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How to Get Better at Push-Ups

In theory, push-ups seem simple enough – lower your body to the ground, then push it back up. Easy! …but we all know that’s far from the truth. Especially if you’re not naturally blessed with the strength to do strict-form push-ups, it can seem nearly impossible to do this move with perfect form. Thankfully, there are a few exercises you can do to get better at push-ups.

It’s well worth your while to learn to master this move, even if it seems a little out of reach at first. That’s because the benefits of push-ups are numerous. Push-ups work many key muscles of the upper body, including the arms, pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), the triceps, and also the core. Because of this, the push-up is an evergreen fitness movement that’s done everywhere from the gym to the army barracks, and it’s not going away any time soon.

If you’re struggling to even do a single push-up, all hope is not lost. With some time, effort, and a little creativity, you can push your way to success. Follow the guide below to kick your push-up strength up to the next level, whether you’re a beginner or you just want to improve and build more strength.

How to Do a Push-Up

Before you can get better at push-ups, you first have to know how to do a proper strict form push-up (that’s just a normal push-up). Follow these cues to learn how to do a push-up with perfect form:

• Your feet should be together and your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width.

• Throughout the movement, your head and hips should be in alignment with your spine, and your body should form a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels. Clench your glutes and brace your core to lock your body into position.

• When you lower yourself down, keep your elbows tucked close to your body. They should form a 45 degree angle to your torso when viewed from above.

• In the lowest position of the move, your chest should be about a few inches from the floor.

• As you come up, your shoulders and torso shouldn’t twist, and the weight of your upper body should be evenly distributed between your two hands.

Once you’ve perfected the proper push up form, the next step is to figure out what your push-up level is. Drop down and knock out as many reps as you can using the proper form, then use your “max reps” score to determine your level. Can’t do any? No problem–start at level one which is the first section below. Managed to do a few? That’s great! You’ll find the most use out of the exercises described in levels two and three. Feel like you could do an endless number of push-ups? Check out level four for some push-up variations that are sure to challenge you. You don’t need to do push-ups everyday to get results–start by performing these of these variations a few times a week on nonconsecutive days to help you get better at push-ups. Good luck!

 

How to Get Better at Push-Ups

Level 1: YOU CAN’T DO ANY REPS

Get better with: incline push-ups, push-up static holds

If you can’t do a single strict-form pushup, try the move with your hands elevated at least 12 inches on a sturdy bench, box, or table. These are known as incline push-ups. The higher the surface, the easier the move. You can even do them with your hands braced against a wall. Perform three sets, resting a minute between sets. When you can do three sets of 10 reps at a given height, lower your hands and repeat the process.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Hands Elevated

 

Next, practice the straight-arm plank: after your workout, hold the top position of the pushup with perfect form as long as you can. Work up to holding it for 30 seconds to one minute.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Plank

Once you can do three or more push-ups with your hands on the floor level and you can hold a straight-arm plank for at least 30 seconds, it’s time to move on to the next level.

Level 2: YOU CAN DO 3-6 REPS

Get better with: low-reps sets, negative reps

You’re getting stronger! Here’s what you should do to keep improving. On workout days, drop and bang out a few push-ups, stopping a couple of reps shy of your max (which might mean just doing one push-up each “set”). Do this up to a dozen times, either in straight-set fashion (resting 30-60 seconds between sets), throughout your workout, or during the day at random intervals.

On those same days, practice negative reps: take 10 to 20 seconds to lower yourself from the top position of the movement to the floor, using perfect form. Drop all the way down to the floor, come back up to the plank position, and repeat, for a total of three slow reps.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Negative Reps

Level 3: YOU CAN DO 7-10 REPS

Get better with: low-to-mid reps

Your push-up skills are getting impressive! What’s likely holding you back from higher numbers now is the “sticking point” at the bottom of the movement. To fix it, do three sets of regular pushups, stopping a rep or two shy of failure. Then do a set of low-to-mid reps, where you go repeatedly from the lowest position (chest a few inches from the floor) to the midpoint (chest halfway between the floor and the top of the position), again stopping a few reps shy of failure.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Low to Mid Reps

Level 4: YOU CAN DO 15 OR MORE REPS

Get better with: decline push-ups, banded push-ups, spiderman push-ups, and plyo push-ups

You’re a pro! But that doesn’t mean you should abandon this great move. Now it means that you should try to master different types of push-ups instead of just strict form. Continue to improve and challenge yourself with these four push-up variations.

 

Feet-elevated push-up: perform a push-up with your feet raised on a box, bench, or short table). The higher the surface, the more difficult the move. These are called decline push-ups.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Feet Elevated

 

Banded push-up: perform a push-up holding the ends of an exercise band, with the elastic looped across your back for added resistance.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Banded

 

Spiderman push-up: starting in a plank position, swing your right leg out sideways to bring your right knee to your right elbow as you bend your arms down so your chest is within a few inches of the floor. Push back up as you return to the starting plank position and repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Spiderman

 

Plyo push-up: keeping your elbows tucked, lower your torso until your chest is within a few inches of the floor. Then, push up with enough force for your hands to leave the ground while keeping your body straight. Land softly, and transition immediately into your next rep.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Plyo

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Are Low-Carb Diets Effective for Weight Loss?

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of a low-carb diet. Namely, that you’ll experience rapid weight loss by ditching the bread basket and doubling down on a cut of steak.

But a low-carb diet isn’t that straightforward in actual practice. Though the principle behind it sounds simple enough — less pasta! more protein! — the diet can be easy to misinterpret.

Thanks in part to the perpetuation of popular low-carb diets like the Atkins Diet, which recommended replacing carbs with virtually any high-fat, high-protein foods when it came onto the scene in the early ’70s (it’s now a phased approach that includes gradual increases in carbs), many people end up taking low-carb diets to extreme measures. People nixed hash browns and toast, and piled their plates with bacon, eggs, and sausages with impunity. Some people lost weight, and often quickly, following this model.

But, why exactly can people lose weight following a low-carb diet?

What Is a Low-Carb Diet, and How Do You Lose Weight on It?

low carb weight loss

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of a person’s total daily calorie intake. Any amount less than this could be considered low carb. For someone consuming 2,000 calories a day, this is about 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates per day. Most low-carb diets limit carbohydrate intake to between 50 to 150 grams per day, depending on the diet, so there’s some variation.

If you want to follow a low-carb diet in a way that optimizes overall health, cut way down on starch-heavy, refined carbs (like potatoes and pasta), and emphasize protein, healthy fats, and most vegetables and some fruits.

“When we eat carbohydrates, they pass through the digestive system to get broken into single molecules of glucose,” says Holly Klamer, M.S., R.D. This glucose is released into the bloodstream from the small intestine, where it then signals the pancreas to release insulin.

Klamer says insulin has two primary roles: to help transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells for energy or storage, and to promote fat storage. “If there is a high amount of blood sugar in the blood, there will be a high amount of insulin,” says Klamer. And if insulin levels are consistently high because you’re eating a diet high in refined carbs, your body may be storing more fat than you can burn off through exercise and daily activity.

“Low-carbohydrate diets can help with weight loss because they stimulate a much lower insulin release,” Klamer says.

A review of low-carb diets published in The Lancet (a UK medical journal) revealed that duration of the diet and restriction of calories were the ultimate factors that caused weight loss, not restriction of carbohydrates. While the review noted that those following a low-carb diet lost more weight in six months than those on a low-fat, calorie-reduced diet, researchers noted that there was no difference in weight loss among the groups after 12 months. Review authors did note the following observations about the weight-loss mechanisms of low-carb diets:

  • depletion of glycogen stores leads to excretion of water; much of the rapid weight lost early on in low-carb diets is water weight
  • ketogenic nature (when fat stores are used for energy) of the diet may suppress appetite, causing less desire to consume excess calories

But, the jury is still out on whether ketosis is actually responsible for increased initial weight loss many see on a low-carb diet. One of the trials analyzed in the previously mentioned review was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Scientists did not find any relation between the presence of urinary ketones and weight loss; after the first six months, urinary ketones weren’t found in most of the low-carb dieters — or among the other group, which followed low-fat, higher-carb, calorie-restricted diet. This data, combined with the fact that scientists stopped seeing statistically significant differences in weight loss among the two groups after 12 months, may suggest that weight loss can slow down long-term on a low-carb diet.

6 Popular Low-Carb Diets

Five of the most commercially popular low-carb diets include paleo, ketogenic, Atkins, South Beach, and Dukan.

The Paleo Diet focuses on eating the types of foods humans used to consume in the pre-agricultural days. There’s an emphasis on high protein intake (grass-fed or free-range animal products preferred), and healthy fats; non-starchy, low-glycemic, high-fiber fruits and veggies are allowed in generally smaller quantities. There aren’t hard and fast macro ratios, but the Paleo Diet is based on what hunter-gatherer societies ate, which breaks down to roughly 22–40 percent carbohydrates, 19–35 percent protein, and 28–58 percent fat per day. Healthy oils, eggs, and nuts are encouraged, while grains, legumes, dairy products, excess salt, and processed foods are not.

low carb weight loss

On a Ketogenic Diet, carbs are drastically reduced and replaced with fat with the goal of putting your body into a metabolic state called ketosis (again, where the body burns fat for energy). High-fat foods, including butter, coconut oil, and nuts, are allowed, as are high-protein foods, such as meats and full-fat dairy, as well as low-carb veggies.

The Atkins Diet, which holds rank as the original low-carb eating plan, now offers two diet plans that are phased to allow for the gradual increase of carbohydrates over the course of the diets. Atkins allows you to eat high-fiber vegetables, protein, healthy fats, dairy, and low-glycemic fruits; it limits sugar, refined flour, and trans fat.

South Beach is marketed as a high-protein, low-carb, low-sugar diet. For the first two weeks of the plan, you’re supposed to stay away from bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, alcohol, dairy, sugar, and baked goods. During the next phase, you slowly reintroduce whole-grain, low-glycemic carbs and some starches in small amounts. The third phase of the diet is the lifestyle phase, where you’re encouraged to tweak your diet as necessary in order to maintain it long-term.

The Dukan Diet, founded by French nutritionist Pierre Dukan, is a protein-heavy, low-carb, low-fat approach to eating. On the diet, you can eat any food (in an unlimited quantity) from a list of 100 pre-approved all-natural foods, 68 of which are pure proteins and 32 of which are veggies. Though the diet appears effective for weight loss, one study revealed that women on the Dukan Diet experienced nutritional abnormalities and deficiencies, mostly attributed to low consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The Beachbody Portion Fix Eating Plan is a lower-carb diet (about 40 percent of daily calories from healthy carbs) balanced with lean protein and healthy fats (about 30 percent of daily calories each from protein and fats). It acquaints you with appropriate servings of each macronutrient through the use of color-coded containers and teaspoons. Vegetables, fruits, and lean protein (including low-fat dairy) are emphasized; healthy fats and carbs, including whole grains, beans, and some starchy vegetables, are allowed.

The 20-Second Takeaway

A low-carb diet isn’t a magic weight loss solution, and it may be detrimental to your health if you take its principles to the extreme. Why? Because carbs are one of three key macronutrients necessary for a balanced diet. High-quality carbs supply your body with the nutrients you need to function and feel your best. The carbs that aren’t so necessary? Refined grains and sugars. Strive to swap these less healthy carbs for vitamin-rich, antioxidant-packed, fiber-filled sources of carbohydrates. Just make sure you’re eating appropriate amounts of healthy carbs. You’ll gradually lose weight and feel way more energized.

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Nutritional Benefits of Pineapple

Is there any fruit that’s more “summer” than than pineapple? Ok, ok, strawberries do give them pretty good competition. But, no matter what your favorite summer fruit is, it’s hard to to deny that whether you’re eating pineapples straight, grilling them up, or throwing them into a salad (or a smoothie!), the golden, tropical fruits scream summer. They’re good for you, too. Raw pineapple chunks provide manganese, vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and copper.

Pineapples are delicious, sweet, pinecone-shaped plants grown most often in tropical countries like Thailand, Brazil, the Philippines, and Mexico. In the U.S., they only grown in one state: Hawaii. And, despite their name, pineapples are not related to apples at all. They actually look more like agave or yucca.

When are pineapples in season?

You’ll find pineapples year-round in most grocery stores, but their peak season runs from late spring to early fall. Unless you live in Hawaii or one of the countries mentioned above, it’s unlikely that you’ll find any at your local farmers market.

How do I choose a good pineapple?

A pineapple’s crown — the green leaves — should be bright green in color and the pineapple should be heavy for its size. A fully ripened pineapple offers a sweet fragrance and will be fairly firm to the touch. Avoid pineapples with bruises, soft spots, and dry leaves.

How do I store pineapples?

Pineapples can be kept at room temperature for up to five days, but they should be kept out of direct sunlight and away from heat. Store cut pineapple in a tightly-covered container in the refrigerator, and it should stay fresh for about a week.

How do you cut a pineapple?

You could buy pre-cut pineapple in cans or fresh at the store, but cutting your own pineapple isn’t hard. In fact, we bet you could do have the whole pineapple prepped in less than 2 minutes.

Getting past the spiky exterior is the first step, and that can be tricky. First, chop off the crown and the base of the pineapple. Then, go around the edges and slice off the exterior. Cut the pineapple into quarters and then slice down the middle of each quartered section to remove the core. From there, slice the pineapple lengthwise and then turn and slice into chunks. If you’re doing the 21 Day Fix or any other program that uses the Portion Control Containers, pineapple can be found on purple Potion Fix Container list.

What are some healthy pineapple recipes?

While Pineapple is a seriously sweet snack that’s easy to enjoy on its own, you can also add it to a homemade salsa for a sweeter flavor, or use it as a topping for fish, poultry, or lean cuts of beef. Here are some recipes to try:

Pineapple Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup, chunks or 1 purple Portion Control Container

Calories: 83
Total Fat: 0 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 2 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 22 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 16 g
Protein: 1 g
Vitamin C: 131% DV
Manganese: 76% DV
Folate: 7% DV
Magnesium: 5% DV
Copper: 9% DV

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Pineapple Mango Shakeology Smoothie

There’s no better time to blend up a pineapple mango smoothie, than when those fruits are in peak season (i.e. now). They pop up in abundance at local markets this time of year, but it can be tricky work figuring out if you’re picking one that’s ripe and juicy.

To pick a good pineapple or mango, it’s important to trust your senses. Rather than poking and prodding your fruit, focus on weight, color, and fragrance. Pineapples should be heavy for their size with solid green leaves at the crown. You’ll know a pineapple is fully ripe when it’s bright green body presents a sweet fragrance.

When selecting a mango, look for one that’s multicolored with swaths of deep red and bright green. They should smell sweetly fragrant and be somewhat sappy at the base. Once you’ve got your fruits, combine them in this tangy Pineapple Mango Smoothie recipe.

Don’t have Shakeology yet? Get all of the Shakeology flavors here!

 

Pineapple Mango Shakeology Smoothie

Total Time: 10 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: None

Ingredients:
1 cup water
1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology
¼ cup cubed fresh pineapple
¼ cup cubed mango
1 Tbsp. finely grated orange peel (orange zest)
1 cup ice

Preparation:
1. Place water, Shakeology, pineapple, mango, orange peel, and ice in blender; cover. Blend until smooth.
 

pineapple_mango_smoothie_2

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 181
Total Fat: 2 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 214 mg
Carbohydrates: 27 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sugars: 17 g
Protein: 17 g

P90X/P90X2 Portions
1 Protein
1 Fruit

P90X3 Portions
1 Carb
1 Protein

Body Beast Portions
1 Fruit
1 Liquid Protein

Portion Fix Containers
½ Purple
1 Red

Not familiar with Portion Fix? Find out how Portion Fix can make losing weight simple.

If you have questions about the portions, please click here to post a question in our forums so our experts can help. Please include a link to the recipe.

Pineapple Mango Smoothie

Photographs by Anguel Dimov and Brianne B of Natural Girl Modern World

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Sheet Pan Roasted Garlic Shrimp with Zucchini

This garlic shrimp recipe is bound to be a favorite, because who can resist garlic, shrimp, lemon and Parmesan cheese?! The challenge with some “one pan” recipes or sheet pan suppers, is that when you add everything at once, something is bound to get overcooked. In this case, since shrimp cook so quickly, this recipe calls for roasting the zucchini first, before adding the shrimp to the pan at the end. Doing so helps ensure the shrimp emerge tender and juicy when you pull your sheet pan dinner out of the oven! We think that’s totally worth the extra step.

If zucchini isn’t for you, then asparagus, bell peppers, or other summer squash would make excellent substitutes. If you’re lucky enough to have any leftovers, the garlic shrimp and zucchini would be great tossed into a salad or served with a side of whole grains like quinoa or buckwheat.

Sheet Pan dinner recipe: Garlic Shrimp with Zucchini

 

Sheet Pan Garlic Shrimp ZucchiniSheet Pan Roasted Garlic Shrimp with ZucchiniRoasted garlic shrimp makes for an easy sheet pan dinner. Perfect for weekday meals!Course: Main CourseCuisine: SeafoodPrep Time: 15mCook Time: 18mTotal Time: 33mServings: 4 servingsAuthor: Beachbody– Parchment paper– 1 Tbsp. olive oil plus 1 tsp.– 4 cloves garlic finely chopped– 1/2 tsp. dried basil– 1/4 tsp. sea salt or Himalayan salt– 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper– 4 medium zucchini cut into 1/2-inch slices– 1 lb. medium shrimp peeled, deveined– 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese– 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice– 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley1) Preheat oven to 400º F.2) Line large sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.3) Combine oil, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Set aside.4) Place zucchini on pan. Drizzle with half of oil mixture; mix well to coat. Bake for 10 minutes.5) Add shrimp to pan; mix well.6) Drizzle with remaining half of oil mixture; mix well. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until shrimp is firm and opaque, and zucchini is tender-crisp.7) Drizzle with lemon juice and parsley; serve immediately.calories 230 carbohydrates 8 protein 30 fat 9 saturated_fat 3 cholesterol 194 sodium 486 fiber 2 sugar 5 

 

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 230
Total Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 194 mg
Sodium: 486 mg
Carbohydrates: 8 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 5 g
Protein: 30 g

P90X/P90X2 Portions
½ Fat
½ Dairy
1 Protein
½ Vegetable

P90X3 Portions
½ Carb
1½ Proteins
1 Fat

Body Beast Portions
1½ Vegetables
3 Proteins
1 Fat

Portion Fix Containers
1 Green
1 Red
½ tsp.

Not familiar with Portion Fix? Find out how Portion Fix can make losing weight simple.

If you have questions about the portions, please click here to post a question in our forums so our experts can help. Please include a link to the recipe.
Garlic Shrimp recipe on a sheet pan

Photographs by Anguel Dimov

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8 of the Most Obvious Things You Can Do to Boost Your Health

By Sheryl Kraft and Kate Bayless

It’s time for a reality check: You may already be doing all the things it takes to be healthy, but are you really as healthy as you can be?

When you stop to consider that half of all American adults have one or more chronic health conditions, according to the Center for Disease Control, it’s easy to see why there’s almost always room for improvement.

“Being aware of your habits – and rethinking those habits – can help you curb the worst of your behaviors,” explains Susan Blum, MD., assistant clinical professor of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai in New York City, and author of The Immune System Recovery Plan. Sometimes, it’s those small — yet consistent — changes that have the biggest bang for your buck.

If getting healthier seems like a mountain too hard to climb, we’ve broken it down into teeny tiny molehills too easy not to do. Here are 8 simple lifestyle tweaks that can boost your health, fitness, and energy.

1. Stand More

You may have read that sitting is the new smoking. Yeah, it’s pretty bad according to research, which estimates the average person spends more than half of their waking hours with bum in chair.

“But I exercise,” you may be thinking. Well, sorry, but you’re not off the hook. A report published in Annals of Internal Medicine finds that exercising – even up to an hour a day – does not undo the negative health effects of sitting.

Another study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that for every single hour spent sitting watching TV after age 25, your life expectancy is reduced by 21.8 minutes. Time to rethink binge watching? Probably not a bad idea. (Here’s another good one: Use your TV to help you get in the best shape of your life by streaming workouts on Beachbody On Demand!)

While it might not be realistic to quit your (desk) job, you can do things like getting a standing workstation, and mixing in frequent, short sessions of light physical activity (e.g., walking) throughout the day. The American Counsel on Exercise suggests taking breaks every 30 to 60 minutes.

2. Squeeze in Exercise Where You Can

Whether it’s the grocery store or your office building, deliberately park on the far side of the entrance and you’ll find yourself fitting in more steps, and more calorie-burning, heart-bettering movement into your day. And, once you’re in the building, take the stairs rather than the elevator.

Even when you’re watching TV at home you can designate commercials a mental cue to get off your butt and fit in a few minutes (usually just 90-120 seconds) of squats, push-ups, or jumping jacks. This will not only help add to your total minutes of exercise each day, but will also help you make better food choices during your TV watching. It’s harder to eat the rest of that bag of chips when you’re doing sit-ups

3. Down Some Joe

There was a time when coffee had a bad reputation; it was reportedly unhealthy and stunted your growth. But there’s emerging research pointing to a bevy of health benefits. According to scientists from Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Coffee Studies, coffee has antioxidant-like properties. (If you’re caffeine-averse, no worries: Studies show benefits extend to decaf, as well.)

And here’s some really great news for those who want to boost their exercise performance with coffee: Studies show that caffeine can help you train longer and harder. So, a cup of coffee on the way to the gym? Not a bad way to get started. The FDA suggests healthy adults limit their intake to 400 mg per day (which is equivalent to about four or five cups of coffee).

One downside to coffee? Adding cream and sugar can rack up the calories fast. Cut back without giving your taste buds a shock by gradually decreasing the sweet stuff. Add half a packet of sugar instead of the entire thing. The following week, skip it altogether. Instead of cream, try whole milk then switch to skim. You’ll let your taste buds slowly adjust to the healthier cup of Joe.

Psst: An even better way to prime your body to crush your workout?: Beachbody Performance Energize.

4. Make Your Tea Green

Not a coffee drinker? Tea is also a healthy beverage, containing health-promoting substances such as polyphenols, catechins and epicatechins which research suggests have antioxidant-like properties.

If you’re already drinking this healthy beverage, might as well make it green. Why? Although all teas – green, black, white, oolong – have health benefits, green is king. “Hot or iced, it’s an excellent way to hydrate and boost anti-oxidant intake,” says registered dietitian and exercise physiologist Samantha Heller. But beware of the pre-sweetened teas, which are very high in sugar content, she warns.

All teas come from leaves of the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The difference is in the way the leaves are processed, which accounts for the difference in health benefits. In green tea, the leaves are wilted and steamed, processed immediately after picking, which accounts for the difference in the final photochemical balance, and gives green tea its health-boosting catechins.

To boost your tea’s benefits, use water that is near-boiling, and let the leaves steep for about 2-3 minutes – leaving them longer will release tannins and make the tea bitter.

5. Drink All The Water

Most of us don’t drink the daily recommended amount of water each day. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. adults drank an average of 39 ounces of water a day; a far cry from eight 8-ounce cups often recommended by health professionals.

Dehydration can make us irritable, tired, and masquerade as hunger nudging us to eat that 3pm oversized muffin instead of just downing some H20. Keep yourself hydrated and on track for your health goals by getting a 32-oz water bottle and plan on finishing one by midday and another before bed.

6. Time Your Pre-Workout Food Right

If you’re going to workout, you might as well get the most out of it. Fueling your workout with food can help, and choosing the right food and timing are key. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, you’re better off eating one to three hours before your workout, so that your stomach and muscles don’t compete for energy.

Of course, everyone is different, so you might have to play with the time frame to see what works best for you. “I recommend eating [at least] an hour before your workout,” says New Jersey-based registered dietitian Amy Gorin. “The snack should have a combo of carbs and protein — the protein provides your body with amino acids [the building blocks of muscle], and the carbs will help you power you through your workout.”

Some good choices include a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat; Greek yogurt with fresh berries; an apple spread with almond or peanut butter; and a handful of nuts and raisins. Or make a quick Shakeology shake — an easy and delicious way to get 17g of protein, as well as energy-boosting carbs.

7. Learn to Control Your Food Portions

It’s all too easy to shove a burger in our mouths when we’re rushed, tired or stressed. An easy way to prevent overeating is to pre-plan out your portion-controlled meals and snacks for the week or day ahead. Beachbody’s color-coded containers help you easily pack portion-appropriate amounts of veggies, fruits, protein, carbs, and healthy fats. No weighing out your food. No calorie counting. Just match the container to the food group and you’re done.

Another, even easier trick, is to downsize your dishes. “Using smaller plates can cut down on your total caloric consumption,” explains Anderson. Research has found that larger plates lead people to serve themselves more, eat more, and waste more food.

To learn more about how to create perfect portions every time, check out Beachbody On Demand’s exclusive cooking show Fixate featuring 21 Day Fix creator Autumn Calabrese and her brother, chef Bobby Calabrese!

8. Get More Zzzz’s

Here’s one health to-do that’s easy to get on board with even when you’re feeling lazy: get more shuteye. “The very first place to start is a good night’s sleep,” says Jarrod Spencer, Psy.D., sports psychologist at Mind of the Athlete in Bethlehem, PA. Getting enough sleep impacts everything from your mood and mental clarity to your ability to lose weight, keep from getting sick, and have the energy to fit in your workout. Aim for 8 hours if you can.

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10 Foods That Can Help You Lose Weight

When it comes to eating for weight loss, you’ve probably heard every piece of advice out there: Drink three glasses of grapefruit juice a day, eat egg whites for breakfast, or replace all your greens with kale.

It’s a convenient strategy to latch onto one specific food in the hope that it will completely transform your body, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Krista Haynes, R.D. and Beachbody nutrition manager, says weight loss doesn’t come down to one particular food. Losing weight “is a super-complex process that involves diet, sleep, stress reduction, physical activity, and genetics,” Haynes says.

That being said, there are certain foods that are healthier and more nutrient-rich than others; foods that pack tons of protein into a small number of calories, for example, or foods that can help increase your satiety and provide intense flavor without any added sugars or trans fats.

Keep in mind that the rest of your habits matter, too: “Eating these foods won’t do any good if you’re eating fast food, sitting on the couch all weekend, or feeling overly stressed about work stuff,” says Haynes.

But when you combine healthy foods with a balanced diet, regular exercise, hydration, and adequate sleep, your weight-loss goals will start to look more realistic. Here are 10 foods that will help you get to those goals.

Foods to Help You Lose Weight, eggs, weight loss

10 Healthy Weight Loss-Friendly Foods

1. Eggs

“Eggs are an excellent protein source in a small calorie package,” says Haynes. One large egg contains between 70 and 90 calories, depending on how it’s cooked (hard-boiled eggs are on the lower end of the spectrum, while fried eggs are at the higher end) and has roughly six grams of protein, six grams of fat, and one gram of carbohydrates. Eggs are also full of important nutrients like calcium, folate, and vitamins A and D.

Haynes says the protein in eggs can help you feel full and quell the urge to snack throughout the day, which could help with weight loss. In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, two groups of overweight and obese individuals started a reduced-calorie weight-loss diet: One group ate eggs as part of their breakfast and the other ate bagels. The group that ate an egg breakfast experienced 65 percent greater weight loss than the group that ate a bagel breakfast.

Pro tip: Easy ways to add eggs into your diet — scramble a couple for breakfast with chopped veggies, slide a fried egg on top of your avocado toast, or nosh on hard-boiled eggs as an afternoon snack.

2. Almonds

Almonds hit the nutrition trifecta: They’re full of fiber, protein, and healthy fat, making them a great balanced snack choice, says Haynes.

The only catch? “Calories add up quickly when munching on almonds,” Haynes says, so you have to be smart about your portions. The USDA’s recommended serving size of almonds is one ounce, or 23 whole nuts, which have 164 calories, 14 grams of fat, five grams of carbs, and about three grams of dietary fiber.

Pro tip: To get the fiber and protein without overdoing it, Haynes suggests eating raw, unsalted almonds instead of a carb-heavy muffin or sugary breakfast bar. She also recommends sprinkling slivered almonds on your oatmeal or grinding them into almond butter to spread on apple slices or celery sticks.

Foods to help you lose weight, avocado, weight loss

3. Avocados

Avocados are everyone’s favorite source of healthy fat, but they’re also calorically dense, says Haynes. According to the USDA, the recommended serving size is about 30 grams, or one-fourth of a medium-size avocado — in other words, way less than what most people eat. One-fourth of an avocado contains 50 calories, less than one gram of protein, about five grams of fat, three grams of carbs, and two grams of dietary fiber.

But the fiber in avocados, combined with their rich, buttery taste, means you may not need to eat as much to feel satisfied, says Haynes.

The monounsaturated (or healthy) fat in avocados is also a key macronutrient and may help with weight loss. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that eating a diet with a high percentage of fat (60 percent) may increase your resting energy expenditure.

In addition, the Journal of the American Heart Association published a study that found that eating one avocado per day as part of a moderate-fat, cholesterol-lowering diet can help lower LDL cholesterol levels.

“This, of course, doesn’t give you free reign to eat all the fat you want — portions still matter,” says Haynes. She recommends spreading avocado on your sandwich instead of mayonnaise or adding a few slices to salads, eggs, or healthy tacos. You can also blend avocado in smoothies or eat a few spoonfuls peppered with chili flakes or sea salt as a savory snack.

Pro tip: Just remember that avocado should be an addition to your meal, not the main dish. “Watch out for the chips and guacamole, as that can be a calorie bomb,” says Haynes.

Foods to help you lose weight, cabbage, weight loss

4. Cabbage

This cruciferous veggie is low-calorie and loaded with nutrients like calcium, potassium, and vitamin A. One cup of raw shredded cabbage contains 18 calories, roughly four grams of carbs, two grams of fiber, and less than one gram of fat and protein each.

The appeal of cabbage as part of a weight-loss nutrition plan is that you can eat a lot of it without racking up calories. Haynes recommends incorporating fermented cabbage (sauerkraut or kimchi) into your diet to promote gut health. You can eat it on its own or toss it in a veggie bowl with your favorite protein and quinoa.

If you’re not a fan of kimchi, try mixing raw cabbage in your salads, making ground turkey tacos with cabbage wraps, or adding cabbage to a hearty soup.

5. Grapefruit

Despite being praised online as a quick weight-loss solution, grapefruit doesn’t actually have a special fat-burning ability, says Haynes. Rather, it’s the high water and fiber content that can help you feel full and consume less food, she adds.

A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food confirms this. The results showed that eating grapefruit led to modest weight loss: People who ate half a grapefruit three times a day before each meal lost about two pounds more than those who didn’t.

“Alone, grapefruit is low in calories,” says Haynes. According to the USDA, half a grapefruit contains 52 calories, 13 grams of carbs, two grams of fiber, and less than one gram of fat and protein each. The fruit is also a great source of calcium and vitamin C.

To get all the nutrients of grapefruit without the added sugar and calories, stick with fresh grapefruit rather than grapefruit juice. Eat it as a snack topped with cottage cheese, or pair it with a veggie omelet for breakfast.

Pro tip: One word of caution — it’s advised against eating grapefruit if you’re taking certain prescription medications, Haynes says, so check with your doctor before adding to your diet.

6. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a fantastic source of complex carbs, dietary fiber, and protein, all of which can help you feel full for several hours, says Haynes. One cup of cooked oats has 159 calories, and it contains about six grams of protein, 27 grams of carbs, four grams of fiber, and three grams of fat.

“Oatmeal is a great canvas to add other nutrients to,” Haynes says. She likes berries, banana slices, walnuts, chia seeds, or a drizzle of almond or coconut butter. Just be careful not to overdo it — dried fruit, sweetened coconut flakes, and big gobs of nut butter can contain tons of added sugar and extra calories.

Another healthy option for oatmeal? “Use rolled oats as an ingredient in protein snack balls,” says Haynes.

7. Salmon

In addition to being a great source of lean protein, which Haynes says helps you maintain your muscle mass when trying to lose weight, salmon is also packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which your body can’t produce. One three-ounce fillet of salmon has 155 calories, 22 grams of protein, seven grams of fat, and zero carbs.

“Salmon is a great option as a dinner alongside some veggies and a whole grain or starch like quinoa or sweet potato,” Haynes says. She also suggests salmon jerky as a protein-rich snack or smoked salmon on a sprouted whole-grain English muffin for breakfast (nix the cream cheese).

8. Yogurt

Not all yogurts are created equal when it comes to weight loss. Most flavored yogurts and store-bought brands are packed with added sugar, Haynes says.

Plain, unsweetened, 2% Greek yogurt, on the other hand, is low in sugar and high in protein. Haynes recommends it as a healthy snack option or cooking substitute for heavy ingredients like sour cream and cream cheese.

Yogurt also contains probiotics, “which may help with weight loss by improving the ratio of good to bad bacteria in the gut,” Haynes says.

The USDA’s recommended serving size of Greek yogurt is one cup, which has 100 calories, six grams of carbs, less than one gram of fat, about six grams of sugar, and a whopping 17 grams of protein. It’s also loaded with calcium and potassium.

Top a cup of unsweetened Greek yogurt with berries and ground flax seeds for an easy breakfast, or blend it in your green smoothie for some extra protein.

9. Spinach

Spinach, like cabbage, is low in calories and high in fiber and water content, meaning you can eat a lot of it without making a dent in your total calories for the day, says Haynes.

For example, one cup of raw spinach contains just seven calories, almost one gram each of protein and fiber, and one gram of carbs.

There’s also some research to suggest that thylakoids, the internal membrane system in green plants like spinach, can help facilitate the release of satiety hormones in the body. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, for example, found that taking a thylakoid-rich spinach extract before breakfast may help reduce hunger and snack cravings and increase satiety for over two hours.

To incorporate more spinach in your diet, Haynes suggests blending a couple of handfuls into your smoothie, tossing it in your veggie scramble or strata, adding it to soup, or swapping it for romaine lettuce in your salad.

10. Apples

There may be some truth to the old adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. One study published in the journal Appetite found that eating an apple at the start of a meal may help with weight management. People who ate one medium-size apple before a meal reduced their food energy intake by 15 percent and reported feeling fuller.

That’s because apples are filled with fiber and water that can help increase satiety, says Haynes. One small apple has 20 grams of carbs, about four grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and less than one gram each of protein and fat — all for 77 calories.

Munch on an apple plain, sprinkle it with cinnamon for extra sweetness, or add apple slices to your salad for some crunch.

The 10-Second Takeaway

Certain foods are loaded with a combination of protein, fiber, and important nutrients that can help you feel full and squash your urge to snack. Eating these healthy foods can help you in your weight-loss journey — but only if you take other steps as well. To maximize your weight loss, incorporate these 10 nutrient-rich foods into a balanced diet, step up your exercise game, and make sure you’re getting plenty of water and sleep.

Foods that you lose weight, weight loss foods, foods for weight loss

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Sheet Pan Sweet Potato Hash with Eggs

This savory sheet pan sweet potato hash with eggs is fragrantly spiced with cumin, chili, and smoked paprika and topped with fresh cilantro. Filled with fresh veggies and beans, this breakfast dish is so filling, you’ll want to eat it for dinner!

sweet potato hash with eggs

Sheet Pan Sweet Potato Hash with Eggs

Total Time: 50 min.
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cooking Time: 30 min.
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
Parchment paper
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup black beans, drained, rinsed
1 cup corn kernels
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
1½ tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. ground smoked paprika
½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt), divided use
½ tsp. ground black pepper, divided use
8 large eggs
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 400º F.
2. Line large sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
3. Combine sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, bell pepper, beans, corn, oil, chili powder, cumin, paprika, ¼ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper in a large bowl; toss gently to blend.
4. Place sweet potato mixture on pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.
5. Create eight wells in sweet potato mixture. Gently crack an egg into each well. Season eggs with remaining ¼ tsp. salt and remaining ¼ tsp. pepper. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until eggs are set.
6. Garnish with cilantro; serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Hash with Eggs

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 353
Total Fat: 15 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 366 mg
Sodium: 723 mg
Carbohydrates: 36 g
Fiber: 8 g
Sugars: 8 g
Protein: 19 g

P90X/P90X2 Portions
½ Fat
1½ Protein
¾ Grain/Tuber Carb
½ Vegetable

P90X3 Portions
2 Carbs
1½ Protein
½ Fat

Body Beast Portions
1 Starch
½ Legume
1 Vegetable
3 Protein
½ Fat

Portion Fix Containers
2 Yellow
1 Red
1 tsp.

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If you have questions about the portions, please click here to post a question in our forums so our experts can help. Please include a link to the recipe you’re asking about.

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