Calm the fuck down and be patient. You didn’t get out of shape in a week, you’re not getting in shape in a week. The people who have this “fast fat loss” mentality are also the ones who tend to gain it back after the diet ends, or quit entirely after a few weeks. Not because aggressive dieting doesn’t work, but because this mentality encourages the use of fad diets that, a) won’t be sustainable in the long-term, and b) doesn’t help you build the habits that allow you to maintain the loss in the long run. 15
It's easy to overdo it when you're eating something delicious — and that's why it's good to focus on foods that will force you to slow down. "Slowing down can help you check in with your hunger levels. For that reason, I love snacking on 100-calorie packs of in-shell pistachios," Gorin says. "Shelling the pistachios helps you slow down your snacking, and the shells leave a visual cue to remind you of how much you've eaten. Because you're more in tune with what's gone into your mouth, you may be less likely to have extra servings." In one preliminary study, people snacking on in-shell pistachios ate 41% less calories than those who ate the shelled version.
Of course, not all carbohydrates are equal. In short, fast-digesting carbs tend to create a large insulin burst, leading to more potential fat gain. These carbs include white bread, most cold cereals, any sweets, rice cakes, white rice, and white potatoes. Conversely, slow-digesting carbs (found in whole-grain breads, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and legumes) don't cause much of an insulin rise, so these should make up the vast majority of your carb consumption.
REALITY: Fats and carbs both play a role in fat loss. Fats are responsible for hormone production, joint lubrication, and many other important health and muscle-building factors. Dropping your fats too low could compromise your health and your goals. Everyone's body and metabolism is different, so it's crucial to know how many grams of healthy fat you need to eat for a balanced nutrition regimen.
Cross-training is important for a few reasons: First off, it makes you a stronger runner and reduces your risk of injury. “Running is only hard on your joints if you don’t have the muscle to support them,” Rubin says. Secondly, lifting will help you lose weight. “The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest,” she says. That's right, more muscle means more burned calories when you're just sitting around. To get started, try these 10 essential strength exercises for runners.
What can work like magic, though, is simply eating fewer calories than you're burning. It's pretty easy to do that every now and then. It's when you try to do it for weeks and months that things get a little trickier. By incorporating insight gained from research-backed fat-loss strategies, you have a better shot at losing the weight you want without compromising your fitness or health.
Intermittent fasting—limiting your eating hours to just eight, say between 10:30 and 6:30—has gained popularity as a way to shake up your metabolism, and it just might work. “There is a lot more research that needs to be done but it does seem to benefit some people, particularly men,” says Angel Planells, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics based in Seattle. Another approach is to fast—or eat next to no calories (500-600 calories total)—two non-consecutive days a week. (You can eat normally the other five days.) The tactic seems to increase fat burning. “When your body isn’t getting fuel, it will start burning fat,” Planells says. Read about this woman’s experience with intermittent fasting.
Protein is an absolute must have after training since it is the only thing that can immediately shift your body from a catabolic state to an anabolic state. The period right after training is commonly referred to as the anabolic window because the body is ultra sensitive to nutrients for 2 hours after training. This is prime time for muscle growth.
Not all fat is bad. Healthy or “good” fats can actually help to control your weight, as well as manage your moods and fight fatigue. Unsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, soy milk, tofu, and fatty fish can help fill you up, while adding a little tasty olive oil to a plate of vegetables, for example, can make it easier to eat healthy food and improve the overall quality of your diet.
1. Don’t starve yourself: Cortisol—that stress hormone that causes your body to store more fat—is elevated from circumstances of high stress, including extreme dieting, Seedman says. “If you start dropping calories excessively, your body goes into starvation mode and it becomes stressed. You’re in caloric deprivation, but that elevated cortisol causes you to gain body fat in your stomach—it’s a vicious cycle,” he adds.