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Weight loss: cheat codes

We’ve all played at least a few action video games. At some point, we find ourselves in a corner that we can’t seem to escape from and consult our list of cheat codes to get extra ammo, a bigger gun, or restore our battered health. Suddenly we are invincible and everything falls into place.

Trying to lose weight often leads to the same kind of frustration. No matter what we try, we just can’t seem to get to the next level. We hit a plateau and no matter which way we turn or what strategies we use, the scale refuses to budget. For those days that threaten our best laid plans, we need our own diet cheat codes.

Here are some samples:

1. Vegetable day.

Set aside a day or two where you will eat nothing but vegetables. Don’t worry about what kind, even the ones with the highest carb and calorie counts will work as long as you eat them raw or steamed. The key is to eat nothing else: no butter, no dressing, no gravy, no oil, no gravy, no salt, and no other drinks other than black coffee, unsweetened tea, or, best of all, plain water. Even the most stubborn appetite will find it difficult to eat more than a few hundred calories and your system will be flushed for days.

2. Soup day.

Convince yourself that you just had dental work and couldn’t chew if your life depended on it. Give yourself a day or two with only soups that don’t require chewing. Skip the expensive stew-like concoctions and opt for the cheaper broth-based varieties: consomm√©, vegetables, oxtail, celery, cabbage, French onion (no cheese), miso, or egg drops. Avoid anything creamy like the plague, and stay away from sides like bread, crackers, and croutons.

3. Steamed or poached fish.

Any type of fish, including shellfish, does wonders for boosting our body fat, and those omega-3 oils help with everything. The easiest way to prepare any fish is to steam or poach it in water or clam juice in the oven. Allow yourself a squeeze of lemon, but avoid butter, oil, sauce, and capers. Not only will you break that plateau, but you will be healthier because of it.

4. Hard boiled eggs.

Skip this method if you have a dangerously high cholesterol condition, but for most of us, a day or two of even a large number of eggs won’t have any permanent effect on our cholesterol levels. Are you familiar with what it can be like to fill just one or two hard-boiled eggs? Unless you’re Cool Hand Luke, you’ll find it hard to eat more than six eggs during the day. Do not use condiments and drink large amounts of water to quench the thirst that they will surely generate.

5. Cottage cheese.

Years of weight watching have taught me to like, if never really love, cottage cheese. As a substitute for potatoes or rice, it definitely has its place. On its own, though, it quickly becomes downright boring, like eating creamy chalk. However, it contains good protein and quickly raises blood sugar levels to relieve headaches, dizziness and hunger pangs. Try it alone for a couple of days and by the second afternoon you won’t even be hungry and can opt to skip your evening serving.

6. Salads.

A big bowl of vegetable salad can fill you up with just a pinch of calories. The secret is to avoid the non-salad enhancers that we often add for flavor and variety. No croutons, no fruit, no cheese, no beans, no seeds, no nuts, and absolutely no dressing. A squeeze of lemon or lime is acceptable, but not even the lowest calorie dressing is allowed for this experimental period.

7. Green tea.

The merits of green tea have been touted in the media for the last few years and it appears to have some secret properties that help our bodies function more efficiently. Make it the centerpiece of your diet for a day or two, consuming as many pots as you can make. If liquid alone can’t keep you going, combine it with one of the other suggestions here.

8. Liquid protein.

Pure protein, with no carbs or fat, works miracles for weight loss when combined with ample fluid intake (a pure protein regimen creates almost constant thirst). There are canned protein drinks to sip through a straw and powders to mix into light shakes. The easiest of all is to take a few tablespoons of protein syrup throughout the day. Your hunger will be kept in check, your scales will start to respond, and you’ll free up plenty of time to do something more important to the world than just chewing.

9. Fad diets.

Fad diets have a bad reputation because they are ineffective in the long run. We’re not looking long term now: you already have your diet, whatever you think. We are looking for a short-term jolt to get our bodies back on the lost track. Pick any two or three day fad diet you like and follow it religiously. It will do the trick of scaring your body into giving up some of its fat and then you can go back to your long-term “sensible” diet until you hit the next plateau.

10. Fast.

I’m a little hesitant to mention this, despite its proven effectiveness over thousands of years, because we’re looking at short-term bursts and the first three days of fasting can be tough: after the fourth day, your body stops craving food and the real benefits of fasting come into action. However, if you’re really frustrated and willing to do anything to get your weight back, a few days without eating anything will work wonders. Do some research first, read up on water and juice fasts, and don’t pursue this for more than a few days unless you have considerable previous experience or know a fasting expert to turn to for advice.

Now you have ten cheat codes to help you through the tough times. Whatever long range diet you have selected will rarely result in a consistent loss curve. When weight loss stalls for two or three days, or a week, break your cheat codes and try one of them before throwing your hands up in disgust and concluding, “This diet isn’t working for me.”

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