With increasing obesity levels and unhealthy foods, everyone is trying to stay fit and fat free. Though the task isn’t as simple as it sounds, there are plenty of ways by which one can achieve their dream body goals. Hitting the gym, crash diets, yoga lessons and Zumba classes are the most popular ways of achieving body goals. However, once you lose pounds, gaining it back is three times easier. Here are some effective tips that can help you shed the pounds and also help you maintain your body once the excess weight is lost:

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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.

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.

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 = body weight (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.

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, but you should cut back on them when trying to shed body fat.

Eat a full, balanced breakfast: Your body has been starving all night long, and it needs nutrients to rebuild itself. 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.

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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.

Rotate your carbs: eat 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.

Drink black coffee before working out: Caffeine causes the body to rely more on fat for fuel during a workout, rather than glucose. 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.

Eat 5-6 meals a day: 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.

Consume fiber everyday: Fiber lowers insulin levels along with total calories affecting how lean you’ll get. Fiber absorbs water and takes up more space in your stomach, fighting off hunger pangs, too. Fiber rich foods include bran cereal, oatmeal and beans.

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Eliminate junk food: Junk food is food that offers almost nothing but calories like french fries, potato chips and sweets. 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. It is essential to know and identify the difference.

Eat more healthy fats: Healthy fats are totally underutilized by individuals trying to shed body fat. 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.

Eat cheat foods for flavor: If you love a particular food, you shouldn’t prohibit yourself from eating it. 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 that way you share the calories too!

Visit a dietitian for more tips on maintaining your health. Find good dietitians on the QuickSearch website.

Written by Taarini Chandramouli

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