If you need some good news, check out this recent study: It proved that one small, but consistent change in your life can reap huge health benefits.
The change? Consume 300 fewer calories per day. In practical terms, that means forgoing a single-serve bag of Ruffles with dip. Or an Einstein bagel. Or a medium order of McDonald’s fries. Or swapping a Starbucks Grande Caramel Frappuccino for a Tall Caffè Latte.
The results? Weight loss, for starters. Study participants—relatively healthy U.S. adults (men and women) ages 21 to 50—who restricted calories by 12 percent (about 300 per day) lost an average of 16.5 pounds over two years, compared with a .2-pound weight gain for a control group. About three-fourths of that weight was fat-mass loss.
What surprised scientists the most, though, was that the benefits went beyond what they would have expected from the weight loss. Improvements in cholesterol levels, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and overall metabolic-syndrome scores exceeded what they would normally associate with weight reduction.
Scientists have observed similar results with small boosts in activity, too. Multiple studies suggest improvements in brain health, mood, endurance and longevity by infusing your day with short bouts of fitness—such as climbing a few flights of stairs, taking a short walk, or even getting up and moving around the office.
So for double the impact, next time you’re craving that bag of chips take a brisk walk around the block instead. Make it a habit, and soon that one small act of willpower may just change your life.