There’s one item that never seems to budge from the to-do lists of millions of people, regardless of age, ethnicity or socioeconomic background, and that’s losing those last 10 pounds. Many times they assume that dropping excess weight only follows crazy crash diets and unrealistic expectations, so women commit to living on cayenne pepper and lemon juice and hitting the gym for two-a-day workouts. As can be expected, these drastic measures never work, yet even those who adopt healthier habits often get discouraged and give up when their new “diet” doesn’t yield massive results of days.
I get it. Dieting is the worst. Depriving yourself from tasty foods, forcing yourself to do things as “punishment” for eating the “wrong” foods, or eating so little that your pet rabbit would be hungry are unsustainable at best. At worst, they’re really unhealthy for both your body and mind. And there is a better way!
Losing weight doesn’t have to — and shouldn’t! — include crazy diets. Instead, noticeable and lasting weight loss is best achieved via lifestyle changes that help you look and feel good — and that you can stick with long after you reach your goal weight.
Check out my favorite tips for losing weight without the traditional dieting that does little more than make you hangry.
Eat more fats
Instead of telling you to eat less of certain foods, I’d like you to eat more — fat, that is. For too long, fats have been given a bad rap, but when you don’t get enough healthy fats in your diet, it’s harder to feel full. (Which makes sticking to a healthy eating plan nearly impossible.) Additionally, low-fat versions of your favorite foods are often packed with sugar and additives, which can make you bloated and leave you craving the real thing. Consuming good-for-you fats, on the other hand, increases satiety and can actually help to lower bad cholesterol levels.
Of course, not all fats are created equally. Some of my favorite healthy fats include avocados, coconut oil, real butter, extra-virgin olive oil, full-fat dairy, grass-fed beef and fatty fish, like wild-caught salmon. All are tasty and all are great for you.
Try intermittent fasting
Fasting may sound like some form of medieval torture, but the truth is that you’re already fasting every day. The time between your last evening meal or snack and breakfast is technically a fast (which explains why the morning meal is literally called “break fast”), and now, research is showing that extending this period of time between meals (or otherwise altering regular eating habits) can be a terrific way to kickstart your weight loss and help you keep weight off.
There are lots of different types of intermittent fasting, from alternate day fasting, during which you drastically restrict calories every other day, to 16/8 fasting, which involves not eating for a full 16 hours. It sounds worse than it is, as you’re actually sleeping during much of that 16-hour window. During the other 8 hours of the day, you’re free to eat whatever you want, with a focus on whole foods and healthy fats.
The commonality among all of the different types of intermittent fasting methods is that they increase fat burning by using up the fat your body stores as fuel. Intermittent fasting can also decrease hunger by triggering increased production of the satiety hormone leptin, which is responsible for sending signals to the brain that you’re full.
Do more HIIT training
If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re likely already hitting the gym. But what if you could spend less time exercising and actually make those minutes count more? Say hello to high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. Instead of wasting precious time doing monotonous workouts at a steady pace, HIIT training allows you to slash the amount of time you’re spending at the gym by combining short, intense bursts of exercise — at about 85-90% of your maximum heart rate — with slower recovery phases.
These quick-moving, alternating workouts typically last about 20 minutes, with the real benefits coming in after the sweat session is over. While you may burn less calories during the actual exercise, HIIT workouts seem to produce more fat loss, likely because of the afterburn effect, which refers to the increased energy expenditure of the body that continues even after the workout, as well as the fact that exercises that increase muscle mass lead to a larger calorie burn than steady-state aerobic workouts. HIIT training also improves cardiovascular strength and endurance, and because workouts take less time, you’ll likely be better able to stick to them.
Increase your protein intake
Have you ever noticed that when you eat a meal that’s super carb-heavy, no matter how much you’ve eaten, you’re hungry soon after? That’s likely because you haven’t consumed enough protein.
Protein is essential not only for feeling full, but also for feeding our muscles, boosting energy levels and stabilizing blood sugar levels. In fact, it’s one of the best additions to your diet you can make if you’re trying to lose weight. And while a few of my favorite proteins are animal-based — grass-fed beef, organic chicken and wild-caught salmon are top choices — there are plenty of protein-rich veggie-friendly foods, like lentils, black beans and almonds.
Get friendly with probiotics
The idea of trillions of bacteria crawling around in your body may gross you out, but your gut is actually full of bacteria, and the ratio of good-to-bad bacteria plays a large role in your overall health — including weight management. The right bacteria make it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients it needs from the foods you eat. Getting the right balance also helps alleviate thyroid imbalances, inflammation and issues like bloating and irritable bowels — all of which can make losing weight more difficult.
If you want to bulk up the good bacteria in your gut, I recommend kefir, fermented veggies like sauerkraut and kimchi, yogurt, apple cider vinegar and raw dairy. You can also try taking a high-quality probiotics supplement.
Try implementing some of these easy lifestyle tweaks if you’re looking for a deprivation-free way to shed a few pounds before summer.
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