If you’re trying to lose weight in your legs or wondering how to get thinner thighs, barre workouts will definitely help you do this by sculpting your muscles (see my list of the best barre workouts for weight loss). However, if you have a layer of fat on top of those muscles, you may never get the toned, lean legs you seek.
THE most important thing you need to do in order to accomplish significant changes in your lower body is to change the way you eat, and improve the way you cook your food.
If you’re like me though, the thought of “healthy cooking” probably sounds overwhelming and downright boring.
But healthy cooking doesn’t have to be difficult or boring. With just a few small changes you can make a big difference in the results you get from your workouts. Once you get used to doing things a different way, it really will become simple and easy. I can say this from experience.
I initially had to change the way that I ate for health reasons.
But when I effortlessly shed 10 pounds and watched my thighs shrink down to the thinnest they’d ever been, I realized just how powerful the way I was eating really was.
Below I’ve narrowed down 4 main problems that most women have with their diets. Of course there are other factors, too. But these are the most common that I see, and they are the very things that hinder weight loss or make fat loss very difficult.
Eating Fat Storing Ingredients
Fat-storing ingredients such as “whole-wheat”, gluten, soy, and sugar are staples in the American diet. These foods are marketed as “healthy”, when in reality they will only disrupt your hormones and lead to weight gain.
Avoiding gluten for weight loss is not some silly fad. There is much truth to it, As Dr. William Davis discusses in his book, Wheat Belly.
Gluten is like “glue” – and behaves as such in the body. It is very hard to digest, and damages the gut wall.
The result is hampered digestion and weight gain. The slower your digestion is, the harder it will be for you to lose weight.
Soy disrupts hormones and has adverse effects on the thyroid.
I like what the Weston Price Foundation has to say about soy:
…More than seventy years of studies document adverse effects on the thyroid, most often manifesting as hypothyroidism with its familiar symptoms of weight gain, fatigue, lethargy and malaise. Sadly, the cause and effect is not always clear cut. In some individuals the hypothyroidism develops so gradually that soy does not take the blame. In others, soy stimulates the thyroid, initially contributing to hyperthyroidism with increased metabolism, energy and weight loss. This, of course, explains why some short term studies show weight loss. While some overweight individuals might perceive this as a good thing, the such stress on the thyroid, leads all too soon to glandular exhaustion and long-term hypothyroidism…
Hypothyroidism is becoming quite an epidemic – especially among women. For more info about this subject, check out this article I wrote.
Sugar hides in many places – places you may not suspect. Fruit juices, salad dressings, “pre-packaged “gluten-free” foods, condiments, and many more.
These will all prevent you from losing fat.
The important thing to remember about sugar and weight loss is that sugar raises insulin levels. When insulin levels are elevated, the body will NOT burn fat. When insulin is low – or absent – the body will begin to use fat as an energy source.
*Rapid Fat Loss Tip: If you want to lose weight quickly, replace the carbs you eat with cooked veggies. Your body will have no choice but to shed fat.
Eating Pre-Packaged “Healthy” Snacks or Convenient Weight Loss Foods
The food industry has changed the way we understand food. They have completely manipulated it to appear “healthy”, when in reality it’s pumped full of toxic chemicals that actually hinder weight loss and harm your health.
Just because a food is labeled “organic” or “all-natural” does not make it healthy. All too often it’s these very foods that are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients that disrupt your delicate hormonal balance and harm your metabolism.
A 2007 article written in Time Magazine referenced a study that was conducted at the University of Alberta (Canada) of the eating habits of young rats. The study found that the rats overate when they were fed “diet” foods.
Although this study was conducted on animals instead of humans, it still supports the growing amount of research among humans showing that diet foods are a contradiction.
They cause the very thing they are designed to prevent: weight gain.
It’s a vicious cycle: The more low-calorie drinks and foods you eat, the more your body craves in order to get the nourishment it needs.
*Rapid Fat Loss Tip: Avoid anything prepackaged or that comes in a box.
Eating Foods You Are Allergic To
Now this one may not seem like a big deal.
But I can assure you it is.
Foods that irritate your digestion or are allergens can lead to inflammation, which ultimately leads to fat storage and weight gain.
The only way to know for sure if you are allergic to certain foods may be to eliminate foods one group at a time to see if symptoms improve or reappear when the food is added back into your diet.
*Rapid Fat Loss Tip: Identifying food allergies is VERY important, and can make a huge difference in your ability to lose fat in your legs and get lean.
Eating Too Many of the Wrong Carbs
Many so-called healthy diet and cookbooks encourage the wrong carbohydrates as being healthy or good for weight loss.
An example of this is “whole grain” or “whole wheat”. Neither of these will get you lean, as I mentioned earlier.
Also, fruits can be problematic, as they contain sugar. Yes, fruits contain a “healthier” or natural form of sugar…but it’s sugar nonetheless. And your body doesn’t know the difference.
Sugar is sugar – and remember sugar raises insulin, and elevated insulin levels prevent fat loss.
*Rapid Fat Loss Tip: Going low-carb is not necessarily the answer. Your body needs the RIGHT carbohydrates to facilitate fat loss.
5. Counting Calories
The fitness and weight loss industry continues to preach that you must read nutrition labels to look out for the calorie and fat content of the foods you are choosing.
But that’s not where your focus should be.
Instead, you should be worried about the ingredients in the foods you are choosing – specifically, whether or not the food is processed.
All processed, man-made foods contain preservatives, lots of table salt, chemicals you can’t even pronounce, flavor enhancers (like MSG), and other unnatural ingredients that have absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever, and make weight loss difficult.
These so-called “diet foods” (as mentioned above) are the worst offenders.
In addition to all of the nasty chemicals contained in processed foods, there is yet another problem:
When you eat a low calorie diet that is also low in nutritional value, you are essentially starving your body of the nutrients it needs to function properly.
What to Eat and How to Put This All Together
After reading all of this, it probably seems like there’s nothing left to eat! As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I know that changing your diet is very difficult, especially when you have to eliminate most of what you eat on a regular basis!
But if you want leaner thighs and legs, you’ve gotta make these changes.
I will tell you truthfully – the thing that helped me the most when I had to change my diet was having the RIGHT cookbooks to get me off to a good start…the cookbooks that used only the exact ingredients that I could have – and left out the ones that I couldn’t.
I also wasn’t a cook to begin with. In fact, I hated cooking. I had no imagination and I didn’t know how to put spices together to make something taste good. It also wasn’t interesting or fun, and I always felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.
Simple recipes and simple cookbooks saved my life!
But finding a cookbook that follows all of the principles I mentioned above is very hard, nearly impossible sometimes.
Just head over to Amazon and type in “fat loss cookbook”, and you will see what I mean.
Most of them still encourage eating whole grain and dairy (which is another problematic food for many of us), and allow far too much sugar.
Recently, I stumbled across Flavia DelMonte’s Skinnylicious Cooking. At first I thought it was just another “weight loss” cookbook that preached all of the same fat loss nonsense.
But upon closer inspection, I realized it was actually quite good. So I bought it. 🙂
This is such an excellent cookbook! I just love it! It’s exactly how I eat now…and I can tell you that I am the leanest I have ever been despite doing ZERO cardio.
In fact I love it so much that I think I might do a write-up of what’s included and give you a good idea of what you can expect. So far, my favorite part is the 15 Meals in 50 Minutes section. Awesome if you’re short on time, as many of us are!
So look out for that in the near future! Until then, you can check out Skinnylicious Cooking for yourself.