Have you been skipping the gym lately? No judgment: So you overdid it on gingerbread lattes at Starbucks or grabbed too many fast-food meals after marathon shopping trips? No biggie—as long as you stay active in other ways. "A lot of people skip workouts completely when the holidays get busy and promise they’ll exercise in January,” says Mike Donavanik, a personal trainer in Los Angeles. “But it’s that much harder to motivate when you’ve skipped the gym for two-plus weeks.” While you don’t have to maintain your exact same exercise routine, keeping your body in motion will help you balance out the indulgences and start the year strong. To help you do that on the quick, we’ve rounded up a dozen research-backed ways to get more out of your workouts and improve your metabolism to boot.
Most low-carb diets advocate replacing carbs with protein and fat, which could have some negative long-term effects on your health. If you do try a low-carb diet, you can reduce your risks and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats by choosing lean meats, fish and vegetarian sources of protein, low-fat dairy products, and eating plenty of leafy green and non-starchy vegetables.
The best tip I can give you on how to reroute yourself when you’re on your way to the bag of chips is to pause and think a little bit more about what you’re actually in the mood to eat — and what you’d really want if you could have absolutely ANYTHING. Do some strategic thinking and consider if it's the meal that you want, or if it's a specific spice or flavor. (Burritos? Maybe you just wanted some guac!)
Digestive metabolism, or thermic effect of food (TEF): Simply digesting food—turning carbs into sugar and turning protein into amino acids—typically burns 10 to 15 percent of your daily calories. Digesting protein burns more calories than digesting carbohydrates or fat—about 25 calories for every 100 consumed. Digesting carbohydrates and fat burns about 10 to 15 calories for every 100 consumed.
Fitness and lifestyle coach Marci Nevin (@marcinevin on Instagram) posted nine simple, easy-to-follow eating tips to lose fat without the tediousness of having to count calories. She said that while counting calories ensures more accuracy in knowing if you're reaching your calorie goal, calorie counting isn't for everyone. Here's how you can still shed body fat "without meticulously counting every calorie."
“Poor sleep quality or quantity can make it difficult to lose or even maintain your weight,” says Darria Long Gillespie, MD, a clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at The University of Tennessee. When you are sleep deprived, your body becomes less sensitive to the effects of leptin, the hormone that usually signals that you’ve had enough to eat. At the same time, the amount of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, increases, so you want to eat more. Together, it’s a recipe for overeating.
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.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These are essential fatty acids you have to get from food or supplements because your body cannot produce them. Since you'll be reducing fat early in your dieting phase, supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids will make sure you get the essential fats you need to optimize your recovery, heart health, and cognitive function. Research suggests regular omega-3 fatty acid consumption can even enhance fat loss, as long as you're eating and exercising properly.
One of the very first cardio exercises to reduce belly fat is walking. Surprised? Do you think it’s too simple to be effective? Well, then you should know that walking is a great and effective way to burn away that ugly belly fat. In fact, it is an excellent fat burner for your entire body. If you follow a healthy diet along with walking at a steady pace for 30-45 minutes for at least four to five days every week, you will witness a gradual decrease in your weight.
If you ate nothing but Twinkies or apples for a few months, you'd probably lose weight. You'd also lose muscle mass and gym performance—and threaten your overall health. Your goal is to build a healthy diet that gives you the right amount of macros (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) that will sustain you over that time. Let's look at these macros one at a time.
For me I am working on a total mindset shift - "not comparing my week 3 to someone's week 20" as one of the FTWFL coaches recently posted in a video. Have I seen the start of results from improved cleaner eating habits/balanced meals, tried new foods to be GF, dairy free, and all but drinking my coffee black (oh the humanity!), embraced those weekly small non scale victories and begun a lifestyle change? Yes! Have I ended up with those long desired abs, wearing all those shorts and skirts that are a size down and ditching all my bad food habits after just 6 weeks? No, but I am down 4lbs of my goal of 10#, seeing improved upper body definition and a loss of a few inches overall. A few things fit better, friends and family have noticed, and I don't beat myself us AS much as I used to. I enjoy cooking and trying new foods so the cookbooks and idea/meal sharing have been such a plus. Moreover, when I share this program and journey I am constantly telling people that the coaches are REAL people, with emails, facebook, videos - with a family, activities, cute tops from TJ Maxx and a shared love of donuts! I know we have room to improve and room to grow, but this is manageable as a couple and a lifestyle that I plan to keep. I know as a couple we have each others backs and selfishly we want to stay in shape and sexy for each other - but I also know we want a healthy mind and body to enjoy that time together. I'm glad I didn't keep scrolling blindly through the posts I found, and have had the chance to grow in my fitness journey with plans to continue with Amanda after this next round. If I can inspire and change the lives of 1/10 the number of people you all have reached I will consider that a huge win.
Stress may contribute to abdominal fat, according to several studies, including a recent one at the University of California, San Francisco. "When you're stressed, hormones like cortisol stimulate your appetite, slow your metabolism down and encourage fat storage inside your abdomen," explains Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Clinic at the University of Utah. So what's a frazzled girl to do? "Find an activity that reduces stress for you, whether it's listening to soothing music or taking yoga, and do it daily," advises Talbott.
• Body Fat %: I’ve touched on this in detail in a previous meditation essay. Simply, your body fat levels will dictate what sort of macro composition you should be using. Due to things like insulin resistance, people with higher a body fat % tend to fare better on a lower carb diet. And conversely, someone with a lower body fat % tends to fare better with a carb-focused diet – there are, of course, exceptions. But this holds true for most.
Many people have come to believe that sugar is one of the main culprits behind weight gain but this is not necessarily true. Sugar will raise insulin levels higher than complex carbohydrates which can be useful particularly around workout time. Raising insulin levels during training will decrease muscle tissue breakdown. For health reasons complex carbs are recommended for other times of the day. Here are some excellent food choices for carbohydrates:
That said, a Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise study found that runners lost more weight than walkers over a six-year period, possibly because of the afterburn effect. “Running at a high intensity will create an afterburn, which is when your body continues to burn calories when you’re no longer moving,” Rubin says. She suggests starting with three 30-minute runs a week, sprinting for 30 seconds then recovering for 30 seconds to a minute.
Cross-training is important for a few reasons: First off, it makes you a stronger runner and reduces your risk of injury. “Running is only hard on your joints if you don’t have the muscle to support them,” Rubin says. Secondly, lifting will help you lose weight. “The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest,” she says. That's right, more muscle means more burned calories when you're just sitting around. To get started, try these 10 essential strength exercises for runners.
This is our partners transformation story after I had been social media stalking Amanda for a month or so and decided to just jump into the FWTFL program! Needless to say I was super excited (though not sure Lee was) about Brandon announcing a men's group for the first time that would coincide with my first round. Lee wasn't too hard to sell on the idea since he knew I would likely be meal planning, reminding him of our gym schedule and then agreeing to be his proxy on the facebook group (oh, and enter his food logs to MFP). Honestly, I enjoy being in charge (not control haha) of these adventures so we were both okay with it all.
Protein is a must for any weight loss plan, but it doesn’t always have to come from meat. Beans and legumes are a fantastic alternative because they tend to be lower in calories and fat, and high in filling fiber as well as protein. Swapping them in for meat has been shown to boost weight loss and can burn fat fast. Next, check out these 50 ways to lose weight without a lick of exercise.
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4. Eat more protein: Upping your protein is crucial for shedding fat. For starters, the macronutrient helps keep you full, preventing overeating and extraneous calories. And without adequate amounts of the macronutrient, muscle protein synthesis is diminished, your muscles can’t rebuild bigger and stronger, and your resting metabolism is lowered, says nutrition specialist and exercise physiologist, Marta Montenegro, CSCS, adjunct professor in Exercise & Sports Sciences at Florida International University. Plus, it gives your calorie burn a little boost since protein takes more energy for your body to process than carbs or fat.