This month I return to the subject of how to strip off bodyfat. The previous two installments of this series, which appeared in the August and September ’09 issues, set the scene for this third part. We left off with item 28. To continue:
29) Avoid processed foods. Processing removes valuable nutrients, vitamins and minerals and replaces them with rubbish such as sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and chemicals. Eating processed foods can cause your insulin levels to spike, which triggers your body to store fat.
30) If you see “high-fructose corn syrup,” “hydrogenated vegetable oil,” “refined or enriched” or mysterious chemicals on the label, you’re looking at a processed food, and you should avoid it. Be informed and discerning—read nutrition labels.
31) Don’t enhance your food’s taste with high-calorie dressings.
32) It’s essential to eat a nutritious breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day because it’s the first one. Low blood sugar not only hampers memory and concentration but can also impair physical performance.
33) Skipping breakfast leads to overeating later in the day by spiking the hormone ghrelin in your body It stimulates your appetite at a time when your metabolism is already in a slowed state. Skipping breakfast can reduce your body’s sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar.
34) Make time to have breakfast—a healthful one, of course. Boiled eggs and a bowl of oatmeal, for example, would get your day off to a good start, and they don’t take long to prepare.
35) A protein-rich diet helps you lose bodyfat. Your body may burn more calories—that is, go into what’s called diet-induced thermogenesis—than it would if you ate the same number of calories but with less protein and more carbs. Protein also improves satiety, the feeling of fullness. High-protein foods suppress ghrelin release, thereby helping to decrease appetite. That may improve your ability to maintain a reduced calorie intake long-term.
36) Even if you follow a protein-rich diet, you still need healthful carbs and fats. Certain types of carbs may help you lose fat faster. The glycemic index, or G.I., ranks carbs on a scale from 0 to 100 based on the extent to which they raise blood sugar—70 and above means a high G.I., while 55 and below means a low G.I. The index was developed to identify which foods were best for people with diabetes, but it has value for others as well. According to the G.I. theory, focusing on low-glycemic foods—for example, most fruits, vegetables, legumes, pasta and whole-grain breads—helps you prevent rises in blood sugar, control your appetite and delay hunger, lower your insulin count and improve your body’s ability to burn stored fat.
37) You derive additional health benefits from focusing on low-glycemic-index foods. High-glycemic-index carbohydrates—for example, corn flakes, watermelon, most white rices, white bread, extruded cereals and sugar—can create an insulin rush, which can block the release of stored fat. Meals rich in high-glycemic-index carbs can produce other harmful effects. To check G.I. ratings, visit www.GlycemicIndex.com.
38) Get about 25 percent of your calories from fats. Good for that are fish high in essential fatty acids—herring, mackerel, salmon and sardines—plus avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds and flaxseed oil. Butter—in moderation—is vastly different from getting the same total quantity of fat from fried food, margarine, hydrogenated oils or refined vegetable oils.
39) For most people, eating often but reducing portion sizes may be the single most important strategy for fat loss. It’s best to eat something every two to four hours instead of eating three large meals per day. Redistribute the same number of calories (or a reduced number, if you’re eating too much) over five or six smaller meals.
40) Focus on foods that have fewer calories per bite—that is, foods with a lower energy density—and start at least some of your meals with a low-calorie soup or salad, eating main dishes that are full of vegetables and fruits. Fill yourself up on lower-calorie foods.
41) The afterburn effect—excess postexercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC—occurs when an intensive workout of weights or hard cardio burns calories for a period of time after your workout in addition to what you’d burn had you not exercised. It elevates your metabolism into a state above its normal resting state. To take full advantage of that possibility, do at least some of your hardest workouts in the morning, an hour or two after you’ve eaten so that you have the energy to sustain an intense workout. Your metabolism can stay elevated for several hours after the exercise. If you do your hard cardio at night, for example, your elevated metabolism will plummet when you go to sleep.
Next time I’ll have another bundle of facts and tips to guide you further.
Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the 638-page opus on bodybuilding Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great, available from Home Gym Warehouse (800) 447-0008 or www.Home-Gym.com.