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Think while you eat

People don’t overeat just because they’re hungry — sometimes it’s because they’re not focused on the act of eating itself. Instead of savoring each bite, they unconsciously scarf down their food while reading, driving, or watching television. Eating mindfully means being fully engaged in your meal. Learn to slow down with these tips:

  • Breathe. Practice relaxation breathing before beginning your meal.

  • Ponder. Think about how your food got to your table, including all the hard work and planning involved. Contemplate how your meal will nourish your body and provide energy throughout the day.

  • Take small bites. Taste the flavors — sweet, savory, salty. Enjoy the textures — smooth, chewy, crunchy. Fully experience each bite before swallowing. Recognize your hunger signals. When they begin to fade, stop eating.

  • Beware. Avoid mindless eating pitfalls and skip the junk food altogether.

Mindful eating will make you more aware of what and how much you’re eating and turn each meal into a truly nourishing experience.

Combat Stress with a Whey Protein Shake

When you’re under stress and feel the urge to binge on your favorite fatty food, make a whey protein shake or eggs, instead.

It’s a common problem for dieting bodybuilders that derails weeks of progress: binge eating. All too often, you are doing well sticking to your diet, then you get stressed out over work or your relationship, and before you know it you are scarfing down a whole pizza.

Science may now know why stress causes you to binge.

Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas) placed mice in a cage with more dominant males that “bullied” them. When the mice were exposed to this stressful situation, they had higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that increases hunger. This caused the mice to preferentially eat more fatty food.

What does this mean for you?

When you’re under stress and feel the urge to binge on your favorite fatty food, make a whey protein shake with Growth Factor 9 instead. Both whey and eggs have been shown to lower ghrelin levels and decrease hunger and food intake.

**For a great way to boost muscle recovery, check out Growth Factor-9.

20 Tips to Shed Body Fat for Good

late-night beer runs, fast-food binges and liberal use of salad dressings. We did, however, come up with 20 ways to give body fat a proper send-off. A big part of it has to do with your lifting and cardio regimens - keep those up. But here we step away from the gym and into your kitchen to present a practical list for cleaning up your eating habits and, as a result, your physique.

1. Change your lifestyle.

When you go on a "program" to lose body fat, you may set yourself up for failure. A program implies an endpoint, which is when most people return to their previous habits. If you want to lose fat and keep it off, make changes that you can live with indefinitely. Don't over-restrict calories, and find an exercise program that adequately challenges you, provides progression and offers sufficient variety so that you can maintain it for years to come.

2. Drink more water.

Water is the medium in which most cellular activities take place, including the transport and burning of fat. In addition, drinking plenty of calorie-free water makes you feel full and eat less. Drink at least 1 ounce of water per 2 pounds of bodyweight a day (that's 100 ounces for a 200-pound person). Keep a 20-ounce water bottle at your desk, fill it five times a day, and you're set.

3. Consume fewer calories than you burn.

To figure out how many calories you burn a day, calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)—the number of calories you burn daily doing routine activities, not including formal exercise—using this formula: RMR = bodyweight (in pounds) x 13. Next, determine how many calories you burn through exercise—a half-hour of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise burns around 350 calories in the average man, and a half-hour of lifting burns around 200. Add your RMR to the calories you burn in the gym, and keep your daily calorie consumption below that total.

4. Reduce starchy carbs.

Consuming too many starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, pasta and breads (especially at one sitting), provides your body with more than it needs for energy and glycogen stores; anything left over will be stored as fat. "You don't have to eliminate starchy carbs completely," says IFBB pro Mike Matarazzo. "But you should really cut back on them when trying to shed body fat." Limit total starch servings per day to 3-5, where a serving size is one cup of pasta, rice or sliced potatoes.

NEXT: Fat-Burning Tips 5-8 >> [2]

 

5. Eat a full, balanced breakfast.

"Your body has been starving all night long, and it needs nutrients to rebuild itself," says Matarazzo. "If you just catch something quick on the run instead of eating a full meal, it negatively impacts your workout, and everything else you do during the day." Eat sufficient protein (30-40 grams), a complex carbohydrate, like oatmeal, and a piece of fruit to start your day off right.

6. Limit sugar consumption.

Taking in simple carbs (sugars) right after weight training replenishes muscle and liver glycogen stores, but excess sugar consumed at other times will be stored as fat. Satisfy your sweet tooth occasionally, but try limiting your intake of sugar to fresh fruit. Replace sugary beverages like soft drinks and juice with water, coffee, tea or diet soda.

7. Rotate your carbs.

Nutrition expert and former bodybuilder Chris Aceto recommends eating about one gram of carbs per pound of bodyweight for 3-5 days—these being low-carb days—and doubling that for the next 1-2 days, then repeating that cycle. If you weigh 200 pounds, eat 200 grams on low-carb days and 400 grams on other days.

8. Drink coffee (black) before working out.

"Caffeine causes the body to rely more on fat for fuel during a workout, rather than glucose," Aceto says. "But the caffeine effect is lessened when you eat a high-carbohydrate meal with it." Drink 1-2 cups of black coffee within two hours of working out, and emphasize healthy fats and protein if you're drinking it with a meal or snack. Skip the cream and sugar (which add unwanted calories and fat), and avoid drinking coffee at other times of the day; doing so can desensitize you to the fat-burning effects of caffeine.

 

NEXT: Fat-Burning Tips 9-12 >> [3]

9. Avoid drastic calorie reductions.

"Any competitor who drastically cuts calories to try to get leaner for a show learns that that's not the best way to diet," says IFBB fitness competitor Laurie Vaniman. "You end up looking flat and depleted." The same holds true for noncompetitors; aim for a modest decrease in calories instead. Smaller bodybuilders shouldn't cut more than 200-300 calories per day, and larger bodybuilders shouldn't cut more than 500, says Aceto.

10. Eat 5-6 meals a day.

Dieters often decrease the number of daily meals in an attempt to reduce calories—a big no-no. "If you eat six meals a day versus three with the same total calories, you can lose more fat because more meals burn more calories [by increasing thermogenesis, the production of heat, in the body]," says Aceto. Calculate how many calories you want to consume per day (see tip 3), and spread them evenly across 5-6 meals.

11. Take CLA.

CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) has come into vogue in bodybuilding circles as a fat burner. Several studies in humans have shown modest effects on fat loss. Try 3 grams per day of CLA.

12. Consider ephedrine.

Ephedrine is the active ingredient found in the plant ephedra, also known as ma huang. Ephedrine increases the amount of calories the body burns by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, causing fat cells to be mobilized for fuel. It also is protein sparing (saving the aminos for your muscles). Never exceed label recommendations for dosages, and consult a physician before using any ephedra product. Heed any contraindications.

 

NEXT: Fat-Burning Tips 13-16 >> [4]

13. Use creatine.

Creatine, a potent muscle-builder, may also help you burn fat. The muscle added during creatine use increases your resting metabolic rate, stoking your fat-burning furnace. This is critical during a fat-loss phase, when low calorie intake can compromise your muscle mass and lower your metabolic rate. Begin with a five-day loading phase: 15-20 grams daily, divided into 3-4 equal doses. After that, take 3-5 grams of creatine per day with a meal post-exercise.

14. Increase vegetable consumption.

Vegetables are nutrient-dense, meaning they pack maximum nutrition value with minimal calories, leaving you more full on fewer calories. Consume five servings a day of veggies, whether as a snack, on a sandwich or on the side of a chicken breast. Order your next burger with fresh vegetables instead of french fries.

15. Don't over-rely on fat burners.

Fat burners help reduce body fat, but they won't counter poor eating habits. If you take the products mentioned in tips 11-13 without exercising or eating well, you'll be more inclined to pack it on than to lose it. Fat burners are not magic pills -use them along with a solid nutrition and exercise plan.

16. Consume 25-35 grams of fiber a day.

"Fiber lowers insulin levels—along with total calories—affecting how lean you'll get," says Aceto. Fiber absorbs water and takes up more space in your stomach, fighting off hunger pangs, too. Great sources of fiber include bran cereal, oatmeal and beans. Check nutrition labels for fiber content.

 

NEXT: Fat-Burning Tips 17-20 >> [5]

17. Eliminate junk food.

"Junk food is food that offers almost nothing but calories—like french fries, potato chips and sweets," says Matarazzo. "Cheat foods, on the other hand, like pizza and hamburgers, have some nutritional benefit, and eating them once in a while can really help when you're on a diet." Know the difference.

18. Eat the proper amount of protein.

Many bodybuilders jack their protein through the roof when they diet. But protein has calories, too, which can be stored as fat if overconsumed. Take in 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight each day, (200-300 grams for a 200-pound person). This provides sufficient amino acids to maintain muscle mass, while keeping your total calorie count under control.

19. Eat more healthy fats.

"Healthy fats are totally underutilized by individuals trying to shed body fat," says Matarazzo. "You have to reduce calories to get rid of body fat, but you don't want to cut out healthy fats completely." Fats take longer to break down in your stomach and help control blood-sugar levels, leaving you more satisfied and reducing your cravings. Include avocados, fatty fish, olives, nuts and seeds, and oils such as olive, flaxseed and canola in your diet.

20. Eat cheat foods for flavor.

"If you love a particular food, you shouldn't prohibit yourself from eating it," says Vaniman. "Avoid the bad foods that you don't love or crave. And when you eat cheat foods, eat them for flavor. Don't eat the whole pizza—have a few slices, savor the flavor and enjoy it. Share the rest." 

Prevent a Pig-Out

Eat for Weight Loss

Prevent a Pig-Out

Your best weight-loss intentions will inevitably come face-to-face with temptation. Learn to boost your willpower, and keep the pounds off

Control Your Cravings

It was right there for the taking. After a 5-mile group run, I drove past my favorite takeout place. My stomach was craving—no, demanding—food. A lot of it. I had a recovery shake waiting for me at home, but this was so much faster. Besides, I deserved a reward for burning off almost 800 calories. What's wrong with a tasty payoff for my commitment to health? I turned into the drive-thru lane.

My willpower had failed me. Yes, it had gotten me to my run on time, but it vanished when I needed it most. Any gains I'd made I gave right back. Why couldn't I say no?

It turns out that willpower isn't simply dense moral fiber. The latest science suggests it's found in the soft gray matter of your frontal lobe, where good decisions are made and poor choices are rejected. Your willpower is tough. It helps you fight temptation, prevent binges, choose food wisely, and stay motivated. But it's a finite resource. Nurture it, maintain it, and deploy it with this six-point plan.

 

  • Feed your willpower

    Here's a surprise: Your willpower runs on sugar. Like your muscles, your brain needs glucose to function at an optimal level, says Roy Baumeister, Ph.D., social psychology area director at Florida State University and coauthor of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. In a series of nine studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Baumeister discovered that people with steady glucose levels were more persistent at attempting to complete an unsolvable task than those whose glucose levels declined during the experiments. "Increase your blood glucose and you can fuel your willpower," he says.

    But put down the Skittles. Sure, glucose is easily available from straight sugar, but your body also creates it from fruit, many vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products. You can even build glucose by pumping up your protein, says Baumeister. "It takes your body longer to make glucose from protein, but the benefits can last longer," he says.

    But the problem is that weight-watching men often adopt extreme low-calorie diets. "If you starve yourself, you'll have low glucose," says Baumeister. And without sufficient glucose, your brain doesn't have the fuel it needs to resist junk food. So if you feel your energy fading, don't skip smart snacks, like nuts. (Want a snack without the guilt. Find your perfect shake recipe right here.)

  • Celebrate wisely

    Scientists have a name for my drive-thru cave-in: compensation. It's the inclination to reward yourself for a job well done, and that feeling can fight with your weight-loss intentions. In fact, the harder your workout is, the bigger you may think your compensation should be, says Timothy Church, M.D., Ph.D., director of the laboratory of preventive medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. "When men endure a tough, hourlong workout or push through a 7-mile run, they feel a need to celebrate," he says. "But a good workout is not carte blanche to eat whatever you want."

    The solution: Don't rely on your willpower to deny yourself a well-earned treat. Instead, use it to ensure that your reward doesn't outweigh the workout (literally). "Do the math: If you burned off 700 calories, keep your food intake to less than that," says Dr. Church. It's a pat on the back that doesn't wipe out your hard work. Or go with a nonfood reward: Buy yourself an iTunes download every time you work out, or treat yourself to basketball tickets when you rack up 10 training sessions.

  • Play defense

    Well-fed willpower won't resist all temptation. You'll need to conserve your supply so it's always there for you. A recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology followed people's reactions to enticements throughout the day. Oddly, people with the best self-control were the ones who used their willpower less often. Instead of fending off one temptation after another, they set up their daily lives to minimize them. In other words, they played defense. "Look inside people's fridges—they're full of temptations," says lead researcher Wilhelm Hofmann, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago. Leftover Chinese, Ben & Jerry's, cans of Coke? Toss it all and don't buy it again. There—now your willpower can get some rest at home.

  • Stay alert

    Want to make smart choices? Go to bed early. "Willpower is lower when you're sleepy," says Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist at Northwestern University who specializes in behavioral sleep medicine. The average night owl consumes an additional 248 calories more each day than someone who goes to bed earlier, and most of those extra calories tend to be racked up after 8 p.m., according to 2011 research published in the journal Obesity.

    Short night of sleep? Pour a cup of coffee and add a packet of real sugar—not Splenda or some other artificial sweetener. A 2010 Spanish study revealed that the combination of caffeine and sugar increased cognitive performance in the bilateral parietal cortex and left prefrontal cortex regions. These are two areas of the brain that support your ability to stay focused and goal-oriented when confronted with tempting distractions.

  • Scare yourself

    It's easy to rationalize and convince yourself that one more plate of sliders won't make a difference to your waistline. To fuel your resolve, try taking the opposite approach—tell yourself a tall tale. A University of Texas study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that exaggerating the number of calories in a favorite food—a tactic called "counteractive construal"--can help you override those temptations.

    That hot, slender girl who recoils from pizza? She's onto something. Overestimating the impact of a gut bomb can help establish a clear, direct link between "bad food" and "being out of shape." Imagining that a cheeseburger contains 2,000 calories can prompt you to start picturing yourself with an extra 20 pounds. And that will help you say no. (Can't frighten yourself? Check out these scary food labels that's aren't what they claim.)

  • Delay, don't deny

    When it comes to food lures, procrastination can be a good thing. Instead of simply saying no to that nacho platter, tell yourself you'll eat it sometime in the future. A study presented at this year's annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology found that people who decided to postpone eating a bag of potato chips were more capable of resisting the temptation than people who simply tried to refrain altogether from eating the crunchy, salty snack.

    While "no" only intensifies feelings of deprivation, "later" has a different effect: "Postponement weakens the desire at the precise time when peak desire overwhelms willpower," says study author Nicole Mead, Ph.D., of the Rotterdam School of Management. It's unrealistic to postpone all unhealthy foods and drinks, she says. Instead, pick one or two that tempt you the most and postpone those. Add more over time and you'll reap even bigger results.

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    Thirst not, want not

    Dehydration is caused not only by failing to drink enough water, but also by persistent diarrhea, vomiting, high fever, and excess sweating. Regardless of the reason, it’s vital to replace the fluids your body eliminates. Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration in adults are:

    • Dry, sticky mouth
    • Crying without tears
    • Dry skin
    • Lethargy
    • Unusual sleepiness or drowsiness
    • Thirst
    • Decreased urine
    • Headache
    • Constipation
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness

    Prevention methods include:

    • Drinking plenty of fluid throughout the day; aim for eight cups (eight ounces each)
    • Having extra water before, during, and after exercise — especially on hot days
    • Monitoring anyone who’s ill — particularly infants, children, or older adults — to make sure they drink more fluid than usual
    • Avoiding caffeinated beverages like coffee and cola, which can expedite urine and accelerate dehydration
    • Not drinking alcohol
    • Halting work or exercise when you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or unusually tired
    • Changing into dry clothes immediately after sweating
    • Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which naturally contain water.
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