Sorry keto -- the Mediterranean diet is king. Endurance athletes and celebrities like LeBron James and the Kardashians have raved about the high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet -- which was among Google’s most-searched terms this year. But Dr. Louis Aronne, an endocrinologist at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine who runs the Comprehensive Weight Control Center, noted that the Mediterranean diet “is the only diet that has been proven in trials to promote weight loss and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.” This meal plan includes using olive oil rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids as your main cooking oil, and loading your plate with fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein like fish and chicken, with the occasional piece of red meat. The American Heart Association recommends a similar diet that emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods, particularly fruits, veggies and whole grains, as well as low-fat dairy products, nuts and legumes, and non-tropical vegetable oils, while reducing salt, sugar and trans fats.
When your body is low on calcium, it produces a hormone that signals the body to store visceral fat. Meeting your recommended daily calcium needs (that’s 1,000 milligrams for adults) can help reduce levels of this hormone. And a recent study published in Obesity Research found that calcium from dairy has a stronger effect than calcium from other sources. I recommend eating low-fat Greek yogurt as a daily snack (just six ounces contain about 20 percent of your recommended dietary allowance for calcium), though any low-fat dairy will do.
“If you are looking to lose weight, then cranking up your workouts is key,” says Certified Personal Trainer Jess Horton. “Weather your workout is 45 minutes or an hour, adding bursts of a raised heart rate increases the quality of your workout and puts your body into fat burning mode. Alternating pushups, sprints, crunches, and burpees on a repeat sequence will put the body into fat-burning mode,” she explains.
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5. Stay positive. Replace negative thoughts (“My thighs are so big!”) with positive thoughts about what your body can do (“I can run a sub-eight minute mile!”). In a study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, women who boosted their body image lost about three times more weight than those who didn’t.
Don’t skip meals. Eating a healthy breakfast increases your resting metabolic rate earlier in the day, keeps your energy levels high, and may help you resist the urge of high-calorie snacks throughout the day. Plan to eat a small snack or meal every two to four hours to keep your metabolism active. Eating regularly also keeps your blood sugar stable and reduces unhealthy calorie binges or deviations from your meal plan.
A little garlic in your meals could mean a lot less weight around your middle. The results of a Korean study found that mice given a high-fat diet supplemented with garlic lost significantly more weight and abdominal fat than those who just ate fatty foods. Even better, they also improved their liver health, making it easier to stay healthy and burn off that excess fat in the long term. For more flavorful ways to make your food more enjoyable, turn to the 20 Spicy Recipes That Fire Up Your Metabolism and watch those pounds melt away.
How much of a deficit? A 500 calorie a day deficit is sustainable for some while leaning down, but any deficit will do. A 1000 calorie a day deficit is aggressive and difficult to maintain. No matter what, don’t drop your calories below 1000 per day, even if you think it will lead to faster weight loss. You’ll be losing muscle at that point, and sacrificing your health and sanity. Not worth it.
If you’ve been eating fast food for years, get real about your approach: You’re probably not going to stick to an organic, gluten-free, paleo overhaul for very long. "You want to change as little as possible to create calorie deficit," says Dr. Seltzer, who insists the best way to support sustainable weight loss is to incorporate small changes into existing habits. So instead of giving up your daily BLT bagels in favor of an egg-white wrap, try ordering your sandwich on a lighter English muffin. Or say you eat a snack bar every afternoon: Swap your 300-calorie bar for a 150-calorie alternative. "Your brain will feel the same way about it, so you won’t feel deprived," he says.
While meal prep is considered a tedious task, sticking to homemade, wholesome meals are key to fat loss success says John Rowley, Certified Personal Trainer and International Sports Sciences Association Director of Wellness. John suggests organizing your grocery list on the weekend and planning each meal out for the week so that when it comes time to cook, you’re ready to roll—and less tempted to indulge in a quick fix on the way home. No time to cook? “Invest in a crockpot. Just add the ingredients in before heading out for the day, and come home to a healthy masterpiece.”
Not only do they help you to build calorie-burning muscle mass, meats like chicken or turkey breast, fish, buffalo, and other wild game actually require our bodies to work harder in order to break them down during digestion. Furthermore, lean protein sources are much less likely to be stored as fat in our bodies and far more likely to be converted into energy for immediate use.
When you eat foods that are low- or no-fat, other ingredients are added in so that the food tastes like its full-fat counterpart. Those extra ingredients don’t add in the nutrients that have been stripped away, however, so you end up craving more because, despite the fact that you just ate, your body is still lacking in the vital nutrients it needs. You end up eating more calories than you would have if you’d just eaten the full-fat product.
Fennel, peppermint, and ginger have all been shown in research studies to have calming effects on the belly. They work by enhancing digestive enzymes so your food gets moved through your system faster. And faster-moving food means a flatter tummy. In addition, peppermint reduces cramping and gas, ginger helps with nausea and inflammation, and fennel is a diuretic to help you stop retaining water.