Whether you want to lose 20 pounds, build muscle mass or just get into a better shape, being able to doing it fast and with efficiency can surely help. This is no the magic pill or an overnight makeover, but study shows that there are some real shortcuts that can help you speed up the weight loss process, thus leading to faster and greater fitness gains. Here are a six of the most easily applicable, and scientifically proven, weight loss shortcuts. These will not only help you trim down; they will also get you into the best shape (physical and mental) of your life.

1. Pack in protein to build muscle.

Protein is key for healthy diet for many reasons. For starters, it’s crucial to building muscle and speeding up the recovery process—especially after a hard workout. Furthermore, protein can help you feel fuller for longer, thus prevent hunger pangs and unhealthy snacking, leading to faster fat loss results. As a result, shoot for at least 0.5 to two grams per pound of your body weight per day. If you’re regular gym-goer, aim for a minimum of 2g per pound of body weight to ensure proper recovery and muscle growth. Protein rich sources include lean meat, eggs, fish and dairy products. Add supplements to your diet if you have to.

2. Eat the right way.

We’re taught that we are what we eat, but we are also how we eat. Here are a few proper ways of eating:

  • Eat Slowly. Research shows that taking time with each meal can help you take in less calories while enjoying every bite of it.
  • Banish distraction. Eating on the move or while minding modern gadgets, such the iPhone, TV set or emails, leads to overeating and unhealthy snacking later on, according to study at the University of Bristol.
  • Keep track. Using a food journal to keep tags on your calorie intake will help you shed light on the hidden aspects of your nutrition habits, helping you discern what need changing or tweaking. Just going about your day mindless of your eating patterns is no help at all. It’ll only lead to more setbacks.

3. Shrink your plate.

The amount of calories you take in is in direct proportion to the size of the plates you use. This is a great psychological trick that can help you cut down on your calorie intake almost overnight. According to a study published at the American Journal of Prevention Medicine, if you eat from a larger plate, you’ll consume it up to 30 percent more food than if you used a smaller one. So downsize your dish and see your calorie intake decrease as a result.

4. Lose the sweet tooth.

Most health experts agree on one thing: sugars are the root-cause of the current obesity epidemic.  That’s sugars, plural, including high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, fructose and all of its synonyms.  One of the best ways to help you cut down on your sugar intake is via following a strict Glycemic Diet (G.I). Eat only low G.I. foods; this helps you keep blood sugar levels at bay, preventing cravings for sweets. For maximum results, shoot for foods ranking below 70 on the Glycemic Index.

5. Sprint for fat loss.

Sticking to long and steady cardio as means for weight loss is waste of time. Instead, think intervals and sprints. In fact, according to a study at the University of Western Ontario, subjects doing a 35-minute interval running workouts shed about 12 percent of their body fat after six weeks of training. In addition to fat loss, interval workouts boost VO2 max through the roof, and increase HDL—or what’s known as the “good” cholesterol, and will also help you ward off heart trouble. Make sure to include a five-minute slow jog as a warm-up and a cool-down.

6. Manage your expectations correctly.

When it comes to winning the weight loss race, slow and steady gets the gold. In fact, unrealistic weight loss expectations and yo-yo dieting go hand in hand, research from George Washington University revealed. According to the scientists, the subjects who were holding on unrealistic weight loss expectations experienced fluctuations of 20 pounds or more than those who expected a gradual weight loss. The path of constant improvement is crucial here. Shooting for an unrealistic goal will only get you discouraged, even hurt. Therefore, make sure to set your weight loss goals correctly. Set small goals and keep building on them. The first step is always the hardest one—this is especially true if you have encountered some sort of setback in the past.

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