Your parents weren’t kidding about how important veggies are for a healthy body. What they probably didn’t tell you, however, was that snacking on veggies is also one of the easiest ways to shed unwanted belly fat, too. According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, opting for non-starchy veggies, like cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumber, as snacks helped overweight kids shed 17 percent of their visceral fat while improving their insulin sensitivity over a five-year period. Think snacking on veggies will leave you hungry? The 20 Most Filling Fruits and Veggies will have your belly satisfied in no time.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AKA the top nutrition authority in America) released a revised paper this year saying that both vegetarian and vegan diets are best for people's health as well as the environment. If you're not ready to make a complete shift to meatless and cheese-less, consider "part-time" vegan and vegetarian plans, where you eat mostly plant-based at breakfast and lunch or on weekdays, and then eat fish, meat, dairy, and eggs only during designated times.
Some studies point to 0.45 to 0.55 grams/pound body weight as the minimum intake (72,73,74,75,76). And when looking at weight loss in specific, some studies argue that even higher protein intake at 0.6 to 0.72 grams/pound, and meals providing at least 25 to 30g of protein, are associated with decreases in appetite and better weight management overall (77). Furthermore, studies looking at athletes who are cutting calories, suggest that intakes as high as 1 to 1.4 g/pound to minimize their loss of lean mass (78,79,80,81).
I know, I know. It sounds great to just be able to eat whatever you want to stack calories, but you really only want to increase your intake by 5 to 10% to promote more lean mass. Fat storage is a fairly simple process in the body, heck, we are designed to store more fat for survival purposes; whereas laying down muscle takes more time and requires more specific approaches, including adequate protein intake and strength training. Research suggests it may be possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, but this phenomenon is not well understood and success can vary drastically from one person to the next (4,5).
Since insulin sensitivity is at its lowest in the final two weeks of the cycle, and carb intake is also at its lowest, exercise should be more anaerobic (this means hard and fast, really getting your heart pumping). It should be focused more on high-intensity interval training, with short bursts of high intensity work, either from brief sprint exercises or from weight lifting. This is an excellent way to sharpen insulin sensitivity while simultaneously burning fat, increasing muscle mass, and spending calories. It also helps the body stay healthy and as stress-free as possible during this time in which the body is gearing up to menstruate and the least capable of handling stress.
Meditate. If stress is inhibiting your weight loss efforts, try yoga! Or learn to meditate. Research suggests yoga is positively associated with decreased stress, increased fat loss, and improved mood (36, 37, 38). The practice of yoga is centered around controlling your breath and being more conscious of how you react to the word around you, helping you channel your stress in a more positive way.
Do it better: The best way to know if you're eating too much is to write it down. "Even if you note it on a napkin and then throw it away, that's okay. Just the act of writing makes you more aware," says Taub-Dix. Portion control cues help too: A baseball-size serving for chopped veggies and fruits; a golf ball for nuts and shredded cheese; a fist for rice and pasta; and a deck of cards for lean meats.
Klein, S., Burke, L.E., Bray, G.A., Blair, S., Allison, D.B., Pi-Sunyer, X., et al. (2004). Clinical Implications of Obesity With Specific Focus on Cardiovascular Disease: A Statement for Professionals From the American Heart Association Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism: Endorsed by the American College of Cardiology Foundation. Circulation; 110(18): 2952-2967.
In terms of exercise, I kept working hard. Exercising was one of my priorities and so I fit it into my schedule every day, usually on my lunch break. I exercised 6 days of week, and the bulk of my exercise was focused on running with the occasional lifting or circuit (my amazing sister, Lindsay, a certified personal trainer, created lifting plans for me). It was important to me at this point in my journey to have a cardio-based plan and running seemed the most practical. I started running over the summer (it was a SLOW journey of gradually increasing the time and speed on the treadmill every day) so by the time it came around to fall I could actually go run on the roads and continue to improve my endurance. (Note: I am planning on writing a whole post about my relationship with running because it has grown into such an important part of my life. Running used to be extremely hard and I hated it but stuck with it because I knew it would be good for me, but now I love it and the way it makes me feel).
Instead of subjecting yourself to another endless workout, crank up the intensity and you’ll see results faster than you ever thought possible. The results of a study conducted at McMaster University in Ontario reveal that adult male study subjects who exercised intensely for a single minute had equivalent respiratory and metabolic changes to those who worked out at a slower pace for close to an hour, so if you want to burn through that belly fat, say so long to slow and steady.
You know you're supposed to eat more protein to lose weight, but you might not know exactly why. Well, it actually has to do with how your body handles insulin. "Your body starts to produce more insulin as you age, since your muscle and fat cells aren't responding to it properly," explains Louis Aronne, M.D., director of the obesity clinic at Cornell University.
"If your diet consists of lots of sports drinks, sugar-sweetened drinks like fizzy pop and flavoured waters, or sugary foods like chocolate and cakes, it will make losing weight harder. While whole fruits and vegetables are undoubtedly good for you, they can also sometimes cause weight gain if you eat too much, as they have high levels of natural sugars in them. Low-fat food options might have high amounts of added sugar in there too, so make sure to check the food label.
How we are, depends a lot on the people we hang out with. To lose weight, you have to be around people with similar goals or people who have lost weight. This will inspire you and make you more aware of healthy habits. Gradually, you will incorporate those habits into your life. And I bet, you will wake up and be proud of how your thighs and your whole body looks.
Swapping out unhealthy foods for nutritious ones gives you benefits beyond just losing weight. "I cleaned up my diet, swapping deli sandwiches with high-sodium meat and mayo for Tupperware containers or big butter-lettuce salads topped with carrots, walnuts, feta, and homemade dressing," says Jennifer Lasher, who lost 75 pounds. "I found that ditching processed foods left me with more energy, a clear head, and better skin, too."
Primarily, fat gets deposited in the thighs due to the female hormones. If you have an abnormal menstrual cycle or experience unpleasant bleeding, it is probably because either estrogen or progesterone is being under-produced or overproduced. These hormones are produced in the ovaries, and fat cells accumulate when there is an imbalance in the hormone levels.
By “muscular,” you may be thinking about increasing muscle size or bulking up your legs. Perhaps you want your legs to be stronger for certain activities like heavy weight lifting or track and field sports. Increasing thigh muscle size is much different than leg toning. Also, just because you want to increase leg muscle size, it does not necessarily mean automatic thigh fat loss.