Research shows the average American eats about 20 teaspoons of sugar daily, often hidden in processed foods, including “healthy” ones such as yogurt, frozen dinners, sauces, and salad dressings. Twenty teaspoons adds up to 325 empty calories a day, and insulin production increases with sugar intake, which can slow your metabolism, making it harder to burn those empty calories. Read labels and try to reduce your intake as much as possible.
HOW TO MAKE IT: Using leftover pork from yesterday, throw together a Thai pork salad. Combine a quarter pound of pork (a third of the leftovers), 2 cups romaine lettuce, ¼ red bell pepper, ½ cup cilantro leaves, and 1 shredded carrot. Top with the rest of the cilantro-lime dressing. We like the two-dressing combo with some peanut sauce. To make, combine ½ tablespoon of peanut butter, a squirt of Sriracha, a teaspoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, and enough water to thin it out.
Salt, in moderation, is a good thing—the mineral is necessary for a healthy heart and brain. But too much salt and you'll retain water, bloating up like a water balloon. Cutting salt is one of the primary ways to drop extra water weight (one reason you may see a big weight loss when starting a new diet!). Move the salt shaker off your table so you'll get out of the habit of routinely salting all your food. Then if you taste your food and still really want salt you can still stand up and get some. For more weight loss benefits, add these fat-burning foods your plate.
The last protein you’ll be cooking this week is another lean meat, pork tenderloin. Congratulations! You made it through the week without red meat! The average American eats about 3.3 oz of red meat per day. Eating too much red meat has been linked to chronic, inflammation, heart problems, cancer, and an unhealthy gut, so our flat-belly plan eschews the stuff. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it, though! Experts recommend having only 3 servings of red meat a week—but make sure it’s grass-fed beef, not grain-fed. This source is teeming with heart-healthy omega-3s and fat-burning conjugated linoleic fatty acids. It’s also lower in inflammatory saturated fats.
Americans are getting less sleep than ever these days and it's taking a toll on our health—most visibly on our waistlines. Losing just 30 minutes of sleep per night can make you gain weight, according to a study done by the Endocrine Society. Worse, that weight is more likely to go straight to your tummy. Instead, the researchers found, the best sleep cycle is one that follows your natural circadian rhythms, which means sleeping and waking around the same time as the sun.
Sit on your hips with both legs extended in front of you. Place your hands behind your hips and keep your back long as you lean back slightly and lift your legs off the floor, holding your belly in and up the entire time. Reach both arms out to the sides of your thighs. Lower your legs about 45 degrees, until your body resembles a wide ‘V’. Hold this position for 10 long, deep breaths (or up to 60 seconds).
Sprinting is better for weight loss than running at a steady pace, says Dan Roberts, one of the UK’s top trainers. “Sprinting builds muscle which helps burn fat quickly. Also, the action of driving the legs initiates the abs and core” explains Roberts. “The faster you go and the shorter your recovery, the more your abs will develop.” Instead of your typical 30-minute trot, do 20 sets of 30-second sprints with a 30-second recovery between each. Here’s how to do it:
It's an all-too-common problem once you hit thirty: Despite your best efforts, you just can't seem to lose the extra weight around your middle, and you look in the mirror wondering what month and year you lost your waistline. Medical research proves you're not alone—that the average American gains one to two pounds a year after age thirty—usually around the stomach. Not only does this excess belly fat make you look and feel bad, it's the most damaging kind of fat; a precursor to heart attacks and certain types of cancer.
If you want a flat belly in a matter of days, you better be ready to work for it and feel the burn. That’s where the killer combo of flutter kicks and crisscrosses comes in. According to Mark, this exercise “practically draws the lines right down the sides of your midsection as you are doing them.” In addition to engaging your abs, the motion of your legs required by this exercise also works your inner and outer thighs. If you’re looking to wear short shorts and bathing suits this summer, this routine is for you!
Try the Spiderman Climber: Get into plank position with arms and legs extended, hands beneath shoulders, and feet flexed. Keeping your abs tight, bend your left leg out to the side and bring the knee toward the left elbow. Pause, then return to start. Switch sides. Do 20 reps, alternating sides, with 30 minutes of cardio 5 to 6 times a week. For an additional challenge, perform planks with forearms on the floor, as shown. (Watch this video to make sure you're neailing the proper form every time.)
Keeping a bag of frozen fruit in your freezer makes it so easy to whip up this portable smoothie. Besides the convenience, frozen fruit can also be healthier than fresh fruit in the off-season because frozen fruit is picked at its peak and is full of free-radical-fighting antioxidants. What’s more, the act of freezing the fruit may also help release some of those antioxidants as the ice crystals can burst open the cells in which they’re stored! We like putting yogurt in our smoothies to add a little fat and protein and spinach to add fiber. And either a tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds for their anti-inflammatory omega-3s. All three will help to blunt any spike in blood sugar from the fruit (which also have their own source of fiber).
Lately the common sit-up has stirred controversy, coming under fire from certain experts for putting excessive wear and tear on the spine. While evidence is mounting but the jury is still out, try this simple back-friendly modification from Stuart McGill, PhD, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada and author of The Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance: Lying faceup on the floor, slip your hands underneath the natural curve of your spine. "You can activate the rectus abdominis with tiny upward movements, as if you're lifting your head and shoulders off a bathroom scale so it registers zero," he explains.
A classic Pilates move, the roll up is 38 percent more effective at targeting the rectus abdominis (the “six-pack”) and 245 percent more effective at targeting the obliques than a basic crunch, according to an Auburn University study. To do it, lie face-up with legs straight, ankles, knees, and thighs together. Flex feet and extend arms overhead. Inhale to prepare as you lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor. On your exhale, continue to roll up by drawing in abdominals, reaching arms up and over toward feet. Keep abdominals contracted, with spine rounded in a “C” curve. Pause and inhale. On your exhale, roll down through each vertebra in a controlled movement, keeping heels pressed evenly into the floor the entire way up and down. Do 15 reps as controlled and precise as you can, as many days a week as possible.
Protein drinks are great ways to get a monster dose of belly-busting nutrition into a delicious, simple snack. But most commercial drinks are filled with unpronounceable chemicals that can upset our gut health and cause inflammation and bloat. And the high doses of whey used to boost protein levels can amplify the belly-bloating effect. The Zero Belly solution: Try vegan protein, which will give you the same fat-burning, hunger-squelching, muscle-building benefits, without the bloat. (Here's a complete guide to easy-to-digest plant proteins.)
Out of sight, out of mouth? Simply reorganizing your pantry’s “top hits” could translate into serious sugar savings, according to researchers at Google. The study, dubbed “Project M&M,” found that storing chocolate candies in opaque containers as opposed to glass ones help curb M&M consumption by 3.1 million calories in just seven weeks. In the study, they also gave healthier snacks more prominent shelf space. A similar study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. For more sugar-curbing tips, grab a copy of The 14-Day No-Sugar Diet.
HOW TO MAKE IT: While bread is toasting, fry two eggs sunny-side up or over easy (either way, experts recommend you keep the yolk runny, as the egg can contain up to 50 percent more nutrients than a cooked yolk) in a nonstick pan. Mash half an avocado directly on the toast, and sprinkle with paprika, salt, and pepper. Layer on two slices of tomato and top with your eggs.
Why: "Oats fill you up with fiber without added sugar, like most highly processed cereals," Glassman says. "Nut butter provides healthy fat that will keep you satisfied, but won't hold onto water like sugary and salty packaged foods. (That being said, be sure to check labels and pick items with no added salt sugar!) Berries fill you up with fiber and water volume without adding a big carb load to your morning."
In addition to exercise, getting in shape quickly will require some habit changes. For starters, make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. According to Wake Forest researchers, dieters who sleep five hours or less put on two and a half times more belly fat, while those who sleep more than eight hours pack on slightly less than that. Though that might not sound like much, when you have a regular bedtime and stick to it, you set yourself up for day-in, day-out weight loss.