Bikini season is just around the corner and I know a lot of people start frantically finding the fastest way to lose weight to get ready for summer. STOP! Don’t jump on the fad diet bandwagon. The truth is, every body is bikini ready – you simply have to put on a bikini to have a “bikini body”. However; it’s this time of year that women (and men) start starving themselves to change their bodies in a short period of time to try and feel more confident on the beach. Instead, wouldn’t you love to find a way to eat right and be at a healthy and confident weight all yearlong? I’m going to let you in on a little secret – it IS possible!
By making small changes in the way you eat and snack you can cut the fat, slim down, and be healthy. A healthy body is a confident body! Here are some tips to get you strutting your stuff on the beach this summer:
Eat Less Meat – Research has shown that eating meat has been linked to obesity. Eating less meat may not only help you slim down, but studies have shown that a plant-based diet can also reverse the progression of heart disease.
Increase Your Protein Intake – Women need about 46 grams of protein a day (56 for men), and it’s important to hit that goal if you want to keep your weight in check. Your body needs more time and energy to digest protein than fat or carbs, so you feel fuller, longer and also burn more calories absorbing the nutrients in the process. That said, you don’t want to OD on protein, either—if you have too much, the excess gets stored as fat.
Wait…Eat Less Meat but Increase My Protein Intake (How does that work?) – There is more to protein than meat, I promise! For example:
- Did you know that Edamame has a whopping 17 grams of protein, only 189 calories and 8 grams of fiber per cup? That is a high protein snack!
- Quinoa has 8.1 grams of protein, 5.2 grams of fiber and 222 calories per cup. The awesome thing about Quinoa is that it takes on the flavor profile of whatever you cook – the possibilities are endless!
- Lentils, at one cup have only 230 calories but 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber! The best part…Less than 1 gram of fat in one cup of lentils. No wonder why it’s called one of the “World’s healthiest foods”.
These are just three examples of foods that are high in protein. Eggs, nuts, cauliflower, potatoes, eggplant, tofu, mushrooms…these are all examples of meat substitutes! Reducing your meat intake and increasing your protein can definitely be done with planning and creativity!
Eat 30 Grams of Fiber Per Day – In my book, “Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food” I have workbook pages that include checklists that help you find your optimal fiber intake.
Wean Yourself off Any Beverage That Isn’t Water, Tea, or Coffee – Did you know that according to one study, having a cup of coffee may also jumpstart your metabolism by 12% for 3 hours? Now, this is black coffee – no adding tons of sugar or creamer to this 😉
A German study found that people who swigged two full glasses of room temperature or cold water experienced a 30% spike in their metabolic rate in just one hour. It was discovered the subjects’ bodies had to expand energy to warm the water to body temperature.
Tea is another substitute for those sugary drinks. Try herbal tea for times when you want some flavor, and green tea for an extra boost in your metabolism (and studies say it just may help burn fat).
You may be thinking, “All these tips are great, but what do I eat, now?” That’s a great question! Here are some tips for healthy eating and smart snacking to get you through the day:
Snack on Pistachios – I love this tip from Health.com. Foods that require peeling, shelling, or individual unwrapping—like pistachios—force you to slow down your eating, and may help you consume less overall. Plus, a 1-ounce serving of pistachios provides 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber for just 159 calories.
Fish, Fish, Fish! – Salmon, tuna, herring, are just some examples of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, and these omega-3’s may just help amp up your body’s fat-burning power. These heart-healthy fats balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation, which helps regulate metabolism – and this is what you are aiming for throughout the day. Healthy balance means no binge eating or splurge decisions because you’re “hangry” mid-day.
Quinoa is Queen – Initial research shows that eating quinoa can lead to an increase in energy expenditure, which means it may help burn calories and rev up metabolism.
Blueberries are Boss – Eating blueberries may help improve insulin sensitivity and lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease.
Spinach is Spectacular– Contains a fair amount of B vitamins, which support healthy metabolism. Also good source of minerals like potassium, magnesium, and zinc that also support a healthy metabolism.
Say it With Me – EAT MORE MUFAS!! (Pronounced “moo-faahs”) –
This is probably the best advice I could give you, and the best food you can eat. When researchers asked women to switch to a 1,600-calorie diet high in MUFAs, they lost a third of their belly fat in just 4 weeks – now THAT is incredible news, right? Some of the foods above I’ve mentioned are MUFAS (quinoa, pistachios, salmon).
Why am I so excited about them? MUFAS are: Monounsaturated Fatty Acids. Simply put: MUFAs are a healthy type of fat. Not all fats are bad! These fats actually keep you fuller, longer and can help you lose weight in the process. I found this great article that explains MUFAS and better yet, lists some incredible foods that are in that category! You can read it on GetHealthyU.com here.
To start of grilling season, here is one of my favorite vegetarian dishes for the barbecue and some of my recipes using the foods I’ve mentioned above (you didn’t think I’d leave you hanging did you?) =)
There is nothing better than fresh grilled vegetables, especially when they are seasoned with just the right herbs and spices. In this recipe I use loads of fresh organic basil because the taste and health benefits are endless!
- 8 Portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced long ways
- 4 Medium tomatoes
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 4oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced into 4 rounds…
Another Favorite of mine that uses Quinoa and is fantastic for a hot day is my recipe for Quinoa and Parsley Salad. It’s vegetarian and uses a fabulous MUFA! You can find the recipe on my website here.
Another salad that has walnuts (another great MUFA) and spinach, as it’s main ingredient is my fast an easy recipe for Cranberry Walnut Salad with Rice. You can find it online here.
The last one I’ll share combines two of the highest ORAC superfruits, blueberries and acai berries, into a single, nutrient-balanced and delicious drink that is a great breakfast or even a post-workout meal replacement.
- 1 cup organic blueberries, frozen
- 1 scoop protein powder, Jay Robb’s egg white
- 1 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup acai berry juice
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 10 ice cubes
With all these incredible lifestyle changes, you are going to feel so healthy and self-confident this summer – and beyond! Own that bikini body, and continue these food choices throughout the year; no one regrets being healthier.