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Cut Calories (Almost) Without Trying: 8 Sneaky Tips

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By Corrie Pikul

Chances are, your daily routine is padded with extra calories. You don't need a calculator or a calorie-counting app to help you get rid of them -- you just need to tweaks some of your habits.

  • Treat Monday Lunch Like Friday Happy Hour
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    Studies show that people who eat in front of their computers consume more calories, feel less full and are hungry again sooner than usual. Janis Jibrin, Best Life's lead nutritionist, suggests stepping away from your desk and eating with a friend -- even better, choosing a bistro or a bar with high-top tables and giving your stools to other patrons. Standing burns 40 percent more calories than sitting, and Jibrin says there's no medical reason you shouldn't eat on your feet. If you take a similar approach at breakfast and drink your coffee while standing (that's how the Italians do it) and then spend 30 minutes checking your email out of your seat, you'll trim about 100 total calories from your day.
  • Spice Up Your Condiments
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    It's time to toss your desk-drawer stockpile of ketchup and barbecue packets: Not only does the same amount of mustard have 12 fewer calories (so cutting out the four packets you use on your fries will save 48 calories), but the spicy yellow stuff has been shown to increase metabolism by up to 25 percent, which can shave off another 50 calories a day, says Dr. Oz. Darker varieties tend to have more metabolism-boosting power, and the capsacin in the hot and spicy varieties will make you feel more full. Spread mustard on sandwiches and on lean meats, and also mix it into dips and salad dressing.
  • Try The Mediterranean Snack That Will Make You Forget About Cheese
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    You're probably already substituting Greek yogurt for ice cream, so you know it can squelch cravings for something sweet and fatty, but Jibrin says it can also work as a satisfying substitute for cheese. She likes to take a 4-ounce fat-free plain Greek yogurt and drizzle it with a teaspoon of olive oil, then sprinkle with Mediterranean herbs. That's only 100 rich, savory calories, compared to the 200 in 2 ounces of cheddar.
  • Take A Half-Empty Approach To Your Breakfast
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    When you stumble bleary-eyed into the kitchen in the morning, you're probably more concerned with making sure your cereal simply makes it into the bowl (and not onto the floor) than you are with portion size. But by cutting back on just 1/3 cup of cereal, you can trim 100 calories from your breakfast, says Keri Glassman, RD, CDN, author of Slim Calm Sexy Diet. A typical cereal bowl holds around 2 cups, so try not to fill yours to the brim. (If you're feeling alert, use a measuring cup to see that you're getting the recommended serving size of a cup to a cup and a half.)
  • Choose Snack Foods With Shells
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    A handful of pistachios is about a quarter of a cup -- about 82 calories. To clarify, that's pistachios in the shell. If you fill that same quarter cup with nuts already shelled, you may save time and energy, but you'll gain an extra 100 calories. (And don't worry about cleaning up the shells of pistachios, peanuts or walnuts right away: Studies show that leaving them around can unconsciously remind you of how many you've eaten and deter you from wanting more.)
  • Never Leave Home Without A Water Bottle
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    You know that drinking water throughout the day can help you feel full and snack less, but studies show that this easy habit also helps regulate your ability to burn calories. Staying hydrated can increase your metabolic rate by as much as 30 percent, says Glassman. She adds that drinking 2 liters of cold water per day will burn about 95 calories (40 percent of which will be used to warm the liquid to body temperature).
  • Use The 80/20 Rule For Ground Beef
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    Even healthy-eating all-stars like Jibrin admit that a hamburger with very lean ground beef isn't that satisfying. But she says that switching from 70 percent lean and 30 percent fat (the recommended ratio for the most mouthwatering burgers) to the still-juicy 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat can save 65 calories. You'll save another 50 or so calories (and gain vitamins and fiber) by putting your burger on whole-wheat sandwich thins instead of on a regular bun.
  • Take An Afternoon Green Tea Break
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    Green tea has been shown to slightly raise metabolism, says Glassman, because it contains antioxidants called catechins that have the ability to metabolize fat. While we can't put an accurate number on how many calories sipping will burn, we know that green tea is a better choice than your typical 240-calorie chai latte.

As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.

Around the Web

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