We're hot into the middle of swimsuit season and one of the best ways to be ready is to incorporate some diet tweaks for a bikini body into your routine. The things you eat have a direct impact on how you look, including your weight and the health of your skin. Since you're baring all in your two piece, you want to look your best, right? There are some simple diet tweaks you can make to get you the bikini body you want in no time at all. Of course, you should always discuss any dietary changes with your doctor before getting started. Here's to the best summer yet, thanks to some great advice shared with us from the experts at Cosmopolitan magazine.
1. DAY ONE: RAW before FOUR
Snacking on raw food like carrot sticks instead of biscuits in the afternoon IS healthy, but eating raw food after 4pm can be hard on your tummy, as the cellulose in uncooked vegetables can be difficult to digest. "Raw foods are chock-full of energy and a brilliant pick-up during the day, but can be challenging to a worn-out metabolism later in the afternoon, when they will play havoc with your digestive system," says Dr Stossier, co-author of The Viva Mayr Diet (Harper Collins, £12.99). And if your digestive system isn't working to maximum capacity, an increased amount of fat will form around your stomach to protect it. Nosh on cooked veggies, yogurt or raw nuts and seeds after lunch instead.
2. DAY TWO: KICKSTART YOUR SYSTEM
Starting today, drink a glass of water 15 minutes before every meal and avoid drinking again until an hour afterwards. Downing fluid immediately after a meal will reduce your digestive capacity, leaving your system sluggish. "You should be drinking between two and three liters of water every day, but there are better times to drink water, and times to avoid it," says Dr Stossier.
3. DAY THREE: MASSAGE YOUR WAY to a FLATTER TUM
A simple stomach massage is a super-quick way to flatten your belly. It also speeds along digestion and can boost your mood by encouraging the release of endorphins. Start massaging your tummy using gentle movements, kneading with the palm of your hand. Next, make about 50 small circular strokes in a clockwise motion around your navel. Widen this circle to include your rib cage and repeat in a clockwise direction.
4. DAY FOUR: BURN FAT FAST
Blitz fat cells by eating yogurt. A study by the University of Tennessee in the US, showed that women who ate low-fat dairy three times a day, combined with a low-calorie diet, lost 22% more fat than women who did so only once a day. According to the university's director of nutrition, Michael Zemel, this is because calcium and other substances in dairy speeds up your metabolism. Cottage cheese and skimmed milk are great options too.
5. DAY FIVE: do a PLATE-SWAP
Most of us are guilty of overeating, but the solution could be as easy as switching up your plate: a US study found that people given a large bowl ate 30% more than those using a more normal-sized dish. Eating slowly and chewing food well helps too, as it can take up to 20 minutes for the 'I'm full' message from your intestines to reach your brain.
6. DAY SIX: GO EASY on the PROTEIN
Thanks to the massive popularity of high protein diets, many of us assume cutting out carbs is the best way to shift pounds - but actually, eating too much protein (30% or more of your caloric intake) can have the opposite effect. Your body can't store excess protein and when it is broken down, toxins are produced that put a strain on your kidneys, leading to dehydration, muscle loss and lack of energy (not to mention depleting your bones of calcium). If you're feeling tired and sluggish, you'll be far less inclined to take exercise and more likely to suffer the sort of slump that can be fixed only with a chocolate pick-me-up.
7. DAY SEVEN: BANISH the BELLY
Counteract the belly-bloating effects of too much acid (found in foods such as coffee and cheese) with something old-fashioned. "Before your holidays, dissolve one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in 250ml of warm water and drink it before bed. It will support your liver's detoxing ability, which works best at night," advises Dr Stossier. If you can't stomach the taste, try a little less bicarb, but in the same amount of water. Drinking aloe vera juice also helps with bloating.