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8 ways to lose weight on pennies a day

By The Rainbow
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There's a weird inverse relationship between our wallets and our bellies. The smaller one gets, the larger the other seems to grow.

It's a vicious cycle: When we're low on cash, we gravitate to cheaper food. And the cheapest food is also the most heavily-processed—chips, cookies, crackers. That leads to weight gain in three ways: Processed foods are packed with fat and sugar; they lack fiber or other nutrients; and our bodies burn only about half as many calories digesting them as we burn when we eat whole foods, according to a study in Food Nutrition Research. But in the long run, cheap food doesn't save us any money: 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!

But if money is tight, how might you go about losing the weight while you're waiting for that green to show up? Fortunately, not every slim-down plan requires an expensive gym membership, a personal nutritionist, or a $70-a-day juice cleanse. The staff of Eat This, Not That! magazine identified 8 secret weight loss tricks that will save you money—and calories.

Money-Saving Weight-Loss Trick #1: Drink More Green Tea

Cost per serving: 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. We love green tea so much, we made it a staple of a new, super-affordable weight-loss plan. “I followed the plan for 7 days and lost 9 pounds!” says teacher Jeannine Arenas, 31, from Miami. Lose weight—for less than a dollar a day—with The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Diet and Cleanse !

Money-Saving Weight-Loss Trick #2: Swap Boxed Cereal for Oats

Cost per serving: 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.

Money-Saving Weight-Loss Trick #3: Embrace the Spud

Cost per serving: 49 cents
Most people think that eating healthy comes with a stiff price tag—cold-pressed juices for $10 a pop? Case in point. 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, enough to feed you twice. Sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, white potatoes—Angela Lemond, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says you shouldn't discriminate because each kind offers great health benefits, including high levels of potassium and vitamin C. “In my opinion, potatoes give you the most nutrient-rich bang for your buck in the supermarket,” says Lemond. Keep your peeler in the drawer, too. “Only 20 percent of the nutrition is in the skin, but most of the fiber is there.” Enjoy, and also try these other delicious 8 Fat-Blasting Superfoods for Weight Loss !

Money-Saving Weight-Loss Trick #4: Invest in Oil

Cost per serving: 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: A Penn State study found that people who ate three tablespoons of avocado oil daily lost 2 percent of their body fat in one month, while coconut oil's medium-chain triglycerides speed up metabolism!

Money-Saving Weight-Loss Trick #5: Swap Meat for Plant Protein

Cost per serving: 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. One Spanish study found that four servings a week whittled subjects' waistlines, and a 2015 study in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation showed that people who ate more plant protein had less risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes than those who ate more meat. And an 8-pound bag of pinto beans can serve you more than 100 times for less than $7. The book Zero Belly Diet is centered around plant-based protein powder—see how test panelists lost up to 16 pounds in 14 days using the new Zero Belly App !

Money-Saving Weight-Loss Trick #6: Swap Beer for Red Wine

Cost per serving: $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.

Money-Saving Weight-Loss Trick #7: Pack a Creative Salad

Cost per serving: 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. Incorporating last night's leftovers will stretch your dollar even further, and try any of these 9 Salad Toppings That Help You Burn Fat Faster .

Money-Saving Weight-Loss Trick #8: Watch Your Portions

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!

LOSE WEIGHT FOR LESS! For more essential suggestions, check out these nutritionist-recommended 9 Super-Cheap Health Foods for Weight Loss !

AND STRIP AWAY BELLY FAT and lose up to 16 pounds in just 14 days—while eating the foods you love—with secrets from Zero Belly Diet !

 Eat This, Not That!
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