Thank you so much for this article on carb cycling & weight loss for women! I found it tremendously helpful for personal reasons but also because I work with so many women (as a personal trainer) who encounter significant frustration when it comes to weight loss, health & hormonal status (the interplay among them). Your article seems to speak to mostly women of reproductive age or to women who are still menstruating. I also work with many women age 50+ and wondered what recommendations, if any, might you have to offer regarding carbs/carb cycling for peri-/menopausal/post-menopausal women? Thank you so much, Stefani – the info & wisdom you share on your blog & via your podcast (which I love!) are invaluable to me. I also totally dig your book and recommend it to other women all the time! I so appreciate the work you’re doing!

"I use low-fat Greek yogurt in place of mayo in recipes, and it tastes great," says Krystal Sanders, who went from 185 pounds to 110 by coming up with healthy versions of her favorite restaurant foods. "It can also be used as a sour cream substitute." The possibilities are endless when it comes to this tasty staple, but you can start with these dessert recipes.

About: A brand new blogger, Nikki’s trying to achieve wellness and healthy living, but what she’s really best at is getting product freebies and reviewing them so you know what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to weight loss, fitness, beauty, you name it. Nikki’s blog is loaded to the tee with useful product reviews, but she’s also not shy about sharing her own personal journey towards wellness either. Practical and emotional. We love it.

Loaded with antioxidants and other essential nutrients, mushrooms are a great food to eat when trying to slim down. They are low in calories yet high in water, and an excellent source of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D has been linked to abdominal obesity. The types of protein found in mushrooms have been shown to reduce hunger and promote fullness, which may help you avoid consuming extra calories later. Read - M-plan for weight loss: All you need to know about the mushroom diet to reduce belly fat fast
Fighting belly fat is 80% healthy diet. Reduce calories by filling yourself up with protein, vegetables, whole grains, and replacing bad habit snacks with good ones. For example, if you have a sugar craving, replace your calorie laden latte with a Muscle Milk lite, one of my favorites, because it has zero sugar and a ton of protein that will satiate while also torching my sugar craving! Another great trick is a sprinkle of cinnamon in your morning coffee or oatmeal- the spice has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar. It also slows the rate at which food exits the stomach, which helps you feel fuller longer.
The female body is naturally slightly less insulin sensitive when progesterone levels are higher in the luteal phase (after ovulation, in the last two weeks of the cycle). This means it does not tolerate carbohydrate as well in these weeks. Women who are diabetic know this well. I’ve read many studies and heard from many women I know that their insulin injections have to increase in the second half of their cycle because their blood sugar levels are inordinately high.
After the summer of hell on the treadmill, I started running outside and built my endurance. I bought myself a pair of good running shoes and used the MapMyRun app to track where I was going and how far I went. Some days of running were great and I could go for three miles and feel awesome the entire run, but then other days were so bad. I remember there were times I was in the middle of a run and wanted so bad to give up and I would have to walk for a little bit to give myself a break before running again. I remember sometimes I would get so discouraged that I would cry and call Alan to see if he could pick me up because I gave up on myself in the middle of a run. Again, I had to learn to give myself grace on the days when I didn’t do as well as I wanted because I knew that in terms of big-picture, I was slowly making progress. I trained my body to relate exercise as a way of relaxation.

I acknowledge that you may want to lose weight for any number of reasons. It’s not my job to tell you what your motivation for weight loss should be. It is my job to help guide you in that journey to greater health, energy, and love. My goal is to teach women how to love themselves above all else, and then let weight loss follow gently in its path.
Veggies help your liver detoxify toxins and excess hormones. This helps you lose inner thigh fat. You should include cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and cabbages in your everyday diet. Also, drinking a smoothie every day that contains green veggies like broccoli, spinach, kale, and parsley improves your chances of losing inner thigh fat. Read Next–Best Cabbage Soup Diet Recipe for Weight Loss- Lose 10 Pounds In 7 Days
About: Megan is a lifelong runner who exemplifies what’s it’s like to find happiness in fitness. Her blog is mainly a personal diary about her running, race trainings and occasional trim-ups, but it’s her integrity and honesty that makes you want to keep reading once you start. She’s a real person with real ups-and-downs, perfect for a person who is well on their way to their goal weight and a general healthy lifestyle, but sometimes takes a few steps back and struggles. Megan, like them, has downs, but her continuous determination is something you’re sure to admire.
“I was tired of losing and gaining the same 30 pounds, and wanted to find a permanent solution. I started by learning about portion control. I cut out soda and sugary coffee drinks completely and paid close attention to how much I was eating. I saw some pretty instant results in doing this. Results are contagious, and every time I would see my hard work pay off on the scale or in my clothes, I would chase that feeling. I did all I could to learn about food, and I began working out. I started small and aimed at walking 20 to 30 minutes every day. I tracked my calories and planned every workout. Once I felt the results were tapering, I’d increase my workouts. I never deprived myself of something I wanted or a craving, but found ways to fit it in my calories goal for the day. This mindset was sustainable, and I didn't feel resentment like before when I thought I had to eat grilled chicken and brown rice for every meal. After losing 50 pounds on my own, I plateaued and found it harder to see results. I was on such a great track and knew I needed some help. It was at this point that I had the Obalon Balloon System placed. (It’s the first swallowable, FDA-approved balloon system for weight loss. The non-surgical treatment consists of three lightweight balloons, placed gradually over three months, occupying space in a patient’s stomach to facilitate weight loss). The balloons helped me continue on with my journey and gave me the confidence and seriousness to not stop. Through the program, I met with a nutritionist who helped me learn even more about nutrition and how to fuel my body. Over the six months of having the balloons, I lost an additional 32 pounds. I have kept off the weight by continuing to focus on my nutrition and workouts.”
The main guiding principles of Nutrisystem are portion control, proper nutrition and daily exercise. By relying on foods with a low glycemic index (in other words, foods that release their sugars slowly and steadily, instead of rapidly and intensely), Nutrisystem meals provide a consistent amount of energy throughout the day. The prepackaged, portion-controlled meals eliminate guesswork, while their nutritional guides encourage you to incorporate fresh produce into your meals. Nutrisystem’s meals are rich in high-quality proteins to keep you feeling fuller for longer and incorporate healthy fats (like nuts) to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. Their website allows you to track your progress and set realistic goals for yourself as well as giving you a large list of ten-minute exercises to do three times a day to help you stay active to lose weight even faster.

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, a few inches apart on the floor. Press down with your left foot as you lift your hips and extend your right leg up and straight, pointing the toes toward the wall in front of you. Hold for a second, then kick the leg up at a 90-degree angle while holding your hips up. Hold for three seconds, return your right foot to the floor and lower your hips to starting position. Lagree recommends doing 10 reps on each side.
Your body is connected from head to toe. With that being said, make sure your musculature in the areas around your thighs are toned as well. For example, your abdominal muscles work to pull up your quadriceps in order to relieve the pressure on the knees. Your gluteal muscles help with stabilization of the hip joint and work together with the quadriceps to engage in numerous power movements.
Tip #3 Input your favorite foods once. The first few days are the most tiresome, but rest assured, it gets easier the more you do it. When you go to log a food, view the “frequent” and “recent” food lists, where the foods you eat regularly will automatically appear at the top for quick and easy logging. “Custom” foods require a bit more work to input, but once you have, they are great for the foods you eat often, but can’t easily find in the database.
Replace the negative voice in your head that's telling you to quit with a motivational saying that will inspire you to keep going even when it gets tough. "I powered through workouts telling myself, 'I can do hard things!'" says Megen Karlinsey, who kept off 150 pounds. Her mantra helped her accomplish a triathlon, which she signed up for to blast a weight loss plateau.

#5 – Read Labels!  If you choose processed foods to eat, read your labels, not everything is bad for you, but some stuff is.  I look at the calories, serving size, carbs, protein, fiber and sugar.  If it’s low on protein and fiber, I don’t get it.  If it’s high in fat and sodium I put it right back onto the shelf.  Be a smart consumer and read those labels.  If you can’t pronounce and ingrediant, it’s probably not good for you.  Don’t buy something because the package says low fat or no sugar added, that  doesn’t mean crap!  Sugar Alcohol is still sugar!!!   Not to mention if it’s low in fat, it’s high somewhere else, they need to add something to perserve and add flavor.
Portion size matters and it’s easy to fall into the habit of overeating and underestimating protein portions. An extra egg for breakfast, an additional ounce of nuts as a snack, or perhaps one more ounce of cheese on your salad–it all adds up. Too much dietary protein can drive down ketone production (Marliss 1978) when consumed in excess of our body’s needs. Read more about this in our deep dive on protein.
Hydrate while cutting out excessive sweets from your liquid diet. Stick with water. Water is healthy, plentiful, cheap, and actually tastes good. Water flushes out harmful toxins, carries nutrients to cells, and provides a moist environment for bodily tissues that need it. Doctors recommend drinking 64 ounces of fluid per day, or about 1.9 liters (0.5 US gal).[3]

I’ve worked with people before who hadn’t fully decided but hired me as a trainer anyway. It was very obvious because the drive, determination and any spark were gone quickly. In fact, many even lied to me about what they were eating or would hide it from me when I would enter the room! Hmmm….this is for YOU (not me!). It absolutely has to be for YOU!
Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your story…I would have never guessed you had dealt with such a thing. I”m in the process of losing over 75 lbs gained due to anxiety medicine. I too just woke up and had an epiphany that the medicine had turned me into someone I was not and I had to get off of it especially before having children. It’s definitely been a struggle, but I’ve seen the commercials on tv too and do not want to chance affecting my future children in any way and I want to be a better version of myself. For me personally, exercise, eating better, and therapy have worked to reduce my anxiety and panic attacks enough to stay off medicine.
I’ve been at this for a while and thanks to some excellent, well-reasoned sources (like Virta and its contributors, among others) I’ve learned a lot about my appetite/satiety, emotional triggers, carb tolerance, food intolerances, etc. and I just wanted to say that this was a great, well presented article. No matter where one is on their journey, we can all benefit from reminders and strategy reassessments. Thank you, it’s much appreciated!
You did a good job of evaluating the programs and explaining how they were chosen, but I think the government guidelines are just wrong. Having half of our calories come from carbs doesn’t seem right to me. The only diets I’ve had any luck with are low-carb. In fact, if I consume more than about 130g of carbs per day, my blood sugar goes into the pre-diabetes range.
Think about it: If you have a big plate, it may be easy to pile on the food until the plate is full, leaving you with portions that are way too large. "Since I regularly ate balanced meals, I knew it was my portions that had to be fixed," says Erika Cataldi. "I began using toddler plates; I could load them up and still feel like I was getting a lot." That optical illusion help Cataldi drop 70 pounds.
Try this interval-training trick on the elliptical trainer: Ride for 30 seconds as fast as you can, then immediately reverse your direction and ride for 30 additional seconds just as fast in the opposite direction. Rest 60 seconds, and repeat. The force of stopping your momentum, as well as going from a dead stop to full speed twice in the same interval, will give your fat-burning efforts a massive boost, says Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S.

And then there is the controversial NuSi study* (Hall, 2016).  This involved 17 individuals confined for 2 months in a metabolic ward and fed two different diets containing identical energy contents but differing in carbohydrate contents – one ‘balanced’ and one ketogenic.  After 4 weeks of adaptation to each diet, the subjects had their metabolic rates monitored by two different methods:  one using isotope analysis over the last 10 days and the other with continuous indirect calorimetry in a chamber for 24-hrs.  The average chamber energy expenditure over 24-hrs was 75 kcal/day greater during the ketogenic diet.  Given that the average subject in this study was consuming about 3000 kcal/day, that translates to about a 2% difference.  Using the different isotopic method to assess average metabolic rate over the last 10 days of each 4-week study period, the calculated increase in daily energy expenditure on the ketogenic diet was closer to 150 kcal (i.e., 4%).

"I was able to lose the weight by paying closer attention to what I was eating and my activity level. I started using an app to track my meals and a step counter to help track my activity. My coworkers were supportive and would often join me for walks during breaks. Every step counts! I would still go out to lunch with them, but I would look for healthier options on the menu and track what I was eating. My boys were also supportive, and they joined me in activities after work. They loved that I started to have more energy to do things."
Loaded with antioxidants and other essential nutrients, mushrooms are a great food to eat when trying to slim down. They are low in calories yet high in water, and an excellent source of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D has been linked to abdominal obesity. The types of protein found in mushrooms have been shown to reduce hunger and promote fullness, which may help you avoid consuming extra calories later. Read - M-plan for weight loss: All you need to know about the mushroom diet to reduce belly fat fast
Oh and Sara and I actually connected thanks to Pinterest! She had seen one of my posts on Pinterest and when she saw my website and read my weight loss journey, she saw that we had a lot in common. We emailed a bit, then talked on the phone, and we clicked instantly. It was, without a doubt, a God-led meeting and we have both been so blessed by every part of our friendship and business partnership!
If all of you have pear-shaped bodies, it’s something that’s determined by genetics – not by how hard you work. If that’s the case, don’t worry, obsess, or stress about it – there’s not a whole lot you can do to change it. But that’s ok – by following the advice on this list, you’ll get your body into the best shape possible – and look pretty damn good while you’re doing it.
3. Supplment your nutrients. I recommend drinking 2-4 cans of vegetable juice (low sodium V8 is what I drink), specifically for the potassium. If you don't like the taste of vegetable juice, find other foods to boost your potassium, like bananas, avocados, tomatoes, potatoes. Choose high potassium foods that are low in fat. Use the USDA Nutrient Database to learn which foods are high and low in potassium. You can't rely on dietary supplement pills to boost your potassium, because no one makes a potassium supplement with more than 2% of the RDA. But do take a supplement pill for all the other vitamins and minerals.
Good fats vs. bad fats: Omega 3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats are good for your system and will actually help you lower your cholesterol. Nuts, olive oil, seed oil, and fish all contain these ‘good fats.’ Trans and saturated fats are the things that will make your thighs (or other body parts) larger. These include most processed food, candy, cakes, etc.

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your story…I would have never guessed you had dealt with such a thing. I”m in the process of losing over 75 lbs gained due to anxiety medicine. I too just woke up and had an epiphany that the medicine had turned me into someone I was not and I had to get off of it especially before having children. It’s definitely been a struggle, but I’ve seen the commercials on tv too and do not want to chance affecting my future children in any way and I want to be a better version of myself. For me personally, exercise, eating better, and therapy have worked to reduce my anxiety and panic attacks enough to stay off medicine.


About: Sara, a new mom, is all about living a happy, healthy and fun life. She’s struggled with her weight for years, and, as she puts it, can’t wait for the day when weight no longer gets in her way. Sara’s biggest appeal is that she’s all about using good ole fashioned weight loss techniques — eating healthy and exercising. And that philosophy permeates through her blog, inspiring readers and engaging fans along the way.
If you feel like you're making smart moves to lose weight but the scale isn't moving the way you want, your diet may contain some sneaky foods that can lead to bloating, water retention (ahem, salt!), and a higher calorie intake. Veggies, fruits, seeds, nuts, fish, whole grains, and other smart choices loaded with fiber and protein will keep you fuller longer, all while working their nutrient-powered magic. When it comes to healthy eating and weight loss, these plant-based foods loved by registered dietitians have your back.
Another win for your morning cup of joe: Caffeinated coffee keeps things moving through the digestive tract. Since staying regular is key to a tighter-looking tummy, drinking about 8 to 16 ounces of java at the same time every day can help you stay on schedule. Remember: Sugary drinks can lead to weight gain, so skip fancy flavorings and synthetic sweeteners containing sugar alcohols, which can cause bloating.
We also love yoga, hula-hooping (yep, great for the abs) and the good standby “Abs of Steel” videos, and trust me the outfits in the 1990’s video will increase the cardio aspect just from laughter alone! There are also a slew of videos online, find one you love and can stick to every few days and you’ll be toning as you shed the unwanted belly fat.

3) How much of your advice was specifically tailored to Nate based on his body type and body fat percentage? For instance, I’m at 16-17% BF and 175 lb, so would my theoretical five-day dehydration and subsequent rehydration be factored differently, or is the regime pretty well standard? (I am NOT aiming to do this, by the way, but am curious about spreading the five-day concept into a six-week one, with less emphasis on the serious restrictions used for Nate’s Day 4 and 5.)
What is motivating you to want to lose weight in the first place? Starting with your why is key to keeping you on track and inspiring you to keep going when things get tough. Think about what drives you or inspires you to make a change. Some of us are motivated by family and friends, and others may get more encouragement through rewards and recognition - or maybe it just takes imagining what you will feel like once you reach your goal. Motivation is powerful. And once you find it, keep it close by. Somewhere you can remind yourself when needed.
About: Christie literally just got going (her first post was in March). But she didn’t waste any time putting it all out there. Her goal is to lose more than 100 pounds and beat a lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety. Her openness caught our attention immediately, and we can’t wait to follow along with her as she takes each and every step.
Full Plate Living is a nonprofit dedicated to a simple mission: Encourage, educate, support, and inspire anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle. They don’t advocate for starving yourself, spending your life at the gym, or giving up the foods you love. They’re also not about fad diets or weight loss supplements. Instead, they offer practical, straightforward steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Visit the blog.
The calories you get from foods and beverages mainly come from macronutrients or “macros”. These macros include carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Carbohydrates and protein provide roughly four calories per gram - meaning a food or beverage item with 10g of protein will provide 40 calories from protein. Fat is the most calorically dense macro and provides nine calories per gram, so a food or beverage containing 10g of fat will provide 90 calories from fat - more than twice the amount of energy as protein and carbohydrates.
Hi Ashley! Lol! I love that we could be soul sisters! Both my sister and my brother-in-law are nurses and those nursing hours are just insane…and adding a toddler to the mix makes for a crazy schedule, I’m sure! So for stupid easy but healthy recipes, I highly recommend Once A Month Meals (https://onceamonthmeals.com/?ref=soveryblessed). They have Instant Pot plans and so many of them are just dump and go recipes (and lots of other easy, healthy non-IP meals, too). And honestly? For me, frozen vegetables are a lifesaver. If I’m putting energy into cooking a main dish, I don’t want to put much time into prepping sides too, so my freezer always has a ton of steamer bags of various veggies. Also, one pot/one pan/one skillet meals are awesome. I love throwing potatoes, baby carrots (no chopping necessary), and smoked turkey sausage onto a sheet pan with a little bit of oil and garlic & herb seasoning and roasting it all. The less I have to think, the better! I’m so glad my story could give you a little inspiration. If I can do it, you absolutely can too. Thanks so much for your comment!
I wasn’t happy at my heaviest, but I wasn’t really motivated to do anything about it until a ski trip with friends in 2004 put things in perspective. The vacation was a blast, but I quickly lost my getaway glow when I saw photos from our trip. Looking at the physical proof, I was embarrassed by how much weight I had gained. Every photo was a “bad” photo of me. I was so depressed that I threw most of them away.
Perform cardio on most days of the week to achieve weight loss. Using a machine for a few minutes every now and then will not do much in the way of thigh reduction. You must be willing to exercise long enough and often enough to promote weight loss. The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least 30 minutes a day of moderately-intense aerobic exercise. Meet these guidelines for the best results.
Want to get leaner, more toned legs in a hurry? Dial up the intensity of your workouts and you’ll lose thigh fat in no time. In fact, research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reveals that increasing the intensity of study subjects’ workouts improved their blood sugar levels, making it less likely for them to store excess body fat and potentially staving off cravings, too. Luckily, you’ll already be well on your way to shedding that extra weight when you incorporate the fun activities that don’t feel like exercise into your routine!
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