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Kiss Deprivation Goodbye
1. Quit starving yourself. Eating regularly should be non-negotiable. Fasting leads to plummeting blood sugar levels, which will make your mood—and your resolve to eat well—drop quicker than ever.
2. Rev up your fat ratio. Omega-3s, found in salmon, mackerel, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts, offer a one-two punch to drop pounds. They keep you feeling satisfied while also working hard to fight inflammation and fat deposits in your arteries. On the other hand, omega-6 fats, like sunflower, corn, soybean and cottonseed oils, can cause inflammation. A neat trick: Your body will boost your omega-3 uptake if you lower your omega-6 intake.
3. Go nuts. The kings of crunch halt hunger and contain fat that keeps you feeling fuller longer. Just don’t overdo portions: 62 pistachios, 29 almonds, 22 peanuts, 10 pecans or 8 walnuts will set you back a healthy 200 calories.
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4. Fill your salt shaker with spices. Although salt is calorie-free, it acts like a magnet to water, leaving you swollen and bloated. Salty foods also increase thirst, which may lead you to consume sugary beverages. To add zest to your meals, try a range of flavorful herbs and spices, including curry, turmeric, smoked paprika and black pepper.
5. Pick the write snacks. Note to self: Start food journaling. Extra calories add up, but you’ll never notice unless you keep track. Begin a detailed food diary, noting the time of day and amount you eat, and you can save thousands of calories.
6. Rethink your drink. Nearly half of Americans down at least one glass of soda a day—which can make a major dent in their calorie budget. A typical 12-ounce soda contains around 140 calories. Instead, sip more water. Skipping one can of soda per day can help you lose 14.6 pounds in a year.
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Win the Battle of the Bulge
7. Get hot. Capsaicin, the powerful compound in chile peppers, can rev up your metabolism and increase your body’s fat-burning ability. It also lowers cholesterol, fights free radicals and boosts your immune system. So shake a little sriracha sauce or chili oil over your favorite dishes.
8. Speed things up. A puffy belly is not necessarily a sign of belly fat; high-fiber foods like whole-grain breads and crackers can cause abdominal swelling, since fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. Drinking water is the solution: It accelerates the movement of food through your GI tract.
9. Slow things down. Eating too fast can cause air to get trapped in your stomach, making you bloated and uncomfortable. Take the time to thoroughly enjoy the taste, texture and temperature of your food. You could even drop a few pounds, since mindful eating may help you consume less by savoring your food more.
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Whittle Your Middle
10. Go with your gut. The trillions of organisms that live within your digestive tract not only help battle infection but also beat bloat. Prod them into flourishing by eating fermented foods, also known as natural probiotics, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh and pickled items. Just keep an eye on product labels for sodium content.
11. Choose sweets wisely. Swapping sugarless chewing gum for sweet snacks can cut calories, but the sugar alcohols it contains may come with a side of gas and bloat. Avoid foods with ingredients that end in “ol,” such as xylitol, mannitol and sorbitol. Instead, consider indulging in non-sugar-free sweets—just in smaller portions.
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12. Cozy up to calcium. The more of this mineral there is in a fat cell, the more fat the cell will burn—and that means greater weight loss. What’s more, when you get your calcium from yogurt or kefir, the probiotics they contain may help beat belly bloat too. If you’re between the ages of 19 and 50, shoot for at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day.
13. Pay attention to your sensitive side. If you feel bloated or get a stomachache any time you eat soy or indulge in too much cheese, for example, connect the dots and give that food a rest. You may have a food intolerance, which, unlike a food allergy, is not life-threatening but still can be disruptive. Either way, check with your health care provider to figure it out.
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One Bite at a Time
14. Join the resistance. Meet the latest foods to be granted a health halo: resistant starches. When cooked, then cooled, both white and sweet potatoes contain resistant starch, as do cooled brown rice and lentils as well as under-ripe bananas (smoothie, anyone?). What makes these carbs good for you is that they not only boost your metabolism but also regulate blood sugar.
15. Put out some fires. Chronic inflammation has been slammed for everything from cancer to depression—and now we’re adding extra pounds to that list. Not only can it affect insulin resistance (causing fat to be deposited more readily), but it could also throw off your body’s ability to regulate appetite and metabolism. One sure way to prevent a flare-up is by eating healthy doses of anti-inflammatory foods (such as tomatoes, green leafy vegetables and salmon) and spices (including garlic, ginger and turmeric). Drinking green tea helps too.