Depending on how much weight you need to lose, three months may be plenty of time to go from flab to fab when you're trying to get your body ready for the beach. To lose weight and tone up, you'll need to commit to a healthy calorie-controlled diet and exercise plan. Consult your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program.
Three-Month Reduced-Calorie Plan
To trim the fat and lose the bulge so you look good in your swimsuit, you need to make a change in your current calorie intake. How much you need to decrease calories depends on your weight-loss goals. You can safely lose 12 to 24 pounds over the three-month period by decreasing your usual intake by 500 calories to 1,000 calories a day. Women should not eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day, however, and men and active women no less than 1,500 calories, unless directed to do so by your doctor.
Keep a food diary before you start your beach body journey to determine your usual intake, and subtract 500 or 1,000 calories. For example, if you usually eat 2,200 calories a day, to lose weight you need to reduce your usual intake to 1,200 to 1,700 calories a day.
Beach Body Food
While calories count when you're trying to get beach-ready, so do your food choices. A 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found an association between weight gain and an intake of processed foods such as soda, potato chips and processed meats like deli meat and bacon; weight loss was linked with an intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and yogurt.
The researchers noted that weight loss is most likely related to a reduction in overall calorie intake. It's easier to stick to a lower-calorie diet when you're eating foods that are not only lower in calories but also filling. The weight-loss foods are also a better source of the nutrients your body needs to look and feel its best.
In addition to the healthy foods mentioned in the 2011 study, it's also important that you include lean sources of protein in your beach body diet, such as poultry, seafood, beans, soy foods and low-fat dairy.
Beach Body Sample Meal Plan
For maximum energy and hunger control, you need to eat at regular intervals on your beach body diet plan, consuming about the same number of calories at each meal. For example, if you need 1,500 calories a day, each meal should have about 400 to 450 calories, leaving room for two 75- to 150-calorie snacks.
A healthy breakfast might include a 6-ounce container of nonfat Greek yogurt with 3/4 cup of fresh blackberries and two slices of whole-grain toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter for 410 calories. For a 390-calorie lunch, try 2 cups of mixed greens topped with 1/2 cup of sliced bell peppers, 1/2 cup of sliced cucumbers, 3 ounces of grilled tuna, five walnut halves and 3/4 cup of sliced strawberries with 1 tablespoon of low-fat salad dressing. At dinner, you might enjoy a 405-calorie veggie lo-mein made with 1 cup of whole-wheat spaghetti stir-fried with 2 cups of a mix of veggies such as snow peas, carrots and mung bean sprouts, 1/2 cup of cubed tofu, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and low-sodium soy sauce.
Some 150-calorie snack options include 1 cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt with a small banana, five whole-grain crackers with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter, 1 cup of sliced veggies such as cucumbers, celery and peppers with 1/4 cup of hummus or 2 ounces of sliced fresh turkey on a slice of whole-wheat bread.
Exercise to Trim and Tone
To tone up and look good in your swimwear, you'll want to include exercise in your three-month beach body weight-loss plan. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests adults aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as a fast-paced walk, five days a week. Add in two days of full-body strength training, such as lifting weights or body-resistance exercises.
Most importantly, to help improve muscle-building, and in turn body tone, eat one of your snacks within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. The snack should contain a little carb and protein, such as nonfat yogurt with fruit or half a turkey sandwich.
- FamilyDoctor.org: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute: Healthy Eating
- New England Journal of Medicine: Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men
- Harvard School of Public Health: The Best Diet: Quality Counts
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List System for Diabetic Meal Planning
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database: Yogurt, Greek, Plain, Nonfat
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Walnuts, English
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Timing Your Nutrition
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database: Hummus, Commercial