Losing weight can be a daunting prospect, but five simple tricks from The Belly Off! Diet author Jeff Csatari should speed up your metabolism, helping the fat melt off. Here they are, along with the science behind each:
Eat breakfast – Dieters who skip breakfast are doing themselves a huge disservice. The earlier you eat breakfast, the sooner your metabolism starts burning calories. In fact, Leslie Bonci, a registered dietitian and director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said skipping breakfast could reduce your metabolism by 10 percent! The key is to fuel that fire with healthy choices. Within an hour and a half of waking, you should eat a meal that includes both protein and healthy carbs. A 2008 study at Virginia Commonwealth University found that women who ate a protein-packed, 600-calorie breakfast lost more weight than their peers who ate half the calories and one-quarter the protein. That makes sense, though, since protein burns more slowly, thereby curbing your appetite later into the day and stabilizing your blood sugar. Go for eggs and turkey bacon if you have the time. Even adding peanut or almond butter to your toast or grabbing a protein bar on the go will make an impact.
Exercise intelligently – When working out, don’t get stuck in a rut. Lots of dieters focus on cardio alone – walking, running, biking, using the elliptical machine or stair climber. While these are great, it’s been shown that interval training – mixing short periods of intense activity within a lower-impact workout – does more to burn fat and improve overall fitness than sustained, moderate workouts. Turbo-charge your gym sessions with anaerobic weight training as well. Regardless of whether you pump iron or use your body for resistance, building muscle will accelerate your fat burning more than cardio alone.
Eat 4-6 times a day – Just as it’s important to get the metabolism revving early in the morning, it’s wise to keep the burn sustained throughout the day by eating more frequently than the typical three squares a day. If you let too much time pass between eating, your body will go into its starvation mode that slows the metabolism. By spacing your caloric intake apart every three hours or so, your body will control its release of insulin – which, if mismanaged, can cause your body to hang onto more calories as fat. Each time you eat, your metabolism speeds up to digest the food. Give it all the speed you can!
Drop carbs, add protein – Carbohydrates – especially of the white-flour/sugar, heavily processed variety – are killer to one’s waistline. Quickly absorbed carbs like white bread or sweets cause your blood sugar to spike, leading to cravings and belly fat. However, reducing or eliminating them from your diet – and replacing them with healthier carbs like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – forces your body to burn fat. Plus, healthy complex carbs are high in fiber, which helps your body flush out excess carbs. Researchers at University of California Davis recently found that when carbs make up less than 40 percent of one’s total daily calories, the body deactivates a gene that produces triglycerides, which become body fat. When you eat, be sure to include a mix of protein and fat as well – this will keep you feeling full longer, helping you eat less.
Avoid alcohol – The “beer belly” has its nickname for a reason. Alcohol halts your body’s fat-burning process. Couple that with the empty carbohydrates inherent in alcohol, and you’ve got a serious problem. Csatari recommends giving up alcohol for a month to see the difference it makes.