Increasing your body’s fat burning ability may be easier than you think. Read on for 16 tips on how to lose unwanted body fat.
1. Maintain your blood sugar levels. Maintaining balanced blood sugar levels not only helps keep you from grabbing for sugary foods, it also helps keep your energy levels stable so you still have energy for a workout at the end of the day.
2. Watch your calorie intake. Even if you only eat “healthy” foods, you must create a calorie deficit to burn fat, and lose weight.
3. Eat a healthy breakfast. Eating in the morning can increase your metabolic rate, the process by which your body burns fat. Skipping the most important meal of the day to save calories, may ultimately leave you eating more over the course of the day.
4. Eat a balanced diet, including carbohydrates. Don’t follow fad diets. Eat a balanced combination of carbohydrates, protein and raw foods. Carbohydrates are not the enemy, and slow-burning carbs can actually help you feel fuller, longer.
5. Lift weights. Bodies that have higher muscle mass burn more calories at a resting rate than body’s with a higher fat content. Period.
6. Increase your water intake. Water is an essential nutrient, can help you feel full and is important to the elimination of toxins in every cell in your body. Drink up!
7. Get disciplined. Find a mentor to teach you good dietary and fitness habits. Never underestimate the support and guidance of someone experienced.
8. Eat low-fat dairy. It’s easy to cut tons of fat, and calories from your diet by opting for low-fat dairy products. Why? 70 percent of the calories in most whole-fat dairy is from saturated fat.
9. Eat fat-burning foods. Green tea, coconut oil and other fat-burning foods can help shrink fat cells, and reduce fat storage.
11. Try a new workout. Everyone from fitness novice to fitness pro hits a plateau. Keep your body guessing by trying new workouts, to keep losing fat.
12. Remove foods that aren’t “real food.” Anything processed or artificial isn’t a real food. By allowing these toxins into your body, you put your elimination organs into overdrive. Cut those out and eat clean, whole foods.
13. Satisfy hunger. Ignoring cravings can leave you helpless in the face of tempting foods. Beat these hunger pangs, and your cravings by munching on crunchy veggies in between meals, or before you eat to reduce your calorie intake.
14. Ingest enzymes. Enzymes found in fruits, like kiwi and pineapple, offer support for a healthy digestive system. Healthy digestion means proper elimination of toxins, and an overall lighter feeling.
15. Limit your sodium intake. Salt can cause your body to retain water. As water is retained, waste is also retained. Eliminate salt, or at least reduce your intake to slim down.
16. Remove fried foods from the menu. Not only do fried foods pack on the pounds, they also cause gas. Eliminate these foods to eliminate enormous amounts of fat.
If you’ve plateaued in your weight loss plan, try these simple, expert-approved tricks that boost metabolism and burn fat—no crazy diets or weird workouts required.
1. Drink More Green Tea
Green tea isn’t known only for its cancer-fighting benefits: It may help boost your metabolism, too. People who took green-tea extract three times a day saw their metabolic rate increase by about 4 percent, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (Translation: You could burn an extra 60 calories a day, which equals about six pounds a year!) It may be because green tea contains catechins, which increase levels of the metabolism-speeding brain chemical norepinephrine.
2. Pump Iron
Weight training is the ultimate way to burn calories fast. A pound of muscle burns up to nine times the calories of a pound of fat. Weight training increases your resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories you burn while sitting on your butt. What’s more, it gives your metabolism an added boost after you exercise, staying in overdrive for up to two hours after the last bench press, according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
3. Eat Iron
Yeah, we just told you to pump iron, but you also need to eat it. If you don’t have enough of this mineral, your body can’t get enough oxygen to your cells, which slows down your metabolism. Most multivitamins contain around 18 mg (the RDA for adults); you can also get your fill by eating three to four daily servings of foods rich in iron, such as lean red meat, chicken, fortified cereal and soy nuts. If you’re feeling symptoms like fatigue and weakness, ask your doctor to test you for anemia (it’s a simple blood test) at your next physical.
4. Drink More Water
A new German study found that when you drink 17 ounces of water (about two glasses) within a certain time frame, your metabolic rate shoots up by about 30 percent. Using these results, they estimate that by increasing your current water intake by 1.5 liters a day, a person would burn an extra 17,400 calories a year, resulting in about a five-pound weight loss.
5. Avoid Alcohol
Want to keep your favorite meals from going straight to your hips (thighs, belly)? Wash them down with water, not wine. Alcohol slows your metabolism by depressing the central nervous system. A British study found that when alcohol was added to a high-fat, high-calorie meal, less dietary fat was burned off and more was stored as body fat.
6. Interval Training
High Intensity or Regular Interval training—in which you add bursts of high-intensity moves into your workout—is a surefire metabolism booster. Researchers at Laval University in Quebec found that high-intensity interval training burns more fat than regular, consistent aerobic exercise. If you usually jog at a 10-minute-mile pace, for example, add a 30-second sprint every five minutes. Or add a one-minute incline to your treadmill workout every five minutes. Even if you just have 10 minutes for a quick workout you can walk at a normal pace and then add in a 30-second bout of speed-walking every three minutes.
7. Do More Dairy
Women who ate low-fat dairy products, such as nonfat yogurt and low-fat cheese three to four times a day lost 70 percent more fat than dieters who stay away from dairy, according to a study published in the journal Obesity Research. Calcium serves as a switch that tells your body to burn excess fat faster. Sorry, but you won’t reap the same benefits from calcium-fortified O.J. Research shows that you get the best results from dairy products themselves, not fortified foods. Aim for 1,200 mg, which includes about three servings of dairy a day.
8. Take Up A New Sport
Are you like Old Faithful when it comes to your morning walk or evening jog? Know this: The more you do an activity, the more your body adapts to it, so you burn fewer calories. If you want to light a fire under your metabolism, consider cross-training. For example, if you normally walk, try biking instead. Since you’re not used to working all those different muscles, it’s a more intense workout, which can translate into a greater metabolic after-burn because your body is working harder to recover and get oxygen to all your tissues.
9. Fish, anyone?
Regular fish eaters tend to have lower levels of the hormone leptin—good because high levels of leptin have been linked to low metabolism and obesity. Try to consume three to four servings of a fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna or mackerel, each week.
10. Reduce Stress
Stress may contribute to abdominal fat, according to several studies, including a recent one at the University of California, San Francisco. When you’re stressed, hormones like cortisol stimulate your appetite, slow your metabolism down and encourage fat storage inside your abdomen. So what’s a frazzled girl to do? Find an activity that reduces stress for you, whether it’s listening to soothing music or taking yoga – and do it daily!
11. Eat a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich For Lunch
Think peanut butter is only for pint-sized palates? Think again. PB is rich in magnesium, a mineral that motors up your metabolism by giving your cells energy. Aim for 320 mg a day of magnesium: Good food sources include a peanut butter sandwich made with whole-wheat bread (100 mg) or spinach (1/2 cup has 80 mg).
12. Don’t Skip Breakfast
Studies show that eating breakfast plays a part in successful weight loss—almost 80 percent of people who successfully keep weight off chow down on this meal, according to a study published in Obesity Research. Your metabolism slows as you sleep, and the process of digesting food revs it up again. Aim for a 300- to 400-calorie breakfast, such as a high-fiber cereal (another metabolism booster) with skim milk and fruit.
13. Increase Protein Consumption
Not in an extreme, Atkins sort of way, but having a little protein at every meal fires up your metabolism. Your digestive system uses more energy to break it down, so you burn more calories. However, keep protein levels to between 20 and 35 percent of your diet; eating too much of it can cause kidney strain and may cause your body to store too much fat.
14. Skip the Starch
Carb crazy? Consider this: Refined carbohydrates, such as bread, potatoes and rice, create a surge in insulin that in turn drives down your resting metabolic rate. It’s important to keep carbohydrates in your diet, but really focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which have less of an effect on insulin levels. And when buying whole-grain breads and cereals, make sure the first ingredient listed is whole wheat, whole oat or cracked wheat.
15. Break Up Your Workouts
Try dividing your workouts into two shorter 20-minute sessions. You’ll rev up your metabolism for an hour or two after each workout, which means you’ll burn more calories than if you did one longer session. Don’t have time? Even small bursts of activity will get your metabolism chugging again, according to a study in Nature. Just a five-minute walk around the house every hour translates into an extra 200 to 300 calories burned every day.
16. Go Bananas
Eat more bananas.They’re full of potassium, which revs up your metabolism by regulating your body’s water balance. If you’re dehydrated, you’ll burn fewer calories. Make sure you’re getting at least 2,000 mg: a banana has 450 mg, a cup of milk has 370 mg and an orange has 250 mg.
17. Get Enough Sleep
Yeah, Gosling may be on Letterman, but it’s way more important for your waistline to head to bed. A study at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that people who got only four hours of sleep had much more difficulty processing carbs. The culprit? Increased levels of insulin and the stress hormone cortisol. When you’re exhausted, your body lacks the energy to do its normal day-to-day functions, which includes burning calories efficiently. So the best way to make sure your metabolism runs smoothly is to get six to eight hours of shut-eye each night.
18. Load Up on Citrus Fruits
The vitamin C found in these fruits can increase your metabolism and help you burn fat faster and more efficiently. Freshen your diet by eating oranges, tangerines, or grapefruit for a snack, using lemons or limes to flavor your water, or adding any of them to a salad.
19. Squeeze in a Quick Workout
Every time you find a moment of free time, try a Tabata workout that focuses on one move. Just four intense minutes of burpees, squats, or push-ups can be as effective as five times the amount of traditional cardio, research finds. Get in as many reps as you can in 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 8 times. You’ll get your heart pumping and metabolism revved, and scientists say you’ll net the same health benefits, if not more, than you would if you went out for a run.
20. Spice it Up
If you love the kick of spicy food, try this: add a few hot peppers, like Jalapeño or cayenne, to your lunchtime salad or evening stir-fry. It’ll temporarily boost your resting metabolic rate, thanks to the capsaicin found in peppers. Capsaicin is a compound that tells your body to release more adrenaline and that, in turn, speeds up your metabolism.
How we all long for real-life, simple weight loss tactics that actually work. If you break them all down, it’s really simply still all about eating less and moving more. The bright side is that there are shortcuts. Here are some tips that will help you master the way of losing weight, the shortcut way and keeping the weight off for the long run.
Tip #1: Do not give into ‘fad’ diets
You know the kind. You hear it from your friends. Everyone’s like: ‘Give up carbs!’ ‘Give up fat!’ ‘Wait, no, now I’m taking pills!’ None of them are manageable long-term—and they wreak havoc with your metabolism! Because you’re either starving yourself or you’re cutting out a major food group. Then you go back into weight-gain mode, but it’s even worse, because your body has adjusted to all that crazy fad crap.
Tip #2: Be an 80/20 eater
Make 80 percent of the food you eat is healthy and take 20 percent of your daily calories and make them fun. Otherwise, you’ll feel deprived—and more tempted to go off the deep end.
Tip #3: Be Positive
When you tell yourself what you ‘have to’ do or what you ‘can’t’ do, the deprivation language makes you rebel. But if you say, I’m not going to have that— it’s a choice and you’re in control.
Tip #4: Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is a cornerstone of weight management because of the impact it has on your hormones that control how you burn fat, how you store fat, and how you’re maintaining muscle. The better your hormone balance, the better your weight management.
Tip #5: Diversify Your Workout
When you work multiple muscles at the same time, you’re getting your cardiovascular exercise in while you strength-train. You’re not only saving time, but you’re burning more calories while you’re doing it.
Tip #6: Order Wisely At Restaurants
Order without looking at the menu. Almost every restaurant has the basics—veggies, grains, and protein. If you go in knowing what you want, I guarantee you’ll be able to make a meal. If you’re too uncomfortable to ask for what you need, tell a white lie: Say you’re allergic. I know it’s controversial to suggest this, but women in particular can really have trouble standing up for their own needs. So if you want the broccoli soup puréed without cream, tell the waiter you’re lactose intolerant.
Tip #7: Find Healthy Lunch Spots
Make a ‘slim lunch options’ book of all the takeout places in your area where you know there’ll be healthy things to eat. This way, there is no second guessing or having to have a long discussion with your colleagues about where to go just to end up in the convenient KFC.
Tip #8: Travel with snacks
Pack small meals you can make in a hotel room. Whenever we travel, we bring oatmeal packets like Nature’s Path Hemp Plus, because you can make it with a coffeemaker, and snacks like a bag of almonds, a 22 Days vegan hemp protein bar, or Justin’s peanut butter or almond butter in packets – they’re light to carry around and they’re delicious.
Tip #9: Eat before heading to parties
Eat a filling, healthy snack before you leave home. And take a healthy dish so it’s like you’re contributing, but you’ve also covered your ass with something you can eat!
Tip #10: Eat Citrus Everyday
Vitamin C inhibits the production of cortisol, a hormone that essentially tells your body to store fat. Eat grapefruit slices with breakfast.
Tip #11: Eat more turkey (lean protein)
Lean protein helps you stay fuller for longer; it has the amino acids that are the building blocks for muscle. Chicken and fish are good, too.
Tip #12: Drink plenty of water
Hydration can curb hunger and boost your metabolism by up to 3 percent! Drink water until your pee looks like lemonade.
Tip #13: Say yes, yes, yes to dark chocolate
It’s got antioxidants – that we can get away with calling it a health food. Eat in moderation for all of you with sweet tooth.
Tip #14: Stand up!
Stand whenever you can. Standing burns 1.5 times more calories than sitting. Stand when you’re at the doctor’s office, when you watch TV, even when you work at your computer – try placing it on a kitchen counter.
Tip #15: Clean out your pantry
Dump everything you have that contains trans fats, artificial sweeteners, and high-fructose corn syrup.
Tip #16: Showcase healthy food
Put the healthiest things on display: fruits on the countertop, the healthiest things in the fridge at eye level, and the best snacks at the front of your cupboard so you’ll see those first. But then again, if you have followed Tip #15, you won’t have to do this.
Tip #17: Ration your junk food
Don’t buy more treat food than you’re going to eat in one day. Get just one calorie-controlled allotment, like a small bag of chips, so you can’t continue to go back for more.
Ready for a booty like J Lo’s? Well, you might be finally able to once you ditch those squats. Squats aren’t bad, but if you really want to tone and tighten you’ll need to vary your workout with exercises that hit different muscles, including the hamstrings and back.
And it turns out that shaping up your rear won’t just make you bootylicious—the butt is the largest and strongest muscle in the body, so putting it to work can rev up your metabolism and help you burn off calories, too. Here’s 5 exercises that will sculpt your glutes in no time.
1. BARBELL BENCH BUTT RAISE
Lie in a bridge position with just your shoulders on the bench, thighs parallel to the floor with knees bent at 90 degrees. Place a barbell on your lap. Lower your hips as much as possible to the floor— your upper body and thighs should form a V-shape. Then lift back to the starting position by pushing through your heels. You’ll want to keep your toes off the ground to really focus on the butt muscles. Do three sets of 15.
Tip: If you’re new to barbells, you can start off with just the rod and work your way up by adding weights to up the challenge.
2. DUMBBELL CURTSY LUNGE
Stand with feet hip width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Step back with right foot into a lunge while crossing your left leg in front of your right. Maintain control with your front leg and keep your hips pointed straight ahead. A lunge already requires a lot of work from your glutes, but doing a curtsy amps up the intensity and burn. Repeat 15 times, then switch legs. Do two sets on each leg.
3. SUMO DEAD LIFT
Hold a kettle bell by the end with both hands. Maintain a wide stance (wider than shoulder width) with your toes pointed out at a 45 degree angle. Lower down so that weight touches the floor, keeping back straight. The only movement you want to make is bending your knees. Your upper body should remain erect, without rounding the back. Raise back up, squeezing glutes at the top. Do three set of of 15 reps.
4. ONE-LEG BRIDGE
Lie on the floor with left knee bent and flat on the floor and right leg straight up at a 45 degree angle. Squeezing glutes, raise hips and hold for two counts, then release hips back, keeping the leg raised the entire time. That’s one rep. Repeat 15 times, then switch legs. Do two sets on each side. To make it more challenging, you can hold the bridge four counts and/or cross arms over chest (instead of resting them on floor).
5. TWISTED WALKING LUNGES
Holding a medicine ball or dumbbell with both hands at waist level, take a step forward, bending into lunge position, with knees forming a 90 degree angle. As you step, rotate your torso and the medicine ball to the outside of the same leg. So, if you step forward with your right leg first, twist your upper body and rotate the ball to the right side. You want to make sure you are only moving your torso, not your hips. The rotation to the outside forces your butt muscles to work even harder. And you’ll sneak in a core workout while you’re at it. Do a total of 30 lunges.
Having big thunder thighs is tough. Like arm flab, there seems to be too much everywhere and you have a lot of trouble trying to get rid of it – some times, nothing works! Almost every woman I know at some point in their lives complains about their thighs and the only solution sometimes seem to be cosmetic surgery.
Now, some people might opt for surgery, but the cheaper and safer solution is definitely to follow a clean eating diet and some exercise to tone your thighs.
Here are a 9 moves specifically for working out your inner and outer thighs. Before you know it you won’t have anything to complain about! Perform each exercise with the suggested repetitions one after the other with no rest in between. Once you’ve completed the circuit, rest for 30 seconds and then repeat the circuit for another 2 times. Do this workout 3 times a week on non-consecutive days and you’ll notice how much firmer you thighs will have become just after 2 weeks.
1. Side Lunge (20 reps)
This will work your legs and glutes. While you’re sliding your leg back to the center, your inner thighs will do all the work.
- Stand with your feet hip width apart with your hands on your hips.
- Keeping your gaze forward and your abs tight, take a big step to the left with your left foot and bend your left knee 90 degrees, keeping your right leg extended.
- Push through the heel of your left foot to return to standing. Repeat on your right side to complete one rep.
2. Lying Double Leg Lift (20 reps)
This is a great move to get your thighs working! It can be done at home since there’s no equipment needed and is a great addition to any workout routine.
Come to your side on the floor with your bottom arm extending overhead and your head resting upon it. Place your other hand in front of you for balance. Lift your top leg so it’s about 1 to 2 feet apart from the bottom leg. Hold it here. This isometric hold will work the outer thigh of the top leg.
- Without moving the top leg, exhale and lift the bottom leg until it makes contact with the top leg. This contraction will work the inner thigh of bottom leg. If you feel your bottom hip dig into the mat, you can bring the legs forward slightly until it stops or try putting folding your mat in half for extra cushioning. Inhale and release the bottom leg first, then the top.
3. Inner Thigh Lifts (15 reps)
With the straight knee you’re forced to work all your inner leg muscles. You’ll love the burn in your quads and obliques!
- Lay on your right side supporting your weight with your right elbow and forearm, placing your left hand in-front of you for balance. Keep your right leg straight and your left leg bent behind your right.
- Slowly lift your right leg off the ground and hold for as long as you can. Lower your leg down, repeat and switch sides.
4. Frog Jumps (30 seconds)
This move can work your entire body, but you’ll definitely be feeling the burn in your legs. Make sure you’re putting a lot of power in your jumps to get the most out of this move.
- Stand with feet wider than hips, knees and toes pointed out, reaching hands down toward the floor. Squat down as low as possible while keeping chest lifted, heels flat, and knees tracking over toes.
- Jump up in the air, bringing feet together and swinging arms overhead to help propel body up. Land in a deep squat. Repeat as many times as possible for 30 seconds.
- For variety, travel forward or backward or rotate a quarter turn mid-air with each jump.
5. Spiderman Pushups (15 reps on each leg)
Like the frog jump, this move is an all-over toner, but you’ll love the way you can target your thighs while working your upper body and core.
- Start in a pushup position.
- As you lower your chest to the floor, turn your right knee outward and bring it toward your elbow
- Slowly return to start and repeat with the left leg.
6. Side Star Plank (10 reps)
This is a great plank variation when you want to get in a lower body workout! You’ll still work your core and upper body but you’re thighs will be worked in a new and challenging way.
- Begin in a plank position (the top of a push-up) and roll to your left side, allowing your feet to roll too, so you’re balancing on the outside of your left foot and the inside of your right.
- Reach your right arm toward the ceiling and lift your waist away from the floor to make your obliques fire away. Press your left inner thigh up into your right inner thigh; this helps stabilize you even more.
- Balance your right hand and the outside edge of your right foot. Flex both feet, and lift your left arm straight in the air.
- Keeping your spine lengthened and your abs engaged, lift your left leg up as high as you can without letting your waist sink to the ground. Then slowly lower your right leg back to the starting position. This completes one rep.
7. Leg Circles (30 seconds per leg)
This move is a bit kinder, allowing you to lie on the ground for the duration of the workout. You can put a yoga mat or towel under you for this one. You can also add weights to bump up the difficulty.
- Lie on your right side and prop yourself up with your right arm, shoulder directly over your elbow. Stack your legs on top of each other.
- Lift your left leg and draw large forward circles with your ankles for 30 seconds. Switch sides and perform exercise on other leg for another 30 seconds.
8. Wall Squat (15 reps)
This move can be done anywhere, whether it be at home, the gym or even your work office.
- Lean your back against a wall, making sure that your whole back is touching the wall. Your feet should be about two feet from the wall and about shoulder-width apart from each other.
- Slowly slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Aim for a 90-degree angle. Keep your weight in the heels of your feet and make sure your knees are behind your toes. You should be able to tap your toes. Keep your back flat against the wall. If it starts to arch, slide up until the small of your back is touching the wall again.
9. Lunge Jumps (15 reps)
This exercise works the hip flexors, glutes, and legs.
- Stand with your feet together, elbows bent 90 degrees. Lunge forward with your right foot.
- Jump straight up as you thrust your arms forward, elbows still bent.
- Switch legs in midair, like a scissor, and land in a lunge with your left leg forward.
- Repeat, switching legs again. That’s 1 rep.
There are many health and fitness practitioners that say it’s foolish to restrict yourself from eating certain foods when trying to lose weight – it’s because denying yourself something you really want to eat can ultimately lead to binge eating and eventual weight gain. But some foods really do deserve the axe — especially if you are trying to lose weight. In which case, avoid these foods (when you can!) to fend off cravings and hunger, and support your efforts to slim down.
1. Any Snack That Only Contains Carbs
When you eat crackers, dry cereal, bread, or rice cakes alone, your body converts the carbs to simple sugars, and sends it directly into your blood stream. In response to the sugar rush, your body produces extra insulin, which helps your body absorb the sugar ASAP. The problem: You end up with low blood sugar and the same hunger pangs that led you to carb it up in the first place. You then may be inclined to reach for sugary foods with no nutritional value to satisfy your need for instant energy.
It’s not that carbs are off-limits entirely. That’d be crazy — and it’s no way to live! The point is that snacks containing a combination of carbs, healthy fats, and protein take longer to digest, and will, therefore, tide you over for longer. Another thing: When you treat snacks as balanced mini meals, they contribute to a balanced diet (instead of just holding you over between full balanced meals). Try a slice of bread with nut butter, or whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese.
2. Frozen Meals
To make fresh ingredients last extra long in your freezer, food manufacturers often load frozen meals with sodium, a natural preservative. Sodium makes you retain water, which bloats you up – so you won’t look and feel your best regardless of how much weight you want to lose.
Additionally, when food manufacturers try to squeeze a meal’s worth of calories into a teeny tiny box, every bite ends up containing lots of calories by design. While large portions trick your brain into thinking your body is full, the measly portions found in freezer meals are inherently unsatisfying, even though they contain plenty of calories. So skip them if you can, and supersize your portions of lower-calorie foods.
3. High-Fiber Snack Bars
Yes, everyone needs fiber — it keeps your digestive system churning and keeps you feeling full, even when you’re cutting back on calories. What you don’t need – nearly one day’s worth of fiber (about 25 grams) in one snack bar, with a diet that’s otherwise devoid of it. Fiber intake has to be consistent throughout the day to stave off hunger, improve digestive health, and not cause stomach upset. So ditch the bars, and try to include some kind of naturally fiber-rich produce — any fruit or veggie will do— in every snack and meal.
4. “Low-Fat” Foods
Research suggests that people tend to eat upwards of 30 percent more when they know they’re eating a food that’s low fat. The problem (besides overeating, which can thwart your weight loss goals fast) is that when food makers remove fat from food, they inevitably remove some of the flavor. To compensate, they often add sugar, which makes the product even worse for you.
It takes several oranges to make one 6-ounce glass of OJ, but when you drink juice, you consume all the calories from those oranges without the natural fruit fibers that fill you up. It’s why “even 100 percent juice is just empty calories and another blood sugar spike.
Fructose, the natural fruit sugar that makes fruit and fruit juice taste sweet, tricks your body into gaining weight by blunting your body’s ability to recognize when it’s full. This makes you eat more, and increases your risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes.
6. Artificially Sweetened Drinks
Goodbye, diet soda, and every other sweet-tasting drink that mysteriously contains zero calories! There are some people whose brains are wired in a way that artificial sweeteners induce or enhance cravings. If drinking a Diet Snapple leads you to the Ben & Jerry’s, then you’d certainly be better off with water or water with lemon. Or sparkling water: It’s calorie-free, but carbonated, which makes your stomach feel full so you end up eating less overall.
7. Cereal Sold in a Value-Size Box
The same goes for super-sized snack packages. People consume up to 22 percent more when they eat from larger packages, according to a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab. When people know there is more food available, they subconsciously let themselves eat more of it. The same goes for food you buy on sale – you’re more likely to consume more when food costs less, according to another study. That’s not to say you should spend more on food to eat less overall — it’s unsustainable (and silly). If you’re going to spring for a value pack of any packaged food, measure out your serving instead of eating out of the bag so you don’t fall pray to your own mind’s games.
It’s almost impossible to find a weight loss expert who recommends alcohol for weight loss. While some cocktails have fewer calories than others, alcohol just doesn’t support weight loss. It contains empty calories that don’t fill you up or provide any nutrients; softens your resolve so you’re more likely to overeat; and impairs your judgement, regardless of your weight loss goals. But it gets worse – when alcohol is present in your body, it’s considered a toxin that your body wants to get rid of, and becomes you liver’s top priority. When your liver is in hardcore detox mode, it can’t burn fat as efficiently. Because that’s a major buzz kill, skip the buzz altogether if you’re serious about losing weight. Or at least cut back on the booze, big time.
No one wants to spend long hours at the gym, but at the same time we want to get stronger, fitter, leaner, and just plain look good.
If you are like many women who constantly think that they haven’t spent enough time at the gym, it’s possible that you’re not getting the most out of your workout time.
So, instead of finding more time to spend at the gym, employ some of these 15 tips that will help you get to your desired health and fitness level with as little as 30 minutes at the gym. By all means, if there’s a cute guy you’re flirting with, stay longer – but know that you can focus on him since you’d already be finished with your workout. Good luck.
1. High-intensity workouts.
If you’re just starting out with exercise, it’s best to take it slow. If you’re running or cycling, for example, build up your endurance for at least a month before you get into anything more intense. That means going at a rate where you can easily talk without being out of breath. However, once you have that base of endurance, step up the intensity to step up the effectiveness of the workout.
Many people don’t pay enough attention to getting the protein their muscles need to rebuild. If you don’t, you are going to get very little out of your workout, as both cardio and strength workouts require protein for building muscles. I recommend either whey or soy protein shakes.
Be sure to hydrate throughout the day. It takes a couple of hours for your body to absorb the water, so you can’t just drink right before exercise. Make it a habit to drink water regularly throughout the day.
Although the low-carb craze might say otherwise, carbs are our body’s main source of fuel. If you do intense workouts, you will need carbs, or you won’t have enough energy. If you do a shake, be sure to include carbs — or a banana is a great source of low fiber/high glycemic carbohydrates that you need for exercise.
5. Shake before and after workout.
It’s best to take a protein/carb shake just before your workout and then just after. Taking it before your workout increases the flow of amino acids to your muscles during training, giving them the building blocks they need. After the workout, the shake stimulates muscle growth. Also take a small protein/carb meal 60-90 minutes after a workout — a meal replacement bar would work fine.
6. Slow lifting.
Many people contract their muscles slowly and then release more quickly. But if you lift slowly in both directions, you are maximizing each move. Lift and lower to a 5-second count in each direction.
7. Heavier weight.
When you’re starting out, it’s best to start with lower weights so you can focus on good form. But once you’ve gotten your form down, it’s best to lift the heaviest weights you can lift while still keeping good form. Don’t sacrifice form for heavy weights — that is ineffective. But heavy weights, with good form, can give you better results in a shorter amount of time. Heavy weights are not just for those who want to bulk up — that’s a common misconception.
8. One set, to failure.
Instead of doing 2-3 sets, as many people do, maximize your effectiveness by doing just one, with heavy weights, until you can no longer keep the proper form. Lifting to “failure” doesn’t mean that you should lift the last few times with a wobbly or inefficient form.
9. Compound exercises.
Instead of isolating your muscles with exercises such as the bicep curl, you can maximize the time you spend in a workout by doing exercises that work out multiple muscle groups at once. With just a few exercises, you could get a full-body workout. Another benefit is that your muscles are working together as they do in the real world, rather than alone. Some great compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, good mornings, lunges, pushups, bench presses, military presses, rows, pullups, dips, and more.
10. Balance lifting.
Instead of having exercises where you’re sitting down or holding on to something or otherwise stabilized, it’s more effective to do them standing up, or on one leg, or on a Swiss exercise ball. These types of exercises force you to balance yourself while lifting, which brings your core muscles into play. This gives you a stronger overall body and allows you to lift more over time.
11. Pick a cardio exercise you enjoy.
It’s no fun to exercise if you hate it. And you won’t keep it up for very long. Pick something that’s fun — running, walking, swimming, biking, hiking, rowing, stairmaster, etc. After the initial phase when you’re getting used to exercise, you’ll start to have a blast and look forward to it.
12. Mix it up.
Don’t stick to the same workout routine for too long, or your body will adjust to the stress level and you won’t be getting an effective workout. For strength training, change your routine every few weeks. For cardio, it’s best to cross train rather than, say, to run every time.
13. Good form.
For strength training especially, and swimming, form is very important, but it’s also important for other types of exercise. If you’re strength training, start with lighter weights so you can work on your form. It’s good to have an experienced spotter or trainer who knows good form to help you for the first month or so. Never sacrifice form for heavier weight. For swimming, you’ll need to get a coach to teach you form.
If you run or bike or walk for cardio, you’ll want to incorporate hills (after the first month or two of doing it at an easy pace on flat ground). These will make you stronger and make your limited workout time even more effective. Take them easy at first, but once you’re used to hills, you can get a good pace going. Either use a hilly route or do repeats on one hill.
One mistake that people make is to do multiple sets of the same exercise without rest between the sets. This doesn’t allow your muscles to recover and it’s a waste of your workout. But instead of doing a set, resting, and then doing your second set, it’s more effective to move on to multiple exercises in a circuit, so that you don’t rest between exercises but do rest each muscle group. This will give you a good cardio workout while you do your strength training.
The ideal workout plan
If you take all of these tips into account, the ideal plan would be to alternate 2-3 days of high-intensity strength training with 2-3 days of high-intensity cardio. You could get by with 4 days of exercise if you do them at high intensity.
The high-intensity strength training would be 30-40 minutes of circuit training, with no rest or little rest between exercises within a circuit, and a short rest between circuits if you do more than one. The circuit should work out your entire body, using compound exercises such as the squat, deadlift, pullups, good mornings, etc., and either standing or using a Swiss ball so that you are working out your core. You should use heavier weights, one set for each exercise, doing them slowly (5 second up, 5 seconds down), and to exhaustion, making sure to have good form on each exercise.
You would have a protein/carb shake before and after the workout, and a small meal of protein/carbs within 60-90 minutes of the workout. Water is also important for both types of workouts.
The high-intensity cardio would be something you enjoy doing. You would do interval training, at a rate where you couldn’t talk, with short rests in between intervals. On some workouts, you would incorporate hills.
Remember, these high-intensity workouts are not for people just starting out. You should build up an endurance base before doing the high-intensity cardio, and start the weights with lighter weights, stressing good form.