Getting and staying fit is a long-term commitment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t kick-start a weight loss plan and shed a few pounds in a pinch.
If you’re trying to get a head start on a healthier-for-you year, you can drop some weight while staying healthy — no crash diets or weird cleanses required.
Here are some common-sense tips to a trimmer bod on-demand… well, almost.
When it comes to low carb meal planning, keep it simple with the following formula: protein + fat + low carb veggies = success.
The importance of packing in the protein can’t be overstated. Aside from the fact that it keeps you from getting hangry, a 2002 study found that eating enough protein can boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day.
Here are some protein-packed foods to nosh on:
- Eggs. Don’t toss the yolks, either!
- All kinds of meat. Beef, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey — the works!
- Fish and seafood. Shrimp, cod, salmon, tuna — the underwater world is your oyster. Also, oysters!
As far as vegetables go, include a good mix of fiber-filled veggies and nutrient-dense options. Lower carb leafy greens and starchier ones like potatoes, squash, and carrots have a good balance of nutrition.
You’ll get the most bang for your nutritional buck (not to mention bigger portions) out of veggies like:
- leafy greens
- brussels sprouts
And when it comes to fats, here are some essentials to stock up on:
- coconut oil
- olive oil
- avocado oil
Another tip: Cut down on packaged and heavily processed foods and premade sauces, which may contain hidden sugars. All in all, just keep it simple and diverse in the kitchen and experiment with fresh herbs and spices.
Who knows — cutting back on processed extras in your diet may have the bonus effect of adding weight to your wallet while you lose some on the scale.
If you’re able, you can fast-track your results by adding some exercise to the mix. Hit the gym — more specifically, the weight rack.
Keep in mind that if you’re new to weight training, you may want to seek out a trainer for a few pointers and good technique.
Lifting weights helps boost your metabolism, which can take a hit when you’re losing weight. According to a 2008 study, it also helps preserve lean body mass (i.e., muscle), which burns more energy at rest than your wobbly bits.
For the best results
Make room for some gym time 3 or 4 times per week. If weight training isn’t for you, try to fit in some cardio in the form of jogging, cycling, running, or swimming.
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is another way to supercharge your fat-burning potential.
Think of it as short and extreme bursts of cardio. It not only revs your metabolism but also taps into the carbs stored in your muscle tissue.
Try to incorporate HIIT into your workout plan 3 or 4 times per week. A 2017 review of studies suggested that HIIT training can improve some cardiometabolic risk factors in people with overweight or obesity.
To get the most out of HIIT, you’ve gotta give it your all. Commit to sprints or similar moves that are about 30 seconds long. You can do HIIT training outside, in place, or on any type of cardio machine.
Here are a few ways to break down your workouts
- Workout 1: 20 x 10-second sprint with 20 seconds rest
- Workout 2: 10 x 20-second sprint with 40 seconds rest
- Workout 3: 7 x 30-second sprint with 60 seconds rest
- Workout 4: 15 x 15-second sprint with 30 seconds rest
Replace sprints with burpees, push-ups, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, or other HIIT moves as you prefer. Here are even more HIIT moves to rotate into your workouts.
Just like weight training, HIIT packs a punch when it comes to knocking off the pounds. Whether you stick to one or combine the two, these forms of exercise come with the added benefit of boosting your metabolism and burning fat more efficiently. Just don’t forget that killer playlist.
Coffee is another way to beat bloating, as long as it’s not decaf. Your regular cup of joe is a healthy source of caffeine, which can help you lose excess water and burn fat to boot. Caffeine has the potential to help promote weight reduction.
Lastly, watch out for food intolerances. For example, if you have a less-than-friendly relationship with gluten or lactose, these dietary triggers can increase water retention and make you look and feel puffier than you otherwise would.
While starving yourself is a definite no-go, a quick break from food in the form of intermittent fasting may help you lose weight and improve your metabolism. Just know that it isn’t for everyone, so check with your doc or a registered dietician before trying it out.
There are a few ways to do intermittent fasting, but one popular method includes fasting for 14 to 16 hours a day before your next meal.
A 2021 study indicated that time-restricted eating combined with exercise can lead to reduced fat mass and more lean muscle mass.
Depending on your lifestyle and any underlying health conditions, intermittent fasting may not be a suitable option for you, and one type of plan may prove more effective for you than another.
Here are 10 sensible tips to help you maximize your efforts and stay on track:
- Rack up on shut-eye. Getting enough sleep is absolutely key to maintaining a moderate weight.
- Protein-packed mornings. Research has shown that eating protein for breakfast can keep you from getting a case of the hangries later in the day.
- Don’t speed-eat. Eating slowly can make it easier to tell when you feel full, so you eat less overall.
- Make it a single. Scaling back on alcohol is a simple way to consume fewer calories — plus, you’ll avoid the less-than-optimal food decisions that may occur when you’re tipsy.
- Scale back on soda and juice. Consider sugary drinks an infrequent treat if you’re trying to lose some weight.
- Hydrate. Drinking water half an hour before meals can help you feel more full and eat less when you’re at the table.
- Stay calm. Stressing out can cause weight gain, especially if you seek comfort in not-so-nutrient-dense foods. Stress also increases the amount of cortisol in your body, which can contribute to weight gain.
- Fill up on fiber. Getting enough soluble fiber from food or even in supplement form can reduce body fat, especially around your middle.
- Track yourself. Staying on course with an eating and exercise plan can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’re busy. Investing in a fitness tracker may help you stay organized and track your progress.
Some added benefits of following the aforementioned tips include
- lower blood pressure
- lower blood sugar
- a reduction in small, dense LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff)
- an increase in HDL cholesterol (the good stuff)
- lower triglycerides
Before you embark on any weight loss journey, it’s important to take into account your lifestyle, your preexisting conditions, and any medications you’re taking.
For folks with diabetes or other conditions, any sweeping changes to your diet could affect your health, which is priority number one. So it’s best to talk with your doc before doing anything drastic.
In a #selfie culture obsessed with broadcasting how “good” you look at every conceivable moment, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with your weight and your body. That’s why it’s extra important to be kind to yourself and appreciate your body. You’re the same amazing human at any weight.
Here are a few ways to overcome a body-shaming spiral
- Don’t follow any social media accounts that make you feel less than awesome about yourself.
- Know that just because you think something negative about your body doesn’t mean it’s true.
- Practice gratitude for all the awesome things your body can do.
Whether you’re trying to lose 3 pounds or 30, no number on the scale is worth more than your health and well-being. With healthy food choices and a little activity if you’re able, you can achieve your weight loss and fitness goals in both the short and long term.