It’s that time of year again, and that means some of us are officially scrambling to figure out how to lose a pound (or two) in a single a day—ya know, before squeezing into that new suit. And, yes, we’re aware: The only “secret” to losing weight that works is sticking to a sensible diet and getting enough exercise and (short of a bunch of water weight) losing a pound in a day isn’t going to happen. And, yes, we’re totally aware that it’s 2017 and we should all be fully accepting our bodies by now. But we’d be kidding ourselves if we claimed we never wanted to drop a few pounds, and drop ’em fast. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to approach shedding weight in an unintelligent way (see: three-month Master Cleanse.) If you focus on realistic ways to lose one pound at a time, it’s hard to fail. Read on for 101 smart, tactical ways to lose a pound.
One pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Mix and match these 500-calorie burning workouts every day for a week, and viola, one pound gone. (Calories burned are based on a 125 pound woman.)
1. 45-minute jog at a 10-minute mile pace
2. 60-minute cycling session
3. 90 minutes on the elliptical
4. 50 minutes on the Stairmaster
5. 70 minutes of resistance training – i.e. lifting weights
6. 45-minute breaststroke swim
7. 45 minute of treading water
8. 2-hour walk at a moderate pace
9. 1-hour Zumba class
10. 2-hour Power Yoga class
11. 90-minute Pilates class
12. 1-hour Barre class. These ballet-inspired sessions slim and tone the body with pulsing movements that target the core, arms and lower body.
13. 1 hour of dancing. Head to a studio or round up the girls for a night out.
14. 65 minutes on the ski slopes
15. 50 minutes of cross country skiing
16. 40-minute jump rope session
17. 70-minute fist fight with the punching bag. Word of advice: You may want to break this one up into two sessions to protect your knuckles.
18. 3 hours of shopping. To get the most out of opening your wallet, skip the escalators and hit the stairs like Hayden Panettiere.
19. 50 minutes of hula hooping. Yep, Kelly Osbourne was on to something. The childhood pastime burns 10 calories a minute.
20. 50 minutes of shoveling snow
21. 40 minutes of martial arts
22. 40 minutes on the rock climbing wall
23. A 50-minute beach volleyball game. The sand’s unstable surface helps you burn more calories in a shorter time frame.
24. 60 minutes on the rowing machine
25. 90-minute horseback ride
26. 90-minutes kayaking
27. 2 ½ hours golfing, but make sure you carry the clubs!
28. 2 ½ hour hike
29. 2-hour round of tennis
30. 45 minutes of jumping rope
31. 60 minutes surfing
32. 2 and 1/2 hours bowling
200 Calorie Food and Drink Swaps
Cut 200 calories each with these food swaps. Make two swaps per day to drop a pound in a week and a half.
33. Ditch half of your spaghetti for spaghetti squash. It’s only 42 calories per cup compared to 180 calories for the real deal.
34. Skip the burrito and order a taco salad instead.
35. Or keep the tortilla and opt for fish instead of beef.
36. Swap out eggs for egg whites when you’re craving an omelette.
37. Love the Starbucks Grande Caramel Frappuccino? Skip the whole milk and whipped cream (which packs in 410 calories total) and order the Starbucks Grande Caramel Frappuccino Light which is only 140 calories.
38. Swap out brown rice or quinoa (yes, even the new super food!) which both add up to about 220 calories per cup for cauliflower or roasted peppers that are only about 30 calories per cup.
39. Enjoy chicken but without the skin.
40. Love a peanut butter smoothie? Try two tablespoons of low-calorie powdered peanut butter instead.
41. Satisfy your sweet tooth by swapping two Reese’s peanut butter cups for one mini.
42. Skip the bagel in favor of whole-wheat toast.
43. Trade in a cappuccino for a regular a cup of Joe.
44. Switch up your ice cream dessert with fresh berries and light whipped cream.
45. Kick the fattening dressings to the curb in favor of a balsamic vinaigrette spritzer. At only one calorie per spray, you’ll save hundreds of calories.
100 Calorie Food and Drink Swaps
Make one of these 100-calorie swaps per day to shed 10 pounds in a year.
46. Swap half of the avocado in a 1/2 cup of guacamole for zucchini.
47. Ditch the 230 calorie-packed hamburger bun for a 134-calorie English muffin.
48. Or opt for the English muffin instead a bagel. A small bagel is at least 250 calories.
49. Take a break from chicken with tofu.
50. Swap out potatoes for cauliflower, which you can eat mashed or roasted. The healthy starch provides a day’s worth of vitamin C.
51. Skip the coffee creamer and ask for nonfat milk instead.
52. We love chips, but three cups of popcorn is just as satisfying. And it’s only 90 calories!
53. Try an open-face sandwich instead one with two slices of bread.
54. Take a break from mayo with mustard. It’s only 10 calories per tablespoon opposed to mayo’s 90 calories.
55. Forget the dried cranberries, which have added sugar, and add a half-cup of fresh berries to top off your salad.
56. When ordering sushi, request cucumber instead of white or brown rice.
57. Skip the cheese on your burger and stick to lettuce, tomato and onion instead.
58. Or switch out your beef patty for a veggie burger.
59. Replace a wrap with two low-carb whole-wheat slices of bread.
60. A serving of Snapple Lemon Iced Tea is 100 calories. Brewed, unsweetened iced tea is 0.
61. Skip the croutons in your salad. They’re about 10 calories a piece, which adds up quickly.
62. Instead of a three-ounce serving of steak, try a three-ounce serving of salmon instead. Plus, you’ll get a good dose of heart-healthy omega 3s.
63. Instead of a creamy soup, choose one with clear broth,
64. Put down the soda for a calorie-free glass of water. For subtle flavor, try Hint, a naturally flavored water without sugar or preservatives.
65. Love your chips and dip? Swap the Lays for a handful of veggies.
66. Jump on the kale bandwagon and swap potato chips for kale chips.
67. Enjoy sweet ice cream, but go for ones made out of goat’s milk or almond milk for half the calories. We recommend La Loo’s Goat’s Milk Ice Cream in dark chocolate.
68. Enjoy your hot chocolate with skim milk and no cream.
69. Skip the cheese straws and enjoy a white cheddar rice cake instead.
70. Swap creamy cheese for tomato or veggie-based sauces on your pasta and meat dishes.
71. Switch from pouring your cereal straight from the box to using a measuring cup to cut your cereal calorie count in half.
Alcoholic beverage swaps
Alcohol has calories too, you know. Sub three drinks a week for lighter versions to drop a pound a year.
72. Get the same taste of a Budweiser, but for a third of the calories with Bud Select 55.
73. Take a break from Blue Moon Belgian White (a 164-calorie treat) and grab a Miller Genuine Draft, which is only 64 cals.
74. Make your cosmo 100 calories skinnier by mixing a raspberry-infused vodka with club soda.
75. Here’s a double whammy for you. Nitch the 270-calorie screwdriver for a 70-calorie vodka soda.
76. Swap the coke in your rum and Coke for a diet.
77. Cut your wine calories in half by opting for Chardonnay (the lightest option) as a wine spritzer — equal parts wine and soda water.
78. Out at the bar? Order a water between every drink. You’ll consume half the calories.
79. Instead of a margarita, opt for tequila on the rocks with a lime wedge.
Some things you do day-to-day can make a huge difference in successfully losing weight. Add these tips, curated from some of our favorite fitness trainers, to your daily life and see big results.
80. “Cut out one thing at a time. I know it’s tempting to undergo a complete diet overhaul when resolving to shed fat, but the pounds are much more likely to stay off if you take the process slowly. Stick to changing behaviors slowly. Instead of cutting out all junk food completely, maybe have it only after a workout.” — Peak Performance Trainer Sohee Lee
81. “Spend time around like-minded people. If you want to really lose weight and keep it off, you need to spend time around people who will support your goals, not sabotage you. Whether they’re food pushers or unintentionally influencing your bad behaviors, those who don’t have your best interests in mind will ultimately drain your efforts and steer you down the wrong path.” — S.L.
82. “Slow Down. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way in helping to fully digest your meal. While eating, put your fork or spoon down in between bites and take your time. Your body needs some time to register that it is full and if you just inhale your meal, you’re likely to overeat.” – Jennifer Galardi, fitness and nutrition expert as well as the founder of livWhole Inc.
83. “Guzzle water before your meal. While it’s not recommended to drink much while you are eating, having a big glass of water about 10-15 minutes before your meal may clear up confused signals. Often times we are not really hungry but dehydrated.” – J.G.
84. “Cut the crap. Right now, take a look in your cupboard. If you have more than three items with more than three ingredients, clean up your pantry. Limit snacks to whole, natural foods such as almonds, almond butter, fruit, oats, veggies and items with ingredients you can pronounce. The occasional chips are fine.” – J.G.
85. “Keep a food journal. Aside from the benefit of being able to see your food habits in order to improve them, keeping track of what you eat also tends to make people naturally eat healthier.” — Peak Performance Trainer Jessi Kneeland
86. “For added benefit, share your food log. Have an accountability partner – someone who is also trying to lose weight perhaps – and email each other your food and exercise logs daily. This may seem embarrassing, but when letting yourself down isn’t enough of a motivator to stay on track, often letting someone ELSE down is.” — J.K.
87. “Find an eating schedule that works for you every day, and stick to it. Some people do best eating three large meals each day, others feel most energized with six small meals. Find a schedule that fits into your life and makes you feel good, then make it consistent, even on weekends.” — J.K.
88. “Eat more veggies. Prioritizing veggies is a sure-fire way to feel full while dialing back on overall calories.” — J.K.
89. “Replace ‘end of the night’ snacking habits with something else that feels self-nurturing – reading, journaling, meditating, taking a bath, listening to music, massaging lotion into your skin, foam rolling, or even preparing food for the next day can all make you feel relaxed and well taken care of without calories.” — J.K.
90. “Always carry healthy snacks with you. Non-perishables like nuts, dried fruit, protein bars, even veggie sticks and peanut butter or hummus will keep you from hitting the vending machine, or getting so hungry you order a huge lunch or dinner later.” — J.K.
91. “Take a good probiotic daily. Having a healthy digestive tract means you get to absorb more of the nutrients from your food, plus it helps prevent bloating and constipation, both of which can make you hold extra water weight.” — J.K.
92. “Begin a walking regime. Take some time to simply walk around the block, or if you live in an urban area, to your destination. All those little steps can add up to some big mileage.” – J.G.
93. “Increase your non-workout activity levels. Try adding bike rides to your day, take the stairs, and move as often as you can.” — J.K.
94. “Add fasted cardio before breakfast. A low to moderate intensity steady-state cardio session on an empty stomach is a great way to burn fat without impairing recovery.” — J.K.
95. “Keep a fitness log. Following and tracking your fitness program is key to seeing progress. Seeing your intervals, speeds, weights, reps, etc go up from week to week is motivating and empowering, plus it ensures you’ll work smarter and see better results.” — J.K.
96. “If your lifestyle or career includes a lot of socializing out at dinners or drinks, start scheduling workout ‘dates’ with friends, co-workers, or even clients. Replacing a happy hour with a spin class is a huge fat-loss win, plus you’ll surround yourself with like-minded people, which will help you stay on track.” — J.K.
97. “Combine your resistance training with short bursts of high-intensity cardio to increase your post-workout calorie burn. Try doing one set of a lower body exercise (like lunges) followed by an upper body exercise (like push-ups) followed by a 60 second hill sprint or 20 burpees. Repeat 3-4 times, then move on to a different set of lower/upper exercises, with the same cardio burst.” — J.K.
98. “Find a hill. Now sprint. Then slowly jog or walk back down and sprint up again. Hill sprints are notorious for scorching the fat off your lower body – and what’s more, they go by much quicker than leisurely jogs.” — S.L.
99. “Watch the sugar. The more sugar you consume, the more you’ll crave. I’m not saying you should cut out the sugar completely (though that may not be a terrible idea), but you should save it for special occasions.” — S.L.
100. “Get your zzzz’s. Sleep is necessary for the body to repair and restore itself. Numerous studies show it is a crucial factor in weight loss and health.” – J.G.
101. “Sometimes even sleep is not as restful as it can be. Try a guided relaxation practice, such as Yoga Nidra, to ensure your body moves into a state of deep rest and repair.” – J.G.
Originally published February 2016. Updated June 2017.