Lose the Last 5 Pounds For Good
Why are the last five pounds so hard to lose? "When you've got only a handful of pounds to go, you've really got to rev up your metabolism and, at the same time, lower your body's production of cortisol, the stress hormone, which promotes fat storage," says Los Angeles nutritionist Haylie Pomroy, who helps Jennifer Lopez stay movie and photo shoot ready. It's not as tricky as it sounds, but it does require diligence. So give yourself three to four weeks, follow these tips from our experts, and make "Go for the burn" your new motto.
Eat Fat-Burning Foods
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Forget "Fat Free" and "Sugar Free"
You don't have to give up dairy, just the fat-free variety. "When you take the fat out of a dairy product, the natural milk sugar it contains gets into the bloodstream faster, sending your body into fat-storing mode," explains Pomroy. "Suddenly that fat-free Greek yogurt is fattening." Instead, choose organic, hormone-free two-percent dairy. Ditch the sugar-free stuff too. "The body can't process chemical sweeteners, so not only do they get stored in your fat, they impair your body's ability to release that fat for fuel," says Pomroy.
Be Calorie Clever
"I tell my clients to treat calories like dollars and avoid paying retail," says Gullo. That means a get-more-for-your-money strategy of substitutions. Examples: Trade brown rice (around 200 calories per cup) for high-fiber GG Bran Crispbread (12 calories per piece), and rather than a tablespoon of olive oil (120 calories), mix just a teaspoon with balsamic vinegar and lemon juice for salad dressing. "You save calories without sacrificing taste, plus vinegar slows the emptying of the stomach, so you feel more satiated," he says. For the month, eliminate calorie-dense bananas, grapes, cherries, starchy squash, edamame, potatoes, and avocados.
Cut Caffeine and Alcohol
Burn Calories While Drinking
To keep your system humming, down 12 to 16 glasses of water a day (dehydration hinders metabolic function) and drink decaf oolong tea, advises Gullo. "It's been shown to increase metabolism by 10 percent—even more than green tea," he says. Before bed, skip the tea and instead have a thermogenic brew made with the juice of one lemon, hot water, a tablespoon of chopped, potassium-rich parsley, and a pinch of cayenne. (Steep for 15 minutes.) "It increases calorie burning while you sleep and prevents water retention," Pomroy says. "My clients find the depuffing effect encouraging."
Photo Credit: Alexi Lumbomirski
Take These 5 Supplements
1. PROBIOTICS These can help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your digestive tract; imbalances have been linked to weight gain. Try Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Complete ($41; one cap daily).
2. B-COMPLEX "B vitamins lower cortisol production and stimulate metabolism," says Pomroy. Try Living Beyond Organic B-Complex ($50; one half teaspoon with meals).
3. CALCIUM "High-calcium diets lead to greater weight loss, particularly in the abdominal area," says Gullo. (Good news, since that's where pesky cortisol packs on the pounds.) Try Schiff Super Calcium 1200 ($7.65; two soft gels daily with a meal).
4. VITAMIN D A deficiency can make it harder to lose weight. Try Jarrow Formulas Vitamin D3 1000 IU ($7.95; one soft gel twice daily with meals).
5. OMEGAS Essential fatty acids help stabilize blood sugar and encourage fat metabolism, Pomroy says. Fans of her popular organic flax-oil blend swear it helps fight cellulite too. Try East West Essentials Optimal Fatty Acid Blend ($48; one capsule three times daily with meals). Want to swallow fewer pills? Consider SafSlim, a new liquid supplement said to target belly fat with omega-rich linoleic acid from safflower oil ($29.99; one tablespoon twice daily). "Studies suggest that linoleic acid may aid weight loss by helping with appetite control and metabolic efficiency," says Gullo.
Sleep 7 to 8 Hours A Night
Double Up Your Workouts
A.M.: "These compound body movements utilize multiple muscle groups and get your metabolism going," he says. Do the circuit three times.
1. Two minutes jumping rope.
2. Twenty sumo squats: With legs just wider than shoulder width and toes pointing slightly outward, slowly lower your body into a squat, keeping weight in your heels, and drop your butt just lower than 90 degrees (so fingers touch the floor) before slowly raising up.
3. Fifteen burpees: Stand upright, feet hip width apart. Drop down into pushup position, kicking your legs back and out. Do a pushup, then pull legs back under you as you push off the floor, and hop to a standing position.
4. Ten traditional pushups.
P.M.: "Pump up your calorie burn by doing cardio at the end of the day, when your body naturally wants to rest," says Harper. Get outside and run for 30 to 45 minutes. Or do run-walk intervals for the duration, running for four minutes and then walking for one.
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Try An Alternative Therapy
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