I don’t have a perfectly touching story to tell. One of those stories you see everywhere else where a person transform from severely overweight to a slim and healthy – full of energy and generally vibrant.
What I have however is a story of a struggle everyone else face: constantly stressing about staying in shape, losing extra pounds and being flexible in all the ways a well aligned human being should be. Even frying mind and body through the constant achievement cycles you and I might still struggle to look good in the mirror – might be because of the all too common body dysmorphia (an obsession with physical body images and feeling of not being enough doesn’t matter the actual progress), or just because we dip into one of the fat storage periods with more snacking.
But this article is not about ditching the small meals altogether, rather let’s discuss what you can do today to simply lose fat consistently and relatively quickly (mission of 10lbs fat loss in a month).
The best part is: I won’t tell you to stop snacking – it will make you miserable and it’s not a sustainable approach to weight loss. Rather, let’s discuss what you can do today to work towards consistent and relatively quick fat loss. The small adjustments and diet hacks I’ll talk about won’t just help you shed the stubborn pounds, but they’ll also stop you feeling bloated and make you more productive.
Of course not all of the tweaks will be easy to implement, but even just picking single one, can add up to significant fat loss in the longer term. Some tweaks will help you lose more weight than others. Feel free to adjust these suggestions to better fit your unique and busy lifestyle.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the list of tweaks that can help you lose stubborn fat in a month:
1. Move Smarter
Notice how I didn’t just write ‘move more’? You already knew that. Moving smarter means optimising the things you already do throughout the day for weight loss.
Here are some easy hacks you can implement today:
- Get a step counter (aka a pedometer) or a smartwatch with activity tracking.
A study done at Stanford University showed that people who own such a device tend to walk 1 mile more (=2000 steps) than those who do not! This might not sound like much, but to the majority of people, this amount of steps would present a 30% increase on their current daily movement. I can personally vouch for this hack; I walk almost twice as much as I used to now that I have a daily step goal. Setting a SMART goal like that helps you move out of your comfort zone more easily.
- Take the stairs like a winner instead of using an elevator.
This might get you some raised eyebrows from other people, but don’t reject the idea just because others aren’t taking the stairs. Do you notice how those others are usually the ones who complain about their diet and shape the most? Making a change as small as taking the stairs over an elevator, can set you up for success in other areas of your life. This is a real phenomenon, called the winner effect . It describes the compounding effect of small wins that create and maintain your momentum for the big successes. So whilst these small tweaks might be tough to implement at first, soon enough they won’t just be a habit – they will propel you to do more and better in other situations and areas of your life.
- Sitting is killing you but standing will too.
The recent hype over standing desks is only a partial solution to our sedentary lifestyles and atrophying bodies. A respected authority on the subject, Cornell University’s director of Human Factors and Ergonomics research programs, has pointed out that standing desks are no better for your health unless done in moderation. The best thing you can do for your health is to alternate between sitting and standing, and to keep moving naturally. In practical terms, this could be an hour of working at your standing desk, followed by an hour of sitting, then back to the standing desk. The trick here is to move every 45 mins or so. To remind yourself to move, you can set an alarm or use the previously mentioned activity trackers / smartwatches which vibrate when you’ve been idle for a set amount of time. When it’s time to move, stand up and walk around. You can also do the stretches described by our guest author Helena.
- Leg the last segment of your commute.
Make the last part of your commute a walk. This could mean jumping off public transport before your usual stop and walking the rest of the way, parking your car 5-10 mins away from the office and using the walk to clear your mind and decompress, or finally you could also try walking even if you already cycle or run to work.
But Vy – you might say – I have no time for this! In the morning I’m running late and in the evenings I’m too tired for such games. I understand that walking can seem like a waste of time – you just want to arrive at your destination. I felt the same at first. However, there’s no reason that this can’t be a (more) productive time for you – just add an audiobook or a podcast, make those phone calls you’ve been delaying or brainstorm ideas. Use this time to your advantage.
2. Avoid processed grains (bread, bagels, sandwiches and the like)
You’ll know this already but it’s a truth that bears repeating until it sinks in: the carb-rich and gluten-packed bread products are the number one culprit for weight gain.
Bread has been around for a long time. In documents from 30,000 years ago, it is described as a cooked paste of grain mash. However, just because it has such a long legacy doesn’t make bread good for you. Grain cultures and bread in particular, became popular because of their easy exploitation and their ability to satisfy hunger, a massive demand of the growing human population. We are basically culturally bound to eat grains, and it’s not until recently that we even started questioning the effect bread products have on our physiology.
Today anti-grain diets, like keto or paleo, are gaining more followers but we won’t get into such food politics just yet. What I want you to take away from this is this one truth: insulin-resistant or carb-intolerant people are prone to storing fat when they eat food that’s rich in carbs . These people will benefit from skipping bread and bread products altogether.
Skipping bread can be difficult, but soon enough you’ll feel lighter, less bloated and more in shape which is enough to beat any cravings. I recommend this nutrition tweak to all of my clients because it’s makes weight maintenance easier and it also reduces inflammation in the body.
By skipping bread products entirely for a month, you can easily drop at least 10 lbs without trying any other hack on this list. If you don’t feel any different a week or two into your new regime, try reintroducing bread into your diet – this is the best way to determine whether a questionable food source does indeed affect your body and/or mind.
3. Soft sugary and ‘diet’ drinks
After bread, these would be the second biggest kryptonite for slim mid-sections.
There was a point in my life where I was basically drinking soda instead of water. However, because I was young and thus had a high metabolism, this soda habit never turned into fat depositories that I’d struggle with for years.
Don’t be fooled by terms like ‘diet’ or ‘zero-calorie’ proudly displayed on their labels – there’s always a price to pay for their consumption. Even the “sugar-free” soda drinks can ferment in your belly and affect how you feel for long after you’ve consumed them. Another reason they make a poor choice for clenching thirst, is their ingredients list – they commonly contain sweeteners and cancerogenic ingredients like aspartame.
In order of magnitude relating to healthiness, ‘diet’ drinks are the worst because of their fake sweeteners. The classic, sugar-filled drinks are a close second. The ‘cleanest’ drinks are plain water, lemon water and green tea. If you do crave a flavoured sports drink, I’d recommend trying the Nuun tabs – they dissolve in water and have a great electrolyte profile containing magnesium, potassium and other salts. I use them during training sessions and endurance competitions, and I also recommend them to clients who have trouble transitioning to a cleaner lifestyle.
4. Forget about Fat-free, Zero-Calorie and ‘Franken-food’ products
Here’s another big truth: fat has actually been proven to help weight loss, not deter it. Products advertised as fat-free are usually the epitome of a synthesised and processed meal.
What fat-free usually means is that the product has been scrubbed bare, devoid of any nutrients that would actually be good for you. What was left has been pumped with artificial sweeteners and unpronounceable agents which tend to also be heavy in sugar and carbohydrates. This means that they will almost surely convert to hated fat once you’ve consumed them. The human body is very good at converting excess carbohydrates and protein to fat, which of course then gets stored.
If you really want to slim down never ever go this route. Heavily engineered shortcuts are rarely ever that. In best cases they may make the road to weight loss never-ending, and in worst they can even affect your life-span or increase the production of antibodies in your system.
5. Skip ketchup, salad dressing and refined sugar
After the ‘devils’ I’ve already discussed, these three come as the icing on the cake. Refined sugar, salt and artificial sweeteners tend to ferment in your stomach which causes bloating and excessive gas. The flavour is just not worth the pain. Especially taking into consideration that these foods are what you could consider the key components for unnecessary fat gain.
But Vy, you might again say, my food will taste bland. Not necessarily.
Here’s a few better replacements:
- Replace salad dressing with pure apple cider vinegar. Then add sprinkles of oregano, pepper or any other spice you love.
- A truer name for ketchup would be tomato syrup. Doesn’t sound as appetising, does it? You can replace ketchup with homemade salsa, organic and additive-free tomato puree or you can again just use apple cider vinegar. The latter is amazing at aiding digestion and neutralising your body’s pH through it’s alkaline properties. (A neutral pH makes for the perfect environment for your cells to grow and replenish. You can achieve this also by eating plenty of vegetables.)
Let’s not forget the last thing here – refined sugar. It brings me to my next point:
6. Opt for black or plain coffee and tea
It might not sound super appetising, but this is another tweak that can quickly transform your body without a lot of worrying or trying. Skipping cream, milk and especially sugar or artificial sweeteners will swiftly trim your mid-section. Especially if you are like me – I tend to indulge in a lot of caffeine and other hot drinks when I’m in problem-solving mode.
You could of course use 100% stevia or xylitol sweeteners, which tend to be less harsh on your stomach than sweeteners like the cancerogenic aspartame.
However, even these alternatives will cause bloating – as sugar alcohols, they too ferment in your gut and can even cause a severe case of ‘disaster pants’.
7. Fruit and berries
Fruit is nature’s candy. Read that sentence again. What it means is that fruit is packed with sugar in its fructose form. This gets converted into glucose in your liver and its excess will, of course, result in fat gain and maintenance.
People tend to compare fruit to vegetables for their mineral, vitamin and fiber contents, however they ignore the amount of carbohydrates that a portion of fruit might contain. Not to mention the caloric values.
As mentioned in the previous post, controversially titled your body does not care if you eat a Snickers or a banana, I explained why you need to be more careful with fruit and I gave plenty of healthier snack options to help you not only lose weight but also feel like a champion.
There’s another issue with fruit and berries: unless organic, they’re always heavily dosed with pesticides and preservatives. The 5 biggest offenders of this are, in order of contamination:
All of these are considered healthy snacks, right?
They could be if they are organic, but knowing how rare and expensive they can get when organic, it might be best to simply avoid these heavily contaminated foods altogether. Stick with vegetables to benefit both your health and your weight goals. If you however must go for fruit choose that with a thick shell or peel. This is nature’s protection against (cancerogenic) contaminants.
Bonus: Speed up weight loss by following the Intermittent Fasting Protocol
Intermittent Fasting or IF is a well-known and time-based approach to calorie-restriction fasting. The protocol helps busy people like you and me, to control appetite with minimal effort by splitting time in your day into time for eating and time for fasting.
The basic protocol usually looks like this: 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8-hour window during which you can eat. In practical terms, you’d finish eating by 8pm, and would then kick start a fasting period for 16 hours. If you sleep for 8 hours, that would mean just 8 hours of not eating which would end around noon or 1pm, based on this calculation. You can of course tweak it to better suit your schedule.
The reason IF approach has a lot of followers is for two reasons. One, by pushing your breakfast out later into the day, you allow your body to perform autophagy (cells disposing of byproducts) which positively impacts longevity. Two, this also increases the rate at which you burn fat because by the time you do break fast, your body will have been burning fat as its energy source. If you would do this for a month, you would easily lose the stubborn 10lbs.
Overall, these tweaks can be a little project for a month or you can adopt them for the longer term to live better and manage your weight effortlessly. Remember, even little changes here and there add up in the long run. Consistency is the key to gradually yet effectively reducing extra fat and have a beach body all year long.
We’ll be adding more proven hacks for weight loss and weight management. Hear about them as soon as they’re published by subscribing to our monthly insider email below:
 Pedometers help people stay active, Stanford study finds – 2007 Stanford University. http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2007/11/pedometers-help-people-stay-active-stanford-study-finds.html
 Ian Robertson – Winner Effect, Amazon affiliation link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1408831651/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=1408831651&linkCode=as2&tag=gricam-21
 History of Bread, wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_bread
 A Practical Guide to Carb Tolerance and Insulin Sensitivity – Paleo Leap. http://paleoleap.com/practical-guide-carb-tolerance-insulin-sensitivity/
 Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer – National Cancer Institute – http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/artificial-sweeteners-fact-sheet
 British Journal of Nutrition, 2009 – Plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are negatively associated with obesity: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=6488260&fileId=S0007114509382173
 The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? – Gerry K. Schwalfenberg – University of Alberta, Suite No. 301, 9509-156 Street, Edmonton, AB, Canada 2012: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195546/
 The most pesticide contamminated fruit and vegetables: http://gawker.com/5553023/the-12-most-pesticide-contaminated-fruits-and-vegetables
 How internmitent fasting might help you live longer and healthiet life – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-intermittent-fasting-might-help-you-live-longer-healthier-life/