Simple carbs are the white stuff – white bread, most pastries, refined sugars (like in soda). What makes it so simple? These foods provide energy, but lack the same nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and fiber) as complex carbohydrates. The body also breaks simple carbs down quickly, spikes blood sugar (insulin), and leaves your tummy might rumbling sooner than you imagined. Choose whole grains instead, which may reduce potentially dangerous excess abdominal fat buildup (which can lead to diabetes). Switch to whole-wheat pasta or whole grain bread, or try grains like brown rice, quinoa, or millet.
22. Ditch Added Sugar
A spoonful of sugar allegedly helps the medicine go down, but adding it to food may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity . Stick to sugar that comes in its natural form (in fruits, veggies, and whole grains) and scrap that morning-coffee-spoonful.
23. Make Subs
No, we don’t mean the sandwich. We mean easy recipe substitutions. Simple swaps—like Greek yogurt for sour cream, prunes for butter, or an Americano for a latte—can cut calories and sugar. Even a grilled cheese can get a healthy revamp by making a few smart subs.
24. Cook Smart
Even healthy food can become not so great when it’s been dropped into a fryer. Instead, pan fry or pop a dish in the oven. Use non-stick spray to sauté foods, or rub oil onto a pan with a paper towel for a light coating. You can even whip up a batch of healthier chips.
25. Heat It Up With Cayenne
Cayenne pepper, the bright red spice, can not only boost metabolism, but can also cut cravings for fatty, sweet, or salty foods. Some studies even suggest that the hot stuff can increase fat oxidation, meaning the body can better use fat as fuel. Sprinkle some on scrambled eggs, or spice up a stir-fry with a little hot sauce.
26. Chew Gum
Popping a piece of sugar-free gum won’t necessarily curb your appetite. But, chewing a 5-calorie stick can keep the mouth busy when cooking up a meal, or socializing among a sea of hors d’oeuvres at a party. While the long-term effects of gum chewing on weight loss are minimal, studies show it can lower cravings for sweet and salty snacks, and decrease hunger between meals.
27. Go Straw-less
… with fruit, that is. Juices (which are often far from 100 percent fruit) provide some vitamins, but without the same fiber and phyto-nutrients as a real piece of fruit. Let’s take an apple for instance. An 8-oz. glass of apple juice has double the sugar and less than one-tenth the fiber of a medium apple.
28. Cave in to Cravings
We love this tip. Cravings are OK! Acknowledge those cravings instead of pushing them away completely (which may lead to blowing it later). Caving into a craving, as long as it’s in moderation (try on of these healthier ways to satisfy a sweet tooth) can actually help curb desire. Forbidding a food may only make it more attractive. Still want more of that chocolate cake after a couple of bites? Try thinking of your favorite activity—dancing in the rain, getting a massage, playing with a puppy. Research shows that engaging in imagery can reduce the intensity of food cravings.
29. Bag It Up
Sometimes we’d rather not admit it, but let’s face it—restaurant meal portions are generally heftier than what we cook at home. Make a conscious decision to bag up half of the meal before taking the first bite. The added benefit? You’ve got a dogie-bag lunch for tomorrow!
30. Sip Green Tea
Drinking green tea is one of the most common tips for shedding a few pounds, and for good reason—green tea is known for its ability to metabolize fat. And in combination with resistance training, green tea increases the potential for fat loss . Add a squeeze of lemon for a little flavor and to amp up antioxidant effects.