You've heard it a million times: Don't skip breakfast. "Eating first thing revs your calorie burn," explains Bob Harper, who created our Bikini Body Countdown workout. "If you don't eat within two hours of waking, your metabolism can slow down to conserve energy." Noshing early gives you energy and bolsters your willpower to stay on track all day. In fact, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found dieters who eat a larger morning meal are more successful at losing body fat than those who don't make breakfast a priority. "Most women should aim to get 300 to 400 calories at breakfast," says Bob Harper.
In a scramble to get out the door? Do a little prep work: On Sunday, whip up a batch of hard-boiled eggs (80 calories each), and pair one with a pack of instant oatmeal made with nonfat milk and mashed banana (about 290 calories). "The protein fends off hunger," says Bob Harper, "and the carbs energize you."
FAT FACTS: A guide to the good, the bad, and the fatty
To Lose Weight: Make Friends with Fat
Fat has more than twice the calories of carbs or protein, but "your body needs fat to function," says Kleiner. "When you don't get enough in your diet, your brain sends a signal to your cells to hold onto body fat." This means you might need to actually increase your fat intake in order to slim down.
In fact, a recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that women who ate a moderate-fat diet (35 percent of calories) shed an average of 13 pounds more—and kept them off—than those on a lowfat plan. Fat also takes longer to digest and helps fend off hunger and binges.
Look to plant sources of fat like olive oil, nuts, and avocados, as well as fish, for healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Assuming you're eating 1,600 calories a day, aim to keep your daily intake of fat around 62 grams, or 560 calories.
HEALTHY LUNCH IDEAS: A nutritionist's top swaps
To Lose Weight: Make Food the Main Event
"People are so unaware of what they're putting into their mouths," says Kleiner, "especially when they're eating in front of a computer or the TV." But when you don't pay attention to your food, you consume more. "Our stomachs don't recognize we're full when our minds aren't focused on the meal," says Rolls. She recommends carving out time to sit down and eat at least one "mindful" meal per day. If you have to work through lunch, take bites between emails and make a conscious effort to savor each one.