We are excited to share one of our fave stories from Prevention here on FitSugar!You don’t have to go on a deprivation diet or spend hours exercising to ward off disease and be your healthiest self! Instead, try these supersimple tips
By the editors of Prevention
Staying healthy can feel like so much, well, work (think: logging hours at the gym and whipping up nutritious meals from scratch). However, there are plenty of small moves that you can make in your everyday life that will have big health benefits. We’ve rounded up 15 practically zero-effort ways to fight disease, whittle your waist, lower stress, and more. Bonus: many of these good-for-you moves feel good, too. So say sayonara to the old adage “no pain, no gain” and try these tips today.
Lazy Move No. 1: Protect Your Ticker by Snoozing
Need a good excuse to grab your comfiest set of pajamas and hit the sack? Skimping on shut-eye may do more than make you cranky or unproductive — it also boosts your risk of a heart attack. According to one Norwegian study, people who reported that they did not wake up feeling refreshed in the morning had a 27 percent higher risk of a heart attack, those who had trouble staying asleep almost every night in the last month had a 30 percent higher risk, and those who had trouble falling asleep almost every night in the last month had odds that jumped to 45 percent.
Some researchers speculate that insomnia might trigger your body to release more of the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol have been linked with high blood pressure and diabetes, which are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Plus when you’re exhausted, you may be more likely to make unhealthy choices that up your heart disease risk, such as skipping your workout or reaching for fatty or sugary snacks for a quick energy fix.
Keep reading for three more lazy ways to improve your health.
Lazy Move No. 2: Ward Off Weight Gain With Protein
You may not have to stress so much about cutting calories: whether you’re packing on the pounds or simply want to maintain your current weight, adding more protein to your dish could be your slim-down secret weapon. Past research has found that protein keeps you feeling full longer than either carbs or fat, so you can eat less and still be satiated. A new study supports this idea: researchers from the University of Sydney estimated that the extra calories eaten by participants in their study eating the lowest protein diets could add up to an extra 2.2 pounds of weight gain a month.
Protein is the building block of muscle, and more calories are required to maintain muscle than to preserve fat, which means muscle helps boost your metabolism. Bonus: foods rich in protein are also filled with zinc and B vitamins, both of which strengthen your immune system to ward off colds and flu. If you’re eating about 1,800 calories a day and want to get 15 percent of your calories from protein, you should aim for about 68 grams of protein.
Here are three easy protein switches that up your protein intake for the same number of calories or less. Remember, you want to eat more protein — not calories! — to keep your waistline slim.
Instead of . . . ½ cup granola with one cup berries (seven grams protein, 250 calories)
Try . . . ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese with one cup berries (15 grams protein, 131 calories)
Instead of . . . 1¼ cup mashed potatoes (five grams protein, 296 calories)
Try . . . 1¼ cup vegetarian baked beans (15 grams protein, 295 calories)
Instead of . . . six-inch pancake sans butter or syrup (five grams protein, 175 calories)
Try . . . one cup low-fat plain yogurt with ½ cup apricots (13 grams protein, 186 calories)
Lazy Move No. 3: Rock Out to Exercise Longer
Music fuels your workout — whether you’re lifting weights, practicing yoga, or going for a power walk. And it’s not just in your head. Researchers at Brunel University in London found that runners who listened to upbeat, energizing rock or pop music (like Queen, Madonna, or the Red Hot Chili Peppers) exercised up to 15 percent longer — and felt great while doing it.
Lazy Move No. 4: Boost Brain Power With Chocolate
Are you a chocoholic? Turns out your little addiction may save your life. A recent study found that those consuming the highest levels of chocolate had a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29 percent reduction in strokes compared to those with lower chocolate intakes.
Though experts are quick to clarify that we should stick to moderate consumption of high-calorie chocolates, it’s hard to deny the cold, hard facts that chocolate can be a healthy addition to our diets. Another study finds that chocolate may also boost brainpower.
Flavonols, compounds in chocolate with antioxidantlike properties, are thought to improve circulation, including blood flow to the brain. Study participants were asked to count backward in groups of three from a number between 800 and 999. After drinking hot cocoa filled with flavonols, the participants were able to do calculations more quickly and accurately and were less likely to feel tired or mentally drained.