Cosmo has come up with a fat-torching plan that really will subtract up to 5 pounds from your bod in seven days — without starvation, bizarre supplements, or cutting out entire food groups. How? It's all about small sacrifices combined with specific techniques. And rather than giving you a one-size-fits-all regimen, we figure you're more likely to stick with the plan if you pick the eating and exercise strategies that fit your lifestyle.
So choose at least four of the nutritionist- and fitness expert-backed tips that follow, and vow to work them into your schedule for seven days straight. If you feel ambitious, tack on a few more. The more you pick, the more weight you'll lose. If you start now, by this time next week, you'll look and feel way lighter.
Drink Mainly Water
A sports or energy drink, fruit smoothie, or light beer — each serving contains about 100 calories. Yet these beverages don't satisfy you the way 100 calories of food does, so they're a waste. Other liquids may be high in sodium and carbohydrates, which trick your body into retaining water, puffing you out.
Water, on the other hand, has zero calories and carbs and little to no sodium, making it the perfect slim-down drink. And strangely, it actually helps flush out excess water weight as well as jump-starts your metabolism. If it's just too boring, add lemon wedges or mint leaves.
Ban White Bread and Pasta
Cutting out all white grain products — such as white rice, spaghetti, sandwich rolls — will instantly slim you down because the simple carbs in these foods cause bloating, especially around your belly. "Simple carbohydrates wreak havoc on your weight because they're digested very quickly, leaving you hungry and more likely to overeat later, " says Jana Klauer, M.D., author of The Park Avenue Nutritionist's Plan.
To go a step further, instead of replacing them with healthier yet still bloat-triggering whole-grain bread products, substitute vegetables for the week. This way, a chicken sandwich becomes chicken salad, and chips and dip turn into carrots and dip. The complex carbs from vegetables are digested more slowly, so you remain full longer. And because veggies are mostly water, they also help flush out excess water weight.
Do Cardio 30 Minutes a Day
Any workout that gets your heart rate up will burn calories. But you'll use more calories if you pick a cardio routine that engages multiple muscles simultaneously, says Wendy Larkin, personal-training manager at Crunch's Polk Street gym, in San Francisco.
Three to consider: spinning, cardio kickboxing, and boot-camp workouts. Half an hour of each torches 200 to 300 calories while toning up your arms, legs, and core so everything appears sleeker and tighter.
You'll burn even more calories per session if your workout incorporates interval training: alternating short bursts of intense cardio with slower activity. Experts aren't sure why it works, but trainers swear by it.
Drink Coffee an Hour Before Working Out
This is the one exception to the stick-to-water-only rule: Just as a coffee run makes your morning at work more productive, a pre-exercise cup of java with a splash of skim milk (about 11 calories) or black (just 5 calories) will energize your workout, explains Dr. Klauer. "You'll burn more calories without realizing you're pushing yourself harder."
Have Nightly You-on-Top Sex
Not that you needed an excuse to hook up with your guy every night, but the fact is, this position is a fat blaster. Being on top means you do the rocking, and the more active you are, the more calories you burn — up to 144 for 30 minutes.
Sex also pumps levels of feel-good neurotransmitters, endorphins, helping you ride out food cravings. Get on top in reverse-cowgirl (i.e., facing away from your guy) to give your thigh and butt muscles an extra push.
Do 36 Push-Ups and Lunges Every Other Day
These gym-class staples will help sculpt muscle, so you'll sport a more streamlined appearance. Do three sets of 12 of each exercise every other day. "Push-ups target your upper body, while lunges work your butt, hips, and thighs, " says Larkin. Quick tip: Make sure your back and legs remain in a straight line during your push-ups; it'll improve muscle tone. Also, you can build even more muscle with the lunges if you hold free weights in each hand while doing them.
Sleep 30 Minutes More a Night
That extra half an hour, whether you sleep 5 hours or 8, can refresh you enough that you will make better food choices (in other words, no quick sugar fix for breakfast in search of energy) and won't feel lethargic and skip the gym, says registered dietician Esther Blum, author of Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous. More restful sleep (7 to 8 hours is best) also boosts your metabolism. And since your body builds muscle while you snooze, getting zzz's equals better muscle tone.
Make One Food Sacrifice
Cutting out one indulgence — such as the chips you have with lunch or the chocolate dessert you eat after dinner — can subtract a few hundred calories from your diet, which translates into less flab, says Blum. "Your body won't even notice their absence."