24 Ways to Cut 500 Calories a Day

Losing weight is about making small, manageable changes to your everyday life.

You don't have to uphend your entire lifestyle to lose weight. In fact, sustainable weight loss is done through small everyday changes to your regular life, such as finding ways to get extra steps in or managing your portion sizes. If you take the time to build healthy habits that nourish your body and mind, you'll can be on your way to your goal weight.

Here are 24 simple ways to eat less calories and lose weight:

  1. Tap your foot
  2. Step away from the nuts
  3. Practice mindful eating
  4. Limit salad toppings
  5. Use smaller plates
  6. Skip the whip
  7. Count your chips (and crackers)
  8. Serve and sit
  9. Be mindful of your drinks
  10. Eat less pasta
  11. Limit dinner guests
  12. Don't clean your plate
  13. Have dessert – but a smaller portion
  14. Nix that smoothie a day
  15. Beware the healthy-food trap
  16. Beware hidden oils
  17. Get enough sleep
  18. Be the hostess with the mostest
  19. Kick the soda habit
  20. Simple tricks to fill up (with less!)
  21. Ditch that buttered movie popcorn
  22. Get in tune with your tummy
  23. Drink sugar-free
  24. Check the number of servings in a dish

Tap your foot

You can burn up to 350 calories a day just by tapping your feet or being restless.

Try it for a few days. Walk around while you're on the phone, or tap out a tune with your hands or feet (in the privacy of your own office, of course).

Step away from the nuts

Especially if they're in a big bowl. The bigger the serving bowl, the more you'll eat, Cornell University researchers say.

Nuts have heart-healthy fats, but they're also high in calories: 1 handful (about 1 ounce) of oil-roasted mixed nuts has 175 calories; 3 handfuls have 525. Cut out nuts altogether and save more than 500 calories.

Can't resist 'em? Eat pistachios: 2 handfuls are just 159 calories, and the shelling will slow down your munching.

Practice mindful eating

Eating away from distractions such as the TV, your computer, and your phone can help you practice mindful eating. In fact, stepping away from the TV to eat can reduces your calorie intake by about 288 calories, according to research from the University of Massachusetts.

Instead, eat at the table, and trade 1 hour of TV for a casual walk. Together, that's 527 calories burned.

Limit salad toppings

A big salad might seem healthy, but all those goodies on top can make it more calorie-laden than lasagna or fettuccine alfredo. Cheese crumbles, caramelized nuts, bacon, avocado, dried fruit, croutons, and vinaigrettes can add lots of calories.

Save 500 or more calories by having just one topping, adding flavorful but lower-cal veggies (roasted bell peppers, grilled onions, or mushrooms), and using half the dressing.

Use smaller plates

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Swap your 12-inch plate for a 10-inch one. You'll eat 20 to 25% less—and save up to 500 calories.

You won't feel any less full, either, researchers say.

Skip the whip

Or at least size it down. Dessert-like coffee creations can contain as many as 670 calories, with large sizes and options like whipped cream, whole milk, and syrups.

Craving whipped cream? Try it on a shot of espresso for a total of just 30 calories. You save 640 calories!

Count your chips (and crackers)

No, you can't eat your snacks from a large bag or box because it's waaaay too tempting to eat until the bag is empty. (Remember Oprah's blue corn–tortilla chip confession?)

A chip-bender to the bottom of a 9-ounce bag is 1,260 calories sans the dip. So stick to 1 serving, about 15 chips—that's 140 calories—or pick up some 100-calorie snack packs and save 1,120 calories.

Serve and sit

Family-style meals, with platters and bowls of food on the table, invite people to go back for seconds and thirds.

Cut hundreds of calories by filling plates before bringing them to the table; leave serving dishes in the kitchen, too.

Be mindful of your drinks

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Syrups, sour mix, sugary fruit juices, and creamy additions turn drinks into desserts: a Mudslide can have more than 800 calories.

Order drinks mixed with club soda, tonic water, cranberry juice, or a squeeze of citrus; or try distilled liquors on the rocks. You'll save up to 800 calories.

Eat less pasta

One cup of pasta is just 220 calories. But typical dinner portions at restaurants can be as much as 480% larger than that 1 cup, according to New York University research.

That's 1,056 calories. Even if you eat 2 whole cups of noodles, you'll still save 616 calories.

Limit dinner guests

Eating with seven or more other guests can make you eat 96% more food, says Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating.

That's like doubling your dinner! Dine with fewer guests to save 500 or more calories.

Don't clean your plate

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Leave 25% of your food on the plate at every meal, says weight-loss expert James O. Hill, PhD, author of The Step Diet. Save what's remaining as leftovers for a yummy lunch the next day.

If you normally eat 2,000 calories or more each day, you'll cut 500 calories.

Have dessert—but a smaller portion

Check out menus for small versions of great desserts, so you can still end your meal on a sweet note, but with fewer calories

P.F. Chang's Great Wall of Chocolate (designed for one diner!) is 1,440 calories. The Mini Great Wall? A chocolatey yet svelte 150 calories. You'll save 1,290-calories.

Nix that smoothie a day

A large 32-ounce smoothie can have 800 or more calories. That really adds up if you're having on-the-go breakfast several times a week.

Instead, try a filling lower-calorie starter of oatmeal with brown sugar and banana slices, and a cup of black coffee. You'll save 518 calories.

Beware the healthy-food trap

People let their guard down when the menu is full of healthy fare, underestimating calories by as much as 35%, research by the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab shows.

You're also more likely to order drinks, sides, and desserts with up to 131% more calories when you have a healthy entrée. Skip caloric sides—a cookie, chips—to save 500-plus calories.

Beware hidden oils

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Ask to have your food cooked with a little stock instead of oil, or order steamed or poached entrées: you'll save 124 calories per tablespoon of oil.

Also, have the kitchen skip oils added at the last minute like basil oil or chive oil, and save another 40 calories per teaspoon.

Get enough sleep

A lack of shut-eye can make you snack, new research from the University of Chicago shows. People who got only 5 1/2 hours of sleep noshed more during the day.

Snooze more and save about 1,087 calories.

Be the hostess with the mostest

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Go grocery shopping for 1 hour, put away your groceries, spend 2 hours cooking a fabulous holiday feast, set the table, and serve.

Then toast yourself for the awesome 640 calorie-burn. (A glass of Champagne is only about 106 calories, so you're still ahead.)

Kick the soda habit

A 12-ounce soft drink has about 150 to 180 calories. If you down two or three a day, you're getting lots of extra calories.

Quench your thirst with water and save as many as 540 calories.

Simple tricks to fill up (with less!)

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For breakfast, eat 2 boiled or poached eggs. (You'll feel fuller and eat about 416 fewer calories the rest of the day.)

Before lunch and dinner, enjoy 1 cup low-cal soup. (You'll eat about 134 calories less at each meal.) And save a total of 684 calories for the day.

Ditch that buttered movie popcorn

Yes, the large popcorn at the concession stand weighs in at a whopping 1,005 calories.

Smuggle in your own (microwave-popped, 94% fat-free, of course) and save more than 700 calories.

Get in tune with your tummy

Pay attention to how full you feel, and put down your fork when you're satisfied.

Listen to your body's cues—instead of looking at whether the plate is clean—and save up to 500 calories a day.

Drink sugar-free

A 20-ounce tea with added fruit juices can have 400-plus calories. And Southern-style sweet tea isn't much better than soda: a 16-ounce bottle of syrupy sweet tea has 180 calories; three of those are 540 calories.

Choose sugar-free sips and save more than 400 calories.

Check the number of servings in a dish

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The calorie count on the menu for Shrimp Fried Rice may say 350 calories per serving, but what's set in front of you may actually contain 4 servings. Split it with three friends, and save 1,050 calories.

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