Though putting on weight is fairly easy, peeling it off is a task that is not quite as simple. Weight loss should be approached as a long, sustainable journey—but sometimes you need to kick your efforts into high gear. Rather than crash dieting or liquefying all your meals, there are certain changes you can make to boost your efforts for lasting effects.
From simple diet tweaks and easy to follow exercise tips, Bob Harper has found a formula that produces results. As outlined in his book Jumpstart to Skinny, here are the best tips to support your weight loss agenda—fast. And for more ways to look and feel thinner, check out these 24 Ways to Shrink Your Belly in 24 Hours!
When in Doubt, Nosh on Veggies
Mindless munching will put the kibosh on any diet unless, of course, you’re binge-eating broccoli. While cutting calories can help you lose weight, you run the risk of feeling deprived and ruining your efforts in the long-term. Rather than overly restricting yourself, Harper suggests falling back on veggies like bell peppers and cucumbers. In fact, this is the only part of your diet that you don’t have to pay attention to. Since vegetables like these are low in calories and dense in vital nutrients, you can pretty much eat as much as you want. Just skip the dips! For more tips like this, don’t miss these 30 Weight Loss Tips Better Than Counting Calories.
Don’t Cut Carbs
Our bodies need carbs to function adequately, so quit cutting them out in the name of weight loss! Think of carbohydrates as fat-burning fuel; they provide our bodies with the energy we need to make it through a tough workout, help repair and replenish exhausted muscles and keep us mentally focused. Harper turns mostly to simple carbs like fruits and veggies to stay fit and keeps complex carb intake under a tight watch. When incorporating complex carbs into your diet, stick to modest portions of things like sweet potatoes and whole grains.
Carb Up Before Noon
While you don’t need to get rid of carbs altogether, there is a way you can use them to your advantage when you’re looking to shed a few pounds. Since complex carbs may increase appetite due to spikes in insulin levels, Harper recommends limiting your intake to the first half of the day. Think sweet potatoes and eggs or quinoa porridge for breakfast. By doing this, you’ll prevent late night cravings and cut your risk for overeating. Not to mention, you’ll energize your body for the rest of the day and make it easier to push through tough workouts.
Get Your Fats
To rid your body of unwanted fat, you’ve got to eat fat. The key is consuming the right kind in small (emphasis on small) amounts. According to Harper, healthy fats help crush hunger, fuel our bodies, and keep our cells healthy and functioning optimally. Steer clear of saturated fats and mindfully incorporate healthy options like olive oil, nuts, and avocado into your diet to encourage greater weight loss.
Ditch the Salt
Regardless of what you may think, chances are you’re probably taking in way more salt than you need. Too much salt can cause your body to retain water and consequently lead to bloating, which will conceal those abs you’re working so hard to reveal. For reference, the daily recommended limit for adults is no more than 2,300 mg per day. If you want to slim down slowly or maintain weight loss, Harper suggests dropping that limit to less than 2,000 mg per day. However, if you’re really serious about slimming down fast, he suggests aiming for around 1,000 mg per day. The best way to accomplish this is to cut your intake of processed foods and get that salt shaker off of the table once and for all—and always be suspicious of all foods. For example, these 20 Restaurant Desserts With More Salt Than A Bag of Pretzels are ridiculous!
Measure Portions Precisely
Portion control is your secret weapon when it comes to losing weight, so if you’re not measuring out portions exactly, you’re cheating yourself out of real results. Keep your tablespoons level and your ounces true if you’re committed to slimming down. The more accurate your portions, the faster you’ll reach your goals.
Be Mindful of Proportions, Too
The sheer volume of food you consume has one of the greatest effects on your weight—for better or worse—but don’t be so quick to discount the overall nutritional makeup of your meals in favor of calorie counting alone. Harper suggests aiming for 40 percent carbs, 40 percent protein, and 20 percent healthy fat in each meal. Too much of any of these could tip the scales in the wrong direction, but just the right amount of each will help you lean out in no time.
Say Goodbye to Happy Hour
If you want your fat to go away, the booze has got to go first. Cutting back on liquid calories—whether it be soda or alcohol—is one of the simplest tweaks you can make to your diet that will have real, tangible results. Alcohol is non-nutritive—and for many, it’s hard to moderate unless you completely wipe out your social calendar. But Harper also points out that alcohol can mess with your metabolism and prevent efficient fat burning. Plus, after a few drinks, your willpower is significantly weaker when it comes to making healthy food choices. Speaking of, don’t miss these 22 Truths About Willpower.
Prepare Meals Ahead of Time
No one ever achieved a six-pack without a little—scratch that—a lot of preparation. Most of us are short on time and sleep, and the two problems combined bring about serious obstacles when it comes to losing weight. However, by picking a night to prepare large batches of healthy food, you set yourself up for success for the rest of the week. Foods like chicken breast, quinoa, and veggies can be prepared in larger quantities and spread out for lunch and dinner throughout the week. Also, make sure to have healthier snacks stocked at all times like fruit and nuts, so you’ll have no excuse not to eat clean!
Put an Emphasis on Protein
If you’re looking to get lean, about 40 percent of your calories should come from protein alone. Protein is essential for helping build and maintain muscle and can also encourage greater fat burn. Even better, consuming adequate amounts of protein can help promote greater feelings of fullness and satiety to prevent overeating later because it helps stabilize blood sugar. Skip the protein supplements and opt for whole food options instead. Harper turns to foods like chicken and ground turkey to get his fix. For all-things-protein, bookmark our Ultimate Guide to Protein!
Of espresso, that is. While it might seem that research is constantly flip-flopping on the benefits of caffeine consumption, there are real benefits to your morning cup of joe. According to Harper’s experience and research, caffeine has been found to help boost performance in the gym and as a result boost overall weight loss results. His preferred caffeinated beverage is espresso, but he says you can also enjoy a cup of black coffee or tea and reap the same benefits.
Hydrate, Hydrate, and Then Hydrate Some More
Whatever it takes to increase your water consumption, do it. Whether it’s strategically placing water bottles on your nightstand or on your desk in the office, drinking more water daily will help you lose more weight. Filling up on H20 before meals will help you eat less by making you feel fuller. In addition, boosting your water intake can actually boost your body’s overall calorie burn and actually reduces bloating. For weight loss, Harper recommends consuming a minimum of 80 ounces throughout the day. Worried about retaining water? Here are 17 Things You Need to Know About Water Weight.
Increase Your Daily Steps
A lot of different factors go into weight loss, but one piece that remains constant is movement. No matter what you’re doing, the more you move, the faster the weight will come off. An easy way to up your daily movement is simply by walking more—and yes, Harper recommends walking as an effective form of exercise (in addition to other types of training, of course). He suggests 45 minutes of low-intensity activity, preferably in the morning when it’s easier to fit into your schedule. Boost your fat burn with these 30 Tips for When You’re Walking for Weight Loss.
Whether you have a set of dusty dumbbells lying around or just your own body weight, it’s important to take part in strengthening exercises to encourage greater fat loss and muscle growth. The best part is, you only need to do them for about 15 minutes per day, five days a week to see results. Anyone can make it through 15 minutes of burpees, squats and bicep curls—no excuses here!
Flavor With Herbs, Spices, and Lemon
Now that you’re cutting way back on salt, it’s time to get friendly with other flavor enhancers. Herbs and lemon juice are calorie-free, nutrient-rich ways to boost the flavor profile of your healthy meals. It’s also an easy way to cut calories by reducing your use of other items like oils, butter, and sauces. As for spices, are you not sure what to reach for? We suggest turmeric because of these 14 Reasons Turmeric Is the New It Girl of Spices!
Top photo courtesy of Bob Harper on Facebook.