The sad truth is that conventional ideas – eat less, run more – do not work long term. Counting calories, exercising for hours every day and trying to ignore your hunger? That’s needless suffering and it wastes your time and precious willpower. It’s weight loss for masochists. Eventually almost everyone gives up. That’s why we have an obesity epidemic. Fortunately there’s a better way.
According to a small study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, people who slept for 8.5 hours a night for two weeks lost nearly twice as much weight on average than participants who slept 5.5 hours per night, despite the fact that they followed the same diet and workout plan. That's because when you get a good night's sleep, your hunger hormones, like ghrelin and leptin, stay in check. That means you're not going to wake up with a sudden hankering for a bacon, egg, and cheese. (Start working towards your goals with Women's Health's Body Clock Diet.)
Spreading the same amount of calories out over the course of your day so that you’re eating within an hour of waking up and then every four to six hours will jumpstart your metabolism, kicking off your calorie burn, and keep it going at a steady pace all day long, Crandall says. This works for a lot of people by keeping blood sugar levels steady, preventing the surges and plunges that can lead to ravenous hunger and overeating. It also keeps you from feeling deprived.
‘Lastly, if your nutrition is on point but you still have excess tummy fat, then you need to look at your training. There’s a real craze for high-intensity workouts and really pushing yourself at the moment, but training is a stress on the body, and if you’re not giving it the tools to manage that stress and recover from it, then it can lead things like excess belly fat.
There have been major obstacles along the way-mostly ones of my own doing and past disordered thoughts that pop up, but I have stayed the course. I have learned the program, asked questions, posted pics of myself after working out, shared in the group and gained so much support along the way. It has kept my mind in a healthy place. I was worried at the beginning that this wouldn't work just like so many other programs before it. But when I woke up this morning, I actually didn't care what the numbers were, I know I am not stopping now. Whatever they say, I will keep going, keep investing in me and investing in my family. I am a different me than I was 6 weeks ago, not just physically but mentally. I feel stronger and braver than I ever have. So thank you for this opportunity to be part of this program. It saved me in ways you may never know!
Break up your workouts. Your metabolism spikes after every bout of physical activity. So if you can break up your hour workout into two half-hour chunks, you'll get two spikes instead of one. Your body burns calories at a higher-rate after a workout (sometimes for several hours after), and if you rejuvenate it later in the day, you'll further enhance the effect.
Think of the typical toppings on your baked potato -- butter, sour cream, maybe cheese and bacon bits. If you substitute a sweet potato, you might not need any of that. Baked sweet potatoes are so full of flavor, they don't need a lot, unless you want to try a sprinkle of cinnamon. This can save you loads of calories. As a bonus, sweet potatoes are packed with potassium, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and fiber.
It turns out that capsaicin, the compound that gives chile peppers their heat, can also fire up your metabolism. Eating about 1 tablespoon of chopped peppers (red or green) boosts your sympathetic nervous system (responsible for your fight-or-flight response), according to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. The result: a temporary metabolism spike of about 23 percent. Stock up on chile peppers to add to salsas, and keep a jar of red-pepper flakes on hand for topping pizzas, pastas, and stir-fries.
Grazing is a surprisingly good idea because it helps you avoid metabolic slowdown. "Your body will be tricked into thinking it's constantly eating, so it will never slow your metabolism down," explains Bauer. Aim for five small meals (200 to 500 calories) a day rather than three large ones. Also try not to go more than four hours without eating — if you eat breakfast at 7am, for example, have a snack at 10am, lunch at noon, another snack at 3pm and dinner at 7pm.
With my mind in a better place, I was able to buckle down and really learn about and change my approach nutrition. I didn't feel deprived at all, actually just the opposite! Some days I was too full to even finish all my food. The workouts were excellent. I loved that I could do them at home, and I actually look forward to working out and challenging myself now- a new sensation to say the least.
I'd like to think I'm pretty athletic and on the higher end of competitive, rounding out my high school and college days on swim team and playing soccer my freshman year of college - continuing as I got older I was a gym regular for at least the last 10 years, if not more, mixing in countless rec soccer leagues, kickball, and flag football teams as a boost to what I considered my "fitness routine". 5 years ago I got the crazy idea to start triathlons and quickly immersed myself in the sport - Lee and I had started dating and I hated to run and didn't own a bike but loved to swim! Lee trained me for my first 5K and after I bought a bike it was on to sprints, olympics and 2 Half Ironmans. In between all the crazy races I dragged him to (Minnesota, Miami, all over NC) we completed 2 half marathons together. To say he is a good sport ant very supportive is an understatement.
Is a calorie truly a calorie? Not always, because different types of calories can affect your body and your results differently. Dietary fat, for example, is more "fattening" than protein or carbs because it's less likely to be used to build your body. Granted, carbs can potentially make you fat, but they also directly fuel your training. Protein? That's a no-brainer: It builds muscle. Fat does neither, but it isn't useless; moderate amounts of it support vitamin absorption and help manufacture hormones.
2. Eat smaller meals more frequently: “Insulin is probably the single most important factor that contributes to fat storage,” Seedman explains. This hormone is activated when you eat and responsible for shuttling nutrients into cells, either fat or muscle. A quick biology lesson: Every time you eat a meal, your blood glucose spikes, and when this goes up, so do your insulin levels. More calories at once means a larger spike in both. When these levels are sky high, it signals to your body to put nutrients into fat cells instead of muscle, causing an accumulation of fat, Seedman explains. The same thing happens when your insulin stays elevated for a prolonged period of time, which is why it’s important to let yourself become hungry before eating again, he adds. Aim for five to six meals throughout the day.