If it wasn’t available 10,000 years ago, you don’t need it now. Our bodies haven’t had time to adapt to the huge increase in processed carbohydrates over the past 100 years. These refined carbs kick up our blood sugar levels, which triggers insulin production and results in fat storage. Avoid the regular no-nos such as candy and soft drinks, but also stay away from sneaky, sugary condiments like ketchup; dried fruits, which have more concentrated sugar than their fresh counterparts; and anything with high fructose corn syrup.
The right kind of fat is good for you! Bad fats include trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils. Look for these on labels -- and avoid them. Trim excess fat from meats and stick with mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Use olive oil for cooking, as salad dressing or on vegetables. Eat avocados, whole olives, nuts and seeds, and don’t be afraid to jazz up meals with a little butter or cheese.
Eat the proper amount of lean protein to maintain muscle mass and increase your metabolism. Eggs, beef, chicken, pork, seafood and dairy in the right amounts are good protein sources. Remember, most of these contain fat, so it shouldn’t be necessary to add more. Use the minimum amount needed to satisfy your taste buds. Also, anyone trying to lose weight should limit non-animal proteins, such as legumes, because they contribute to higher blood sugar levels and increased fat storage.
Both high-intensity and low-intensity exercises play a role in maximum fat loss. Low-intensity exercise, like walking, is effective for reducing insulin resistance so you store less fat. Alternate walking with high-intensity interval training to build lean muscle mass and raise your metabolic rate. Interval training can be cardio blasts such as running up stairs on some days and lifting weights on others. This type of exercise forces your body to burn up its glycogen — a readily accessible fuel for your muscles — faster than an equivalent amount of cardio exercise. When you’re done, your body will replenish that fuel by converting stored fat back into glycogen and you’ll lose weight.
"Healthy weight loss isn't about picking a popular diet and trying to stick to it," Ochs says. "It's about discovering the right diet for your unique body. For each person, the optimal amount of carbohydrates, proteins and exercise to burn the most stored body fat will be different. And that’s why one-size-fits-all diets just don’t work."
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