Fact: You can’t exercise off a cheeseburger. I mean, you could TRY, but you would have to run at 10mph (!!!) for at least an hour. That’s a a whole lot of exertion and sweating for ONE cheeseburger – not counting everything else you’ve eaten during the day. (Those few glasses of wine you also consumed at dinner? They require an additional hour of intense cardio to burn off.)

This is why, when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, you must eat a nutritious diet AND exercise. A lot of people want to believe they can eat a Big Mac and work it off at GoodLife the next morning. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. For successful weight loss – in addition to gaining more energy and reducing your risk of chronic disease – you need a combo of a nutritious diet and a well-rounded exercise regimen.

In fact, when it comes to dropping the pounds, eating well has been proven to be more successful than exercise. Almost a thousand weight loss studies have shown that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat healthy over working out harder.

But people are super protective of their eating habits. It’s harder for some of us to put down the bag of potato chips than it is to take a brisk jog around the block. If you constantly cave to cravings but want to stay on top of your weight loss goals, try these simple healthy eating hacks:

Drink More Water

Chances are you aren’t drinking enough water, and water is life. Literally. The human body is about 60% water. The general rule of thumb is to have eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about two litres (or half a gallon) per day. If you’re exercising, you need to increase that to three litres to help beat dehydration. Water intake can reduce appetite and increase metabolism, which is why I tell my clients to drink a glass of water thirty minutes before a major meal (in addition to their two litres a day).

If remembering your water is tricky, try the rubber band method: Fill up your water bottle and each time you finish off a litre, you wrap a rubber band around the top. That way you can easily keep track of your liters. Think water tastes boring? Add a few slices of lemon or cucumber to perk it up.

Add More Protein at Breakfast

Mom was right: breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. It wakes up your metabolism and gives you the energy you need to start off your day. Even though it sucks because it comes so damn early in the day, you still gotta do it and do it right.

You should add protein to your breakfast because not only does it help space out your protein intake throughout the day (so you’re not inhaling it all at dinner), but it also keeps you fuller so that you’re not reaching for a donut at 11 am.

Some quick and easy ideas: Sprinkle chopped nuts on your oatmeal, add a tablespoon of peanut butter to a banana, or add a ½ cup of cottage cheese to a piece of fruit.

Fill Half Your Plate With Veggies

If you automatically fill half your plate with vegetables, you’re already increasing your fibre intake (which helps you feel fuller longer) and decreasing calories. Aim for more alkaline veggies like spinach, celery, carrots and zucchini, which help boost vitamin absorption and lower inflammation.

By sticking with these easy hacks, you should notice a difference in your body composition and energy. And remember: eating healthy does NOT have to be bland or boring. It can be fun and delicious!

Brianne Hogan is a contributing writer for She Does the City and a personal trainer and healthy eating coach in the GTA. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook, and you can check out her free Beginner’s 4 Week At-Home Workout series here. Check out the rest of her series here.