholic beverages are even worse, not only are they high calorie beverages, but they also slow down the metabolism.
For many people, beverages alone can easily amount to over 1000 calories a day. But even if you’re only drinking 200, it adds up. Any doctor will tell you that a pound of fat equals 3500 calories. Do the math. When you cut these types of beverages from your diet, it doesn’t take long to lose some weight.
Exercise in breaks
This will not be a surprise to many people. Exercise is really the key to long-term, sustained weight loss. However, since this is an article about simple ways to lose weight, we are not going to pressure you to join a gym just yet (although you should think about it). The truth is, the majority of people will receive great benefits from even moderate increases in physical activity.
During a break at work do some push ups, jumping jacks or walk around the office or block. It is a simple way to burn a few calories and get your blood flowing. Although it may not be practical, it is best to do these exercises with as much intensity as possible because even short, 10-minute bursts of intense physical activity have been demonstrated to boost metabolism for the whole day.
Eat a salad everyday
Even if you change nothing else, eating a large salad every day will really benefit your health. You’ll be getting a large quantity of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Plus, you will be filling up your stomach, meaning there will be less room for the other more fattening foods you may otherwise be eating. Perhaps this goes without saying, but choose a healthy salad without meat, cheese, and cups of fattening dressing or croutons. One tip for salad dressing is to keep it on the side. Then you can dip your fork into it before stabbing a bite of salad. This way, you’ll eat less dressing than normal, but still get all of the flavor.
Eat more whole grains and fiber
Adding more fiber to your diet can certainly help you lose weight. Fiber is essentially the structural framework for plants. It comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber attracts water and forms a gel, which slows down the digestive process and makes you feel fuller longer. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, but bulks up the stool and acts as a laxative, helping to prevent constipation. Fiber is especially important in regulating the rate at which sugar that is consumed is absorbed into the bloodstream, which is a great benefit to diabetics.
In terms of dropping a few pounds, foods with lots of fiber will make you feel full more quickly. This means you are likely to consume fewer calories during a given meal. Additionally, both types of fiber help with satiety, meaning you’ll feel full longer. This means you are less likely to snack or get hungry just a couple hours after your last meal.
So how can you add more fiber to your diet? It is simple really, avoid refined or processed foods that have little or no fiber and eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and beans. It is not difficult to switch to whole grain pastas, breads, or brown rice. It is recommended that women consume 25 grams of fiber per day while men should consume 38 grams. Give fiber a try and you could see the pounds begin to melt away.
Eat more home cooked meals
This one is comes from the story about Paris Hilton. Home cooked food is generally much healthier than what you will find at a restaurant. Typically, restaurant food is very fatty/oily, high calorie, and packed with salt. Another issue is portion control, many restaurants serve portions that are much larger than you would probably eat at home. Eating more home cooked food will also give you better control of your overall nutrient intake. Add this up and you have a simple way to lose some extra weight.
Hide healthy snacks
Snack foods tend to be high in sugar, fat, and salt and are an obvious source of extra calories. While it is better not to snack at all, snacking healthy is a simple change you can make. Instead of having chips or a granola bar (which is basically a glorified candy bar) have an apple, a handful of nuts and raisins, or some carrot sticks. These healthy snacks will have fewer calories, more nutrition, and more fiber than anything that comes out of a package. This can definitely lead to weight loss over time.
Don’t skip or skimp on breakfast
Breakfast is well known as an important component in sustained weight loss. It jump-starts the metabolism in the morning, meaning you’ll burn more calories throughout the day. Often, people skip breakfast because they simply are not hungry; others do so to try and cut down on their daily caloric intake. However, by mid-morning or lunch, these people are often starving. This can lead to the person nibbling on snacks throughout the day or binge eating later in the day. Even if you eat the same amount of calories that you did before, getting more of them in the morning can easily lead to weight loss.
Brush and floss for dessert
This is another simple tip. It functions through psychology rather than any physical effect on our bodies. Brushing and flossing after a meal can signal your brain that mealtime is over. But, even if it doesn’t, you may be less likely to snack on something if it means having to clean your teeth again. Also, there is the taste factor: Have you ever had a glass or orange juice shortly after brushing your teeth? These things combined should be enough to convince you to forgo second helpings, consume fewer calories, and lose weight.
Our bodies need a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, getting too little (or too much) has a variety of negative effects. Did you know that one effect is weight gain? There is a host of research demonstrating that people who sleep less tend to weigh more. There are several reasons for this:
First, sleep deprivation may change the way our bodies regulate appetite. Sleeping too little could cause you to end up with a larger than normal appetite and consequently consume more calories. Experts also believe sleeping to little will cause you to be drawn to foods that are higher in fat and carbohydrates. Getting too little sleep is also known to negatively affect the body’s metabolic rate, meaning the body will burn fewer calories throughout the day. This is something anyone looking to drop some weight will want to avoid.
So there you have it, 10 simple ways to lose some extra pounds. Give one (or more) of them a try. It won’t take much time at all, and you’ll look better and be healthier for it.
–Jon Ewald, M.D. graduated from Loma Linda University in 2020.
This article is reprinted with permission and was originally published on Life and Health website.
 “Short Bursts of Intense Exercise Can Fight Weight Gain: Study.” Consumer HealthDay. Accessed July 16, 2014. http://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/misc-health-news-265/short-bursts-of-intense-exercise-can-fight-weight-gain-study-669778.html.
 “How Sleep Loss Adds to Weight Gain.” Well. Accessed July 16, 2014. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/06/how-sleep-loss-adds-to-weight-gain/.