Holiday Eating: The Day-After Diet Plan
From Thanksgiving onward, do you feel like you have a food hangover from overeating? The average person gains 9-12 pounds from Halloween through New Year’s Day. If you’re not careful, you will not only gain weight but change your metabolism permanently. Once you damage your metabolism, it can change it in a way that is hard to reverse.
Boost your metabolism before the big-eating day. There are five things you can do to keep your metabolism charged so you don’t gain any extra weight this holiday season.
1. Wait 12 hours to eat. If you last ate at 9 p.m., wait until 9 a.m. to eat again. You need to give your body time to metabolize. Set an alarm to remind you when you can begin eating again the following day.
2. Have a whey protein shake for breakfast. Drinking this shake boosts metabolism by 25%. It’s also a good preventive measure if you drink a shake on the big-eating day to help burn things off faster. If you drink one before the big meal, it will keep you feeling full so you don’t overeat.
3. Take six drops of oxytocin. This is the feel-good hormone our bodies naturally produce when we aren’t stressed. A few drops under the tongue will de-stress you and block the release of cortisol that makes us store fat around our waist. When we’re stressed, we make poor food decisions. When relaxed, we think clearly and make smart food choices.
4. Take carb-blocking supplements 30-minutes before your meal. Studies prove that taking supplements that contain white kidney bean extract or raspberry ketones will stop your body from absorbing the carbs and fats from your meal.
5. Exercise before your meal to burn fat – but exercise after your meal to torch calories. There are lots of different ways to exercise, but if you want to burn fat, you need to exercise at a moderate intensity on the big-eating day and kick it up a notch the following day to torch calories. I say to exercise moderately, as you want to prepare your body to burn fat – not store it by exercising too intensely!
Breakfast Shakes: Drink Yourself Skinny
Meal-replacement shakes are an effective, easy way to drop pounds. They teach you how to eat less and lose weight quickly and permanently – and the right shake can boost your metabolism by 25%. Who doesn’t need that?
The fact is, when you’re trying to lose body fat, you can’t skip breakfast – but you may be too busy to think about calories and to make healthy choices. That’s why drinking a protein shake first thing in the morning is a simple, foolproof weight-loss method. When you drink the right protein shake, you give your body the nutrients it needs and you can also:
- Boost your metabolic rate by 25%.
- Save calories by avoiding fatty foods (if you drink a shake for breakfast, you can save an average of 400 calories per day).
- Keep your blood sugar levels balanced, allowing your body to burn stored fat as fuel.
- Increase your energy levels, which enables you to increase your activity and automatically burn more calories.
Why do meal replacements or protein shakes for breakfast work? Simply put, weight loss occurs when your metabolism gets moving and you put out more calories than you take in. If you were to replace your 750-calorie bagel and orange juice meal with a 155-calorie protein shake, you’d save 595 calories per day. And you’d see the results on your bathroom scale in no time.
We can’t be perfect all the time, so we need calorie safe havens that keep us anchored while we learn how to eat correctly. Protein shakes that contain nutrients offer those safe havens. Most people love them because they don’t have to think about food, plan meals or buy expensive products. You can even make them yourself. To start, try one of my favorite recipes: a mocha madness shake that tastes amazing.
Fat-Burning Mocha Madness
- In a blender, mix ½ cup of cold water (you can add more or less water depending on the consistency you prefer).
- Add 2 scoops of nutrient-rich chocolate-flavored protein powder.
- Add 1 tsp of granulated instant coffee.
- Gradually add 5 ice cubes to thicken.
- Blend on high for one minute (in a pinch, this shake can also be made by simply mixing ingredients together in a glass with a spoon).
- Drink yourself skinny!
Flat Abs Fast
The reality is that if you want flat abs, you have to push away your plate and get sweating at the gym.
My clients often ask me what exercises they can do to shed their love handles. That fat on and around the abdominal area can also be referred to as the insulin band. It is your body’s way of telling you that you are feeding it too many carbohydrates. Your body can’t use them all, so it stores them around your waist. This is as much of a health concern as it is a fashion/vanity concern. The fat that you see is also surrounding your major organs and it can kill you. So listen up!
First, 80% of your weight-loss success depends of your diet. Focus on eating three 3-ounce servings of lean proteins and a minimum of five servings of vegetables per day. You can have two “cheat meals” a week, but any more than that, and you’re back in fat-storage mode.
Play diet detective: Question everything that goes into your mouth. Start with portion sizes. Typically, the culprit behind our weight-loss struggles is not what we eat, but how much we eat. Any extra calories that are not burned for energy can go straight to your waistline. Look especially at your sugar intake; whenever you consume too much sugar, the extra calories go straight to the insulin band. Make simple substitutions to your diet, such as switching to diet soda instead of regular soda. You’ll save 150 calories and 16 teaspoons of sugar right there, and that will flatten your abs fast!
You also need to do some type of aerobic exercise every day for 60 minutes to burn belly fat. Activities such as walking, jogging or cycling are great for burning the fat off.
Once you’ve gotten your diet under control and you’re taking your hour-long daily walk, start doing targeted exercises to strengthen the muscles below the fat. Here are three exercises (do them every single day for just five minutes) to firm, flatten and strengthen your abs:
Lying Leg Lifts
- Lie down on your back with your legs out straight and your hands underneath your lower back or under your buttocks for extra support. Lift your legs about one inch off of the floor.
- Keep your moves slow and controlled, aiming for 25 repetitions. Do 2-3 sets of 25 reps, building up slowly if needed.
- Keep in mind that this is a very difficult move. Some people need to start with 3-5 reps at first. Take your time and build up slowly.
- Lie on your back with your legs up at a 90-degree angle (if you’re not flexible enough to hold your legs straight up, do this move against a wall). You may also support your head, if needed, by gently holding your head with your hands.
- Looking up at your toes, try to touch your shoelaces with your fingers, 25-30 times. Do 2-3 sets of 25-30 repetitions, building up gradually if needed. Stay as high as possible and don’t forget to breathe in and out!
- Lie on your back with your legs bent and a fitness circle in between your knees.
- Contract the abdominals by squeezing the fitness circle, and reach arms and upper body toward your knees.
- Try to do this 25-30 times. Do 2-3 sets of 25-30 repetitions. Build up slowly and protect your neck if needed.
3 Ways to Boost Thyroid Function
Hypothyroidism may be the reason you’re overweight, but it’s not an excuse! I too have battled with a “dead” thyroid my whole life so I understand how frustrating it can be. You can still lose weight even if your thyroid is not working properly by taking a few simple steps.
There are many causes of hypothyroidism, and you want to make sure you know why your thyroid isn’t working properly so you can treat it accurately. It doesn’t matter if your thyroid is underactive because you have Hashimoto’s disease, goiter or your hormones have slowed it down. Most times, your doctor will treat you with thyroid hormone pills and you will start to feel better within a week or two.
But what should you do if you have all of the symptoms (tired, cold all the time, hair and memory loss, brittle nails and hair, leg swelling) and your doctor says your blood tests are fine? Most thyroid tests aren’t articulate enough to catch this, so pay close attention to how you feel and treat your thyroid naturally to keep it working at an optimal rate so you never have a problem with it slowing down.
The thyroid is “The Master Hormone” that controls everything in our body. One of the biggest reasons our thyroids slow down is due to iodine deficiency in addition to aging. In fact, 40% of us are at risk for iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism. Not giving our bodies the nutrients that are important for a healthy thyroid will also slow your thyroid down. Since the body does not make iodine, it relies on the diet to get enough. We can easily maintain adequate iodine through our diets by using table salt because it’s fortified with iodine, but most of us need to restrict or limit our sodium causing iodine deficiencies to show up. Many medications also slow down the thyroid and also cause iodine deficiency. Lithium and corticosteroids are thyroid-slowing and should be used sparingly if at all. Pain medications, antihistamines and anti-depressants may also slow the thyroid down. Medications that make you feel sleepy or slow may also slow your thyroid and your metabolism down even more. Ask your doctor about alternatives.
Here are three things you can do to boost your thyroid function:
1. Eat more of these great sources of iodine to enhance thyroid function:
- Low fat cheese
- Cow’s milk
- Low fat ice cream
- Low fat yogurt
- Saltwater fish
- Seaweed (including kelp, dulce, nori)
- Soy sauce
2. Eat less of these foods; they slow your thyroid because they block your thyroid and your medication from producing thyroid hormone properly, especially when eaten raw. Cooking these foods inactivates their anti-thyroid properties. These foods are called goitrogens, which are chemicals that lower thyroid function. Eat these foods sparingly or only once every four days:
- Cauliflower (Any vegetable that falls into the broccoli family is a goitrogen and shouldn’t be eaten more than twice a week if you have hypothyroidism.)
- Brussels sprouts
- Pine nuts
- Soy (Isoflavones block iodine)
- Canola oil
3. Workout every day. All you need is a pair of sneakers and a watch, and you’re ready to go. For optimal thyroid function, you must exercise at least three days a week for 40 minutes per workout. I strongly suggest working out/walking every day so your thyroid gets a boost daily to correct the condition until your thyroid is running at an optimal rate. Circuit training is also great way to lower insulin levels and increase thyroid function. This is easy to do in the comfort of your own home by doing pushups, lunges and sit-ups back to back without rest, pushing yourself a bit to get out of breath.
Bonus: Enhance your thyroid with supplements. Take thyroid-enhancing supplements daily to gently and safely keep your thyroid working optimally for life. The best way to treat anything is to prevent it! Supplementing is the best way to keep your thyroid running at an optimal rate and to keep your weight under control. Start your supplement regime first by using a very strong, high quality multivitamin. Most store-bought vitamins are not suitable or strong enough to help hypothyroidism, so look for a very potent high quality multi with high levels of iodine, selenium, zinc, vitamin B, D, E and at least 2 grams of vitamin C. Other nutrients such as omega-3 as well as amino acids also help regulate the thyroid and need to also be considered. One of my favorites that I put all of my hypothyroid clients on is gugglesterones. Guggulsterone or guggulipid’s have been used for centuries in ayurvedic medicine to naturally regulate the thyroid and keep it running at an optimal rate without the side effects of medications. Look for supplement multitaskers from a very reputable source so you don’t have to take 29 different pills every day.
Do You Know What’s in Your Protein Bar?
Let’s be honest here, most of us eat protein bars not only because they are convenient, but because we hope that they will help us lose weight. These bars were designed with endurance athletes in mind. Because they are portable and high in carbs, they are the perfect food for endurance events lasting more than 2 hours. They keep athletes from “hitting the wall” by providing nutrients that the body needs while exercising. Additionally, they are easy to snack on while training. The reality is that most people do not need extra carbohydrates while they exercise. In fact, the reason why we exercise is to burn off extra carbohydrates so that they won’t be stored as fat.
It is very important to be clear what your fitness goals are when choosing a protein bar.
- Do you want to lose weight/body fat?
- Is it to replace a meal?
- Is it a snack?
- Is it for weight gain?
- Do you need extra energy for long (2 hours plus) intense training?
Most of the bars today are loaded with excess sugar and saturated fat. They also lack fiber and other important phytochemicals that keep your body healthy. You would never think that the companies that make these bars and preach about low sugar-low fat diets would actually add those ingredients to their bars. But guess what? They do! Always read the label before you buy any nutritional product.
Here is what you should look for:
Check to see how much fat is in the bar and what type of fat it is. Many bars contain the “bad” fats and trans fats that can lead to heart disease. Look for good fats like canola oil.
If you are looking for a snack, the bar should contain 150 calories and under. To replace a meal, the bar could have 300 calories. Remember the bar’s purpose is to supply your body with the same nutrients that a meal would supply.
What type of protein does the bar contain? Whey is the best source. Look for at least 15 grams to help you reach your goal of at least 50 grams of protein per day.
Always look for complex carbohydrates like brown rice and other natural sources like fruit or fruit juices.
Look for the lowest number that you can find. If a bar contains, let’s say, 36 grams of carbohydrates and has 30 grams of sugar, you can be pretty sure that almost all of the carbs come form sugar. Most people eat protein bars to improve their diet, not to add more sugar to it.
Remember that sugar alcohols may be listed elsewhere on the label, so be sure to check for them. Try to keep sugar grams to no more than 5% of the bars total calories.
Some fiber is better than no fiber. See if you can find a bar that has at least some fiber to help to get you to your goal of 30 grams per day.
Sugar alcohols do not have to be listed as a carb on the label, so your bar could have a lot more carbs than you think. Even bars that claim to have no carbs may contain high amounts of carbs. Bar companies get away with this by calling them “sugar alcohols”; but this is just a way to disguise carbohydrates.
Always read the labels and look for the cleanest bar that you can find. After all we all need a “quick meal” available once in a while.
5 Sneaky Tricks to Burn Fat
Getting your body to burn fat for fuel is serious business. Losing weight is one thing, but it takes a little extra work to get your body to burn fat from your storage areas like your gut, hips and thighs. Shedding body fat involves a lifestyle that’s focused 75% on diet and 25% on sweat. If you are over-feeding your body (even while eating healthy foods), all your body will do is burn off the calories that you've just consumed. This can leave extra fat laying around your waist and thighs.
To target this fat, you’ll need to enact what I call “first things first” principles. The principles include doing cardio everyday for 60 minutes per session and lifting weights in a “fat-loss fashion” every other day. Once you have these things in place and you still want or need to burn more body fat, below are five things that are very effective at helping your body to burn fat for fuel.
- Start your day with a protein shake
Make your shake with ice and water or anything that does not add calories. Protein shakes increase your metabolism by 25%! Why wait until later in the day to burn fat when you can burn fat all day long?
- Drink coffee
Always have your coffee black (you can add 2 artificial sweeteners if you dislike the taste). Drinking black coffee is one of the oldest fat-burning tricks in the book. However, if you add anything that has calories like cream or even non-fat creamers or skim milk, you stop the fat-burning process! Drinking enough caffeine to make your heart race is never a good idea, but having black coffee in moderation will keep you full and help you burn fat.
- Have a calorie curfew
Stop eating four or more hours before bedtime and don’t start eating until 9 a.m. This gives your body a chance to clear out, and having a calorie curfew helps to stop late night eating. Don’t forget to drink your protein shake in the morning to break the fast and jumpstart your metabolism.
- Take 500 mg or more of L-Carnitine
L-Carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in red meat. You would never be able to eat the amount of L-Carnitine that your body needs to burn fat from only eating red meat, so it is better to take the supplement and save the calories. This supplement is also referred to as the “Carnitine Shuttle” because it shuttles or pulls body fat into the cells and prompts this fat to be burned as fuel. It is very safe to use and does not have any side effects.
- Take 1 aspirin every other day
Take plain old baby aspirin every other day with your coffee in the morning – just be sure that your stomach can handle it first. This is another fat-burning trick that old timers used to do to burn fat; it’s tried, true and effective! Consult with your physician to make sure this is right for you.
Always keep in mind that it takes changes in 100 different areas to effectively lose weight and/or body fat. There is never any one thing that will get your body to burn fat for fuel – it’s always a combination of things. You are guaranteed to burn fat if you do what it takes consistently. The only question is: will you do it?
5 Rules for Losing Those Last 10 Stubborn Pounds
Losing those last five or 10 pounds can be downright impossible. The bottom line is … it is all about numbers! All you have to do is take your goal weight and multiply it by 10 – and that is the correct amount of calories that you should be taking in each day in order to reach your goal weight. The hard part is HOW do you decrease your calories without giving up even more?