It's time to stop eating everything
Dietary needs vary so greatly from person to person that I won’t even begin to try to provide a standardized eating program. Besides, that’s out of my scope. What I will offer are a few easy changes you can make to your eating habits that can make a serious difference when it comes to leaning out.
1. Stop eating everything. Seriously. Food is delicious and necessary, but if you regularly go back for seconds, or mindlessly munch on chips while sitting at your desk (yes, I’m talking to you), stop. Take five minutes to think about when you tend to overeat and come up with a plan to adjust your behavior. For instance, clear out the snack drawer in your office, commit to taking a sabbatical from eating in front of the TV, and no matter how delicious the lasagna was, always let your first serving sit in your belly for at least 15 minutes before you decide to go back for seconds.
2. Start every meal with a vegetable. Starting every meal with a veggie is beneficial in many ways. First, who doesn’t need to eat more veggies? They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and when your body gets the nutrients it needs, your metabolism is more likely to function at optimum speeds. Second, the combination of high water and fiber content and low calorie density means veggies fill you up without overstocking your calorie tank. When you start your meals with vegetables, you’re more likely to eat fewer total calories, which is a boon for fat loss.
3. Sip on water all day long. Go buy yourself a new water bottle, because this tip is important. Even low levels of dehydration can negatively affect your body’s metabolism, which means you’ll burn fewer calories, feel more sluggish, and have a harder time getting through your workouts. How is any of that worthwhile? Aim to drink at least two liters of water a day, and check the toilet after you pee. If your urine is pale yellow, you’re probably doing a pretty good job of staying hydrated. Plus, if you’re constantly getting up and down to go to the bathroom all day, that’s extra activity. Every little bit counts, right?
4. Skip the liquid calories. Yes, even beer. It’s just for three weeks, OK? Stick to black coffee, unsweetened tea, and water. You’d be surprised how many calories you can cut from your diet by following this one tip. And if you’re worried your social life will take a nosedive without weekly happy hours, limit yourself to one night out a week. Your waistline and your liver will thank you.
5. Stick to eating real food. And no, Cheetos don’t count. If you can’t track a food’s origins immediately back to a specific plant and/or animal, then it probably shouldn’t be going in your body. Lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains in their most natural form, and full-fat dairy (in moderation) are all on the “yes” list.
Will you look like a professional bodybuilder if you follow this plan? No, of course not -- remember, you're the person who waited until there were three weeks before summer to start thinking about getting in shape. You should generally stay active and eat well year round, most of the time.