8 Secret Weight Loss Tricks That Save You Money

There’s a weird inverse relationship between our wallets and our bellies. The smaller one gets, the larger the other seems to grow. When we’re low on cash, we gravitate to cheaper food. And the cheapest food is also the most heavily-processed—chips, cookies, crackers. A Duke University study that looked at 17,000 of its employees found that for every one-unit uptick in body mass index (BMI), a person’s medical costs increased by 4 percent and his drug costs by 2 percent. Their heaviest employees spent an extra $8,000 a year!

Trick #1: Drink Green Tea

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Estimated Cost: 11 cents

The more belly fat we have, the harder it is to control our appetite, according to a new study from the University of Florida. To fight back: Attack belly fat with green tea, at just 11 cents a cup. In one study, participants who drank 4-5 cups of green tea each day for 12 weeks lost an average of two more pounds than those who did not. Researchers say the unique catechins found in green tea trigger the release of fat from fat cells (particularly in the belly), and then speed up the liver’s capacity for turning that fat into energy.

Trick #2: Instead Of Cereal Use Oats

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Estimated Cost: 13 cents

Aside from being sky-high in sugar and basement-low in protein, most breakfast cereals are pricey: a 12-ounce box can run upwards of $6 for a dozen servings. By contrast, there are 30 servings in a two-pound container of Old Fashioned Quaker Oats (the silo-shaped package, not the instant packets), which rings in at under $4, or 13 cents a bowl. Oats are high in soluble fiber and anti-inflammatory compounds, which increase satiety and have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Sprinkle a serving with cinnamon—one of the best and cheapest fat-burning spices—or top it with fruit.

Trick #3: Try These Low Budget Nutritious Foods

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Estimated Cost: 49 cents

Most people think that eating healthy comes with a stiff price tag—cold-pressed juices for $10 a pop? However, nutritious foods like pumpkin, popcorn and peanut butter are terrific choices that won’t bottom-out your budget. We asked dietitians to recommend their top pick, and they named another P: potatoes, coming in at just 99 cents per pound.

Trick #4: Flavorful Oils

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Estimated Cost: 4 cents

To make every dish taste rich for just pennies a serving, put heart-healthy olive oil at the top of your shopping list. Even if you splurge and spend $20 on 25-ounce bottle of extra-virgin olive oil, it still averages out to 4 cents per serving, and its robust flavor can be used to dress salads, vegetables and other dishes. Avocado and coconut oils can also be used for stir-frys and are unsung weight-loss superstars.

Trick #5: Use More Plant Protein

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Estimated Cost: Less than 1 cent

While grass-fed beef and wild salmon are amazing sources of belly-filling protein, you can get fat-burning benefits at a fraction of the price. Plant-based proteins such as legumes—lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans—have been shown to speed up weight loss. An 8-pound bag of pinto beans can serve you more than 100 times for less than $7.

Trick #6: Replace Beer With Red Wine

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Estimated Cost: $2

If you have a drink or two at night, try switching from your usual sip to a glass of red wine. Purdue University researchers discovered that it contains a compound called piceatannol that binds to fat cells’ insulin receptors and prevents them from maturing and growing. And you don’t need to shell out big bucks: While great red wines can be had for $8 or less, even fancy bourdeaux can be affordable. Saveur magazine recently praised Chateau Greysac for its “bouquet of fresh fruit and spice” and it costs just $14 a bottle.

Trick #7: Exotic Salads

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Estimated Cost: 50 cents

Because the first thing you do when your cash flow dries up is start brown-bagging it, right? We asked 11 diet experts what they eat for their midday meal, and most of them shared these homemade salad recipes high in colorful veggies for fiber, certain proteins for energy and healthy-fat dressings. If you stock up on a range of healthy components—including underdogs like chard and watercress, which are superfoods healthier than kale—you won’t get bored. And if you fear the mid-week wilt, measure out portions and pop half of them in the freezer, cycling them into the refrigerator the day before they’re needed.

Trick #8: Use Portion Control

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Estimated Cost: $0

Even if you eat healthfully, you may be overeating the good stuff. The American Dietetic Association recommends that a serving size of protein should be about the size of a deck of cards. By this measure, some chicken breasts, salmon and steak that you pick up from the freezer case can sometimes contain two to three 3-ounce servings. You don’t need a scale; just eye the proportions, and fill the rest of your plate with whole grains and veggies. And use the extra cash you’ve saved on that glass of wine!

 
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