50 Daily Habits of Naturally Thin People

Updated: Mar. 30, 2022

Balance calories in tiny ways that add up to big benefits: You just adopt some tricks naturally lean people do. Pick the ones you like, stick with them, and you’ll slim down and tone up—for good.


Work out when you wake up: Burn ten calories

When your eyes open, sit up slowly without using your hands. With legs straight out, lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your back and hamstrings. Hold; then, using your abs, lower yourself flat. Rest and repeat two more times. This strengthens your core. These are other morning habits of naturally thin people.


Go for the grains: Save 100 calories

Not ready for Twigs & Rocks cereal? Sprinkle on a few tablespoons of wheat germ or oat bran to a healthy cereal you already have. Work up to 3/4 cup of low-sugar whole-grain cereal with at least three grams of fiber per serving, and you’ll pass on that danish.


Pick something with protein for breakfast: Saves 200 (or more) calories

The more you eat earlier on, the less you eat as the day wears on, research has shown. So after your cereal, add a hard-boiled egg or a part-skim mozzarella cheese stick to keep you feeling full—and away from that pre-lunch brownie. Check out these other healthy breakfast ideas that can help you lose weight.


Balance while you brush: Burn ten calories

While you brush your teeth, alternate standing on one leg as you switch mouth quadrants (every 30 seconds). Balancing develops your core muscles and may even be good for your brain.


Be a ballerina: Burn ten calories

As your coffee drips, stand sideways, put one hand on the counter, and lift the outside leg straight out in front of you, keeping it extended. With upper body straight, hold for a few seconds and move it to the side; hold and extend it behind you. Do five to ten times on each leg. Tones outer thighs, hip flexors, and quadriceps. Watch out for these workouts that don’t burn as many calories as you think they do, though.

iStock/Kris Hanke

Lighten up your coffee: Save 60 calories

Instead of pouring that 1/3 cup of half-and-half (a whopping 105 calories!) into your mug, replace it with the same amount of 2 percent milk.


Better your bagel: Save 300 calories

You can walk 10,000 steps to justify your 500-calorie bagel with cream cheese, or try this: low-fat spreadable cheese like Laughing Cow Light on an English muffin. Check out these other simple food swaps that’ll help you shed the pounds.


Tone in traffic: Burn ten calories

Use the time spent bumper-to-bumper to develop your buns of steel: Squeeze your derrière each time you tap the brake, holding for ten seconds. Shoot for ten to 15 squeezes a trip.


Snack smarter: Save 175 calories (over two snacks)

Portion out the day’s snacks into pint-size zip bags, or buy single-serving portions. For example, four regular Oreos have 200 calories versus the 100-calorie snack bag version. Go for the lower fat chips: a Lay’s Light bag has only 75 calories, while the regular has 150.

iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Dress casually for the day: Burn 25 calories

You will blast more calories during the day wearing comfy clothes like jeans or khakis, sport shirts, and soft-soled shoes than donning constricting suits, skirts, and heels. Why? Because you walk more, a study found. Now you just have to convince the boss. Check out some more surprising weight-loss tricks you won’t believe actually work.


Squat instead of sitting: Burn 15 calories

At your desk chair, pretend you’re going to sit but don’t—stop and come back up without using your arms. Always start squats by lowering your hips, not bending knees forward, and keeping your weight on your heels. Repeat the motion throughout the day (even at the potty!) for 15 to 20 total. Strengthens quadriceps.


Switch your soda: Save 300 calories

Your body doesn’t register calories from liquids the same way it does those from foods, so you won’t get those “stop eating” signals to help you compensate for the overload later on. Change from two glasses of regular soda or fruit juice to diet soda or a flavored seltzer.


Walk while you talk: Burn 50 (or more) calories

Every time you grab the phone, stand up and pace around. Heavy people sit on average two and a half hours more per day than thin people, according to the Mayo Clinic. Here are 16 ways to lose weight walking.

iStock/Anna Issakova

Pick a pita for lunch: Save 70 calories

Use one mini whole-wheat pita instead of the usual two slices of white or refined wheat bread for your sandwich.


Get up and get face time: Burn 100 calories

We use email so much we’ve forgotten what our co-workers look like. Pick a colleague or two who sits farthest from you and deliver ten of those daily messages in person. And go out of your way: Hit a bathroom or a copier on another floor—and take the stairs, of course.


Pause from your papers: Burn ten calories

Take a break by doing a few wall push-ups. Place hands wide at shoulder height against the wall. Take a couple of steps back so your body is at a slight angle and your weight is on your toes, and do three sets of ten push-ups. Strengthens chest and triceps. Here are other ways to lose weight while just sitting at your desk.


Add an apple (or more) a day: Save 100 calories

They’re packed with fiber and water, so your stomach will want less. Plus, studies out of Washington State and Brazil have shown that people who eat at least three apples or pears a day lose weight. Try two small apples and two fewer large cookies.


Firm after you file: Burn 20 calories

Try these simple chair workouts.

Dips: If your chair has wheels, brace it against something. Facing forward, place palms on the front edge of the seat with knees bent at a right angle. Lower butt toward the floor; raise and repeat for two sets of ten. Tones triceps.

Lifts: Seated in a chair with your back straight and your feet on the floor, squeeze knees together and gently bring them toward your chest. Do two sets of ten. Strengthens abdominals. Plus, check out some more simple workouts you can do using everyday objects.


Wear some weight: Burn 20 calories (for an hour of errands)

When you’re grocery shopping or running errands, wear a backpack with a five- or ten-pound bag of sugar inside to increase resistance and burn more calories. Add purchases to your load as it becomes easier.

iStock/Lauri Patterson

Tweak your treat: Save 340 calories

Instead of a large latte and a chocolate muffin, get a small nonfat latte and a small low-fat raisin or carrot muffin. Check out these healthy desserts that can actually help you lose weight.


Get active at the gas station: Burn ten calories

Instead of fuming over gas prices, think about firming your calves: With one hand on your car, stand on the balls of your feet and slowly rise up and down for as long as it takes your tank to fill—for an SUV that might be 50 raises!

iStock/Patrick Heagney

Pat down your pizza: Save 50 to 100 calories

Blot your slice with a napkin to cut anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon of grease—and calories.

iStock/Todor Tsvetkov

Shop till the pounds drop: Burn 60 calories

At the mall, try on at least ten outfits, both pants and shirts. No need to buy!


Make your meals mini: Save 390 calories

Some experts suggest eating that eating six healthy smaller meals a day can help minimize blood sugar swings and curb your hunger throughout the day, meaning you won’t overeat at any one particular meal. If instead you prefer eating three meals a day, make sure you pick smaller portion sizes. Here are some more secrets experts wish you knew about weight loss.

iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Relax and recharge: Burn five calories

Anytime you’re waiting in line, stand evenly on both feet, clasp hands behind your back and squeeze shoulder blades together to open your chest, an energizing yoga-based move that stimulates the nervous system. Hold for ten to 20 seconds while slowly breathing in and out, taking longer on the inhale.


Jog for junk mail: Burn 35 to 140 calories

Turn clutter into a challenge: For every piece of junk mail you pull from the mailbox each day, do one lap around your house or building, or up and down a flight of stairs. Learn the motivation that helped these 22 people lose weight and keep it off.


Better your butter: Save 30 calories

No, you don’t have to give up the real deal—instead of a tablespoon of stick butter, use a tablespoon of whipped and cut half the calories.


Stop on the stairs: Burn ten calories

Before you lug those backpacks upstairs, stop and stand on the bottom step for these calf toners. Hold the banister with one hand. Bend your right leg and place the toes of your left foot on the edge of the step. Let your heel drop down, press into the ball of your left foot and rise to your toes. Pause; repeat with each foot for eight to 12 reps.


Start with soup: Save 100 calories

Order a clear soup instead of a salad soaked with two tablespoons full-fat ranch and you can save twice the calories. Plus you’ll feel fuller, so you’ll eat less when the entrée comes. Try eating some of the superfoods that are proven to help you lose weight, too.


Sculpt while you sit: Burn ten calories

After dinner, while you’re still sitting at the table, extend your right leg out and slowly bend it up and down, squeezing and holding in the up position for at least five seconds. Repeat on each leg five times. Sculpts quadriceps.


Perfect your pasta: Save 400 calories

Substitute two cups of pasta for two cups of zucchini noodles and you’ll still get to feel like you’re indulging in carbs for a fraction of the calories. Here are some more ways you can torch 200 or more calories in the blink of an eye.


Climb to cut calories: Burn 100-140 calories

Taking the stairs for a total of just two minutes, five days a week, gives you the same calorie-burning results as a 20-minute walk.

Berries red raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, food background of fresh forest berries.
Ilona Ohnosu/Shutterstock

Fill up with fruit: Save 275 calories

Like pie? Here’s how you can cave to the craving: Sprinkle fresh fruit—some cut-up apple, pear, or a handful of cherries—with some Splenda or Equal, cover and nuke for a minute or so. Tastes just like pie filling. Here are some more non-diet foods that can help you lose weight.


Ditch heavy desserts: Save 70 calories

Need dessert for a special occasion? Pick up an angel food cake. It’s packed with air and has fewer than half the calories of, say, pound cake.


Switch to sugar-free: Save 185 calories

If you need to get your chocolate fix, instead of a candy bar try a sugar-free, reduced-calorie Jell-O chocolate pudding snack with a squirt of nonfat whipped cream topping. Eat it with a baby spoon to savor it longer.


Ease into evening: Burn ten calories

Sitting with feet uncrossed, grab your wrist and raise your hands above your head to lengthen the spine. Take a deep breath in as you reach and hold the position, breathing slowly in and out for 20 seconds, taking longer on the exhale. Instant relaxation.


Crunch for your clicker: Burn 24 calories

The average half-hour TV show has eight minutes of commercials. Make reaching for the remote control worth it: Place it out of reach on the coffee table or, if you’re lying down, on the opposite arm of the couch. Every time an ad comes on and you reach for the remote, crunch until the show comes back on; you should reach 100 to 150 or so.


Lift while you lie: Burn ten calories

Before you tuck yourself in, lie on your back on the floor with your legs up on the edge of the bed or a chair. Slowly bend your knees, lifting your hips off the floor. Hold for five seconds, relax and repeat ten to 12 times. Firms up hamstrings and core. You can even lose weight while you sleep—here’s how.


Sing a song: Burn 70 calories

Spend Sunday morning belting it out in the church choir, or even just in your car!


Bring on the bacon: Save 90 calories

At the diner, order three slices of crisp bacon instead of two sausage links, and pat off the extra grease. Here are some more (potentially surprising) foods skinny people eat all the time.


Get up during the game: Burn 75 calories

Attending your kid’s sports event this weekend? After every quarter of the game, get up from the bleachers and take a lap around the gym or field. Four or five times around a typical one is about a mile. These are the secrets your doctor wishes you knew about losing weight.


Make choices at the movies: Save 350 calories

Most people eat 45 percent more popcorn from large-size containers, so make sure you get only a small and skip the butter, which adds more calories than the popcorn itself. Bring your own seasoned salt or Parmesan cheese for more flavor.


Resist at restaurants: Save 400-500 calories

At Chinese restaurants for instance, be sure to avoid anything named General Tso or Crispy, which means fried. Eat only the filling of the egg roll and not the shell. Here are some more quick weight loss tips even nutrition pros approve.


Add fun activities: Burn 90 calories

Spend even just half an hour tossing a ball or Frisbee with your kid.


Omit from your order: Save 100 calories

Order your pizza with half the cheese or even cheese-less, and then sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Parmesan.


Have a hot dog: Saves 250 calories

Pile on the pickles, onions, and sauerkraut—these fiber-packed foods will fill you up and prevent you from eating a second dog. Skip the cheese, chili, and unhealthy condiments like ketchup.


Think about your drink: Save 150 to 200 calories

Consider beer or wine instead of a frozen drink: A glass of regular beer has 140 calories and a serving of wine has 126 calories, while a strawberry daiquiri has about 300 and a margarita 340.

iStock/Daniel Loiselle

Fix your fries: Save 60 calories

Rather than asking for medium fries, get an order of onion rings (eight to nine rings). Check out some more tiny diet changes that can help you lose weight.


Scream for sorbet: Save 125 calories

Indulge in chocolate or fruit sorbet instead of chocolate ice cream.


Switch-out the bedtime snack: Burn 300 calories

Instead of a bowl of ice cream as a bedtime snack, snuggle with your spouse. Next, get a look at 50 more ways to lose weight that don’t involve hitting the gym.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest