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5 Tips For a Fitter and Healthier Year

5 Tips For a Fitter and Healthier Year
By Adam Bornstein

Was the New Year's resolution you just made related to your health? For a more active, energetic — and successful — year, consider these five tips from Livestrong's editorial director, Adam Bornstein.

1. Get More Sleep
Sleep is important for mental clarity, reducing the risk of diabetes and heart problems, and fighting off depression. But it's also directly linked to the ease with which you lose weight and build muscle. Just three consecutive nights of bad sleep can increase insulin resistance, researchers say. Translation: You're more likely to store fat.

People who sleep less than six hours per night also eat an additional 220 calories per day. And sleeping less alters your hormones, which can make you experience more intense feelings of hunger.

2. Grab the Weights
There’s a simple truth when it comes to weight loss: Resistance training burns fat faster than running. When you do cardio, the calories you burn are a combination of fat and muscle. With weight training, the weight loss is almost purely fat. Your best bet: Weight training circuits.

Research from the Human Performance Center at Anderson University found that this style of training burns nearly twice as many calories as doing cardio at a slow, long pace. What’s more, researchers from Southern Maine found that a circuit of eight exercises can burn up to 230 calories—in just eight minutes. Compare that to the hours you might spend on the treadmill. If you want the fastest results with less time in the gym, your best bet is to grab the weights.

3. Revamp Your Diet
Follow tried and true methods of success instead of fad diets that promise fast results or cut out entire food groups. The most basic strategy to weight loss is to reduce your intake of calories in a week by 3,500 for each pound you want to lose.

So, if you want to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week — as recommended by the American Council on Exercise — reduce your calorie intake by 500 per day. And a diet plan with exercise is more effective than one based on diet alone.

4. Watch Your Snacks
A recent analysis found that the average snack is 580 calories. While some prefer eating three large meals per day, others find success with the grazing method where they eat four to six smaller meals in a day. But if you choose that option, make sure your snacks are really snacks, and not just well-disguised meals. If you’re trying to lose weight, the grazing method won’t work if you’re overeating.

Choose the eating plan that’s right for you, but understand portion sizes and meal profiles (balancing protein, carbs, and fats) to make the most of your eating plan and see the results you want.

5. Track Your Food
It’s a diet that doesn’t actually force you to change the foods you eat—just how much. When you use a program that shows you how much to eat each day to reach your weight goal (like Livestrong's MyPlate Calorie Tracker), you eat the foods you want while making sure that you don’t pass your calorie limit.

When you do stray from your goals, you receive feedback so you know where you need to cut back. It’s both effective and sustainable because you’re able to eat the foods you love and understand how to adjust the amounts without much effort. A weekly calorie goal instead of a daily one gives you more flexibility for any "cheat days."

5 Tips For a Fitter and Healthier Year


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