That’s not to say you won’t run into tough times in your weight-loss efforts. Any new eating plan is hard to adjust to, and your brain resists change, which doesn’t help matters. Still, the most successful diet is one that you can stick with long-term. Read on for weight-loss tips and tricks to help you get past the hard times and keep your new diet plan on track.
1. Boost your metabolism throughout the day: Your BMR regulates how many calories you burn at rest and the more you move, the higher your BMR, and the more you’ll burn when standing still. Small efforts like taking the stairs, walking to pick up lunch, even playing pool with the guys during happy hour can all jumpstart your metabolism. (Check out these 30 Easy Ways to Burn Fat in 30 Minutes Without the Gym.)
In psychology, this term from Greek mythology describes a plan you make for yourself before you get into a tougher situation in which you’ll have little to no control. For example, your workout "hour" is scheduled for post-work, which means you miss it about 80% of the time thanks to impromptu meetings, conference calls, and general exhaustion. What can you do for yourself right now that sets you up for success at 5 p.m. to actually make it to a 6 p.m. class? If you know it’s a meeting that always runs late but is unavoidable, you may have to adjust.
Now that’s out the way, the second thing we should probably discuss is how fast you should be expecting to lose fat. This depends on how much fat you have to lose. The higher your starting levels of body fat, the faster you can expect to lose; conversely, the leaner you start, a slower rate of loss will be best to minimise muscle and strength loss.
Not in an extreme, Atkins sort of way, but having a little protein at every meal fires up your metabolism. "Your digestive system uses more energy to break it down, so you burn more calories," explains Lisa Dorfman, R.D. However, keep protein levels to between 20 and 35 percent of your diet; eating too much of it can cause kidney strain and may cause your body to store too much fat.
There’s one thing to like about visceral fat: It yields fairly easily to aerobic exercise. Vaporizing calories via running, biking, swimming—anything that gets your heart rate up—is an effective way to whittle your middle. In fact, one 2011 study from Duke University Medical Center, published in the American Journal of Physiology, found the sweet spot: Jogging the equivalent of 12 miles a week was even more effective in reducing visceral fat than resistance training three times per week. However, both types of exercise were beneficial when it came to belly fat, the researchers say. (Don’t have time to hit the gym? Try these fun at-home cardio workouts if you’re in a pinch.)
If you want to keep burning fat, you’ve got to get moving. Whether you’re able to hit the gym first thing in the morning (after your snack from tip #1) or just taking the stairs throughout the day at work and going for a lunchtime walk – the important thing is to get moving and find simple ways to squeeze fitness into your busy day. Since your body will need carbs to recover from your workout, save your larger, healthier meal for afterward.
Remember that it takes a 3500-calorie deficit to lose one pound of fat. That is, you have to either burn off 3500 calories through exercise or eat 3500 calories less than you burn in a week. Break this up into daily limits. To burn 3500 calories a week, you should aim to have a 500 calorie deficit every day. For example, you can exercise to burn 250 calories and cut 250 calories from your diet.
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.