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The 3 Best Weight Loss Tips for Busy People

Simple exercise and diet advice to help you lose weight


Updated August 13, 2014

feet on scale

Reach your goal with these three tips

Blend Images/John Fedele/Getty Images

Don't have time to diet? People who are busy often say that lack of time is a reason that they can't lose weight. Who has extra hours in their day to read complicated diet advice books or surf websites for the best weight-loss plan? That time investment may not be necessary.

Diets that work share certain key features. The weight loss programs might be packaged differently, but the bottom line for almost every diet program is exactly the same. If you can master these three basic principles, you'll be on your way to successful weight loss.

3 Simple Quick Weight-Loss Tips

  1. Understand serving sizes. If you choose the right foods, but eat too much of them, your weight-loss plan won't work. In fact, a common mistake by dieters is to overeat organic foods and foods that are perceived to be healthy.

    Portion control is an essential skill for effective weight loss. Chicken breast is great for you, but not if you eat too much of it. Almonds? Yep, they're healthy, but not if you eat more than you need. Healthy snacks? They are better for your body than junk food, but they'll still cause weight gain if you overeat.

    Stick to these portion sizes when planning your meals:

    • 1 serving of cereal = size of your fist
    • 1 serving of a starch (rice, pasta, potato) = half of a baseball
    • 1 serving of cheese = 4 stacked dice
    • 1 serving of fruit = baseball
    • 1 serving of margarine or butter = 1 dice
    • 1 serving of meat, fish, poultry = a deck of cards
  2. Count calories. Some weight-loss plans may advertise that calorie counting is not necessary. But the bottom line is that weight loss happens when a specific calorie deficit occurs. Nearly every diet is some variation of calorie restriction to achieve a calorie deficit.

    Calorie counting may seem like a time-consuming skill. But with the availability of mobile apps like the one at CalorieCount.com, it has become easier for people who are busy to track their calories. If you have a smartphone, calorie counting will take no more than a few seconds; your totals are stored so that you can review them at a later time.

    After you start counting calories, you'll learn how many calories you consume in a typical day. Most people can reduce their daily intake by 500 calories per day to see a healthy weight loss of one pound per week.

  3. Move more. Sounds obvious, right? But this doesn't necessarily mean that you have to exercise. For some people, exercise works against them. If you complete a hard workout in the morning and then spend the rest of day laying on the couch, you will probably end up burning fewer calories from movement than a person who does not exercise and who makes non-exercise activity a part of their daily habit.

    Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the term used by scientists to describe the calories burned from your non-workout movement. Whether you exercise or not, be sure that your NEAT is maximized every day. Consider some of these activities. The calorie burn for each single item is small, but if you participate in some movement each hour, your NEAT at the end of the day will be significant.

    • Putting away laundry = 26 kcals/15 mins
    • Moving furniture, boxes = 100 kcals/15 mins
    • Playing/running with your kids = 40 kcals/15 mins
    • Walking while carrying a light load (<15 pounds) = 56 kcals/15 minutes

Most people will achieve some results with these three basic tips for losing weight. Of course, there are some instances where underlying issues, such as a medical diagnosis, may make weight loss more complicated. But for most people, weight loss boils down to a simple equation: eat less, move more.


James A Levine, Sara J Schleusner and Michael D Jensen. " Energy expenditure of nonexercise activity." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 72, No. 6, 1451-1454, December 2000.

Portion Distortion. Keep an Eye on Portion Size, What is the difference between Portions and Servings? Accessed March 29, 2012, http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/portion/keep.htm

Veronique Provencher, Janet Polivy, C. Peter Herman. "Perceived healthiness of food. If it's healthy, you can eat more!." Appetite Volume 52, Issue 2, April 2009, Pages 340-344.

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