We’ve all heard the statistics: Two out of three adults in the U.S are considered overweight or obese. While media reports typically focus on those people who are 20, 30, 40 or more pounds overweight, there are countless others who are struggling to lose just 5 or 10 pounds. That amount of weight may not put you at risk for diabetes or hypertension, but it can definitely still impact your confidence and overall quality of life. And I know that, for many people, losing that last five pounds can be more difficult than losing the first 50.
If this applies to you, I suggest starting with the basics: Review your current eating and exercise habits, identify areas where there’s room for improvement, and then put a new plan in place that can help you boost your metabolism and peel off those last few pounds. I’ve developed an effective plan, and if you commit to it, the weight will come off–and it may come off faster than you anticipated.
So whether you’ve got a big event coming up or just want to get a head-start on bikini season, here is your four-step plan for losing weight in a healthy way—and without torturing yourself or harming your metabolism in the process.
1. Eat More Fruits & Veggies
This one might seem obvious, but it’s an old cliche for a reason! Filling up on low-calorie, high-nutrient foods is the key to keeping calories in check while still feeling satisfied and energized. A large body of research supports this suggestion. For example, research has found that mostly- or all-plant-based diets are associated with a lowered risk for obesity and better management of a healthy body weight—not to mention a reduced risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
2. Remove Metabolism Death Foods
A number of foods, even seemingly “healthy ones” that are now very common in most Western diets, might be sabotaging your weight loss efforts. While you increase your intake of fresh plant foods—and therefore consume more high fiber foods—you should naturally feel less hungry for packaged, fried or junk foods. While no one is perfect about eating a clean diet 100 percent of the time, work on cutting out the following metabolism death foods as much as you can:
- Products with added (often hidden) sugar or artificial sweeteners
- Processed, refined grains and products made with white wheat flour. This includes foods that now contribute hundreds of calories to most adults’ diets on a daily basis, including breads, wraps, cereal, donuts, cakes, cookies, etc.
- Refined vegetable oils
- High-calorie drinks
- Fried or fast food
3. Move Your Body More, and Move Smarter
If you’re currently either living a sedentary lifestyle or are killing yourself by doing loads of cardio day-in and day-out, I suggest another approach that can lead to much faster weight loss. The type of exercise that is most likely to burn extra body fat, while also preventing motivational burn-out, is high-intensity interval training (or HIIIT), also called burst training or Tabata.
Despite taking less time than traditional cardio/aerobic workouts, this type of vigorous exercise can help you lose more body fat by triggering an after-burn effect. Studies show that intense but short workouts can give you a metabolic boost and improved level of fitness that can allow you to keep burning fat for 36 hours after your workout. I recommend doing HIIT about 3-4 days a week for between 20 and 40 minutes at a time.
4. Choose the Right Supplements
Following the first three steps of this plan will certainly help the weight start to fall off, but you can really kick your weight loss to the next gear by adding in supplements that are known to burn fat. First, a high-quality protein powder will ensure your body gets the needed protein to build lean muscle and burn fat, while also helping to regulate calorie intake if you replace one meal with a smoothie or protein shake.
I also recommend a green superfood powder that contains fat-burning compounds like green tea, coffee, chlorella, wheat grass juice and other ingredients that boost energy and metabolism. And finally, fish oil supplement that contains vitamin D will help reduce inflammation, support muscle synthesis and balance hormones, which will aid in additional fat loss.