Benefits of Diets

How does the 3-Day Diet work? Breakfast, according to this site, the most comprehensive of all the websites, is coffee (black), half a grapefruit, and a piece of toast with a smidgen of peanut butter. Lunch is half a cup of tuna (hold the mayo) on a piece of toast with more coffee to wash it down. Dinner is 3 ounces of meat, 2 cups of veggies, a small apple, and—get ready to splurge—1 cup of vanilla ice cream. The second and third days bring “radical” menu options such as hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, hot dogs, bananas, and saltine crackers, but the day’s calorie cap remains unchanged. Throughout the diet, calorie-free beverages, like water, coffee, tea, and diet soda are all fair game. Expand this section for more on the diet.

Will you lose weight? Likely. While no published studies have examined a 3-day diet, the 800 to 1,000 calories provided is far fewer than most adults are advised to get each day. But how long can you cycle through the on-off mantra of the diet? And when you’re off, will you just revert to old ways and gain back the pounds? Whether you’ll actually maintain your weight loss is unclear.

How well does it conform to accepted dietary guidelines?

Fat You’ll get less than the government’s recommended 20 to 35 percent of daily calories from fat.

Protein It’s within the recommended range of 10 to 35 percent, at 29 percent of daily calories.

Carbohydrates At 59 percent of daily calories, it’s within the acceptable range of 45 to 65 percent.

Salt The majority of Americans eat too much salt. The recommended daily maximum is 2,300 milligrams, but if you’re 51 or older, African-American, or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, that limit is 1,500 mg. This diet provided just 1,088 mg.

Potassium A sufficient amount of this important nutrient, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, counters salt’s ability to raise blood pressure, decreases bone loss, and reduces the risk of developing kidney stones. It’s not that easy to get the recommended daily 4,700 mg. from food. (Bananas are high in potassium, yet you’d have to eat 11 a day to get enough.) The majority of Americans take in far too little. The sample menu provided just 1,470 mg.

Diets by Category

Low-Carbohydrate Diets These diets provide fewer carbs than is recommended by government guidelines. Because carbs provide energy, restricting them forces the body to use an alternate fuel: fat. Low-carb diets are known to bring on quick weight loss, but many experts question their long-term sustainability.

Low-Fat Diets These diets contain significantly less than the government’s recommended limit for intake of total fat and saturated fat. They’re known to be heart-healthy approaches, but they can be difficult to stick to.

Low-Calorie Diets Calorie needs are unique to each person, and eating fewer calories than your body uses will lead to weight loss. These diets provide far fewer calories than is generally recommended for most adults.

Balanced Diets These diets generally fall within widely accepted ranges for the amount of protein, carbs, fat, and other nutrients they provide.

High-Protein Diets These diets generally fall within widely accepted ranges for the amount of protein, carbs, fat, and other nutrients they provide.

Heart Health

A diet low in fats, cholesterol and sodium can lower your risk of heart disease. The types of fat in your diet play a major role in your level of risk. Saturated and trans fats ­­ commonly found in red meats, fried foods, coconut oils, palm oils, margarines and packaged snack foods ­­ increase your risk and should be avoided. Diets that reduce your risk of heart disease are rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low­fat dairy. Aim for four to five servings of fruits and four to five servings of vegetables per day.

Bone and Teeth Strength

A diet rich in calcium keeps your bones and teeth strong and helps prevent bone loss associated with osteoporosis. Low­fat dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt; dark green vegetables, such as bok choy and broccoli; and fortified foods, such as soy products, fruit juices and cereals are good sources of calcium. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily for average adults ages 19 to 50. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium; choose products fortified with vitamin D to balance your nutrition.

Energy

Increased energy levels are the immediate benefits of switching to a healthy diet. Eliminating excess fats, sugars and refined carbohydrates helps prevent blood sugar fluctuations. Examples of refined carbohydrates include candy and white breads. Unprocessed carbohydrates including whole grains, fruits and vegetables are most nutritious. This allows you to maintain steady blood sugar and constant energy levels as a result. Small, frequent meals also help maintain energy. In addition, eating a healthy breakfast helps keep you energized throughout the day. The American Council on Exercise recommends breakfasts, such as oatmeal with fruit, or a light sandwich.

Brain Health

Proper nutrition increases blood flow to your brain, protecting brain cells and helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. For a brain healthy diet, avoid fried foods and favor baked, steamed and grilled foods. Also, eat dark fruits and vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, prunes, raisins, blueberries, raspberries, plums and cherries. Almonds, walnuts, pecans and other nuts are great sources of vitamin E, which along with other vitamins, also helps fight Alzheimer’s disease.

Simple Ways To Cut 500 Calories

One pound of fat is equal to about 3,500 calories, and to shed one pound of fat in a week you would need to eat about 500 fewer calories every day. To do that you could run an hour a day, seven days a week, or you simply make some ordinary changes like these:

Breakfast

Swap out your morning bagel for a bowl of high­fiber cereal with half a cup of fiber­rich raspberries and cut about 500 calories. Fiber contains zero calories, which makes foods high in fiber low in calories. Plus, fiber adds bulk to a meal so you feel satisfied eating less.

Don’t clean your plate

Finish every meal with 25% still on the plate will automatically save calories. Just do the math: If you typically eat around 2,000 calories each day, the quarter left uneaten tallies up to about 500 calories. Alternatively, fill up a smaller 9­inch plate instead of eating from the standard 12­inch plate and you’ll trim 500 calories by eating less without even noticing.

Get up and move

A brisk 15­minute walk burns about 100 calories, so make walking part of your daily routine and you’ll burn 500 calories by week’s end—no sweat. Another trick: Spend more time standing; by some estimates you’ll burn upwards of 120 calories an hour compared to 60 when you are sitting down.

Chew your food

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who chew their food 40 times instead of the average 15 consumed 12% fewer calories. By chewing longer the body produces lower levels of ghrelin, the hormone that signals the brain when you are satisfied. By eating at a slower pace you’ll feel full while eating less—and fewer calories.

Sip slimmer cocktails

Sugar­laded cocktails such as margaritas are fun until you realize that just one can pack upwards of 600 calories. Have two and you’ve blown almost half your day’s calorie allotment. Cut out the sugary mixer and enjoy your spirits on the rocks or with a splash of juice or diet soda and each drink drops to about 50 calories.

Weight Control

To prevent weight gain, you must eat no more calories than you burn each day. For weight loss, you must eat fewer calories than your body burns daily. Healthy and nutrient­dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, typically contain fewer calories than sodas, sweets and fast food meals. Shedding excess pounds reduces your risk of obesity­related conditions such as type­2 diabetes, clogged arteries and thyroid dysfunction.

Best Workout Tips of All Time

1. Tone Up on the Treadmill
"Save time at the gym with this 10­minute cardio/sculpt session: Hop on a treadmill holding a three­ to five­pound dumbbell in each hand, and set the speed to a brisk walk. Do a one­minute set each of shoulder presses, biceps curls, triceps extensions, side laterals, front laterals and standing triceps kickbacks one after another as you walk. I's an amazing upper­body challenge that also gets your heart pumping. Do this series two or three times each week. As you improve, work up to doing four­minute sets."

2. Power Up Your Runs
""Adding wall sits to the end of every run will strengthen your quads, hamstrings and glutes, improving your speed and endurance. Lean against a wall with your feet shoulder­width apart, then squat until your knees are bent at 45 degrees. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds; work up to doing 10 sets. Add a challenge by including heel raises: Lift your left heel, then the right, then lift both together twice."

3. Chart Your Progress
"Stay motivated using a fitness report card. Jot down these subjects: Cardio, Muscle Conditioning, Flexibility and Attitude. Set goals (for example, doing 10 "boy" push­ups) and grade yourself A through F at least four times a year. When you see how much you improve, you'll want to stay in great shape."

4. Try This All­in­One Toner
"A side­step squat with wood chop works your arms, torso, abs, back, legs, inner thighs and butt. Stand with your feet shoulder­width apart holding a three­ to four­pound medicine ball in your hands. Bend your arms up so that the ball is at eye level over your right shoulder. As you bring the ball toward your left knee, step out with your left leg and bend it no further than 90 degrees, keeping your right leg straight. Return to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 reps and repeat on the other leg."

5. Break Out the Shovel
"Why pay someone to clear snow from your driveway? Besides burning nearly 400 calories per hour, shoveling snow develops muscular endurance and power. But be safe: Minimize the amount of snow on each shovelful, and bend from your knees and hips, not your back."

6. Work Out During Your Workday
"Sit on a stability ball to strengthen your core, and keep dumbbells or exercise tubing at your desk. Squeeze in 12 to 15 reps of exercises like dumbbell curls, overhead presses and ab crunches; aim for two or three sets of each. This gives you more free time to fit in fun workouts like biking or tennis."

7. Take This Jump­Rope Challenge
"The best cardio workout is the jump­rope double­turn maneuver. It's intense: You'll burn about 26 calories per minute! Do a basic jump for five minutes, then jump twice as high and turn the rope twice as fast so it passes under your feet twice before you land. This takes timing, patience and power. But you'll get in great shape just by working at it."

8. Give Yourself a Break
"You don't have to be a fitness saint to get results. Follow the 80/20 plan: Eighty percent of the year, you'll exercise regularly and eat well. Know that you'll slip 20 percent of the time due to holidays and work deadlines. When you accept that fitness isn't an all­or­nothing proposition, you're more likely to stick with it for life."

9. Get a Jump on Weight Loss
"Add plyometric box jumps to your workout to improve your cardiovascular stamina and leg strength — you'll really sculpt your hamstrings, quads and glutes. Find a sturdy box that';s at least one foot high [like a Plyo Box, $139.95; 888­556­7464; performbetter.com]. Starting from a standing position, explosively jump to the middle of the box, then jump back down. Repeat 20 times."

10. Don't Skimp on Carbs
"Your body needs them to fuel a workout, so reach for fruit or high­fiber crackers an hour beforehand. If you'e exercising for 90 minutes or longer, include some protein so that the carbs break down more slowly, giving you longer­lasting energy. Your best bets: low­fat cheese and crackers, trail mix or half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

11. Maximize Your Crunches
"Don't relax your abs as you lower your chest away from your knees during a crunch — you get only half the ab­toning benefit! To get the firmest abs possible, you need to sustain the contraction on the way down."

Intensify Your Push­Up

"Squat­thrust push­ups get you in great shape because they work your upper body, core and lower body and improve agility, strength and endurance all at once. From a standing position, bend down, put your hands on the floor shoulder­width apart, and jump your feet back into plank position. If you're strong, cross your ankles; otherwise, jump your feet wide apart. Do a push­up, then jump your feet together or uncross your ankles. Jump your feet back to your hands and stand up. Do eight reps total, rest for one minute, and repeat."

Paddle Your Way to Flatter Abs
"Go kayaking to get a taut stomach — it's ideal because much of your rowing power comes from your core. Mimic the motion and resistance of the water at home by looping an exercise band around the bottom of a table leg or other fixed object. Sit on the floor with legs extended, knees slightly bent; grasp one end of the band in each hand. Rotate your torso to one side as you bring the elbow back slightly, then switch sides. Do three sets of one to three minutes each."

Make Over Your Running Routine
"Unless you're training for a marathon, skip long, slow, distance running — sprinting builds more muscle. Add a few 10­ to 60­second sprints to your run, slowing down just long enough to catch your breath between them."

Super­Sculpt Your Butt
"Get great glutes by targeting the muscles and connective tissues buried deep in your body. To hit them, do high­intensity squats, such as jump squats. Then, blast off butt flab with cross­country skiing, bleacher running and stair climbing."

Ditch the Fitness Excuses:

I believe our emotions are what drive our successes or failures. Motivation is an incredibly powerful emotion. It helps you challenge yourself and push through plateaus. This kind of energy can help us interpret messages in a positive light, envision possibilities, and then seek out those opportunities. My “What’s Your Excuse?” poster evoked motivation in some, particularly the audience reading this right now. For others, it sparked shame—and outrage. Those people labeled me a bully and a fat­shamer, and suddenly I was at the core of controversy. But when FitnessMagazine.com asked its audience what they thought of me, a large chunk of you said I was an inspiration. When Facebook banned me from its site and FitnessMagazine.com then interviewed me, you rallied on my side. You’ve defended me because of one common truth among us: We know our health is important.

So what do we do now? We want to stop the obesity epidemic in America. We aren’t complacent —or at least don’t want to be. Whether we’re overweight or super fit, we know none of this is really about me, the messenger. It’s about the message. The message is about balance, and yes, pushing past self­acceptance. It says that when we deprive ourselves from living a healthy life, we limit our ability to thrive. As I've said numerous times over, it's important to love yourself. But let’s challenge ourselves and the people around us. When something or someone refers to obesity as "normal," challenge it! I’m not saying to shame or bully anyone, but we must focus on progress.

On a daily basis we engage in a comfortable schedule, with comfortable people and comfortable habits. Instead, let’s focus on how there is always room for improvement. The first step indiscouraging complacency is to create a goal and go public with it. This goal may be to fit into your pre­pregnancy jeans or to eat less processed foods. You need to write it down, set a deadline, and create daily steps in your life to hold you accountable. Accountability begins when you set up mental and physical enforcers that will push you to move out of your comfort zone – because let’s be honest, we are creatures of comfort. It’s only natural to gravitate toward what is easier rather than what is harder. So let’s fight the complacency trend by making life harder. Here’s how:

Choose goal that is significantly difficult, but not unattainable

like losing 20 pounds. Write it down and look at it daily. It might seem lofty at first. But if you break it down to achievable short- term goals (like losing one pound every week), you will be at your goal weight by Spring.

Create a team that will hold you accountable. Find these three people:
A mentor, a supporter, and a follower. Your mentor doesn’t even have to be someone you see every day; it can be a complete stranger you look up to, like a healthy living blogger. And your follower can be someone who you can help. When you are someone else’s role model, it forces you to stay on course. There’s nothing quite like someone else looking up to you and wanting you to succeed.

Develop an effective workout. Get uncomfortable
If you are going through your routines and not seeing results, it’s a sign that your body has adjusted and needs a fresh challenge. Do yourself a favor, and when you feel like you’re working at a level 9 (on a scale of 1­10), bust out five more reps, run five more minutes or increase your weight by five more pounds. Your body will appreciate the extra work you put in.

Lastly, examine your nutrition.

If you are not seeing results, the answer is often in the details. Start writing down what you eat daily and find areas where you can improve. Being more attentive to your food and beverage intake will require a little more time and effort, but nutrition is the majority of your success and can make or break you. Success begins within each one of us and transmits to the people around us. So let’s keep ourselves out of our comfort zones. By pushing ourselves, we will indirectly inspire others to reconsider their routines. Perform pushups in- between commercials and invite your partner to do them with you. Forfeit that sugary coffee drink with the girls and suggest a walk around the park instead. Ultimately, we are only in control of our own minds and health—but let’s encourage others to see what they can become.

Your Weight and Fitness

There are two large women who've been in boot camp with me for years. They almost never miss a class and never take it easy. Yet as I've lunged, squatted, and planked alongside them nearly daily, I'm ashamed to admit that one question has occasionally bounced around my brain: With all that exercise, after all this time, why aren't these women in better shape?

Then came the 2012 Olympic Games. The world was poised to witness its most formidable female athletes lock horns in London. And what did we hear? Slams against Australian swimmer Leisel Jones, declaring the eight­time medalist fat and thus unfit to represent her country. Cheap shots about muffin tops and saddlebags on the British women's beach volleyball team. And tweets about British swimmer Rebecca Adlington's physique that became so vicious, she dropped off Twitter altogether. "These women made it to the Olympics, for god's sake. How unfit could they be?" I found myself ranting at the TV.

Then I thought, sheepishly, about the women at boot camp. It became clear to me that the knee- jerk connection I and apparently others might make between how much a person weighs and how physically fit and healthy she is needed some serious reevaluation.

The New Thinking on Weight

Recent research suggests that being overweight or even obese may not, in and of itself, be the health threat we think it is. A 2012 study from the National Cancer Institute found that moderately obese people actually lived about 3.1 years longer than normal­weight women and men. Another study, published in the European Heart Journal, showed that when obese people are metabolically healthy — which means their blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and other indicators fall within a healthy range — they are at no greater risk of dying from heart disease or cancer than those who are of normal weight.

"What we're learning is that a body that exercises regularly is generally a healthy body, whether that body is fat or thin," says Glenn Gaesser, PhD, a professor of exercise and wellness at Arizona State University and the author of Big Fat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight and Your Health. Case in point, the metabolically healthy participants in the European Heart Journal study were generally more physically fit than their obese peers. "The message should really be that if you are exercising regularly, you shouldn't necessarily be looking at the scale to determine how healthy or fit you are," Gaesser says.

There are a multitude of reasons that movement is such strong medicine: Because muscles are the largest consumers of sugar in the body, increased muscle mass reduces the chance of excess sugar accumulating in the blood, which is essentially what diabetes is. Regular physical activity reduces inflammation in the cardiovascular system and affects the secretion of clotting hormones, allowing blood to flow more easily to muscles and preventing the formation of deadly clots. Moderate exercise (at least 150 minutes a week of medium­intensity exercise like walking) combined with diet changes can also reduce the amount of potentially deadly fat in the liver. And study after study has shown that overweight and obese people who work out can reap such benefits and improve their metabolic health even if they don't shed a pound.

How Fat and Weight Affect Your Health

The Skinny on Fat: None of this is to say that we can pack on pounds without worry. Carrying a lot of weight around increases stress on joints and can make us less inclined to be active. There's also the plain reality that the more overweight you are, the more likely it is that your metabolic health will take a hit, now or in the future. "Given the choice, I come down almost always on the side that being overweight is a bad thing," says Walter R. Thompson, PhD, a professor of exercise science at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

But choice is a loaded word for many obesity experts, as well as for countless individuals who have waged a lifelong war with their weight. "I spent the first part of my life struggling with being fat. I would lose weight on diets, gain it back, and each time end up feeling horrible about myself," says Hanne Blank, the author of The Unapologetic Fat Girl's Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts. "Only as I've come into my own as an adult have I made peace with the fact that I may always be big." It's a brutal realization that seems to bear itself out in the big picture: As many as two­thirds of us end up regaining more weight than we lose while dieting.

Pinning ambitious weight­loss hopes on exercise hasn't panned out too well, either. At five feet four inches and 172 pounds, Sherry Norris, 42, of Norcross, Georgia, knows this firsthand. A dedicated exerciser, Sherry alternates running and working out to the Insanity DVD program on most days and ran her first marathon last year. "I've followed all the directions and done the training plans, and I've lost exactly five pounds. At this point I have no idea how to get the weight off," she says.

Within the past few years numerous studies have borne out exactly what Sherry is experiencing: Despite the extra calories we burn, many of us fail to lose weight — and may even gain some — after embarking on an exercise program. This could be because our appetite is triggered by vigorous activity; we reward ourselves for our efforts with food, or we spend more time vegging out on the couch when we're not at the gym.

Then there's the tricky topic of metabolism. "Exercise doesn't rev up the metabolism, as we've been led to believe," says Diana Thomas, PhD, an author of a study from the Center for Quantitative Obesity Research at Montclair State University in New Jersey. "We found that when volunteers who were put on an exercise regimen began to lose weight, their metabolic rate — how manycalories they would burn while sitting and doing nothing — actually began to drop." Thomas and her colleagues suspect that metabolic slowing may be the body's protective attempt to preserve energy when it senses that more calories are being burned through exercise. Plus a fit body operates more efficiently — the heart doesn't have to pump as fast, breathing is less rapid — and that also reduces how many calories we burn all day.

Making long­term weight loss even more elusive is the fact that we each may have our own personal set point, a range of about 10 to 20 pounds in which the body biologically tries to stay despite our efforts. This means that weight loss is biologically resisted in some people. Also, our appetite makes it too easy to override the upper threshold of our set­point range, so we gain weight, says Linda Bacon, PhD, the author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight.

The net result of these many hurdles: Even if people do lose some weight from exercise, they often don't lose as much as they expect to. For many, that's reason enough to abandon boot camp and head back to the couch.

Foods that burn fat

Body fat is an ugly truth of life for most Indian men. Our lifestyle is such that it becomes almost impossible to avoid it. Just sweating out in the gym day and night is not enough to reach your goal of losing your body fat when your mother is busy feeding you the butter­laced aloo ka parantha. Along with a healthy workout, food also plays a crucial role in reducing body fat. Here are 7 foods that help in burning fat.

1. Eggs

Eggs are known to be high in protein which burns fat faster than other fatty foods. It also contains Vitamin B12, 8 minerals, iron, calcium and other macronutrients, which aid the body in metabolizing fat.

2. Fish

Instead of reaching for your chicken curry next time, try opting for fish. Like eggs, fish is also a protein­rich food that burns more fat while being digested instead of carbohydrates or fats. They also contain Omega 3s which prevent the build­up of stress chemicals that induce fat abs especially tuna, salmon, mackerel, swordfish and flounder.

3. Green Tea

Green tea is almost like a magical drink that has the power to keep most health problems at bay. It keeps those extra inches away by preventing fats from getting absorbed by the body. Drinking a cup of green tea everyday goes a long way in helping you achieve a healthy life.

4. Oatmeal

Oatmeal not only helps in cutting down the fat content but its rich fiber content helps in the reduction of cholesterol. It also stays for a longer period in the stomach which takes care of your hunger pangs. However, its better to opt for a natural sweetener like honey instead of sugar.

5. Dairy Products

Dairy products are rich in calcium which is very effective in burning fat and even preventing its formation in the body. The amount of calcium in a person's body indicates how easily one gains fat. The more calcium present in your body, the easier it is to burn all the excess fat.

6. Caffeine

Caffeine is one of the most potent weight loss compounds available to you each and every day. Caffeine blocks the breakdown of a compound call camp, which is responsible for mobilizing stored fats so they can be burned as energy.

Where to get it: If you are looking for a bigger fat­burning boost, then make sure to choose black tea over green tea or light roast coffee over dark roast for a larger dose of caffeine.

6 Weeks to Get Lean

With this six­week, 10­point program, you'll blast off pounds of body fat and reveal a six­pack just in time for summer. No one who benches 405 pounds for reps started at 405 pounds. It just doesn’t work that way. They had to go through hundreds of hours in the gym and dozens of other mini­milestones before hitting that bar­bending mark. They had to work up to it—5 pounds more this week, 10 more the next. Building on the previous workout is what eventually amounts to four plates on each side of the bar. What if a rookie lifter tried to press 405 without that kind of calculated progression? Well, it wouldn’t be pretty.

The same approach applies to plowing through stores of unwanted body fat, which we’re sure is on your mind after your standard winter of gluttony. Take a look at your sugar­cookied, holiday- wrecked midsection. You can’t pick just one slim­quick method and hope to get rid of that doughy gut by beach time. You have to work toward it. As with weight training, consistently adding new variables into your program—especially when they build on what you’ve done previously—will not only accelerate your fat­burning but also keep your body from getting used to one particular approach.

While making a whole­hearted commitment to fitness as a lifestyle is really the only way to keep those love handles in check for good, we can help you build some serious blubber­melting momentum with our six­week program. If you incorporate one or two new fat­burning strategies each week, by the end of Week 6, you’ll be firing on ten strategic cylinders. There’s no question about it—this year, your six­pack is sure to make an unseasonably early cameo.

SIX­WEEK FAT­BURN PLAN

Follow these steps over the next six weeks to increase your body’s ability to burn fat

Week Strategy

  1. 1. Reduce carbs by half for four days
    Eliminate carbs from your last meal of the day
  2. 2 Add two 30­40­minute cardio sessions per week
    Add 50 g protein and 5­8 g leucine per day
  3. 3 Add a fat­burner
    Cut carbs further on one of your low­carb days
  4. Schedule 40 minutes of medium­ to high­intensity cardio postworkout or first thing in the morning
  5. Have a 500­700­calorie cheat meal on one of your regular­carb days
    Add 50% more sets to your weight workouts
  6. Take a three­day break from the entire plan, then start again if needed

WEEK 1

STRATEGY 1: CUT CARBS IN HALF

When carbohydrate intake is lowered, the body turns to fat for energy. So to start shedding some fat, cut your carbs drastically—in this case, by half—for four straight days while maintaining your regular workout plan. Not only does this reduce calories, but it also helps control insulin, the hormone released with carb consumption that can increase the appetite.

The easiest way to implement this step is to halve your carbohydrate portion size at meals. Instead of a full bagel, for example, eat half. In lieu of a medium plate of pasta, have a small plate. Eat only three­quarters of a cup of rice compared to the rounded cup you may typically consume. You’ll burn fat and your desire to eat should also subside.

Following a lower­carb diet for too long can backfire for some, decreasing leptin levels and slowing the metabolism, so return to your regular portions after four days. Introducing carbs back into your diet after this kind of drastic reduction kicks up leptin levels and, therefore, your metabolism. In addition, when the body comes out of a brief, modified lower­carb diet, it becomes more efficient at storing carbohydrate as muscle glycogen, key for pushing through your workouts with the type of intensity you need to elicit growth. Glycogen not only powers your training but acts as an anabolic stimulus, allowing the body to retain muscle even as you attempt to whittle away a few extra pounds. And because it pulls water into the muscles with it, it makes them fuller and larger.

STRATEGY 2: ELEVATE YOUR (GH) STATUS

Yes, getting lean is about calories, but it’s also about hormones, so we’ll go ahead and cover all your bases just to be safe. Happily, this will be a bedtime chore and, over the next six weeks, should become as routine as brushing yout teeth. To make it a bit simpler and to get your hormones working in your favor, drop all carbohydrates from your final meal of the day—every day—to slash calories. When you go to bed with a lower blood­sugar level as a result of avoiding carbs in your last meal, the body is more apt to increase its production of growth hormone (GH), which accelerates fat loss by mildly increasing the metabolism and boosting muscle growth.

Also, try adding arginine to your list of supplements to increase GH levels. Arginine, which converts to nitric oxide in the body and increases blood flow, has also been shown to boost the release of GH and support metabolism. In addition to supplementing with 3­6 grams in the morning on an empty stomach, take 3­6 grams of arginine before going to bed.

WEEK 2

STRATEGY 3: CASUAL CARDIO

Many cut­up plans use the shock­and­awe method: They require not only drastic diet alterations but long, heavy bouts of cardio. Truth is, you don’t need a lot of cardio to trim the fat if your diet is solid. Losing fat is the cumulative result of what you eat, how you eat and how much you eat, coupled with hardcore weight training. Yet cardio certainly has its place as a stimulus.

Used in moderation, cardio allows you to get over fat­loss plateaus without altering your diet too much. This week, do two moderate sessions (yes, just two) of 30­40 minutes apiece. That’s enough to facilitate fat loss. Remember, the body isn’t a machine. If you try to force fat off, it can backfire, with the body downgrading its metabolism and the amount of calories it burns in response to exercise and diet.

STRATEGY 4: GET LEAN WITH PROTEIN & LEUCINE

By the second week, after you’ve cut carbs and increased your cardio, the body will start to look for alternatives to bodyfat for fuel. Unfortunately, muscle tissue is often its first source. You can reduce that effect by increasing your regular protein intake by 50 grams per day. Either add a protein shake or two or increase your protein intake at the meals you eat before and after training —another 25 grams pre­ and postworkout should do the trick. That’s a second scoop of whey protein or about 3­4 ounces of chicken, fish or lean meat.

You can also add a leucine supplement before and after training. Leucine can halt muscle breakdown, aka catabolism. The unfortunate part of attempting to get leaner is that the body often tears down protein, including muscle tissue, at a far greater clip than when calories and carbs are much higher. So to prevent the loss of protein and muscle tissue and the dropoff in metabolism that comes with it, add 5­8 grams of leucine pre­ and postworkout.

WEEK 3

STRATEGY 5: BURN, BABY, BURN

Unfortunately, most folks stumble out of the gate by pinning their hopes to a fat­burning supplement without ever getting their diets in order.

But if you’ve done your homework and gotten your body into a fat­burning mode with the previous steps, a decent fat­burner can go a long way. Look for something that includes ingredients such as green tea, caffeine and evodiamine, which boost fat­burning and make the body less efficient at storing calories as bodyfat. The biggest advantage to putting off the fat­burners until Week 3 is that you’ve already moved your body in the right direction with your diet. Adding some help should result in more noticeable progress.

STRATEGY 6: GET LOW . . . REALLY LOW

Getting lean is about calorie reduction, hormonal manipulation and exercise. But it’s also about perception. When you make a drastic drop in calories, the body perceives this as a threat and begins to tap into other fuel sources, fat being chief among them.

So for one of your four low­carb days during the week, slash carbs even further—to nearly a quarter of your normal intake—to increase fat­burning. Anyone can diet really hard for a day in the name of getting shredded, right?

WEEK 4

STRATEGY 7: CRAZY CARDIO

You’re already working up a small sweat twice a week. Now it’s time to trick your body by taking your cardio into another universe. Starting this week, add 40 minutes of moderate­ to high- intensity cardio to the end of your regular weight workouts or first thing in the morning, before you eat. Because your body is carb­depleted at both of these times, an aggressive cardio session will help you tap into your fat stores more quickly. Plus, the duration and intensity of the sessions will challenge your body and spur your metabolism. Do this for only the final weeks of your program. Too much high­intensity cardio can kill testosterone levels, which could halt muscle growth and slow metabolism.

WEEK 5

STRATEGY 8: BE A CHEATER

Eating foods that are way outside of the dieting realm, or cheating, has gained a lot of attention in the fitness mainstream in recent years. One notion holds that eating whatever you want for an entire day each week keeps the metabolism humming. Sorry, folks, but it’s not that easy. Cramming down Krispy Kremes and buffalo wings all day Sunday isn’t the best way to go.

Cheating definitely has its place any time you’re trying to get lean, but the type of cheating we’re referring to won’t wreck your momentum. This week, on your first higher­carb day, have a burger, a couple of slices of pizza or a single slice of cake. In the grand scheme of things, the extra 500­ 700 calories won’t put a dent in your progress. By this time you’ll have already peeled away 5­9 pounds of bodyfat and your metabolism will be working at a roadrunner’s pace.

STRATEGY 9: VOLUMIZE YOUR TRAINING

Volume training, or using more sets than usual in your typical training regimen, can accelerate fat loss, especially if your body is already in a strong fat­burning mode. It does this by putting additional stress on glycogen stores, depleting muscles of this valuable asset. When glycogen temporarily runs lower—as it would during a volume­training phase—fat­burning is given a healthy boost. This week, simply add 50% more sets to your typical training plan. Doing 12 sets per bodypart? Go up to 18. You can add sets to your current exercises or tack an additional 1­2 exercises onto your plan. Keep reps higher, in the 10­15 range. But make this just a one­week fix in your leaning­out cycle. Sticking to a greater­volume mind­set could eventually erode training intensity by lowering glycogen stores.

WEEK 6

STRATEGY 10: TAKE A BREAK

Ever take a break from training for 3­4 days, only to swear you look bigger and leaner? You’re not imagining things. That’s the beauty of rest. When you push the body all the time, it gets stubborn and does the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish. Take a break for three full days this week, then get right back on the plan listed above—your body will respond with even greater progress and gains. M&F

6 Ways to Burn More Fat

No need to thumb through volumes of fat­burning research to get the physique you want. Inject these six tips into your current routine to get lean in a hurry.

You've put in the brutal, twice­a­day workout sessions, eaten enough chicken breast and steak to support a small farm, and lined up the correct supplements like a chemical engineer. Now you're left with mounds of protein­infused muscle covering your body, a true physical fitness achievement. Yet like a supermodel draped in a heavy trench coat, the goods are hidden from sight by a layer of fat. How do you shed the blanket and allow onlookers to gaze in awe at your accomplishments? Here are six steps to take for your big reveal.

1. Start Your Engine

The best way to win a race is to start you motor early. People have told you since you were a kid that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What they probably didn't tell you was that people eat about the same amount of food each day. By starting that process earlier, you'll find that you're not playing catch up later in the day or eating unhealthy foods in emergency hunger mode. Having breakfast will jump start your metabolism, allowing the muscles you've built to be nourished while initiating the fat burning process. Remember: the early bird gets the fat­busting worm.

2. Graze Phase

Besides enjoying an early, substantial breakfast, the best way to burn fat is to set up an eating schedule of 5­8 small meals spread out a few hours apart throughout the day. This style of consumption, also referred to as "grazing," provides a constant flow of nourishment to the muscles, keeping your metabolism surging throughout the day. Having "three squares a day," such is the custom in most places, means more total calories at each sitting, making it tougher for your body to digest food for fuel and harder for your metabolism to catch up. Smaller meals, more often is definitely the way to go. Eating this way also decreases the risk of overeating.

3. Mix it Up

To bridge the fat burning process from the kitchen to the gym, structure a workout that keeps the fire stoked. The best way to transform a normal, muscle­building routine into a super charged fat- burning workout is to mix typical resistance exercises with bodyweight movements. This added challenge brings out an increased cardiovascular experience, leading directly to fat loss and heightened endurance. After massive bench press reps throw in a set of push ups. Following a set of cable rows, add some pull­ups. Dips will follow triceps extensions, and walking lunges will insure the leg press did its duty.

4. Go Herbal

In addition to following your usual lower­carb, high­protein diet, it helps to add in green tea to push your fat­burning to a new level. Green tea, taken in capsule form or as a drink, continues to yield new and exciting benefits for physique­minded individuals and is one of the most research- affirmed supps you can have.

5. Zero in on Target Areas

Spot reduction, which until recently was considered a myth, can prove to be an effective aid for fat loss. By targeting your stubborn areas with some continuous, high­rep training and following that immediately with 30 minutes of cardio, you can mobilize more fat from the trained area. Not a believer? A study conducted at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) had male subjects perform single­leg extensions for 30 minutes straight with light weight. They found that subcutaneous fat cells (those just under the skin) in both the exercising and resting thighs. The working leg had a significant increase in blood flow to and lipolysis from the subcutaneous fat cells. In other words, the fat cells surrounding the working muscle released more fat into the blood stream, meaning more fat is being used as fuel. The cardio that follows is to keep that fat from re- depositing itself on the premises!

6. Cardio Bursts

One great way to get the fat burning benefits of running while performing a standard weight training routine is to insert short, intense bouts of cardio throughout your workout. These "bursts," placed every 15 minutes during an hour long routine, help rev your metabolism both during and after your workout. Think of it as extended­rest interval training. One way to do this would be to complete a 90­second sprint on a treadmill after every exercise in your normal 8­10 exercise routine. This is also one way to get your cardio in without spending an additional 20­30 minutes in the gym after your last rep.

7 Tricks to Snack Healthier and Exercise Harder

If you’re looking for the better results from your fitness routine, you need to learn how to snack healthier and exercise harder. No matter whether you are trying to lose weight, build muscle or improve your health, snacking smarter can always help. You should always fuel your body with foods rich in essential nutrients in order to work out better and reach your fitness goal faster. Sticking to a healthy diet will boost your energy levels and help you recover quicker after a workout. I recommend you to load up your diet with nutrient rich foods such as apples, spinach, beets, kale, blueberries, pears, and many other healthy foods to improve your health and boost your endurance and stamina. Check out a few tips to snack healthier and exercise harder that work wonders for me and I hope will for you as well.

1. Always have your favorite nuts on hand

Nuts are a wonderful, portable snack that is high in omega­3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, and protein. Nuts are good for your brain as well as for your heart, so why not snack on them when you are hungry? Moreover, eating nuts helps to reduce your cholesterol and boost your energy levels. A handful of nuts like almonds, peanuts or walnuts, is a perfect snack to eat before and after your workout. I always snack on a handful of almonds before my workout and it helps me exercise harder and feel much better. However, don’t consume more than a handful of any nuts a day since all nuts are high in fat.

2. Munch on veggies

Snack on some carrots, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers and broccoli before your exercise to have more energy to achieve your fitness goal. Not only will this snack keep you feeling full and satisfied during your workout session, it will also help you get ready for your next training session. I love to have my veggies with homemade hummus and it’s one of my favorite snacks for a better workout.

3. Always keep frozen fruits and veggies in your freezer

It can be easier to snack on healthy foods when you keep them handy. Make sure you always keep frozen fruits and veggies in your freezer so that if you don’t have any fresh fruits and vegetables at home (though, you should always have!), you can snack on frozen ones. This snack is ideal before your workout session since it helps stabilize your blood sugar while fueling your body with the essential nutrients that it needs to exercise harder.

4. Carry portable fruits

Consider carrying some portable fruit, like an apple, pear, plum or banana, when you’re going to exercise. When you will feel hungry, you will have a healthy snack to satisfy your cravings. Plus, you won’t have to look for the place to buy some food (usually unhealthy one) when you have your own healthy snack in your purse. If your portable fruit is banana, make sure you eat it in moderation since it’s high in calories – an average banana contains around 110­150 calories.

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What makes a diet best? In Best Diets 2013, the latest set of exclusive rankings from U.S. News, the DASH diet beat out 28 others, including Atkins, Jenny Craig, and Slim-Fast, to win the "Best Diets Overall" crown. Among the 12 commercial diet programs marketed to the public, Weight Watchers came out on top.

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