When you eat carby, sugary foods and snacks, you end up with the all-too-familiar sugar spikes and energy crashes. That’s all due to insulin, which skyrockets when you eat carbs. Insulin also tells the body to store calories as fat — and most people trying to lose weight aren’t looking for extra padding in the belly or thighs. Since dietary fat has less impact on insulin levels than carbohydrates or even protein does, you don’t have to worry about sugar crashes, cravings or storing rolls of body fat.
Boundary bullies are the people, places, and activities that pop out of nowhere and suck the time and energy out of your day. Figure out where they are, who they are, where they’re "hiding" and what it is that makes you the victim of said "bullying." Is it happy hour at the local bar where the buffalo wings become dinner? (Pack a snack before you go.) Is it a colleague who always gets coffee at the same time as you and talks you into donuts? (Make this mid-morning run a part of your breakfast by eating half of your breakfast sandwich before the break, and the other half during coffee.) Is it friends who order items "for the table" when you’re at a restaurant, only to leave you grazing on a bucket of fried dumplings you didn’t even want in the first place? (Tell Jane, "No thanks, I’m having the shrimp and broccoli instead.")
Want to lose that belly fat? In your dreams! Seriously, though: a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to get rid of that extra fat around your waist for good. Among the 60,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, those who snoozed for fewer than five hours a night were at the greatest risk of becoming obese and gaining 30 or more pounds over the course of the 16-year study period when compared to those who slept for seven or more hours.
Carbs are always perceived as the enemy, but they too have a significant role in fat loss. The body needs glucose to work, and to a certain level, your brain requires it to think and function optimally. Some will argue that technically we don't need carbs, but many of your body's basic functions will decrease in performance without the right amount of carbs at the right times.
We now know that this type of fat, called visceral fat, is metabolically active and churns out stress hormones like cortisol and inflammatory substances called cytokines that affect you body’s production of insulin. The result is worse than just being generally overweight; you’re looking at increased risks of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and even dementia.
Not all fat is bad. Healthy or “good” fats can actually help to control your weight, as well as manage your moods and fight fatigue. Unsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, soy milk, tofu, and fatty fish can help fill you up, while adding a little tasty olive oil to a plate of vegetables, for example, can make it easier to eat healthy food and improve the overall quality of your diet.
How to make 20-minute baked salmon: Place one 8-oz salmon fillet in a baking dish. Season well with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 400˚F. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and half a sliced garlic clove in a skillet. Add 3 ounces of baby spinach and toss to cook until spinach is wilted. Stir in half a teaspoons of fresh lemon juice. Serve salmon atop spinach.
• 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.
Say cheese! Adding some extra calcium to your diet could be the key to getting that flat stomach you’ve been dreaming about. Over just 12 months, researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville found that obese female study subjects who upped their calcium intake shed 11 pounds of body fat without other major dietary modifications. To keep your calcium choices healthy, try mixing it up between dairy sources, calcium-rich leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.
Intermittent fasting—limiting your eating hours to just eight, say between 10:30 and 6:30—has gained popularity as a way to shake up your metabolism, and it just might work. “There is a lot more research that needs to be done but it does seem to benefit some people, particularly men,” says Angel Planells, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics based in Seattle. Another approach is to fast—or eat next to no calories (500-600 calories total)—two non-consecutive days a week. (You can eat normally the other five days.) The tactic seems to increase fat burning. “When your body isn’t getting fuel, it will start burning fat,” Planells says. Read about this woman’s experience with intermittent fasting.
Build more muscle: Cardio gets all the glory for melting fat, but it’s actually far more important to focus on building muscle. It’s pretty simple: Lipolysis happens in the mitochondria of the muscles, so the more muscle you have, the more mitochondria, and the more potential to burn. Plus, the more muscle mass you carry, the more your BMR is burning calories at rest. Strength training is also one of the strongest ways to spark production of testosterone and growth hormone, which both help to break down fat, Seedman adds.