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When most people make the decision to drop a few pounds or reduce some of that stubborn belly fat they immediately think about going on a diet. Most people believe this is the only way to manage weight problems. I dislike using the phrase going on a diet because this has two connotations. The first is that you will be limiting what you eat, going hungry and not enjoying food to the full. The second is that it will end once you have reached your goal. Once you come off the diet and return to eating normally the weight is very likely to creep back on within a few weeks.

Instead I prefer to talk about healthy eating habits and changing your lifestyle and the foods you eat for the rest of your life. You do not have to stop eating all the foods that you love. Instead adopting a healthy eating approach and rewarding yourself now and again with your favourite (but perhaps not so healthy) foods will keep you focussed and content in your new lifestyle.

Here are my 5 secrets to a healthy nutritious lifestyle:

Secret 1:

Try to eat approximately 15-20% below your calorie maintenance level. This is the amount of calories your body needs to function on a daily basis. For women this is approximately 2000 calories per day, although, this will vary depending on age and level of daily activity. Reducing your calories by 15-20% is only a reduction of 300-400 calories per day. When you consider that a Cadbury dairy milk bar (49g) contains 257 calories reducing your intake by 300-400 calories per day is not going to be that difficult.

Secret 2:

Spread your calories throughout the day by eating 5 or 6 smaller meals instead of the more traditional 2 to 3 big ones. This will keep your blood glucose and insulin levels low and your hunger under control. Be wary of portion size, if you eat too much of anything (even healthy foods) you will be adding to your belly fat instead of reducing it!

Secret 3:

With each meal make sure you eat a source of lean protein. Protein is essential when you are trying to burn belly fat as it is vital for toning and building muscle. Opinion varies on exactly how much you should eat but average amounts are 0.8g to 1.0g per Kg of body weight. For example: A lady weighing 9 stone or 57Kg should ideally eat 46g to 57g of lean protein spread throughout the day.

Secret 4:

Try to eat natural, complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, oats, beans, brown rice, anything wholemeal and whole grain. With vegetables you can practically eat as much as you want, no-one ever got fat from eating vegetables. It is the butter they sometimes get smeared in that makes them fattening. Boiling or steaming is best as it reduces the amount of added fat and helps to preserve nutrients.

Complex carbohydrates are digested at a slower rate than simple carbohydrates (White rice/pasta/flour and confectionery) and stop glucose spikes in the blood. By keeping blood glucose levels stable insulin is kept low reducing the amount of fat stored, especially around the tummy.

Secret 5:

Avoid all refined or simple carbohydrates (White rice/pasta/flour and confectionery). These are easily digested and result in spikes in your blood glucose levels. Subsequently insulin removes excess glucose and stores it as fat. By reducing your intake of these simple carbohydrates you will prevent spikes in your blood glucose levels and less fat will be deposited around your body.

Follow these simple secrets and you will lose weight, burn more fat and discover how easy it actually is to manage your weight. No longer will family gatherings at Christmas or birthdays fill you with fear because you will have a greater understanding of what your body needs and more importantly how much it needs.

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Source by Elizabeth Hughes