Those trans fats on your menu are hiding out in plain sight and sabotaging your lean belly plans every time you eat them. If a food product says it contains partially hydrogenated oils, you're eating trans fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and obesity with every bite. In fact, research conducted at Wake Forest University reveals that monkeys whose diets contained eight percent trans fat upped their body fat by 7.2 percent over a six-year study, while those who ate monounsaturated fat gained just a fraction of that amount. Instead of letting harmful trans fat take up space on your menu, fill up with these healthy fats.
Consider them “good carbs”. Their bulk takes up space in your stomach, helping you feel full and eat less. The top fiber food: beans, which contain 8g per 1/2 cup. Research shows that guys who added 12g of fiber a day to their diet lost a quarter of an inch from their love handles, without otherwise modifying their diet. Here are some of the best sources.
While there are probably plenty of pre-made bean and veggie soup options that just need a few minutes to heat through on the stovetop, making your own soup is really easy—and a great idea for your health. Homemade soups are much lower in sodium – about 100 milligrams or less per 2-cup serving. By contrast, 2 cups of many canned soups contain a blood-pressure-busting 1,200 milligrams or more, a worrisome amount considering that health experts recommend consuming no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium for the entire day. This is also a great way to use up all those leftover vegetables in your crisper—pretty much anything works in this soup.
Integrate fish into your diet with a tilapia and rice pilaf dish. Heat up one teaspoon olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Season a three-ounce tilapia fillet with some salt and pepper. Place it in the pan for about two to three minutes per side. When the fish is done, it should flake easily with a fork. Prepare ½ cup rice pilaf (prepared from a box or made from scratch) and ½ cup steamed snap peas. Serve the tilapia with the rice pilaf and the snap peas. Finish the meal with a baked apple, topped with a pinch of cinnamon and one teaspoon honey, served with ⅓ cup low-fat vanilla ice cream.
Multitasking has a stellar reputation in the office, but when it comes to eating, it's just not smart. When you eat while doing other things—like driving or playing Words With Friends—you're less likely to notice how much you're eating or how full you're feeling, because your attention is divided. So work on being single-minded about your food; even if it feels strange at first, try doing nothing else while eating. The purpose is to increase your consciousness about what and how much you eat. (Try these simple tips to curb distracted eating for good.)
And maybe a new mattress, because it’s not just the amount of time you spend sleeping that keeps you lean, it’s also the quality of your sleep. Fat cells in your body produce a hormone called leptin that helps the body keep track of how much potential energy (i.e. fat) it has stored. But leptin is only produced during certain stages of sleep. Miss out on those stages because you’re not resting soundly enough, and you’ll disturb levels of the hormone, leaving your body with no real idea of its energy reserves. Consequently, you’ll end up storing calories rather than burning them.