This wonder child of the nutrition world also makes you feel fuller faster. In a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, subjects downed one of four kinds of shakes; 60 percent protein, 60 percent carbohydrates, 60 percent fat, or a mixture with equal amounts of all three. Then they were offered lunch. Those who drank either the high-protein or the mixed-nutrient shake ate the least. Both shakes contained the same number of calories, but the protein made participants feel fuller and eat less later.
The good news doesn't stop there. Following an eating plan that emphasizes lean proteins will accelerate weight loss from your midsection first. In one Danish study, researchers put 65 subjects on a 12 percent protein diet, a 25 percent protein diet, or no diet. In the first two groups, the same percentage of calories -- about 30 percent -- came from fat. While the low-protein dieters lost an average of more than 11 pounds, the high-protein participants lost an average of 20 pounds and ate fewer calories than the low-protein group. The more amazing statistic wasn't how much they lost but where they lost it: The high-protein dieters lost twice as much abdominal fat.
By now you're probably itching to get started. The plan is simple: Just stick to the six guidelines below and engage in regular ab exercises. You can burn up to 12 pounds of fat, from your belly first, in 2 weeks or less.
1. Eat six times a day.
Key concept: "energy balance"--that is, how many calories you're burning versus how many you're taking in. Researchers at Georgia State University found that if you keep your hourly surplus or deficit within 300 to 500 calories at all times, you will best be able to lose fat and add lean muscle mass. If you eat only three squares a day, you're creating energy imbalances: Between meals, you're burning more calories than you're taking in; at mealtimes, you're consuming more than you're burning. So alternate larger meals with smaller snacks and eat every 2 to 3 hours. It will keep you full and satisfied, which reduces the likelihood of a diet-destroying binge.
2. Make these 12 Powerfoods your diet staples.
These are among the best sources of protein, fiber, and all the other ingredients and nutrients that help fight fat. In fact, they're so good for you that they'll just about single-handedly exchange your fat for a toned, lean body. You can base entire meals and snacks around them, but you don't have to. Just be sure to follow these simple rules.
-- Incorporate two or three of these foods into each of your meals and at least one of them into each snack.
-- Diversify your food at every meal to get a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
-- Sneak a little protein into each snack.
A - Almonds and other nuts (with skins intact)
-- Superpowers: Builds muscle, reduces cravings
-- Fights: Obesity, heart disease, muscle loss, wrinkles, cancer, high blood pressure
B - Beans and legumes
-- Superpowers: Builds muscle, helps burn fat, regulates digestion
-- Fights: Obesity, colon cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure
S - Spinach and other green vegetables
-- Superpowers: Neutralizes free radicals, molecules that accelerate the aging process
-- Fights: Cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity, osteoporosis
D - Dairy products (fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese)
-- Superpowers: Builds strong bones, fires up weight loss
-- Fights: Osteoporosis, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer
I - Instant oatmeal (unsweetened, unflavored)
-- Superpowers: Boosts energy, reduces cholesterol, maintains blood sugar levels
-- Fights: Heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, obesity
E - Eggs
-- Superpowers: Builds muscle, burns fat
-- Fights: Obesity
T - Turkey and other lean meats
-- Superpowers: Builds muscle, strengthens immune system
-- Fights: Obesity, various diseases
P - Peanut butter
-- Superpowers: Boosts testosterone, builds muscle, burns fat
-- Fights: Obesity, muscle loss, wrinkles, cardiovascular disease
O - Olive oil
-- Superpowers: Lowers cholesterol, boosts immune system
-- Fights: Obesity, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure
W - Whole-grain breads and cereals
-- Superpowers: Prevents body from storing fat
-- Fights: Obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease
E - Extra-protein (whey) powder
-- Superpowers: Builds muscle, burns fat
-- Fights: Obesity
R - Raspberries and other berries
-- Superpowers: Protects heart; enhances eyesight; improves balance, coordination, and short-term memory; prevents cravings
-- Fights: Heart disease, cancer, obesity
3. Drink smoothies on a regular basis.
Smoothies, blended mixtures of milk, low-fat yogurt, whey protein powder, ice, and other good stuff from the Powerfoods list, can act as meal substitutes and potent snacks. They require little time; berries, flavored whey powder, or peanut butter will satisfy your sweet tooth; and their thickness takes up space in your stomach. So get a blender and whip up an 8-ounce smoothie for breakfast or have one before or after your workout.
4. Stop counting.
By eating the 12 Powerfoods and their many relatives, the foods themselves will, in a way, count your calories for you. They'll keep you healthy and satisfied. Plus, the most energy-efficient foods are almost like bouncers at a nightclub: They're not going to let any of the riffraff in without your approval. With that being said, it's always wise, especially in the beginning, when you're most vulnerable and adjusting to a new way of eating, to focus on portion control by limiting the servings of some foods, particularly the ones with fat (like peanut butter) and carbohydrates (like rice or bread). A good rule: Stick to one or two servings per food group and confine the total contents of each meal to the diameter of your plate.
5. Know what to drink and what not to.
There are many ways that alcohol can get you into trouble. It doesn't make you feel full or decrease the amount of food you consume. In fact, alcohol encourages your body to burn up to 36 percent less fat and makes you store more of the fat you eat. And it can inhibit your body's production of hormones that help burn fat and build muscle. If you can't pass up your pinot, limit yourself to two or three alcoholic drinks a week. Water may not be as exciting as 'Weiser, but drinking about eight glasses of the clear stuff a day has a lot of benefits. It helps keep you satiated (often what we interpret as hunger is really just thirst). It flushes the waste products your body makes when it breaks down fat for energy or when it processes protein. And it transports nutrients to your muscles to keep your metabolism clicking. Otherwise, the best drinks you can have are low-fat milk and green tea (or, if you must, two glasses of diet soda a day).
6. For one meal a week, forget the first five guidelines.
We would never advocate cheating on your spouse or your taxes. But we want you to cheat on this diet. Take one meal during the week and forget everything about good carbohydrates and good fats. Have half a pizza, a Kit Kat, Alfredo sauce, or whatever it is you miss the most. Think of this cheat meal as the carrot at the end of a good week of eating.
BDO (www.BlackDoctor.org ) is the World’s largest and most comprehensive online health resource specifically targeted to African Americans.
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