Sip Your Way to a Flat Belly!
There is a potion that magically strips away pounds from your body, improves your overall health, lengthens your life, makes you more attractive to the opposite sex, and keeps you lean forever. Even better, you can have as much of this magic weight-loss potion as you want, for free, and start stripping away pounds—perhaps even several dozen pounds this year alone—without exercise, without dieting, without visiting the set of Nip/Tuck.
What is this magical elixir? It’s water.
Really? Really. You don't even need to mix in that fancy fat-burning stuff from the vitamin store. In fact, the less you supplement your food and beverage intake, the more weight you’ll lose (and the more money you’ll save). Keep reading this five-point plan from the new book Drink This, Not That! and begin your no diet weight-loss goals today. You'll sip your way to a flat belly in record time--and keep it well beyond summer.
Step 1: Swear Off the Soda and Iced Tea
(Annual Weight Loss: 18 Pounds!)
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey measured where most of our calories come from. Researchers broke up America’s food intake into 143 different categories and discovered, to their horror, that the category making up the largest percentage of our calorie intake—7.1 percent, to be exact—was not a food at all. It was soda. (Vegetables, on the other hand, accounted for only 6.5 percent of our intake. Chicken and fish together only added up to 5.7 percent.) To put that into perspective, if you ate an average of 2,500 calories a day, and you cut 7 percent of your calories, you’d automatically drop down to 2,325, a difference that would save you 1.5 pounds per month. You could be 9 pounds lighter in 6 months by going cold-turkey today! Another thing to remember: You're far better off eating your vitamins than drinking them. Here are 40 foods with scientifically proven superpowers.
Step 2: Drink 8 Cups of Water Every Day
(Annual Weight Loss: 26 Pounds!)
Yes, the magic elixir really does have amazing powers. In one study, a group of 173 overweight women were put through diet and nutrition training using mainstream diet programs. Researchers then followed them for 10 months, with dietary and body composition being recorded up to 12 months after the classes. All women in the program lost weight, but those drinking more water lost more weight. Drinking more than 1 liter of water per day (nearly 4½ cups) was associated with an extra 5.07 pounds lost in 12 months.
And researchers from the University of Utah found that people who drink the most water have higher metabolisms. In a study, subjects drank 4, 8, or 12 cups of water each day. Those who drank at least 8 cups reported better concentration and higher energy levels, and tests showed that they were burning more calories than the 4-cups-a-day group.
Of course, if you're looking to lose weight, diet is only half the equation. For the other half, check out our list of the 100 best fitness tips ever written. Your best beach body awaits!
Step 3: Enjoy One, Two, or Even Three Yogurt-Based Smoothies a Day
(Annual Weight Loss: 10 Pounds!)
I love the sound of a cranking blender. But a combination of ice, dairy, and fruit does more than just make a teeth-rattling cacophony in your kitchen. It also helps strip pounds from your body.
There are three simple reasons why: Smoothies take little time to make (so you can quash your hunger pangs quickly), they’re packed with nutrition (especially if you start with Greek yogurt and add berries, whey protein, and some flax), and their thickness takes up a lot of space in your stomach, crowding out the Doritos. In fact, researchers at Purdue University found that people stayed fuller longer when they drank thick drinks than when they drank thin ones, and a study at Penn State found that people who drank yogurt shakes that had been blended until they doubled in volume ate 96 fewer calories a day than those consuming thinner drinks.
And speaking of deceptively unhealthy foods, check our must-know roundup of 30 “Health” Foods That Aren’t. You'll be shocked to learn how smoothies, salads and veggie wraps--among other seemingly healthful fare--might be sabotaging your weight-loss goals thanks to deceptive marketing practices.
Step 4: Avoid Juice Drinks
(Annual Weight Loss: 19 Pounds!)
Imagine a world in which we called products what they really were: Hungry Man Dinners would be called Lonely Man Dinners. ESPN would be called the Fat Nerds Yap about Jocks Channel. And SunnyD would be called Obesi-D because there’s nothing sunny about a drink marketed to kids that looks and tastes like juice, but is 95 percent water and corn syrup.
While even 100 percent juice has its problems, juice drinks and their ilk are the worse offenders. One 16-ounce bottle of SunnyD Smooth packs a whopping 180 straight-up empty calories and 40 grams of sugar. If you drink one a day, cut it out. You’ll lose 19 pounds in a year!
And SunnyD is just the beginning. See the worst beverages in the supermarket for a complete list of jaw-dropping drinks--and their healthier alternatives.
Step 5: Drink Coffee, Not Coffee Drinks
(Annual Weight Loss: 18 Pounds!)
Researchers studied coffee habits in New York and found that two-thirds of Starbucks’ customers opted for blended coffee drinks over regular brewed coffee or tea. The average caloric impact of the blended drinks was 239 calories. The regular coffee or tea, by comparison, was only 63 calories after factoring in added cream and sugar. So even if you like your coffee sweet and light, you can strip away 176 calories every day, just by making this one swap.
Now, budding mathematicians among you may notice that all this adds up to a whopping 91 pounds lost in a single year. This is not good news if you weigh 125. (However, travel just got a lot cheaper because now you can mail yourself all over the world.) Fact is, unless you're currently engaging in all of the bad habits above, you probably don't have 91 pounds to lose.
But this five-point plan illustrates how extraordinarily easy it is to shed extra weight—a lot of weight—just by watching what we drink. And that, my friends, is something worth raising a glass to.
By David Zinczenko/Men'sHealth