Weight loss tips for men often boil down to some version of this: Eat less; work out more.
It’s sound advice, sure. But it can also be overwhelming to focus solely on the big picture. Eat less, you say? But what about my hunger pangs?! And where am I supposed to find all this extra time for exercise?
The truth is, change is tough. But you can increase your odds of success by bringing your goals down to earth and focusing on adding small, simple habits to your daily routine. Each of the science-backed strategies below is easy to pull off without dramatically rearranging your routine, and taken together, they can contribute to a sustainable weight loss journey. So go ahead and get started. You have nothing to lose but pounds.
1. Keep a bottle of water next to you
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It’s easy to confuse thirst for hunger. So by staying properly hydrated, you’ll curb some of those confusing signals coming from your gut. Plus, water may slightly increase your metabolic rate.
In one study, researchers from Germany found that giving subjects half a liter of water created a measurable caloric burn that could be seen within 10 minutes of consumption.1 Between 30 and 40 minutes, the caloric burn peaked at about 30% above baseline for men, and the numbers were most dramatic when the water was cold. (Your body expends more energy warming water to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.)
After studying water’s impact on metabolism, the researchers estimated that drinking two liters of water could help you burn an additional 240 calories per day. But don’t depend on water alone to help you reach your weight loss goals — experts recommend drinking at least eight, 8-ounce glasses a day to stay properly hydrated.
2. Give yourself an eating window
Time-restricted feeding is a strategy that limits your meals to a set window of time, like the 12 hours between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. If you set a rule not to eat before or after that window, you can curb the mindless consumption that generally occurs at the end of the day. (And yes, late-night eating can impact men’s weight loss.)
3. Do a half-hour of housework
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Sweaty workouts are important, but there’s a more casual type of caloric burn that can also have a big impact on men’s weight loss: chores. Researchers put housework like washing dishes — not to mention daily movements like walking to the bathroom or bouncing your leg during a meeting — into a category called non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT.
Increasing your NEAT can have a big impact on your daily caloric burn. Think of farmers and bricklayers: By spending all day in motion, they tend to have extremely high levels of NEAT. People who work desk jobs, on the other hand, have low NEAT.2 So if you fall in the latter category, you’d be wise to set aside a daily block of time for manual chores. Half an hour mowing the lawn or washing the car, for instance, will burn about 200 calories (dependent on your height, weight and sex).3 Do that daily paired with a healthy diet and you’ll set yourself up for weight loss success. And as a bonus, your house will be spotless.
4. Eat an apple before your next meal
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People who ate an apple 15 minutes before a large meal took in 15% fewer calories overall, according to research from Pennsylvania State University.4 That number even accounted for the energy supplied by the apple.
The explanation here points the hunger-blunting impact of fiber and chewing, the latter of which sends satiety signals to your brain. It’s no surprise that neither applesauce nor apple juice were as effective as the whole fruit.
To use this apple trick to your advantage, try snacking on an apple or a serving of fibrous vegetables before heading to dinner. Blunting your hunger just a little bit can help you go into a meal prepared, so that you can order a meal using your brain instead of your belly.
5. Give yourself a new bedtime
If you wake up groggy to your alarm every morning, then you’re probably falling short on sleep. That can have serious repercussions for your waistline: Researchers at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine found that reducing natural sleep times by a third (roughly 2.5 hours a night) caused subjects to consume 559 extra calories per day.5 The total impact over eight days — the duration of the study — resulted in a caloric surplus on par with 1.3 pounds of extra body weight.
How much shut eye is enough? According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7 to 9 hours a night.6 That’s a big range, and your personal needs can increase after a workout, a stressful work presentation, or any other taxing activity. So to make sure you’re meeting your needs, find a bedtime that allows you to wake up naturally before your alarm goes off. If that means skipping a second episode of your favorite show so you can hit the sheets by 9 p.m., so be it.
6. Curb your caffeine habit
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If falling asleep early is a problem, coffee and diet soda could be the problem. Caffeine blocks adenosine, a brain chemical that triggers fatigue. And get this: The effects of caffeine can last for up to six hours.7 So if you’re using a tall cup of coffee to power through a 4 p.m. slump, and then you’re drinking a 12-ounce soda with dinner, you could still have hundreds of milligrams of caffeine circulating in your bloodstream around the time you should be winding down for bed.
It’s not that coffee itself is unhealthy. In fact, coffee drinkers tend to experience loads of health benefits. But since caffeine can disrupt sleep, it’s best to limit your intake of coffee — along with caffeinated tea — to the first half of the day. And hey, once you’re getting more sleep, you’ll no longer have an afternoon slump to worry about.
7. Fill half your plate with non-fried vegetables
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Produce is unparalleled in its ability to fill your belly with minimal caloric impact. Consider broccoli: One cup delivers more than 3 grams of fiber and only 34 calories.8 Asparagus, spinach, and green beans all produce similar numbers, while a same-size serving of white rice contains six times as many calories and a measly half-gram of fiber.9
But if you can replace a portion of your meat and starches with vegetables at every meal, you’ll take in hundreds of fewer calories each day. And you’ll do it without feeling starved.
The easiest way to increase your vegetable intake is to identify easy swaps. Mashed cauliflower makes a great stand-in for rice, for instance. Try using a portobello mushroom in place of either the beef or bun on your burger, and to cut the caloric impact of spaghetti by nearly 80%, replace the pasta noodles with strands of spaghetti squash.10
During your weight loss journey, you’re bound to discover a few favorite swaps of your own. Did you know Jenny Craig offers a weight loss program for men? Click here to discover how deliciously satisfying food can be part of a healthy weight loss program.
Clint Carter is a reporter with more than a decade of experience in health, nutrition, and fitness, and his stories have appeared in Men's Health, Women's Health, Shape, and other fitness-driven magazines. His reporting is driven by the belief that foods are rarely ever "good" or "bad," but rather, their value depends on how they fit into an overall diet. His favorite meals are those consumed at a campsite, and much of his time is spent cycling and hiking around his home in New York's Hudson Valley.
Favorite healthy snack: Sardines and avocado on toast
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: Peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
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