"Suppose you could encapsulate your philosophy into a list," my friend said. "What would that list entail?"
We were discussing New Year's resolutions. Namely, past resolutions we hadn't followed through with. "Every year, I put weight loss on my list," my friend said, "and inevitably, it reappears on my list the following year."
I didn't need to remind her that resolutions don't just happen. You need concrete, effective strategies to sustain them to the finish line. I've spent decades developing these 12 Golden Rules, which have become my foundation to help others achieve fast, lasting fat loss:
1. "Healthy" foods can actually make you fat.
Wheat bread and other so-called healthy foods can create weight-loss resistance and trigger food intolerances. One study showed a gluten-free diet reduces inflammation and insulin resistance and helps you lose fat.
2. "Calories in, calories out" is a myth.
Food quantity, not quality, determines fat burning. That doesn't give you permission to eat all you want: Even healthy foods can become unhealthy if you overdo them.
3. So is "everything in moderation."
Moderation is a subjective term and a slippery slope for weight loss-resistance, food intolerances and binge eating.
4. Snacking can make you fat.
Every time you snack, you raise insulin and store fat. One study fond that while snacking could help you get more nutrient-rich foods, "snacking patterns might also reflect unhealthy eating habits and impede weight-loss progress."
5. Food is information.
Particular foods can tell your body whether to store or burn fat. The right foods also signal your brain you're full. One study found a higher-protein breakfast, unlike a higher-carbohydrate breakfast, reduces your hunger hormone ghrelin and increases cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that tells your brain you're full.
6. High-fiber foods keep you fuller faster.
My favorites include avocado, raspberries, lentils and other legumes, and leafy as well as cruciferous veggies.
7. Eat by the clock.
That means eat within an hour of waking up, every four to six hours, and close up the kitchen three hours before bed.
8. Make breakfast a protein shake.
Many folks either skip breakfast or have dessert (aka a low-fat muffin or other sugary concoction) for breakfast. My number one needle mover for fast, lasting fat loss: Start your day with a protein shake. One meta-analysis that pooled six studies found a meal-replacement drink could help you effectively lose weight and keep it off. I blend non-soy, plant-based protein powder with frozen raspberries, kale, freshly ground flax seeds, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk.
9. Don't bring the enemy in.
That means anywhere -- your kitchen, glove compartment, on the restaurant table -- or you create a slippery slope. I'm talking about that pint of butter pecan, but also potentially dangerous healthy foods like almond butter. If one tablespoon becomes the whole container, step away from the jar!
10. You're probably spending too much time at the gym.
Who has hours for elliptical machines or aerobics class? With burst training, you can blast fat and get lean in just minutes a day. One study found compared with traditional training, burst training helps you better lose fat. Researchers concluded the "shorter exercise time commitment may help to reduce one major barrier to exercise."
11. Get seven to nine hours of high-quality sleep.
I wrote a HuffPost blog about seven fat-regulating hormones that become out of whack with too little sleep. You're also more likely to dive into that box of donuts your coworker brought in or over caffeinate yourself with a gargantuan dark roast when you don't sleep well.
12. Stress less.
Studies show chronic stress, especially combined with a crappy diet, can increase your risk for obesity and metabolic syndrome. Get a massage, call a friend, meditate, or take your terrier around the block. Figure out what works for you to de-stress and prioritize it. Learn more science-based strategies to reduce stress in my HuffPost blog.
I've had my say. What would you add to this list for fast, lasting fat loss? I look forward to reading your comments!