It's that time of year. We've all started January with the best intentions - low calorie dinners, no more sugar, 19 litres of water a day and 20 thousand steps before breakfast. But now we're into March and the motivation is starting to creak under the pressure of the doubting mind. Don't give up! You'll thank yourself this summer when you're swanning about in your tight t-shirt and short-shorts even though it's lashing rain. To help you along the way we've compiled 11 hacks that will help you cut down on your calories. These simple techniques can go a long way reducing your intake.

So what exactly is a calorie? Well it is a measurement, just like a teaspoon or a centimeter. Calories are the amount of energy released when your body breaks down food. The more calories a food has, the more energy it can provide to your body. When you eat more calories than you need, your body stores the extra calories as body fat. However when there's no food energy available the body will jump for those fat stores to keep the fires burning. This is how weight loss happens. So check out these hacks that will help reduce the calories and burn off that unwanted fat.

1) Change up your coffee.

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Okay, it can be tempting to have a Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino when you're frequenting Starbucks.  But beware -  one of these beasts a day will send you on the express train to calorieville. These sort of luxury coffee's can be up to a crazy 500 calories a go! Not ideal. Your best option is to have your coffee black as this is only 2 calories a cup. If you need milk ask for skimmed or almond milk as these are less calorie heavy.

2) How's your sandwich looking?

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Next time you're making a sandwich, or getting the good folks in Subway to build it for you, consider the meat that's going into it. Lean meats like turkey and ham have less fat and less calories then the likes of salami, roast beef or meat balls. As well as this, try resist putting in butter and mayonnaise together and leave out the cheese. Don't be afraid to pack it with veggies like tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and onion. You'll still be full but you won't pay the same calorie prices.

3) Love Pizza? Check out Lo Dough.

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Everyone loves pizza but they are heavy on the calorie. This is partly due to the bready base. Well look no further than Lo Dough. It’s a bread alternative with only 39 calories per base. Not only this but each wrap has only 2.2g of carbs in each. At Kerrigan's we now have pizza kits so you can build your very own pizza that are only 192 calories each. The kits include low fat cheese and sugar free pizza sauce! Check it out here.

4) Get steamed rice instead of fried.

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If you just can't resist a takeaway then stay away from fried rice. Go for steamed rice instead — you’ll save calories because you won’t be getting all that oil, and you’ll get plenty of flavour from the main dishes. If you're having an Indian go with basmati versus biryani.

5) Plate Size Matters.

It may sound easy but use smaller plates. A lot of times our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, but if we dish it up, we will always eat it. Our mothers lesson of not leaving anything on the plate has stuck with most of us. Simply using smaller plates will cause you to serve yourself less food, and, thus, eat less food. Simple.

6) Don't eat while watching the TV.

It can be tempting after a long day. All you want to do is sit in front of the TV, absorb an episode of Friends and switch off. However this isn't great for your eating habits. Eating while distracted interrupts the signals that signal you are full, resulting in eating extra calories without noticing. Eat mindfully and eat less without sacrificing satiety.

7)  Sauces and spreads can be dangerous.

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Sauces is something that's often overlooked when people are creating their healthy meals. You could make a delicious salad made with the healthiest vegetables but if you put lashings of dressing on it can drastically increase it's calories. If you consider that a single tablespoon of mayo contains 100 calories, tomato sauce 20 calories, a spread of butter 20-30 calories and honey mustard around 120 calories, your choice of sauce could be the difference between being in a calorie deficit and a calorie surplus on a given day.  A simple trick is to have your sauces on the side and dip in your food. You'll drastically reduce your intake. Better still, reach for citrus instead of salad dressings. A healthy squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange juice boosts both the flavor and moisture in a salad without adding tons of calories.

8) Understand where your calories are coming from.

This is one that is often overlooked.  To understand the food entering your body it's important to know that protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories for every gram. Fats on the other hand contains 9 calories for every gram.  In other words, you could eat twice as much carbohydrates or proteins as fat for the same amount of calories. This is why it's so important to look at the calories in foods as well as the protein, fats and carb values.

9) Chew, don't juice.

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Whether it’s cold-pressed, made to order, or from the supermarket, juice is high in calories and won’t keep you satiated. The juicing process typically removes all the fiber from your fruits and veggies leaving behind just the sugar. So when you drink juice, you wont feel as full as when you chew fruits and vegetables, which means you’ll probably be reaching for something else soon after. Straight up chewing your fruits and veggies will have you eating less and feeling way more satisfied.

 

10) Eat Your Meals Slowly.

Taking your time over a meal and chewing slowly may help you feel full more quickly. This can help you eat less. If you're prone to eating in a rush, try putting your knife and fork down between mouthfuls or counting the number of times you chew your food.

 

11) Sleep well.

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Most of us love our sleep but don't get enough of it. A lack of sleep has been linked with obesity. In fact, people who don't sleep well tend to weigh more than those who are regularly well-rested. One reason is that people who have poor sleep are likely to be hungrier and eat more calories. If you're trying to cut calories and lose weight, make sure you consistently get a good night's sleep. This starts with leaving the phone outside the bedroom. A lot of us go to bed early but spend 40 minutes scrolling through our favourite social media pages. Get an alarm clock to wake you up, read a book and prepare for a much better sleep.

 

Losing weight can be a challenge — in part because it's so easy to consume more calories than you need to fuel your body. Follow these tips as best you can, educate yourself on the foods you eat, get into a routine of regular exercise and aim for those 2019 goals.