You’ve heard that making small tweaks to your diet can have a big impact on your weight over time, and odds are you try to do it when you can. But new research shows just how important these little daily habits can be.
For the study, Rutgers University researchers tracked the number of regular and “lite” latte drinkers at a campus Dunkin Donuts over several weeks. During the next phase of their experiment (which lasted for 10 days), Dunkin employees asked customers if they “Would you like to make that a lite?” when they ordered a latte.
The prompt worked: More than 50% of customers ordered a lite latte when they were asked.
While that doesn’t sound like a biggie, it kind of is. Here’s why: A medium 16-ounce regular latte at Dunkin (made with whole milk) contains 170 calories and 9 grams of fat, while the lite version (made with skim milk) has 110 calories and no fat.
If you have a latte 5 days a week, and choose the skim option half of those times, you’ll save 4,550 calories a year—saving you from a 1.3-pound weight gain. And that cancels out the average 1 to 2 pounds each that Americans gain every year, researchers point out.
Keep in mind that most coffee drinkers get their fix 7 days a week and, if you go for the lighter option every single day, that more than doubles theweight you’d keep off. If you start taking this approach in all areas of yourdiet, like using one slice of cheese on your sandwich instead of two, you could see more results over time.