Ever have those days where you just don’t feel like working out? Of course you do. You’re human. But when you’re on a mission to lose weight, shedding those extra pounds requires some serious gym time, right? Wrong. We turned to the experts for ways to lose weight without breaking a sweat on the treadmill, so you can maintain your sanity—and your beloved Netflix dates. You’re welcome.
Pack in the protein.
“Protein requires 25 percent more energy to digest than carbs, so it’s possible to cut your calorie intake without eating less food,” says California-based personal trainer Jamie Sullivan. Your body has to work harder to digest a salmon filet than it does a bowl of pasta, meaning you can get away with a few extra bites of that perfectly cooked fish while the noodles could do a number on your waistline. Eating protein also causes your body to release a hormone called leptin, which makes you feel fuller so you eat less later.
Stay hydrated—with salt water.
When it comes to H20, salt is not the enemy. “Water needs electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and chloride to be best absorbed,” says Jenny Westerkamp, an R.D. in Chicago, which explains why they’re added to popular sports drinks. She recommends adding a pinch of Celtic sea salt or real salt (unrefined and unbleached) to your water before chugging. “The electrolytes in the salt will push water into the cells where they need to be, rather than letting the water get flushed out, causing you to go to the bathroom every other minute.” You’ll notice a spike in energy after staying hydrated, too, and you’ll be less likely to give in to cravings which are even harder to avoid when you’re running on empty.
Don’t skip meals.
Your mom taught it to you when you were little, and now you’re teaching it to your kiddos, but are you doing it yourself? You better be. Otherwise, “you’ll end up snacking on the wrong food or eating too much at the next meal,” says Shoshana Werber, R.D. Keep some healthy snacks around to keep your belly happy in between meals—we like these for when stress starts to take over.
Find yourself fidgeting?
Embrace it. You can call it NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. “It’s energy that we expend on everything we do besides sleep, eat, and exercise,” says Werber. “NEAT-related activities can speed up your metabolism and burn calories.” Things like walking while you talk on the phone, cleaning, fidgeting, and dancing while you cook (come on, we know we aren’t the only ones) all count.
Get more ZZZs.
“If you’re tired and up late, you’re more prone to late-night snacking, which often causes weight gain,” says Weber. “Lack of sleep impacts your hunger and fullness hormones—ghrelin and leptin—making it more difficult to lose weight.” Put those chips back on the shelf, girl. It’s midnight.
Write it down.
Keeping a food journal forces you to look at the foods you’re eating on a daily basis. “You’ll be much more honest with yourself about what and how much you’re actually eating,” says Werber. And science backs it up: A recent survey from the weight-loss app Lose It! found that users who logged their daily eats lost more weight than those who didn’t. Think about it: You’ll actually want to eat healthier because writing, “12 cookies” and “18 chocolate squares” in the same journal entry is just not ideal, while writing “oven-roasted salmon with broccoli and wild rice, plus two squares of dark chocolate for dessert” sounds way more satisfying—and something to be proud of.
Limit those cooking shows.
New research reveals women who steal recipes from them weigh more than those who don’t. Copy these yummy meal ideas instead, and maybe just watch your favorite shows for the thrill of the cooking competition (we’re looking at you, Bobby Flay).
Stop weighing yourself.
Research shows it can backfire when weight loss is your goal. If you get too wrapped up in the number of pounds you still have to shed, you can get discouraged and be tempted to give up altogether. Just focus on having healthier behaviors—and use your clothes or weekly selfies as a guide if you need one—and the weight loss will follow.
Researchers have found that public commuters have less body fat than those who drive, probably because of the extra walking and standing that’s required when you take a train or a bus. It’s not rocket science, but hey, it works. And those bills you save in gas? All a bonus.
Branch out with berries.
A new study found that camu camu, an Amazonian berry, contains about 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C in just 3.5 ounces of fruit and can help lower blood sugar. When your blood sugar is too high, you need more insulin to metabolize the food you eat, and insulin stops your body from using stored fat as energy, says Westerkamp. In other words, higher blood sugar = more insulin = stored fat sticking around for way too long. Unfortunately, you won’t find fresh camu camu berries at your local grocery store, but you can purchase them as a raw powder—perfect for mixing into smoothies—online or at natural health food stores.
Update your iPhone.
If you haven’t yet taken advantage of Apple’s new Health app on iOS 8, it’s time to start. You can track your daily activity, what you eat, how well you sleep, and tons of other health stats. Think of it as an easy way to stay on top of your weight-loss goals without buying yet another activity tracker. (We love ’em, but a girl can only have so many.)
Go nuts for nuts. Studies have shown that a diet high in nuts results in greater weight loss, and now scientists are finding the benefits go even further. New research found that peanuts can improve vascular health, while almonds can reduce belly fat and your risk of heart disease. Snack on a handful in the afternoon, or toss ’em in your salad for some extra healthy crunch.
Make your goals realistic.
Do we all want to have Jennifer Aniston’s body tomorrow? Obviously. Is it likely? Probably not. So instead of resorting to a crash-and-burn diet—which you know is going to fail before you even start it, so why waste the time—incorporate healthy tweaks to your routine one at a time. Research shows that it can help make a habit stick, and it can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by a ton of change.
Try swapping your canola oil for the coconut kind when you cook one week, and once you’re used to that, replace a white starch with a green veggie at every meal. Look at that—pounds are peeling off without you going crazy in the process.