Do you go to the gym and watch what you eat and yet still have fat that just won’t budge? Here are some helpful tips, with a focus on nutritional changes, to tackle that last bit of stubborn extra fat, shed water and bring out some more visible cuts and definition.
Keep in mind that if a clean diet, consistent weight training, interval cardio and adequate sleep and stress management are not taken care of, these nutritional extras will not create much noticeable change. On the other hand, if you are already lean and consistent with diet and training, a few small tweaks can make a big difference in your physique. Realize that making these additional changes to clean up nutrition further can be a challenge, and it may not be for everyone. In fact, for most people, it is important first to adopt a lifestyle nutrition plan that will not take every ounce of willpower to maintain. The harder the diet is to follow, and the farther away it is from what you normally do, the less likely you will be to stay on it. These six tips are the best utilized in the short term, while preparing for an event like a reunion or a vacation.
1. Move to eating all real food
Eliminate all highly processed foods, period. These options are ideal for easy grab-and-go, and in fact, for most busy people, avoiding them completely is not an option. The other option would be stopping at the fast food drive-thru. Better yet, if you have the time and option to cook, making all your meals consist of real food instead of processed foods can go a long way.
Focus on eating five to six smaller meals per day, with the first two or three each containing one serving of lean protein, one serving of fruit or vegetables and one serving of starchy carbohydrate like sweet potatoes or oats.
Each of the last three or four meals should consist of lean protein and vegetables only. The reason this small switch will bring noticeable results is that bars, shakes and other processed foods commonly contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda), glycerin and sugar alcohols, as well as additives, coloring and preservatives, all of which may cause water retention, digestive upset, gastric inflammation and bloating.
2. Limit dairy foods
While dairy is a great source of branched chain amino acids, calcium and vitamin D, it can inhibit fat loss in those people who are sensitive to dairy via an overly insulin-genic mechanism. You do not have to be lactose-intolerant for dairy to have an effect. Something as simple as a small allergic reaction, a slight gut inflammation or an exaggerated insulin response may cause water retention or bloating or hinder fat loss. Some people do fine on dairy, however, and monitoring individual responses to dairy is necessary.
3. Eliminate all sweeteners
That means natural and artificial. Sweeteners can cause gastric upset and water retention. Be aware of natural sugar alcohols like xylitol, erythritol, maltitol and sorbitol, as well as artificial ones. This suggestion includes sucralose in coffee, diet sodas and drinks, gelatins, candy and gum. Stevia, however, is an herb and will be your best option if you want to keep a zero-calorie sweetener in your diet.
4. Increase intake of green, leafy vegetables
These include spinach, kale, Swiss chard, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, celery and mustard/collard greens. High in vitamin B, chockfull of water and relatively high in fiber (compared to total carbohydrate), green, leafy vegetables help shed water and optimize the acid-base balance in the body for efficient fat burning by providing plenty of potassium, magnesium and calcium. Be aware of broccoli and cauliflower, as they can cause bloating in susceptible people. Stick with smaller servings of these.
5. Choose clean carbs and pay attention to gluten
Some people may need to be aware of the gluten-containing grains like whole-wheat breads, pastas and cereals since they can cause slight to moderate allergic reactions. This kind of metabolic dysfunction can disrupt the ability to burn fat. Instead, choose mostly hypoallergenic carbohydrates such as yams, potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, beans, squash, zucchini and eggplant. Fruits like melons, apples, pears, grapefruit and berries are also great clean carbohydrate choices
6. Limit beverages other than water
Limit juices, sodas (especially diet), sweet tea, milk, half-and-half, sports drinks, energy drinks (even sugar free) and zero-calorie, sweetened waters. Drink plain water in a recommended amount of three or four liters per day. Other permissible fat burning beverages include one to two cups of unsweetened green tea per day (a good option to provide the extract of EGCG) and organic coffee, black, one or two cups per day.
Losing weight is not easy. It takes dedication, motivation and hard work. But making a few changes can get you well on your way to the body you desire.