This nutritionally sound book-based food plan is based on the research of Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutrition at Penn State University. Rolls says you can lose one to two pounds per week on the plan. The theory is that by swapping out calorie-heavy fat-laden foods with fruits and vegetables that have a lot of water in them, you can eat more for fewer calories. To boost weight loss, you will need to be active—aim for 10,000 steps a day. You might not lose weight as fast, but Rolls has both short-term and long-term evidence to support her approach. Read more about it in Rolls’ latest book, The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet.
Make sure that the diet has been studied extensively for safety — and discuss any changes with your physician or registered dietitian before beginning a new diet. (If you don’t have a dietitian, find one in your area at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.) And do a self-check to ensure the diet fits with your own values and preferences.
To reach your get-lean goal, you must also follow a get-lean diet, filled with the best foods to burn fat. Why? Even if you work out hard for an hour every day, that still leaves 23 more hours for you to wreck all your hard work in the gym with just one slip-up: a measly handful of chips, a beer with the guys, or a burger at lunch. Diet is a huge, so to speak, part of the fat-loss equation. It's the backbone of your entire plan, the foundation of a hard body.
Switch to Lighter Alternatives. Whenever you can, use the low-fat versions of salad dressings, mayonnaise, dairy products, and other products. "You can trim calories effortlessly if you use low-fat and lighter products, and if the product is mixed in with other ingredients, no one will ever notice," says Magee. More smart substitutions: Use salsa or hummus as a dip; spread sandwiches with mustard instead of mayo; eat plain roasted sweet potatoes instead of loaded white potatoes; use skim milk instead of cream in your coffee; hold the cheese on sandwiches; and use a little vinaigrette on your salad instead of piling on the creamy dressing.
For weight loss, you need to find the right balance of calories so that you lose at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week. Starvation diets that severely restrict caloric intake may help you lose weight faster, but you're losing water and muscle, not fat. Plus, when you eat too few calories, your body may hold onto fat as a means of protection against the starvation. This change in metabolism makes it even harder for you to lose the unwanted pounds.
Your habits and cravings may both rear their heads at restaurants, where it's easy to blow your diet in seconds. To stick to the plan, says Juge, be diligent in ordering. "Ask them to grill your meat without oil or grease. Ask for steamed vegetables with no butter. Get a salad (no cheese) with either fat-free dressing or a vinaigrette." After his 14 years in bodybuilding, Juge testifies that he's found many restaurants are accommodating, so there's no reason to avoid them as long as they'll cook to your preferences.
Next, let’s get our lentils started. Add the dry lentils to a pot, followed by water. Be sure to use a large enough saucepan as the lentils will double or triple in size. Bring this to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until the lentils are tender. For whole lentils, it should take about 15-20 minutes. Then, drain the lentils and set aside for later.
Food containers come in all shapes, sizes and equally important – materials. Depending on your lifestyle, you can pick the ones that fit into your lifestyle (and your bag!) best. If you’ll be taking a lot of your meals with you on the go, the slimmer and lighter the container is, the better. Also, make sure the container is suitable for keeping in the freezer and/or microwave use, depending on what you’ll be using it most – that’s why I love these glass meal prep containers. There are plenty of options and after you’ve done your planning, it will be much easier for you to determine what kind of container is the best option.
The HMR program’s approach makes the top of the list of best diet plans because the Decision-Free plan suggests you can lose up to 66 pounds in 26 weeks. You could also drop 37 pounds on its Healthy Solutions option. The Decision-Free diet is a medically supervised, very low-calorie diet of shakes and snacks; Healthy Solutions includes shakes, snacks, entrees, and your own fruits and vegetables. You should expect to exercise plenty to lose the most weight; you can also sign up for health coaching to boost success. The convenience is a plus—but you will get a very limited choice of foods and aren’t allowed to drink alcohol or eat out. And remember: You risk gaining weight once you go back to real food. Check out these 42 tips for losing weight fast.
For even more impressive effects on body composition: aim for exercise forms which elicit a positive hormonal response. This means lifting really heavy things (strength training), or interval training. Such exercise increases levels of the sex hormone testosterone (primarily in men) as well as growth hormone. Not only do greater levels of these hormones increase your muscle mass, but they also decrease your visceral fat (belly fat) in the long term.
Make your own. It’s easy! From one 14-ounce can of no-salt-added cannelini beans, spoon out 2 tablespoons of beans. Puree the rest. In a medium nonstick pot, sauté 5 cloves of chopped garlic until translucent. Add 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth and 1 head of escarole, chopped, or a package of frozen chopped spinach. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add pureed beans, red pepper flakes and black pepper, to taste, and cook 1 minute longer. Garnish with the beans you spooned out plus, if you desire, a little chopped red bell pepper. Refrigerate or freeze what you don’t eat for easy soup prep for a future lunch or dinner.
Becky Duffett is a contributing nutrition editor for Fitbit and a lifestyle writer with a passion for eating well. A former Williams-Sonoma cookbook editor and graduate of San Francisco Cooking School, she’s edited dozens of cookbooks and countless recipes. City living has turned her into a spin addict—but she’d still rather be riding a horse. She lives in the cutest neighborhood in San Francisco, spending weekends at the farmers’ market, trying to read at the bakery, and roasting big dinners for friends.