Close the Kitchen at Night. Establish a time when you will stop eating so you won't give in to the late-night munchies or mindless snacking while watching television. "Have a cup of tea, suck on a piece of hard candy or enjoy a small bowl of light ice cream or frozen yogurt if you want something sweet after dinner, but then brush your teeth so you will be less likely to eat or drink anything else," suggests Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, WebMD's "Recipe Doctor" and the author of Comfort Food Makeovers.
This fat-burning magic comes from your metabolism, a word you've probably heard tossed around a lot but maybe don't quite understand. What is metabolism? Simply put, it's all the various chemical reactions that happen inside your body, 24-7, that keep you alive. It's food being turned into energy and that energy being burned off to keep your hair growing, your heart beating, your liver pumping out bile, your lungs transferring oxygen into your bloodstream and your intestines turning Amstel Light into urine (not that there's a huge leap there).
Lack of sleep throws your body’s hormone levels off balance which then impacts your hunger levels the next day. The 2 hormones that affect our appetite are ghrelin (the hormone that makes us feel hungry) and leptin (the hormone that makes us feel full). When we don’t get enough sleep, the level of ghrelin rises while our leptin levels drop. This causes you to feel hungry and overeat.
Researchers have debated the role of dairy foods in weight management. Diets with at least three daily servings of [low-fat] dairy products speed weight loss and body fat loss in obese people compared to a diet with little dairy, according to Michael Zemel, PhD, of the University of Tennessee, who has published his results of the value of dairy in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition and other journals.
All of this is important to understand because while the basics of changing your body composition are simple –energy balance– each person’s personal psychology and physiology will differ. Someone who’s never exercised before and has a lot of fat to lose will have different physiological and psychological requirements than someone who stopped training for a while and gained some body fat in the interim; conversely, a lean beginner is going to be in a different place than an overweight beginner.
At its core, burning fat comes down to the process of lipolysis—the breaking down of fat lipids, explains Seedman. This happens in the mitochondria of the muscles, or the powerhouses of the cells, responsible for generating the energy our cells need to do their jobs. Exercise has been shown to improve mitochondria function, which then promotes fat breakdown, Seedman adds. Plus, working out helps regulate pretty much all the hormones that optimize fat loss.