Imagine sailing through this season of holiday parties, big family dinners, and decadent edible gifts without stressing about adding pounds to your frame. Well, it's possible…if you follow a few waist-saving eating strategies. The best part: They aren't restrictive, so you won't feel as if you're missing one morsel of festive fare. And if it turns out that you do go overboard this month, don't beat yourself up. I've uncovered plenty of effective strategies for melting off excess ab flab. Behold, my go-to tips for entering the New Year fit and trim.
* Eliminate added sugar. The average American eats about 20 teaspoons of sugar each day in the form of processed foods such as soda, baked goods, breakfast cereals, fruit drinks, and even flavored yogurt-about 325 empty calories' worth! Plus, all that sugar increases insulin production, which slows metabolism.
Boost Your Metabolism-and Counteract a Holiday Cookie or Two in the Process
* Pump up your protein intake. Substituting meat, fish, dairy, and nuts for carbohydrates can reduce the amount of fat around your middle. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada assessed the diets of 617 people and discovered that when they switched out carbs in favor of an equal amount of protein, they reduced overall belly fat.
Get More Lean Protein into Your Daily Menu: Recipes
* Order smart at happy hour. Replace your calorie-packed margarita with my Look Better Naked cocktail or a glass of wine. Research shows that beer drinkers, in particular, have the most belly fat. And then pace yourself: A study from the University of Buffalo found that binge drinkers (people who typically down more than three or four drinks at a time) have more ab fat than people who sip the same quantity of alcohol over several days.
4 Fabulous Low-Fat Cocktails
* Don't fear fat. Research shows that diets containing more than 50 percent fat are just as effective for weight loss as those that are low in fat. "Fat is filling and adds flavor to food-both of which help prevent you from feeling deprived, so you'll be less likely to overeat," says Alan Aragon, a nutritionist in the Los Angeles area. Eat foods that are rich in monounsaturated fats (a.k.a. MUFAs), the celebrated belly-fat-targeting foods. Research has even found that it's OK to enjoy whole foods that contain saturated fat (including milk, cheese, and butter) in moderation.
6 Fat-Fighting Foods to Add to Your Party-Season Menu
*Beat bloat. No matter how much ab fat you lose or muscle you tone, if you're bloated you won't look (or feel!) your best. Carbonated beverages, and even good-for-you foods such as beans and broccoli, can make your stomach swell. And lighten up on the saltshaker (and salty snacks and processed foods): Nutritionists suggest keeping your daily sodium intake to under 2,000 milligrams (that's considerably less than the 5,000 milligrams most of us ingest per day) so that you don't retain excess fluid.
I'm curious: Have you ever LOST weight over the holidays?
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