If dropping a couple of pounds in a reasonable time frame is your goal, you might want to consider cutting 500 calories daily as this translates into approximately one pound per week. Making progress in this way can be surprisingly easy if you follow all the right strategies.

You might have heard that cutting just 100 calories a day can mean losing 10 pounds over the course of the year. However, if faster results are what you have in mind, stepping up and making more intense effort will be required. Don't just instantly assume that doing so automatically equals depriving yourself, it doesn't have to be the case. In the spirit of working smarter not harder, researchers provide fascinating useful approaches that can lead to sustainable long term habit modifications. Here are a few simple ideas:

Avoid smoothies as a snack

Smoothies sound like the best of two worlds being tasty and relatively healthy at the same time. However, they can pack staggering calories with large 32 ounce smoothies packing 800 extra calories or more. That's why it's important to consider smoothies as a meal rather than an addition to your diet plan and do your best to skip commercial smoothies that tend to have a high sugar content.

Skip movie popcorn

Movies and large popcorn servings just go together, right? Not if your goal is weight loss. Large popcorn servings sold at movie locations have more than 1000 calories. By contrast, fat free microwave popcorn made at home will help you save 700 calories.

Don't mix healthy eats with drinks and desserts

Research shows that most people are notoriously bad at estimating the number of calories contained in a meal and this tendency is even more accentuated in the case of healthy options, where the total number is underestimated by more than one third.

Add that to the fact that those who choose healthy options are more likely to reward themselves with desserts and calorie ladden beverages that can double the calorie content of a meal and you'll immediately notice an area that when improved can produce significant results that might go beyond the 500 calories cut.

Eat with fewer guests

Social situations make it difficult to eat mindfully as they tend to take consciousness out of the question. So much so that having seven guests is making you more likely to consume up to 96% more calories. That's why limiting the number of people you eat with most of the time can make you save significant calories without even thinking about it.

Try grilled fruits instead of a slice of cake

Peach and banana with a little honey, sprinkled with cinnamon, grilled for up to five minutes on each side can be a decadent desert that will help you save hundreds of calories compared to conventional cakes as this treat only has 150 calories. You can even skip the honey if you find it too sweet and save even more.

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