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Nutritionist and weight maintenance researcher Brad Pilon is fond of saying that at least in North America there are three main causes of weight gain: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Now that the end-of-year overeating season has passed, it's time to look at new strategies for taking off the pounds.
1. Try a "coffee diet."
It doesn't work for everyone, but the chlorogenic acid in coffee is an effective blocker of carbohydrate absorption. Of course, if you don't eat carbohydrates, there won't be any carbohydrates for chlorogenic acid to block, but if you are just making the transition back to normal eating patterns after holiday overindulgence, it can help slow down carb absorption from food so that your body has at least a chance to burn fat instead of creating it from excess carbohydrates.
Either make sure to have black coffee with a couple of meals each day, or take green coffee products.
2. Send yourself to bed without supper.
After overeating for weeks on end, you really won't starve if you skip a meal at the beginning or the end of the day. Going 12 to 18 hours without eating (no snacks, either) gives your cells a chance to "clean up" broken proteins and damaged DNA, and also allows your body to burn fat instead of storing it. It's actually safe for most people to go up to 48 hours without eating, but skipping just one meal, maybe twice a week, will help you lose weight and feel better.
Don't try this approach if you are on a fixed dosage of insulin or if you have any metabolic condition for which your doctor has told you that it is necessary to eat every meal, every day.
3. Go vegan for a week.
Vegan, raw foods diets, even if you just follow them for a few days, can be very helpful for diabetics who need to kick-start weight loss. Many diabetics manage to cut out the excess carbohydrates but replace them with excess protein--and their bodies transform unneeded amino acids from protein into sugar with toxic urea as a byproduct.
4. Focus on leftovers.
Variety is not just the spice of life. It also powers our appetites. When we eat the same food day after day, we lose our appetites. So if you cooked a huge Christmas ham or turkey, go ahead and eat it. Eat it every day until it's all gone. Don't be creative--the whole idea is for your food to be boring, for a change. When you limit your food choices, you eat less food.
5. Make post-holiday soups.
University of Pennsylvania Medical School and Pennsylvania State University nutrition researcher Barbara Rolls conducted over 150 studies of "volumetrics," an approach to dieting that involves filling up on "watery" foods. Drinking water does not really fill you up, because it does not have to be digested.
Rolls found that simply having a cup of soup at the beginning of a meal resulted in feeling full on 150 fewer calories. If you eat two cups of soup a day, you might lose an extra 1/2 to 3/4 pound (200-300 grams) a week, but without trying, and without feeling deprived.