So the years have dragged on, and you no longer fit into your old pants. On top of that, summer is coming up, you’re still carrying a few extra pounds from the holidays, and you realize you’re not quite beach-ready yet. What now?
Well, losing weight ultimately comes down to eating fewer calories while burning more. Here are a few easy ways to do that.
Do an Ultra-Short Workout First Thing Every Morning, and Longer Ones in the Afternoon
I used to think that people should work out first thing in the morning in order to burn more fat. I now understand that this is incorrect–what matters is total calories burned, not whether your workouts are fueled by fat or glycogen. In fact, workouts later in the day are more productive, so your main workouts should be performed between about 3 and 8 PM, assuming you’re waking up around 6-9 like most people.
That said, it can be very helpful to do a super-short– like, five minutes long– workout as soon as you get up every morning. A short workout will wake you up and help to set your circadian rhythm so you can sleep well that night, and even five minutes of exercise a day amounts to the equivalent of an extra full workout per week.
Eat Highly Satiating Foods
A hundred calories of tuna will make you more full than a hundred calories of pizza. Pretty straightforward. To lose weight you need to eat fewer calories, but you need to still get the nutrients your body needs, and ideally you’d want to not be hungry most of the time. Hence, you need to eat foods that keep you full more efficiently.
If you’re unsure how satiating a food is, look it up on the SELF Nutrition Database. The best foods for fat loss will have a fullness factor of 4.0 or higher, and be rated 4 stars or higher for fat loss. For protein-rich foods like meat and fish, look for a fullness factor of 3.0 or higher, and a fat loss rating of 3 stars or higher; the database does tend to underrate the importance of protein for fat loss.
The best foods for fat loss tend to be fish, lean poultry, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, apples, broths, berries, Greek yogurt, and non-caloric beverages like tea and coffee.
The foods you should focus on cutting out are sugary fruits like bananas and mangoes, juices, sodas and other liquid calories, bread, pasta and fried, breaded meats, sugary condiments like honey and BBQ sauce, added oils (up to a teaspoon per meal is alright), soft cheeses, and basically anything sugary.
Make Water Your Favorite Food Group
Most people live in a chronic state of mild dehydration, causing them to overeat as their bodies mistake the sensation of thirst for hunger. And not only will you overeat, but dehydration also slows your metabolism, so that you burn fewer calories as well. Studies show that drinking more water causes fat loss by itself, above and beyond what diet and exercise can produce.
People tend to get more dehydrated as they age, and so keeping your water intake high only grows in importance. A separate study showed even greater fat loss among middle-aged and older adults. For best results, drink at least 16 ounces of water before each meal, in addition to drinking waters throughout the day.
When You’re Tempted to Cheat on Your Diet, Remember That Mike Pence Calls His Wife “Mother”
Seriously– I didn’t believe it at first either, but he’s really that weird. Does he call her that during sex? Sources will neither confirm nor deny it.
Any time you get hungry but your next meal is still a few hours away, just think about Mike Pence calling his wife Mother, and you’ll find your appetite has somehow vanished. Works for me, anyway.
Get Cold- Ice Cold
Here’s a secret not many people know about fat: there are two kinds, white and brown fat. White fat does just what you think: it stores energy, and if you have a lot of it you’ll be overweight. Brown fat, on the other hand, is your best friend. Instead of passively storing energy, brown fat actually burns energy to keep you warm. Because they tend to be smaller and therefore lose more heat, women have more brown fat than men, making this an especially effective route to fat loss for women.
It’s been demonstrated that you can activate brown fat and crank up your metabolism by exposing your body to cold temperatures. There are a few ways to do this: you can drink ice water, keep the thermostat down in your house, wear lighter clothing, or take cold showers. If you opt for a cold shower, make sure it lasts at least 3 minutes, and direct the water at your neck, upper back and upper chest, where your brown fat deposits are located.
Journal your meals and workouts
Now you know what to do physically, but keeping yourself accountable is arguably more important. The most effective way to hold yourself accountable is to record all of your meals and workouts.
Workouts can be recorded using a variety of fitness apps, such as JEFIT, Endomondo, or Runkeeper. Wearables such as JawboneUP or the Nike FuelBand also record your workouts for you, and are ideal for people who prefer running or cycling.
There are two approaches to recording your meals. The first is to actually count or estimate calories, using apps such as MyFitnessPal. The second is to just take photos of all your meals as a way of building awareness about what you’re eating. Pick at least one of these approaches- doing both is also an option. To put more pressure on yourself to stick with the program, you can also post your logs to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, making your compliance or non-compliance visible to your friends.
It’s not hard to lose five to ten pounds in a single month, as long as you have the right combination of diet, exercise and environmental factors in place. It doesn’t take a starvation diet- just a modest set of healthy habits, performed consistently.