5. Reduce your stress levels: Working out and eating right can help keep cortisol from running rampant in your body, but if you spend your 9-to-5 stressed to the max, levels of this hormone are going to shoot through the roof regardless. Study after study shows one of the healthiest things you can do for your waistline (as well as your happiness and life span) is to minimize the amount of stress you encounter every day. Incorporate zen activities like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises into your day to help teach you to control spikes of stress when they come up.
It’s that kind of accessibility that makes running one of the best workouts for weight loss. “You just need a pair of decent shoes, some creativity, and maybe a friend or two to develop a walking or running plan,” says Daniel O’Connor, Ph. D., professor of health and human performance at the University of Houston. “It’s less expensive than joining a gym or having a personal trainer.”
The pre-training meal may just be the most important meal of the day. This is the meal that will fuel your workout. For this meal it is important to get protein and carbs which will make their way into the blood stream around the time your training session is getting underway. The glucose in the bloodstream from the carbs will be used for energy, while the amino acids from the protein will spare stored amino acids from being catabolized during training.
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.
Nighttime snacking may be even worse than we thought. When researchers fed rats the same number and kind of calories but varied whether they ate them over an eight- to ten-hour period or a 15- to 24-hour span, the late night diners became obese while the rats who noshed only during the day lost weight. While they haven’t identified exactly why this occurred, they believe it has something to do with eating in line with circadian rhythms, or our bodies’ natural internal clocks, which can be triggered by environmental conditions such as sunlight. When researchers repeated the study with humans they got similar results—seems like a good idea to quit eating at sundown.
The simple act of performing cardio is extremely catabolic, because of this MISS sessions should be kept to a moderate duration. While HIIT sessions should be 10-20 minutes, MISS sessions should be in the range of 20-35 minutes. Once sessions go beyond this duration the cumulative effect of muscle tissue breakdown starts to become a serious concern.
Do more HIIT: High intensity interval training (HIIT) is as close to a magic pill as we have (except it involves a whole lot more work than just swallowing a capsule—sorry). Not only does it surge your body to max intensity during the workout, but because you’re working so hard, your body can’t deliver enough oxygen in the moment, explains personal trainer Jeremey DuVall. Your muscles accumulate a “debt” of oxygen that then has to be repaid post-workout. This throws your body into a phase of fat burning for hours after you’re done sweating, known as post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Plus, super intense circuits like this activate muscle-building hormones like growth hormone and IGF-1, he adds.