So, your goal is to lose weight. But that’s not a “why.” Why do you want to lose weight? Keep asking yourself why until you get to the heart of why you want to get healthier. Once you know why you’re starting your diet, print out this out form, fill it out, and keep it in your pocket or on your fridge. Remind yourself several times per day why you’re changing your eating habits.
If you need to reduce calories, start by reducing your fat intake. Keep your carbohydrate and protein consumption as high as possible for as long as possible to maintain your energy. Just don't let your total fat intake dip below 10 percent of your total daily calories. Having fewer fats than that in your diet can harm your performance, recovery, muscle maintenance, and testosterone production.
Certain carbohydrates have a tendency to be poorly absorbed in your intestines and then rapidly fermented, leading to gas and bloating. Common culprits include refined carbohydrates and simple sugars—like those found in processed foods with added sugars. Excess sodium can also cause bloating due to increased water retention. Opt for freshly prepared foods and reduce processed, packaged foods to cut back on belly bloaters. In the morning, swap your sugar-laden bowl of cereal for this Green Smoothie, made with fresh fruits and vegetables to get your day started the right way.
Carbohydrates are a touchy subject: while some blame them for all fat gain, it’s the type of carbs you eat that’s key. A 2011 study out of the University of Alabama found that a diet that slightly cut back on carbs, and which comprised mostly low-GI carbohydrates, lost more deep abdominal fat than those who ate a lower-fat diet. GI stands for glycemic index, a measure of how fast carbohydrates supply your body with energy: high-GI foods make you spike then crash, while low-GI foods provide a slow burn.
The prevailing formula for a long time on how much fat you’re going to burn was calories in minus calories out, based on your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and exercise efforts, explains strength and performance specialist Joel Seedman, Ph.D., owner of Advanced Human Performance in Atlanta. But with all the different biochemical reactions in the body, hormonal response, and endocrine function, there are an infinite number of factors that can affect how your body is storing and breaking down calories.