Ever notice how some women seem to stay slim without ever stressing about missed workouts or counting a single calorie? It seems unfair—and frustrating!—but those ladies might have some secrets the rest of us can steal. Turns out, you don’t have to completely overhaul your diet or exercise regimen to see fast and impressive results on the scale. (Though if you want a great, easy-to-follow plan, register for the Drop 10 Challenge on Self.com to lose 10 pounds in just five weeks.) In fact, recent research shows that sometimes it’s little, practically effortless changes to everyday habits that make the pounds fall off fast and forever. Try incorporating some of these simple, science-backed steps into your day-to-day life—it’s your turn to become one of those “naturally” slim lucky few!
Make time for tea
Women with the highest intake of catechins, antioxidants in tea that may accelerate fat burn, gained less weight over 14 years than those who sipped less, a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals. White and green brews have the most catechins. Get brewing!
Move your workouts to the morning
Breaking a sweat before you sit down to breakfast can help you trim down faster, a study in The Journal of Physiology finds. Exercising on an empty stomach in the A.M. improves glucose tolerance, which spurs your body to shed fat.
Join the breakfast club
If you don’t already have regular morning meals, it’s time to start: Lifelong early eaters have a waistline about 2 inches smaller than that of breakfast skippers, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals. An A.M. meal may rev metabolism; plus, it may cause you to make less of an enzyme that raises cholesterol.
Savor your food
Eating slowly and steadily can help you stay slim. People who took 30 minutes to eat a bowl of ice cream created more fullness hormones than did those who ate faster, a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism notes. Whenever you can, ditch distractions like the television while you’re dining so you can concentrate on enjoying the yummy food in front of you.
Become a creature of habit
Eating at the same times every day and could help you drop pounds. When mice ate at scheduled mealtimes and fasted for 12 hours at night, their liver turned on genes that burned more sugar and fat, say scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. No, we’re not mice, but if something as simple as sitting down to dinner at 7 P.M. every night helps speed weight loss, why not give it a shot?
Start with water
Downing two cups of H2O before meals helped people lose about 5 pounds more than those who said no to water, research from Virginia Tech reveals. Water is filling, so sippers ate 75 to 90 calories less. Enjoy a few cups of water while you prep a meal or before your entrée arrives at a restaurant to effortlessly keep calories in check.
Step on the scale
Dieters who weighed themselves at least weekly lost more weight than those who didn’t, according to research from the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. Plus, the habit helped nondieters stay at a stable weight. Spotting scale swings early allows you to tweak your eating and exercise routine before pounds can pile up.