Use these simple diet adjustments to shift fat at speed.
DAY 1: Ditch Grains
“Grains such as oats, wheat and spelt are some of the most common food allergens, which can hinder your attempts to lose weight,” says Charles Poliquin, one of the world’s leading experts on strength and conditioning. “Eating allergens causes your body to produce the stress hormone cortisol, which has the unfortunate side effect of forcing your body to store more of the energy you get from food as fat.” Grains also cause your blood-sugar levels to spike, which greatly increases your chances of experiencing hunger pangs and sugar cravings after a meal.
DAY 2: Stop Drinking Calories
It may sound obvious, but replacing calorie-rich fizzy drinks or sugary juices with water is one of the simplest and most effective strategies you can use to help you lose weight. A study from the University of North Carolina in the US found that overweight participants who made the change were able to lose up to five percent of their bodyweight compared to those who continued to drink fizzy drinks. What’s more, a study from the Harvard School of Public Health also found that switching to water led to a significant decrease in the risk of diabetes.
If you want to shrink your gut, you will need to stop succumbing to the temptation to snack in the evening. If you are trying to lose fat, you should never eat after dinner and ideally finish eating dinner three hours before you go to bed, says nutritionist Byron Richards (wellnessresources.com). “Allow 11-12 hours between dinner and breakfast. And never go to bed on a full stomach. Sleep is prime metabolic time. It’s when individuals can access the stores of fat that they wish to lose. This works well only when no food has been consumed for 11-12 hours and the quality of sleep is good.”
You can influence your hormones through your diet, and this can have a positive effect on fat loss. “Leptin is a hormone in fat cells that communicates with the brain to determine energy expenditure,” says hormone optimisation expert Mike Mahler (mikemahler.com). “When you have leptin resistance, the receptors in your brain don’t get the signal that you’re full. You can address leptin resistance by limiting your intake of foods with high levels of fructose, particularly high-fructose corn syrup, which is found in cereal bars and some low-fat yogurts.”
DAY 5: Swap Beer for Wine
A post-work drink is a reward for a week of hard yakka — but choosing red wine instead of beer can make a big difference to your weight loss. “Beer contains phytoestrogens, which can cause your oestrogen levels to rise,” says Aaron Deere, a UK strength and conditioning coach. “This hormone encourages fat storage and reduces the body’s ability to produce muscle-building testosterone. A glass of red wine contains about 60 fewer calories than a schooner of beer, and red wine also contains nutrients linked to positive effects such as preventing heart disease.”
DAY 6: Cut out Quinoa
Protein-rich quinoa is a favourite of nutritionists and vegans everywhere, but Robb Wolf, author of nutrition book The Paleo Solution, believes it should be eaten with caution. “Quinoa is botanically not a grain,” he says, “but because it has evolved in a similar biological niche, it has similar properties to grains, including chemical defence systems that irritate the gut. In the case of quinoa, these are saponins, which are so irritating that they’ve been used in pesticides.” That means your digestion might suffer, impeding your weight-loss attempts.
DAY 7: Think Fast
Some weight-loss authorities advocate strategic meal-skipping to get healthier. The emphasis is on “strategic” — this doesn’t mean simply avoiding breakfast and bingeing at lunch. Try the 16/8 form of intermittent fasting: eat a normal meal at 6pm and then don’t eat again until noon the next day. Drink lots of water and green tea during your fast and make sure you eat protein-rich meals either side of it. For an extra fat-loss boost, do a workout in the final hour before you finish off your fast. If you do this, fasting expert John Berardi (exercisenutrition.com) recommends taking branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) to prevent muscle loss.