There are a million fad diets, trendy workouts, and gimmicky supplements, shakes, and gadgets that promise to melt fat away. However, losing weight and getting into great shape shouldn’t be that complicated, says Serena Poon, certified nutritionist and celebrity chef. In fact, all you need to do to melt fat away is make these 11 healthy habits part of your daily routine. Read on to see 11 healthy habits that will help you melt your fat away—and to get beach-ready yourself, don’t miss these essential 30 Best-Ever Celebrity Bathing Suit Photos!
Poon, who works with several celebrities, including Kerry Washington, maintains that hydration is really important for optimal health. “Your body is made up of about 60 percent water and every single system operates better if you are hydrated. Drinking an ample amount of water will help you feel great and better connected to your body and your hunger signals,” she says. Plus, researchers have found that drinking water before a meal can help you reduce your calorie intake, she adds. How much water should you drink? There is no universal amount. “I recommend that most people drink their body weight in ounces of water every day,” she suggests.
An apple might not keep the doctor away, but it may help burn fat. “Apples are a wonderful food to eat every day. Not only are they rich in fiber, which will keep you feeling full for longer, they also contain a powerful antioxidant, quercetin. Antioxidants protect your cells from free radicals, which can help you ward off the signs of aging,” says Poon, adding that “it really is a win-win in terms of satiety and protecting your body from oxidative stress.”
Snacking on raw veggies is another great way to increase your fiber intake, says Poon. “Plus, raw veggies contain an array of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that support overall health,” she says. “Everything I do in my Culinary Alchemy® programs revolves around increasing vegetable intake. Carrots, celery and broccoli make wonderful snacks, and also deliver a satisfying crunch that can make them a go-to when your cravings might be instigated by boredom rather than hunger.”
Protein is the most filling macronutrient, so eating high-quality options with every meal and snack can help you manage your appetite, notes Poon. “As a plant-based eater, I opt for meals and snacks that include tofu, tempeh, beans and nuts. Though they are healthy, and have appetite suppressing qualities of their own, make sure to moderate nut consumption simply because a little goes a long way in terms of calories and fat content,” she says.
Not only does green tea deliver a powerful antioxidant that supports optimal health, it can also help you lose weight. “Research has found that green tea supports improved metabolism and fat mass reduction,” states Poon. However, she maintains that it’s important to note that green tea alone won’t help you move the needle that much, but drinking green tea as part of an overall healthy lifestyle that includes nourishing food and exercise can be helpful. “Choose organic, fair trade green tea for the best quality,” she suggests.
Spice up your life and give your metabolism a boost! Poon explains that certain spices have metabolic powers. For example, cayenne pepper might help you develop brown fat, which can protect fat accumulation, ginger can support fat metabolism, and turmeric can support weight loss in certain populations. “Spices are also a wonderful way to increase the flavor of a dish, which can help you feel more satisfied by your dining experience,” she says.
Poon also suggests consuming nutrient dense foods and taking supplements when needed. “Research demonstrates that foods that are nutrient dense can help keep your hunger at bay,” she says. “Foods like leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower), berries, nuts, and whole grains will keep your body feeling satisfied.” She also recommends that people go to their doctor to get their vitamin levels checked. “This can help you determine if you have a need for supplements and ensure that you have everything you need to feel your best.”
According to Poon, “gut health is really at the foundation of optimal health. Not only does a healthy gut microbiome guide digestive function, immune function and mental health, it can also help you lose weight,” she says. Researchers have found that probiotics can impact weight loss significantly.
Avoid or limit processed foods, added sugar and alcohol, suggest Poon. “Weight loss isn’t just about what you eat, it’s also about what you don’t eat. Processed foods, added sugar and alcohol offer the opposite of nutrient dense calories that can add up easily. These foods also cause inflammation, which is a precursor for chronic disease, something you definitely want to avoid regardless of the number on the scale,” she says.
Similarly, weight loss isn’t just about what you eat and don’t eat, it’s actually mostly about how you think and feel about food. “Incorporating mindfulness into your meal times by really tuning into how food is fueling your body and how it makes you feel can set you up with eating habits that will support feeling good for a long time and longevity,” Poon states. “Researchers have found that combining mindfulness with good dietary habits can support weight loss.”
Finally, get your z’s. “If you are trying to lose weight, it is also absolutely necessary to consume sleep— lots of it,” says Poon. She cites research finding that sleep deprivation may increase hunger and appetite, specifically for high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods. “Aim for getting eight (or more!) hours of sleep each night to keep your body feeling its best.”