We would never tell you to take weight-loss supplements or to try something super sketch like the corset diet. In general, making small, sustainable lifestyle changes is the best route to weight loss. But we get that doing something quick-and-easy is more appealing—so we talked to top weight-loss experts to find out which get-fit-quick tricks will actually help you slim down (and are also totally, 100 percent safe).
As hard as it is to utter those words (the cozy red wine! the hot toddies!), quitting drinking for a month is an efficient way to slim down quickly. But no worries, you don’t have to 86 it for life: “Once you start seeing results, you can slowly start introducing alcohol back into your routine again,” says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. “It’s just a quick trick to help you jumpstart your weight loss efforts without having to do anything super drastic.” And when you do add alcohol back into your routine, think about how much you were drinking before—and subtract a little, suggests Gans. “So if you normally had three glasses of wine with your friends, cut it to two.”
You don’t have to buy special foods or even go to the gym every single day. You just have to not eat past 9 p.m. “Snacking after dinner usually equals extra calories, plain and simple, because chances are, you’ve already consumed enough for the day,” says Gans. “You’re probably just eating out of boredom, stress, or habit.”
We’ve said it so many times, but that’s because it works. “Our bodies can mistake dehydration for hunger, so one of the easiest ways to reset your appetite is to stay hydrated,” says Michelle Davenport, Ph.D., R.D. “Plus, research has shown that eating foods primarily composed of water, like brothy soups and salads with lots of juicy vegetables, can keep us full with fewer calories.” Aim for six to eight glasses a day, and if you can’t get there, just do the best you can. It’s better than nothing!
This is quite possibly the easiest weight-loss tip ever—all you have to do is log eight hours of shuteye. “Most people don’t realize that sleep directly affects the hormones that control our hunger and satiety cues,” says Davenport. “By clocking in at least eight hours of sleep a night, we can keep those hormones balanced and thus keep our appetites in check.”
Interval training is perhaps the most efficient use of your time at the gym. The idea is that, by doing a certain exercise at your max intensity for short intervals (with recovery breaks in between) you can burn more calories and increase your fitness level in less time than it would take to see the same results if you were working out at a steady pace that’s more sustainable. Plus: “With the right HIIT program, your body will keep losing fat after your workout—while maintaining muscle tone,” says Greg Justice, an exercise physiologist at AYC Fitness in Kansas City.
As long as you skip out on the super high-cal latte triple pump whatevers, coffee can be a great tool to help you slim down. “Caffeine may increase the release of free fatty acids in the bloodstream, which helps you train longer and more intensely,” says Justice. “Coffee has been shown to suppress your appetite, as well.” We’ll sip to that!
Rather than count your calories, count your protein and fiber intake. “Nutritionists used to believe that 3,500 calories was equivalent to one pound, which was the premise for calorie tracking for many people,” says Davenport. “But now, new research has found that the exact number of calories needed to shed pounds is specific to the individual and that it’s more effective to track protein and fiber—the nutrients that keep us full at every meal.” Try to have one serving of protein and fiber at every meal, and you’ll pretty much be good to go.