Get your body swimsuit-ready with a high-protein, low-fat diet and plenty of exercise to burn calories and, with luck, melt pockets of body fat. This 1,200- to 1,600-calorie plan combines egg whites, skinless chicken and salmon with mounds of steamed and fresh vegetables. Upping the protein to twice your normal consumption keeps hunger levels down and helps you recover from daily workouts. Check with your doctor before starting this or any other diet, especially if you have a specific medical condition.
High-protein foods like eggs are a good fat-burning strategy, because it takes more energy -- and energy comes from calories -- to break down protein than other foods. Protein also allows you to keep all-important muscle mass as your weight goes down. Whip up an egg-white omelet filled with steamed-crisp veggies for breakfast. Dip chicken pieces or salmon in beaten egg whites. Roll them in crushed walnuts or almonds and then sprinkle with your favorite herbs for a savory lunch or dinner. An egg white also adds protein and bulk to fresh-fruit smoothies at breakfast.
Low-carb and protein-packed, skinless chicken breasts and thighs can be a major ally in boosting metabolism, which promotes fat-burning. Perk up plain chicken with this recipe, based on one from the Epicurious website. Make a paste from 2 tbsp. red miso paste, 1 1/2 tsp. light sesame oil, 1 1/2 tsp. fresh chopped ginger, 1 1/2 tsp. fresh garlic and 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes. Spread the paste on four chicken breasts or thighs -- weighing about 4 oz. each -- and place on a plate. Cover the plate with plastic wrap and let them rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Spritz a skillet with cooking spray, and heat to medium-high. Cook chicken until no pink remains in the center, around five minutes on each side. This recipe serves four.
Don't be put off by salmon being designated a fatty fish. The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon are good fats, and a study in the "British Journal of Nutrition" indicates omega-3 fatty acids reduce fat mass. Oily fish such as salmon have been found to reduce hunger, and so keep you satisfied between meals. Start your day with metabolism-revving salmon, either smoked or cold-cured, or breakfast on a broiled salmon cake. Wild salmon is preferable to farm-raised, and keep portions at 3 to 4 ounces per meal.
High-protein diets can stress the kidneys, which break protein into waste materials that are eliminated. Excessive protein also taxes the liver. Balance the protein from egg whites, chicken and salmon with fresh vegetables and fruits. Drink more water, as it flushes the system and can also help you burn calories and fat.