It's that time of year again when many of us regret the diet decisions we made over the summer as we realize our jeans are too tight! The all-inclusive vacation and trips to the beach and pool can often lead to some unwanted pounds by September and, as a result, poorly fitting jeans. Look your best, and get ready to slip into your skinny jeans with these tips to help you shape up quickly.
1. Eat protein at every meal. Eating enough protein will help you stay satisfied and resist the temptation to snack excessively between meals. If you want to lose weight, aim to eat approximately .7 grams of protein for each pound of your body weight. Just multiply your body weight, in pounds, by .7 to determine the number of protein grams to eat each day. Protein also helps boost your metabolism, since it takes more calories to metabolize compared to fat and carbohydrates. Some high-quality protein sources include: lean beef, chicken breast, fish, lentils, beans, and Greek yogurt.
2. Don't drink your calories. You've heard it many times before, but drinking your calories, with sugary drinks, juice, or alcohol, is an easy way to sabotage your diet. Dehydration, though, is an underlying cause of food cravings, so do drink plenty of water! Water helps to keep you full and is a key way to detox your body. To calculate your water needs, take your body weight and divide by two. This is the number of ounces of water you need to drink every day. If plain water sounds boring to you, flavor it with fruit or veggie slices for a fun twist.
3. Just log it. Writing down your food and beverage intake is critical to weight-loss success, because it keeps you accountable. My clients often tell me their eating habits get worse when they stop logging their food intake. Many great apps, such as My Fitness Pal, can help you keep track of your diet.
4. No eating after dinner. Late-night snacking is a problem for many people, especially when it's done mindlessly while watching TV or browsing the Internet. When you snack after dinner, your body will be busy digesting your food while you sleep instead of burning the fat. You want your body to be burning fat while you sleep so stop eating after dinner. This is a key to losing weight more quickly!
5. Eat three meals per day, not five or six small ones. As a registered dietitian for over 16 years, I have seen many people who are trying to lose weight graze all day long and never stop eating except to sleep. Shifting to a three-meals-per-day mentality helps them to focus on eating a good source of protein and a whole grain along with fruits and vegetables at mealtime. Eat a satisfying meal, and wait to eat again until the next meal. That also puts your body into the calorie deficit you need to start losing body fat.
6. Try high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Most people stick to the same 'ole, same 'ole at the gym without getting the results they crave. If you want change, you must try high-intensity interval training, which is an excellent way to help you lose fat. Getting your heart rate above 75 percent of its maximum rate has been shown to increase your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories. High-intensity exercise burns nine times more fat per calorie than low-intensity exercise does. One of my favorite methods of HIIT is doing Tabatas, which were developed by Izumi Tabata, former training coach for the Japanese speed skating team and now dean of the Graduate School of Sport and Health Science at Japan's Ritsumeikan University. The basis of his method is to work at an extremely high level for short periods of time. Each workout is four minutes long, consisting of 20-second, high-intensity work followed by 10 seconds of rest; this continues for a total of eight cycles. This method has been transformational for the women in my Adventure Boot Camp class. Some examples of these exercises would be jump squats, burpees, and mountain climbers.
7. Don't forget strength training. Since people seem so focused on their cardio, they often forget about weight training—my favorite part of the gym. Strength training, whether you're male or female, can help you define and shape your muscles. It also boosts your metabolism. If you're really short on time, focus on your upper body—arms can show definition faster than larger muscle groups. Try lifting weights three to four times per week for at least 30 minutes to see results.
What are your favorite get-in-shape-fast tricks?
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Mitzi Dulan, RD, CSSD, is a nationally recognized nutrition and fitness expert who inspires people to lose weight and get fit. Mitzi coauthored, with NFL Future Hall-of Famer Tony Gonzalez, The All-Pro Diet, which helps people eat clean and get lean. Mitzi is team nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals and served as team nutritionist for the Kansas City Chiefs for several years. A sought-after media source for trusted nutrition and fitness advice, Mitzi has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Shape, Glamour, US Weekly, USA Today, CNN, and FOX News. Mitzi was named one of the "Top 20 Nutrition Experts to Follow on Twitter" by The Huffington Post. Follow Mitzi on Pinterest at NutritionExpert.