Though each of the points below can be an entire blog topic by itself, here is something to get you started. These are my 101 hand-picked lifestyle changes to adopt towards a fitter and healthy body. Fat loss is just a side effect of health gain. Try adopting as many of these small changes mentioned below as possible instead of temporary fad diet's that leave you feeling miserable.
1. Eat more plant-based protein:
Consumption of protein leads to an increase in your metabolism (the rate at which food is broken down into energy). This helps you burn more calories and ultimately that flab! Aim to get three servings at least per day of lentils/ beans or pulses.
2. Quit Dairy:
Milk and other dairy products contain lactose - a natural sugar that is super high in calories. This is a harbinger of bloating issues! You'd rather get your calcium from chia seeds or soybeans.
3. Workout daily for a minimum of 30 minutes:
Moderate intensity workouts (cycling, swimming, walking, and running, cardio) for a period of 30 minutes, 7 days a week is the minimum physical activity required. Work up a sweat and be assured to lose all that visceral fat!
4. Get good sleep.
The human body, like any other machine, needs rest. A minimum of 8 hours is ideal. Good sleep routines send signals of fullness to the brain and prevent overeating! Sleep before 11 pm and wake up no later than 7 am.
5. 3 servings of fruit a day keeps the belly away:
Fruits are packed with healthy flavonoids and fibers! Pectin fiber is present in great abundance in fruits. This takes a longer time to digest and suppresses hunger by making you feel full!
6. Early man diet to the rescue:
What I mean to say is, raw and uncooked food is richer in the nutrients they possess compared to cooked food. The former is loaded with fiber and is super low in calories!
7. Get your fair share Of vitamin D:
Basking in the sunlight for 20 minutes every day should do the trick! Sunlight is known to have the fat-soluble vitamin D present in abundance. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to obesity.
8. Choose stairs over the elevator:
Step climbing requires around 8 - 11kcal of energy every moment, which is highly contrasted with other moderate level physical exercises. Indeed, even two stairwells climbed every day can prompt 6lbs of weight reduction in one year without cutting anything from your diet!
9. Include Green Leafy Vegetables In Your Diet:
Lettuce, Kale, Spinach, Beetroots are loaded with fibers and minimal on calories and carbs. One serving of your greens per day is the mantra for a flat belly! They also are high in volume and flavonoids, both of which fill your belly up without adding calories. Aim to start your meal with greens.
10. Good Beginnings With Salads:
Salads have a high content of unsaturated fatty acids which aid in burning visceral fat. By making salads the first-course of your meal, you are not only consuming a lot of fiber and good fatty acids but also reducing your future food intake by up to 12%!
11. Say Goodbye To Meat:
A vegan diet proves to be high in nutrition and low in calories. Research shows that people who adopt a plant-based diet, tend to lose more weight (over 10-15 pounds) in the long run over people who follow a diet inclusive of meat. A bonus in shifting to a vegan diet is the fact that one becomes more sustainable and environmentally friendly in the process.
12. Avoid Bakery Items:
High calories are a boon to that belly fat! Bakery items are usually fried or loaded with items like butter and sugar which add on to calorie intake. Besides this, it is these processed carbs that lead to insulin resistance. Unsaturated fats in fried items are a bane to the heart and your overall health as well.
13. Include A Cup Of Berries A Day:
Berries are rich in a pigment-producing substance called anthocyanins which are high in nutrients and flavonoids but less in calories. Blueberries are especially known to reduce abdominal fat and lower cholesterol levels.
14. Say NO To Sugar:
Consuming excess sugar increases the blood-sugar level, insulin, and leptin resistance which ultimately contribute to excess body fat. When one consumes too much sugar, the body stores the energy in fat cells or fat droplets which can also lead to fatty liver disease when accumulated inside the liver. Note though, fruits are an exception here. Fruit sugar does hot have an effect on the body the way processed sugar does.
15. Minimize Salt:
Salt causes water retention which can show as a few extra pounds on that weighing scale. However, diets with high salt consumption as also associated with higher body fat, especially visceral fat. A meal high in salt can also cause vessels in the brain to expand. When you do use salt though, use iodized salt.
16. Limit or Abstain from Alcohol Consumption:
No matter how sustainable or foolproof your diet is, consumption of alcohol can debunk your journey of reaching that ideal body weight. Ever heard of the term - beer belly?! Alcohol is abundant in empty calories which can contribute to a humongous belly. So you might as well limit its consumption if abstaining from it completely is a challenge.
17. Limit Coffee/Tea to Once a Day:
Milk contains high natural sugar (lactose) and is hence leads to insulin resistance. Replace milk with soy milk or almond milk for a healthier alternative for your caffeine cravings! Replacing milk tea with green tea can do wonders for your metabolism and aid in losing that belly bumming fat! Limit your consumption and the brain and belly are both happy!
18. Less or No Oil for Cooking:
Regular cooking oil consists of saturated fats in abundance. On cooking, these fats break down into more toxic substances which can also prove harmful for your heart, not just the belly. Switching to extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil is no better. Learn oil-free cooking and make at least one meal of the day oil-free.
19. Compound Lifting:
It is a regime that includes challenging multiple muscle groups at the same time. Squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are some exercises that require movement of multiple muscles and joints. This aids in faster fat loss and builds calorie-burning muscles.
20. Train at high intensity:
Spot reduction is a myth. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the closest thing you can get to boosting metabolism and burning more calories through the week.15-20 minutes in a 2-3 times a week is more than enough.
21. Workout in the mornings:
Research shows that people who worked out before noon, i.e. in the morning, lose more weight than people who worked post 3 pm. Early morning workouts before breakfast aid in weight loss and promote alertness with high energy levels. We are our freshest in the mornings! Besides, as the day goes by, you will find more excuses to cancel your workout.
22. Say goodbye to processed foods:
Processed meat/ carbs (sausages, hotdogs, bakery items, etc) contain saturated fats and sugar that increase calorie intake and are treacherous to a dedicated weight loss regime. One must instead focus on consuming nutrient-rich and fiber-rich carbs found in vegetables and fruits to aid in breaking down of fat to produce energy!
23. Say hello to the herbal life:
Herbal teas repair the system and boost metabolism which aid in losing weight, especially belly fat! Antioxidants present in herbal teas can also prevent diseases like cancer and heart diseases. Try a variety of herbs.
24. Lime soda to the rescue:
The citric acid found in lime boosts metabolism and helps burn more calories and ultimately lose stubborn fat! Avoid sugar and add just a pinch of salt to taste and you further reduce calorie intake!
25. Drink water before meals:
Drinking water before meals makes your brain seem like your stomach is half full. Water is a natural appetite suppressant.
26. Chose high fibre foods:
High fibre foods take time to be digested by the body and hence keep you fuller for a longer period. Fibre is an appetite controller and taking an extra 14g of fibre in a day can reduce your calorie intake by 10%.
27. Intermittent fasting:
This is a popular lifestyle choice which proves very beneficial for weight reduction in stubborn areas like the stomach! The method includes fasting for 16- 20 hours with an 8- 4 hours eating window. You can expect a 4-7% decrease in abdominal fat in 6-20 weeks.
28. Quit ghee:
Ghee is saturated fat and hence must be avoided to check calorie intake. Besides, the high AGE (Advanced Glycation end products) in ghee makes it a very bad choice for those struggling with PCOS.
29. Don't grocery shop when hungry:
Hungry shoppers may be tempted to go for high-calorie foods and processed foods. A hungry stomach = weak mind. Hence go shopping to the groceries when you're relatively fuller!
30. Healthy salad dressings:
Lemon juice and olive oil, balsamic vinegar are some healthy salad dressing options. Avoid using dressings inclusive of dairy and saturated fats as it adds-on to calorie intake. Try making a peanut butter-based dressing at home instead of store-bought mayo.
31. Make oats your new BFF:
Oats are low-calorie, low-fat and a healthy food option that makes you fuller for a longer time. Oatmeal will be your best buddy in these trying times! The fiber in oats flushes out excess toxins from the body, making it an ideal choice.
32. A fad can go to hell:
Fad diets eliminate essential food groups and can prove unhealthy once your old eating habits resume. You will end up gaining more weight than you lost! All fad diets do is cause nutritional deficiencies and people need to stop falling for deceitful marketing techniques.
33. 10k a day:
The more you walk, the quicker your pace and ultimately you burn more calories. 30 minutes of brisk walking can help burn up to 150 calories a day! So make sure you take at least 10k steps in a day to suffice as your high-intensity workout!
34. Skip desserts:
Desserts contain large amounts of fats. When you eliminate desserts, you eliminate fats and hence fat storage in your body automatically reduces. Try fruit popsicles and fruit/ nut-based desserts instead.
35. Avoid buffets:
Buffet eating is synonymous with over-eating. One is so overwhelmed by the amount of food available that it is almost next to impossible to resist the temptation. The trick, if you're unavoidably stuck at one, is to stack up on salads and veggies and soups rather than the meat and dessert.
36. Make Your Dog Your Walking Buddy:
If you don't have one, then pretend and go for long tranquil night walks. Apart from giving physical strain to your body, you also end up refreshing your mind and holistic well-being.
37. Carry Nuts to Snack:
Pistachios, almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc are rich in fibers and good fatty acids. They are the best snacking options available, for people who want to lose weight healthily, over conventional snacks. Nuts also keep you fuller and suppress appetite.
38. Give Yourself Cheat Days:
Obsessive regimes can backfire when the mind is not strong enough and it becomes easier to give in to temptation. Realistic goals when achieved must be treated with rewards. What better reward than a cheat (rather comfort food) day?
39. Do. Not. Overeat:
Usually, people overeat when they overthink about "getting hungry again". It is ideal if you stop eating just when start feeling full, i.e, eat until you are 80% full. This prevents overeating and fat production.
40. Plan meals in advance:
Planning meals in an organized manner in which you will know how many calories you're consuming as well as the necessary food groups to be consumed in their respective proportions. This ensures that you are eating a well-balanced diet and aids in losing belly fat.
41. Take Before-After Pictures:
This is a very good manner to keep yourself motivated. When you are aware of the change that is happening in your body, you will be more dedicated to your journey!
42. Get A Workout Buddy:
This is a very underrated ideology. Working out with a friend helps develop accountability, you have fun, and you are motivated constantly by competing and training together!
Meditation is known to relieve stress and tension in the body. This is true for both, mind muscles and body muscles. One becomes more aware and conscious and this could tackle problems of binge eating and laziness.
44. Stretch It Out:
Stretching itself is a workout. Stretching a couple of times every 45mins can help burn calories at a faster rate and lose weight in a better manner.
45. Work Harder, Not Longer:
Incorporate a workout regime with intense exercises that work for different muscle groups simultaneously in order to lose weight efficiently, Long, tedious workouts will just demotivate you and cause unneeded strain on the muscles.
46. Dairy-free Probiotics - 3 times a week:
A harmonious gut environment is essential for effective loss of visceral fat. This can be achieved through probiotics (non-dairy). Probiotics are good bacteria that strengthen immunity, make weight loss effective and sustainable. Vegan Options - Kimchi, fermented soy products, kombucha, and sauerkraut.
47. Switch to Sugar-Free Gums:
Chewing gum seems like something that wouldn't make any difference to your weight loss journey. However, sugar in gum triggers cravings to a large extent. Switch to sugar-free ones or abstain from that wretched habit altogether!
48. Stop Smoking:
Smoking is known to create appetite fluctuations in extremes. It reduces the efficiency of our body's metabolism.
49. Count calories according to your BMI:
One must ideally consume 1.575 x BMI calories per day. This is what constitutes a healthy calorie intake. This number however largely varies based on activity level, sex, age and goals.
50. More spice is nice:
Spicy food reduces appetite and increases the rate at which energy is expended. They trigger beneficial metabolic changes in the body and reduce the accumulation of fat droplets and cells!
51. Do not eat anything 2 hours before bed:
Eating before bed slows metabolism. The body slows down all bodily functions in order to enter "rest-mode" and consumption of high-fat foods can prove disastrous to your weight loss journey!
52. Start cooking your own meals:
Cook your own meals in order to know exactly what and how much of it you're consuming. It is essential to be aware and conscious about what one is subjecting their body to when one starts this journey to health and a better lifestyle!
53. Consistency is Always Key:
The motivational mediums and realistic plans, I have provided throughout this blog, will not prove beneficial if one isn't consistent. Consistency is the magic ingredient that will bring it all together and give you the gift of that sculpted and toned belly!
54. Switch to Iodized Salt:
Iodine content in iodized salt is known to boost body metabolism, improve heart rate, and play an essential role in thyroid health. All of these factors are essential to keep fluctuating weight at bay!
55. Add Cruciferous Vegetables to Your Diet:
These green leafy vegetables (cabbage, spinach, kale, garden cress, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower) have a unique compound of phytonutrients that help to torch stomach fat!
56. Maintain a Food Dairy:
Just like how maintaining a thought dairy is essential for mental health, maintaining a food diary becomes essential to maintain the overall body weight. This is a mindfulness tool to gauge how much and what type of foods you are subjecting your body to.
57. Practice Pranayam:
Sit on the floor, fold your legs, and keep both hands on either side - on your thighs. Now breathe in slowly and elongate your exhalation. Nothing fancy. This work those stomach muscles and burn belly fat!
58. Wim Hoff Breathing Method:
This is a breathing method that involves taking 30 quick, deep breaths - inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Then, take a deep breath and exhale - hold until you need to take another breath. Next, inhale and hold for 10 seconds before exhaling. This breathing exercise not only helps in losing excess weight by boosting your metabolism but also proves beneficial for your overall health.
59. Vitamin B12:
Add Vitamin B12 supplements into your nutrition requirements immediately as it helps in boosting metabolism by increasing the body's efficiency in converting natural sugar into energy.
60. Quit Eggs:
60% of the calories found in eggs are fat. Not just any fat, but saturated fat. This is the type of fat that you need to stay miles away from to achieve flat abs and keep your heart healthy.
61. Switch Honey and Table Sugar With Natural Fruit Sugar:
Fruits contain anthocyanins that are essential to boost body metabolism. An added benefit is glowing skin and efficient bodily functions. Honey and Table Sugar are loaded with calories and prove blasphemous to a well-sought out diet plan.
62. Soupy Cheers To Health:
Vegetable soups are ideal for weight loss. This is because they are high in dietary fibers that help to keep the stomach full for a longer period of time. Incorporate soups before your meal in order to prevent overeating.
63. Follow Your Circadian Cycle:
Research has found that eating suppers late around evening time may desynchronize the internal body clock. The same exact calories consumed during the day are likely to be stored by the body as temporary glycogen VS if eaten post-sunset. The body tends to store calories eaten late at night as triglycerides (fat cells) instead of temporary energy reserves. Try to finish your meals before sunset.
64. Core Workouts:
Igniting every inch of your core through core strengthening workouts not only tones the belly but helps in overall bodyweight reduction. Aim to end all your exercise sessions with 10- 15 minutes of core work.
65. Include Hot Pepper In Your Meal:
When the body eats spicy foods, like hot peppers, the body's natural fat-burning mechanism called AMPK is triggered. This process burns calories and helps you lose weight! It is not only hot peppers but multiple herbs such as cumin and turmeric help with fat loss.
66. Add Vinegar To Your Salads and Meals:
Any good type of vinegar you like, including apple cider vinegar and wine vinegar, is good. Incorporate 1 or 2 teaspoons in your meal mixed in your salads/ soup. Avoid having vinegar by itself, it is too acidic.
67. Dump Cooking Oils From Your Kitchen:
Cooking oils create free radicals and carcinogenic properties. They have NO nutrition content and they are just additions of unwanted fats in your bloodstream! Explore oil-free cooking and you will never go back.
68. Include Chia Seeds In Your Meal:
2 tablespoons of chia seeds have almost 10g of fiber. They are also rich in protein which curbs hunger cravings and promotes protein synthesis and fat loss.
69. Fruit Calories >>> Smoothie Calories:
While consuming smoothies, one can overdose on the number of calories subjected to the body. However, chewing your way through fruit, on the other hand, controls caloric consumption.
70. Include Proteins For Dinner:
Consuming high protein dinner reduces calorie intake and keeps hunger cravings at bay by keeping you fuller. It is a particularly effective technique in keeping visceral fat away! This however will only work with plant-based protein sources such as lentils, beans, and pulses. Animal proteins such as meat and dairy add to visceral fat.
71. Enjoy Your Food While Eating And Chew Well:
It is said that the digestion process begins in the mouth itself. Chewing more and eating slowly can reduce calorie intake! You must take an average of 20 minutes to eat a meal. Avoid using technology at this time.
72. Eat Food Without Technology Distractions:
We fail to understand our hunger signals when distracted. Think about it, we will always overeat with the TV on or on a family gathering with floating appetizers. But try eating alone with no technology and you will naturally cut calories while still reaching satiety.
73. Read Food Labels:
Reading food labels is necessary to know what exactly you're putting into your body and in what amounts you consume them. They are indicators of calories and nutrition facts! You want to watch out for any ingredients you do not recognize. Also, say no ta trans fats or any type of fats more than 3 grams per serving.
74. Use Smaller Dinner Plates:
This is simple psychology. Smaller dinner plates mean smaller amounts of food served. It gives you the impression that you are overeating if you fill-up the plate. These are just some simple hacks to consciously reduce food intake.
75. Consume Crushed Black Cumin Seeds:
Black cumin seeds are rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They react with insulin and blood sugar to maintain body sugar levels and also boost metabolism which aids in effective flab loss.
76. 0 Calorie Drinks Must Be Your Go-To Drink:
Carbonated drinks and sodas are loaded with empty calories and dissolved carbon dioxide which promotes bloating. Switch to 0 calorie drinks like- Aquafina FlavorSplash, herbal tea, and iced tea instead!
77. Keep Track Of Your Weight:
Checking your weight once per day not only motivates you in the direction of growth but also helps you understand what works for your body and what doesn't. Do note here though, avoid doing this if you struggle with an eating disorder such as bulimia.
78. Bang Bang Bangity Bang:
You heard me! Have loads of sex! You can burn extra calories- up to 300 calories, in a 30-minute session of passionate sex! Besides fat loss, sex helps with hormone regulation and triggers the release of happy hormones. It is a taboo subject but sex (or mastur- bation) is good for your mental and physical health.
79. The Lentil Effect:
Also known as the "second-meal effect", describes how beans and lentils have marvelous effects on controlling blood sugar levels not only for that meal, but for the NEXT meal too! These also contain high protein and fibers. High fibre foods take a longer time to chew and the brain registers this as a lot of food being consumed. Basically, you do not overeat in this manner.
80. Switch To Plant-Based Milk In Tea/Coffee:
Animal milk is hard to break down by our body and hence, leaves you bloated. This is the least of the concern when it comes to consuming dairy though. Dairy is toxic and linked with diabetes, cancers and arthritis. Switching to plant-based milk like soy milk and almond milk not only reduces bloating but also leaves you feeling light.
81. Add Wakame In Your Soup:
Wakame seaweed is not only high in essential nutrients but also contains nil calories. It is also a great source of iodine, keeping your thyroid levels under check.
82. Try Triphala Powder:
Consuming 1 tbsp Triphala powder in warm water helps fat loss especially in the belly area. It (when combined with a fit lifestyle and mindful eating practices of course) proves beneficial in lowering body fat, body weight and also regulates cholesterol levels.
83. Consume More Sprouts:
Due to the sprouting process, sprouts are more nutritious. They contain high levels of protein, folate, magnesium, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber. They are low in calories too! This is an elixir food for weight loss! Add one type of sprouts to your salads daily.
84. Ditch Fruit Juices:
Consuming whole fruits over fruit juices keep you fuller. Owing to the reduced nature of juices, one is at the risk of consuming more than necessary with the idea of not being full. Consume whole fruits and smoothies instead - they are satiating and are definite to fill you up!
85. Eat More Rice:
When I say more, I mean at least 2-3 cups a day! Starches like rice are low in calories and extremely filling. Grains like rice are also prebiotic, keeping your gut bacteria happy and working.
86. Follow The Half-Plate Rule:
Half your plate must be filled with high fiber foods like fruits and veggies. Fill the other half with whatever you want. In this manner, you track your calories and also adopt a more effective weight loss strategy. Eat the raw half first!
87. Snacks Must Disappear:
The mere presence of junk at home will just demotivate you and kick those cravings back in! Practice replacing snacks and junk with fruits and nuts at home, which are healthier snacking options. Or get an air fried and try roasted veggies, samosa chaat, and roasted chakhanas!
88. Shop Organic:
Pesticides and herbicides used in plants interfere with our hormones. When possible, buy and eat organic. Sure you will be spending more money, but it will be worth the cost in a long run.
89. Limit Variety:
If there is one thing that will keep you on track, it is monotony. Try eating similar meals daily with little variants. You can explore new recipes over the weekend, but keep your meals during the week similar. This way, you know exactly how to fill your grocery list and shop for ingredients. You are less likely to cheat when prepared.
90. Try Kefir:
Kefir is a probiotic that promotes the growth of good bacteria in your gut. It will not only help trim your waistline but is very refreshing on a hot summer day.
91. Meal Prep During The Weekend:
Meal preps control calorie intake and is an ideal tool to keep track of exactly how much and what nutrient you are subjecting your body to. They can also prevent you from cheating your way into junk! Cooking healthy and tracking what you eat is essential to losing weight.
92. More Standing Less Sitting:
Standing desks have shown to help burn up to 0.15 calories per minute. So by simply standing more and sitting less in a day could help you lose a lot of calories with much less effort! Maybe even time yourself to take a walk every hour. This keeps your metabolism high.
93. Do Not Skip Meals:
Skipping meals will increase junk food cravings and binge eating. It is never the answer to weight loss. Eating fewer calorie foods in small quantities spread throughout the day is a better agenda instead - to lose weight.
94. Beware Of High Fructose Corn Syrup:
HFCS can increase the risk of obesity and weight gain. This is as harmful to the body. You also increase your risk of diabetes and hypertension by consuming food that has HFCS. Read the ingredient label to know exactly what you are eating.
95. Shop From Farmers' Markets:
Farmer's markets usually sell produce rich in nutrients and that tends to be organic. Healthy ingredients are an inspiration to cook healthy food which ultimately aids weight reduction. Supporting local businesses will ensure it's growth vs corporate giants.
96. Start Your Day With Warm Water and Turmeric:
Turmeric is literally known as the golden herb. Besides being extremely antioxidant, it also regulates blood sugar levels and prevents insulin resistance. This ensures that fat doesn't get retained in the body.
97. Replace Wheat With Millets:
Compared to rice and wheat, millets are high in dietary fibers and control blood sugar and cholesterol levels. You also consume less because of the number of fibers present in millets, which keeps you fuller.
98. 10 Pages Of Motivational Book/Day:
Motivational books keep you motivated and brimming with positivity. It is an essential tool if you think you are weak and can succumb to cravings. Comment below and let me know which book you are reading today.
99. Make A Weekly Shopping List:
This complements your meal prepping and will ensure that there are fewer unplanned cheats throughout the week. Remember, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
100. "Hara Hachi Bu":
This is a Confucian teaching that indicates its followers to eat until they are 80% full. Our brains are 10-20 minutes behind our stomach and hence, if you stop eating just about when you are beginning to feel full, we are actually stopping to eat when we are full. Eating more than this contributes to overeating.
101. Hire A Nutritionist:
Once in a while everyone needs help and who can help you better than someone who knows your lifestyle, body type, medical history and can design you a meal plan accordingly. Checkout my customised meal plans
regarding the same.
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