Reach for these four reinforcements to enhance the effects of your diet and workout plan

By By the editors of Shape.com
Updated: December 18, 2017
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We live in a world designed to help us undo our own mistakes. That's why we have spell-check, password retrieval systems, and "Are you sure you want to delete?" prompts. These reinforcements, though they sometimes complicate our lives (darn you, autocorrect!), help protect us when we're vulnerable.

So when it comes to diet, it also makes sense to have backups-a support system-that can help in your quest toward achieving your beach-body goals. If you're already following these twelve principles of healthy eating from The Bikini Body Diet, these supplemental allies will enhance the effects of your diet plan to help you transform your body, gain confidence, and maintain your figure for good.

RELATED: Find more science-backed, body-slimming secrets in Shape's new weight loss plan, The Bikini Body Diet!

Magnesium

One major perk of this nutrient is its ability to relax muscles, keep you calm, and promote peaceful sleep, which in itself is a huge part of making any diet plan work. According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium is needed for more than 300 chemical reactions in the body, including keeping the heart rhythm steady, regulating blood sugar levels, and helping lower blood pressure. Some research also suggests that a higher magnesium intake can reduce the risk of colon cancer, and many studies have shown that magnesium may help treat such conditions as osteoporosis, PMS, migraines, depression, and more.

In addition to those health benefits, magnesium can also aid in weight loss and body shaping. A 2013 study in the Journal of Nutrition found that higher magnesium intake was associated with lower levels of fasting glucose and insulin (markers related to fat and weight gain), and one study from England found that a magnesium supplement may have some beneficial effects on reducing fluid retention during the menstrual cycle, helping to alleviate undesirable tummy bloat. The recommend amount of magnesium for women under 30 is 310 milligrams, and 320 for women over 30. You'll find magnesium in many foods, including leafy green vegetables, beans, and nuts. Supplements in pill or powder form are also widely available at health food stores. Try drinking warm water with a tablespoon of magnesium powder every night before bed: This can help you sleep soundly and stay regular, reducing bloat and discomfort.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has many benefits for your overall health and bikini body goals, yet most of us are deficient in it. (In fact, if you live north of Atlanta or Phoenix, studies show you're almost certain to be D-deficient most of the year.) So a daily vitamin D pill may be a necessary supplement to add to your diet. There are studies suggesting that vitamin D aids in increasing muscle strength, while having low levels of it is linked to such things as heart disease and cancer. Some research shows that people with low levels of vitamin D catch more colds or the flu than those with the highest amounts. That's a benefit itself, but think about the trickle effect too: The more you get sick, the less you feel like exercising and the more susceptible you are to reaching for so-called feel-good foods.

RELATED: The Surprising Link Between Happiness and Weight Loss

In terms of weight loss, vitamin D may play an even more promising role by helping regulate hunger and appetite. A 2012 Iranian study in Nutrition Journal found that supplementation with vitamin D was associated with a 7-percent decrease in fat, and a small study from the University of Minnesota found a relationship between higher levels of D and fat loss, especially in the belly area. Of course, that doesn't mean that taking vitamin D is a one-pill-cure-all. But to supplement your good exercise and eating habits, make sure you get the recommended amount every day through diet, sunlight (get at least 15 minutes outdoors, especially during winter months), and supplementation if necessary. You can get vitamin D in a variety of foods, such as fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products; the daily recommended intake is 600 IU. Research shows you'll get better absorption of a vitamin D supplement if you take it with your largest meal.

Bilberry

The dried fruit and leaves of this plant, related 
to the blueberry, may provide beneficial effects for weight loss due to its antioxidant properties. One 2011 study in the journal Diabeteologia found that a diet high in bilberry (as well as fatty fish and whole grains) improved function of the circulatory system. One of these effects included improved blood pressure and other circulatory issues that are associated with being overweight.

Probiotics

Mounting research is drawing a connection between gut-health aids like probiotics-the healthy bacteria that live in our intestines or gut-and weight control. The ingestion of probiotics, either from foods like yogurt or supplements, has been shown to be effective at everything from boosting the immune system and reducing gastrointestinal problems to treating cancer. Research from the Washington University School of Medicine has linked obesity to a lack of gut flora diversity. Add yogurt to your daily diet, and especially if you're vegan or lactose-intolerant, be sure to look for probiotic supplements with at least 5 billion active cells.

And don't forget to buy your copy of The Bikini Body Diet today for even more body-sculpting advice and slim-down secrets for getting beach-ready in no time!

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I myself take vitamin D in the winter and since there are various forms of magnesium I take Magnesium glaciate chelate. Some magnesium's give you the runs so you have to be careful. I also take other vitamins but I haven't seen any weight loss, as of yet.