So you say you've tried all the fat-loss plans under the sun, but you've never been able to peel away that final layer of the Michelin Man gene lurking just below your gut's dermis? Well, brother, have a little faith for just a bit longer and implement the following suggestions posthaste. Not only will these fat burners make your gut melt faster than a snow cone in midsummer Maui, but you'll start seeing the kind of abs that'll make other guys green with envy when their girlfriends start smacking their lips.
Additionally, what's great about the following fat-loss strategies is that they work equally for you whether you're just starting a fat-loss eating plan or you're stuck in some fat-loss plateau hell where further adipose shedding seems hopeless.
1. Eat five or six small meals.
Despite compelling information arguing to the contrary, many people still consume most of their food in two or three large meals every day, often going for hours at a time eating nothing in between. Sure, you can lose weight, and fat, on a reduced-calorie trio of meals, but you can't train your body to burn fat efficiently, which is key to maintaining weight loss.
A nutritious meal or snack every three hours or so provides a number of metabolism-enhancing benefits, stabilizes your blood-sugar levels, ensures adequate nutrients are constantly on hand, and helps control hunger-induced cravings for sweets and fats. It also leads to more effective glycogen storage in the liver and muscle tissues; thus, your body won't cannibalize muscle as an energy source during training.
So break your meals in half and spread them out. If you have trouble fitting in extra eating times at work, prepare food ahead of time that you can zap in the microwave or eat cold.
2. Don't let hunger be your guide.
The human body is actually a bit out of sync: By the time it tells you it needs nutrients, it's already deficient. In fact, those pangs of hunger are your body's last-ditch efforts to get you to eat.
Stay ahead of the curve by eating before hunger strikes. If you're pressed for time, consider the following: A meal can consist of a four-ounce chicken breast, a small baked potato and a salad, all of which require little preparation time and can be made the night before. Dining can also be as simple as a low-sugar meal-replacement bar, or a small protein shake and a banana.
3. Pinpoint your protein needs.
How much protein is enough? For the guy whose idea of physical effort is changing channels by hand, protein isn't an issue. But for someone who's active in sports and trains regularly, adequate protein is essential for gaining muscle and losing fat. Your safest bet is to ingest between 0.8 and 1 gram of protein per pound of lean mass.
When doing that calculation, use the weight you think you would look good at, especially if you're 20 or more pounds too heavy. For example, if an optimal weight for you would be 170 pounds, multiply that number by 0.8 grams: Your daily protein requirement turns out to be 136 grams, which translates to 27 grams of protein per meal (at five meals per day). That's about four slices of turkey breast deli meat or one small can of water-packed tuna.
4. Power every meal with protein.
While eating anything raises your metabolic rate, protein boosts it the most. Chicken, turkey, beef, egg whites and cottage cheese are just a few of the choices you have for high-rev foods. Protein is also the building block of muscle, and the more muscle you carry, the more efficiently your body will burn fat.
Muscle is metabolically active, which means it burns calories even at rest. Fat, on the other hand, doesn't require calories--it just sits there. It follows that what you don't want from your weight-loss program is loss of muscle tissue. One way to minimize this loss is to get enough protein delivered in relatively precise doses throughout the course of each day. And for your body to make use of that protein for muscle building, you've got to hit the weights regularly.