Here's my way of skipping the main course and just heading straight to the dessert. This newsletter is all about No frills, no wasted words, and just straight actionable advice. Here are 6 of the easier changes you can make to start seeing improvements to your body.
Rule 1) Sleep more at night
Researchers from Harvard University studied more than 68,000 people and found that those who sleep less than 6 hours a night weighed 5.4 pounds more and were 15 percent more likely to be overweight than those who slept more than 7 hours a night. The weight gain is no coincidence: When you sleep less, you experience a drop in the hormone leptin, which controls your appetite, and an increase in the hormone ghrelin—which forces you to reach for more food. The result: Those who sleep less eat an average of 220 more calories per day say researchers from the University of Chicago. What’s more, researchers from the Netherlands found that people who were sleep-deprived were rated as less attractive and less healthy looking by random observers.
Fix #1: Do you want to eat less and look better? Aim for 8 hours a night and don’t allow yourself to sleep for less than 7.
Rule 2) Eat the way YOU want
We all have heard that 5 or 6 meals per day for fat loss. The rationale was simple: When you eat, your body requires energy to burn away the calories from your favorite meals. So the reasoning went that more meals would equal more calories burned. Only one problem—it’s not how frequently you eat, but rather what you eat that impacts how many calories you’ll burn during mealtime. So if you consume 2,000 calories in a day, it doesn’t matter if it’s in three, six, or 20 meals. You’ll burn the same amount of calories, assuming that the foods you eat are the same.
Fix #2: No need to feel forced to eat more or less frequently. In an attempt to burn more calories, you might have been accidently overeating and sabotaging your weight loss goals. It’s up to you to decide the times and frequency that work best.
Rule 3) Snack smarter
While the number of meals you consume doesn’t matter, the size of your snacks do. According to Purdue University researchers, the biggest problem with our snacking behavior is that snacks have become meals, and meals have become feasts. In the last 30 years, bite sizes have increased from 360 to 580 calories. That’s a whopping 220 extra calories per snack. And when you consider that the average woman snacks twice a day during the workday, you’re looking at almost 500 extra calories per day. In just two weeks, your oversize healthy meals can contribute to an additional pound of fat.
Fix #3: Enjoy your food, but do it wisely. The lean, nutritious snacks in the meal plan will help you crush your cravings and shrink your waist.
Rule 4) Drink Water
Want to instantly drop a dress size? Conduct a quick inventory of what you eat and drink every day, and then remove all of the beverages not named water. Now add up the calories. If you’re like most, you’ll find that you can cut your nonmeal calories by more than 50 percent, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In fact, 65 percent of Americans indulge daily in calorie-rich beverages, and those drinks are often the real culprit behind your weight loss struggles—not your metabolism.
Fix #4: Stick to water. Aim for 80 oz of Water per day. Remember that any sugar drink—whether it’s soda or a fruit juice— besides being bad for your body, should be considered the equivalent of a dessert.
Rule 5) Lift weights more often
Elliptical or treadmill workout might make running seem like a calorie loss marker. That’s because the more miles you log, the more efficient your body becomes at running and the fewer calories are burnt. Running may initially help you drop some pounds, but progress will flatline as soon as your body adjusts to your exercise regimen. Also, running long distances on a regular basis takes a physical toll (in the form of injuries, like runner’s knee), which can severely dampen your enthusiasm. Ultimately, all that pain and boredom can cause many people to burn out and give up.
Enter weight training. Pumping iron isn’t just for the boys. Just three days a week of resistance training will keep you burning calories and will offer the metabolic boost you need to slash fat and look hot in whatever outfit you choose.
Fix #5: Head to the gym three times a week—but if possible, don’t make the cardio room your priority.
Rule 6) Get more Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There’s nothing fishy about fish oil, especially when it comes to your lean body goals. Pennsylvania researchers found that omega-3 fatty acids might be the secret ingredient to burning fat and gaining muscle at the same time. The scientists believe that omega-3s help fights against cortisol—the stress your body produces that makes it easier for you to store fat. By shutting down your cortisol production, you keep the extra weight off your hips, thighs, and stomach, and have an easier time adding lean, calorie-shredding muscle.
Fix #6: Take fish oil daily, whether it’s by a supplement or a whole food source like salmon or sardines. A good starting point is about 2 to 3 grams of fish oil per day.