The Easiest Way to Lose Weight Without Feeling Deprived: The No-diet Plan

Healthy swaps add up to weight lossLet's face it, dieting is not fun. Eating is fun and moreover, necessary. However, if you, like many of us, have padded out with a few extra pounds this winter, you might be considering a slim-down plan for summer.

Here's a secret: losing five to ten pounds doesn't have to be torture. Unless your eating habits have truly gone off the rails (in which case you should speak with your doctor who may refer you to a registered dietician or nutritionist), you don't need to, and shouldn't, drastically alter your regular routine.

Crash diets are unhealthy. They cause unpleasant side effects such as dehydration, kidney stones, bad breath, and dizziness. Dramatically cutting back on calories can also lead to weight cycling—when you gain back more than you initially lost. In fact, the majority of dieters regain all those hard lost pounds plus more within a couple of years.

The no-diet plan

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says the safest and most realistic weight loss goal is about one pound a week. Losing one pound means cutting back on about 3,500 calories. By eliminating 500 calories a day you will shed a pound a week at a healthy rate without feeling deprived.

Rather than thinking of this strategy as a diet, look at it as a budget. If you are broke, you make a tasty, cheap cup of coffee at home rather than ordering a grande at Starbucks (or at least you should). How can you make the daily swaps in your eating and activity patterns that will be the least painful?

Here are ways to cut or burn 50, 100, and 200 calories. Mix and match what works for you as long as the items you choose add up to 500 calories a day. You will soon be on the way to a sleeker physique, just in time for beach weather. Another benefit of swapping, trimming, and adding doable exercise is that your smart new habits will help you keep the weight off over the long run.

50 calories

  • Eat one piece of toast in instead of two, or have an open-faced sandwich
  • Mix juice with half selzer
  • Swap one cup of skim milk for one cup of whole milk
  • Eat one ounce of pretzels instead of one ounce of potato chips
  • Eat one small handful of nuts rather than one large handful
  • Leave the cheese off your sandwich
  • Swap mustard for mayo
  • Leave the butter or oil off your vegetable
  • Swap a turkey burger for a beef burger
  • Swap vinaigrette for creamy salad dressing
  • Skip one cookie
  • Stand or pace when you are on the telephone instead of sitting
  • Push a baby in a stroller for 15 minutes
  • Cook a simple meal instead of ordering take out
  • Mow the lawn
  • Take the stairs (ten minutes per day)
  • Do a quick stretch and free weight routine while watching TV
  • Give a 15-minute massage

100 calories

  • Eat one medium apple or orange instead of drinking 12 ounces of juice
  • Skip eight ounces of juice
  • Eat a small bagel instead of a regular bagel
  • Swap Canadian bacon for regular bacon or pork sausage
  • Eat one rather than two eggs
  • Eat one tablespoon of peanut butter instead of two
  • Eat water packed tuna instead of oil packed tuna
  • Swap a small corn tortilla for a large flour tortilla
  • Eat plain cheese or vegetable pizza instead of pepperoni or sausage pizza
  • Eat broth-based soup instead of cream-based soup
  • Eat a half-cup less rice or pasta
  • Eat a baked potato instead of French fries
  • Eat baked chips instead of fried chips
  • Choose a skinless portion of chicken
  • Cut a six ounce steak in half and save the rest
  • Swap one cup of frozen yogurt for one cup of ice cream
  • Eat a half a piece of cake or pie instead of a full serving
  • Eat a cup of fruit instead of candy
  • Skip a glass of beer or wine
  • Choose light beer or wine instead of a cocktail
  • Downsize your plates, bowls, and glasses
  • Play with kids at the park for 30 minutes
  • Walk a dog for 30 minutes
  • Take an easy 45-minute bike ride
  • Go shopping for an hour

200 calories

  • Swap one cup of Kellogg's All Bran or Corn Flakes with a teaspoon of sugar for one cup of granola
  • Eat an English muffin with fruit only jam instead of a bagel with cream cheese
  • Eat carrots and hummus instead of chips and guacamole
  • Skip the bread and butter when dining out
  • Skip dessert
  • Skip a cocktail
  • Skip can of soda
  • Bring air popped or light microwave popcorn to the movies
  • Drink an espresso instead of a latte with sugar
  • Order a salad and an appetizer instead of a starter and main course
  • Skip seconds
  • Eat sorbet instead of ice cream
  • Dance for 30 minutes
  • Go bowling for an hour
  • Clean your house or garden for an hour
  • Rearrange your living room
  • Jog for 30 minutes
  • Go to a yoga class
  • Hand wash your car
  • Park ¾ of a mile away from work and walk the rest (both ways)

Do you have any painless calorie-saving tips? Please share in the comments below.