This easy a.m. ritual works on two levels. First, a recent study found that exposure to sunlight in between the hours of 8 am and noon reduced your risk of weight gain regardless of activity level, caloric intake, or age. Researchers speculate that the morning light synchronizes your metabolism and undercuts your fat genes. And burning calories before you eat means you’re exercising in a fasted state—the energy you burn comes right from your fat stores, instead of the food you ate. But what really stunned Martha was the improvement in her heart health. Before starting Zero Belly Diet, Martha’s heart rate would typically soar to 112 beats per minute (bpm) within moments of starting her exercise bike workout. “After the first week and a half I could not raise my heart rate over 96 bpm with the same workout. It was great to see change in the mirror, and even better to know good things were happening that I couldn’t even see.”
Protein is also important for preserving muscle mass as you lose weight. If you cut back dramatically on calories and drop weight too fast, your muscles can suffer. Your body starts pulling from lean tissue like muscles and organs to fuel itself, and your metabolism slows to conserve energy. That’s why super restrictive diets that have you dropping weight fast aren’t healthy over the long run.
“A healthy weight is incredibly important in our overall health," says Shirin Badrtalei-Shah, DO, MPH, a physician at Kaiser Permamente in Southern California. "Being overweight and making poor food choices affects us in many different ways. It plays a role in our overall mood, how well we can focus and concentrate, our sleep and our energy level."
There’s a reason people are obsessed with apple cider vinegar for weight loss. Some research shows that it may have very modest weight loss benefits. For instance, in one 2009 study, researchers had 144 obese adults drink a placebo or 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) daily for 3 months. They found that people who downed 2 tablespoons lost nearly 4 pounds, while those who sipped on 1 tablespoon dropped 2.5 pounds. The placebo drinkers? They actually experienced a small weight gain.
A daily run or Spin class is great for your heart, but cardio workouts alone won't do much for your waist. "You need to do a combination of weights and cardiovascular training," says Sangeeta Kashyap, MD, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. Strength training increases muscle mass, which sets your body up to burn more fat. "Muscle burns more calories than fat, and therefore you naturally burn more calories throughout the day by having more muscle," says Kate Patton, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. Patton recommends 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 125 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week.
“Extreme diets where you're cutting out entire food groups like carbs should be monitored by a doctor or a professional,” says Cara Clark, a certified clinical and sports nutritionist in Orange County, Calif. “This is not usually good for most people. My favorite thing to tell them is if you're cutting carbs to lose weight, expect to be tired and dumb. Our brains thrive with using carbs as fuel. They are essential to our health.”
If you want to lose weight, you’d better avoid special “low-carb” products that are full of carbs. This should be obvious, but creative marketers are doing all they can to fool you (and get your money). They will tell you that you can eat cookies, pasta, ice cream, bread and plenty of chocolate on a low-carb diet, as long as you buy their brand. They’re full of carbohydrates. Don’t be fooled.
We all know that potato chips and soda taste great going down, but eating processed foods and refined sugar can often make you feel sluggish and tired in addition to gaining unwanted pounds. The best way to lose weight fast is to stick to whole foods like our ancestors ate. If you think your great-grandmother wouldn't have had access to it, dump the junk from your diet for a healthier lifestyle.
Have you been consistent with workouts but haven’t gotten the results you were hoping for? Your low-key resolution is to change up your workout. Commit to the same number of workouts per week, but make these workouts completely different. If you’ve been going to yoga three times a week, go to a cycling class instead. Or if you’re walking on the treadmill every day, move over to the recumbent bike instead. By sparking a change in your routine, your muscles will be forced to work differently and hopefully you’ll begin to see the results you’ve been hoping for!