Whether it’s a wedding, high school reunion, or vacation, nothing gets you to dust off the running shoes and take the first step towards transformation than an upcoming event (let’s face it, we’re deadline driven). So, if you’re looking to drop a few pounds before the big event, try these tips.
1. Prepare your meals
The key to making change is preparing food in advance so you’re less tempted to grab something from a vending machine or convenience store. Most healthy recipes allow you to swap the source of protein, whether it’s chicken, turkey, tofu, shrimp or lean organic steak. Once cooked, most proteins will remain fresh for three or four days so cook them twice weekly in larger batches.
How to: Another easy step is to make larger portions all in one day so you have three interchangeable meals for days to come.
Warning: Egg dishes and smoothies would be an exception since they need to be fresh.
2. Keep a food journal
I recommend keeping a food journal as, according to a large 2008 study, they’ve been shown to double a person’s weight loss. Getting and staying balanced requires you to be committed, organized and motivated.
How to: Here’s an example of great daily food tracker you can print out and use.
3. Reduce your starchy carbs
In advance of your event I also recommend reducing your intake of starchy carbs. This will reduce insulin, which aids weight loss and water retention.
How to: You may choose to have a low glycemic carb with a meal once per day, or not at all (and just receive your carbs from non-starchy veggies and fruits). Since insulin also controls sodium uptake in the kidneys and the levels of potassium and magnesium in the body, an excess will cause water retention and swelling.
4. Try a CLA and resveratrol combo
A recent study published in Nutrition found conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supports weight reduction. Sixty-three subjects with a body mass index (BMI) of 24 to 35 received 1.7 grams of CLA or a placebo of salad oil in 200 ml of sterilized milk twice daily for 12 weeks. The researchers evaluated the subjects for body composition including total body weight, BMI, total fat mass, fat percentage, subcutaneous (below the skin) fat mass and waist-to-hip ratio at the beginning of the study and again after the supplementation period. They found that all markers decreased in the CLA group.
How to: For a great fat burning combo, add 1-2 capsules of resveratrol in the morning on an empty stomach, along with two capsules (1500 mg) of CLA twice daily with a meal.
5. Kick it up with cayenne
Cayenne pepper is said to enhance metabolism, and therefore fat burning, by increasing thermogenesis: the production of heat in the body through calorie burning otherwise known as what makes you sweat when you eat spicy food. It also has appetite suppressing effects. One study showed that when added to the first course of a meal, participants consumed fewer calories later in the day.
How to: Try my Metabolic Master Brew for fat loss
½ to 1 organic lemon, juiced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
A pinch (or more) of cayenne pepper
8 cups reverse osmosis water
Combine the following ingredients in a large pitcher and enjoy it either hot or cold. It will increase your metabolism, lower insulin, support digestion and improve liver function.
6. Sweat it out
Infrared radiation heats the skin directly, similar to heat from the sun, but without warming the air. The radiant heat is safe, healthy and penetrates more than 1.5 inches into the body. Because the skin is the largest organ in the body, regularly sweating in an infrared sauna can help decrease toxic load and contribute to better health and vitality. A growing body of evidence suggests the accumulation of toxins in the body is responsible for fatigue, disease and weight gain. In a study performed by neurologist Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, he found that the sweat of people using a conventional sauna was 95-97 percent water while the sweat of those using an infrared thermal system was 80-85 percent water, the non-water portion consisting of toxins including heavy metals. As an added benefit, one infrared sauna session can burn up to 300 calories.
How to: Hit the sauna twice a week for a month before your event for glowing skin, less body fat, reduced cellulite, decreased pain, and better hormonal balance.
7. Add in L-carnitine
L-carnitine is naturally made from amino acids lysine and methionine and is required by the body to release energy from fat and to transfer fatty acids across cell membranes to the mitochondria where it can be used as energy. It’s a great energy booster to take before cardio or strength training. It has also been shown to improve glucose disposal in type 2 diabetic patients. A separate review article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science concluded that L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine, are effective in promoting healthy blood sugar and insulin levels. In one study researchers fed mice a high fat diet in order to increase their weight. One group of mice were given carnitine while a separate group was given a placebo. The mice on carnitine gained less visceral and subcutaneous fat than their chubbier counterparts.
How to: I recommend consuming 500-1500 mg per day separated into 1-2 doses either with or without food.
Natasha Turner, N.D. is a naturopathic doctor, Chatelaine magazine columnist, and author of the bestselling books The Hormone Diet and The Supercharged Hormone Diet. Her newest release, The Carb Sensitivity Program, is now available across Canada. She is also the founder of the Toronto-based Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique. For more wellness advice from Natasha Turner, click here.