Whether you're in Tough Mudder training or trying to get that summer swimsuit body, let's face it, we're all occasionally cutting calorie-counting corners. However, with obstacle course racing season in full swing and summer on the horizon, the time to debunk the top workout myths and whip that soon-to-be beach body into shape is here.
And because there's nothing we dig more than transforming you into a better you, we've gone ahead and served up our so-damn-easy-to-implement top tips for slimming down. And guess what? They'll all work. This ain't no Cosmo article.
TIP 1: Wash it down with water
While you can spend all day arguing whether it's “pop” or “soda,” we all better agree on one thing: soft drinks are evil. Think we're kidding? Well, we're not. According to one study, simply substituting a glass of water for one 12-oz. Coke once a day for a year can equate to losing 15 pounds in that year. What's that? Thinking of switching to diet? Think again. Next time you catch yourself treating “zero calorie” and “healthy” as synonyms, keep this fun fact in mind: cigarettes have zero calories too.
TIP 2: Shut the lites off
The “low-fat” and “lite” movement is quite possibly the food industry's greatest all-time marketing hoax. According to bestselling nutrition author Mark Bittman, “The low-fat craze caused millions, maybe tens of millions, of Americans actually to gain weight because they were reaching for ‘low-fat' but high-calorie carbs.” Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules, supports this claim, noting, “Removing fat from foods doesn't necessarily make them nonfattening. Carbs can also make you fat.”
TIP 3: Remember less ain't always more
According to one Harvard study examining diet changes and weight loss, enjoying one crunch will lead to needing thousands more at the gym. The 2011 study found that potato chips lead to more weight gain per serving than any other food, painting a quite literal picture of the couch potato. The study's main conclusion? It's not so much about eating less than eating right. Opting for a 100-calorie cookie for dessert instead of a 200-calorie fruit cup is getting you the wrong kind of brownie points with us.
TIP 4: Pull the salad switcheroo
We just can't help how damn good French fries are—literally. The human brain feels innate reward when met with three flavors—fat, salt and sweet—and a French fry, when coupled with ketchup, has all three of these tantalizing tastes wrapped into one gooey, gluttonous grease-stick. However, if there's one thing all Mudders have in common, it's a sea-deep will power threshold. Next time your meal comes with a mind-manipulating fat-saturated side, substitute it for some lean greens (yes, even McDonald's is doing this now), keeping this mantra in mind: nothing tastes as good as being fit feels.
TIP 5: Get caffeine without the calories
Need some caffeine to get you going in the morning? Cool. We're not trying to interfere in your romance/bromance with Joe. However, not all caffeinated beverages are created equal. For example, a large (sorry “venti” is not in our Mudder lexicon) mocha Frappuccino has 100 (yes, 100) times more calories than a black coffee of the same size—500 vs. five. Drink one Frap every workday for a month and you'll have spent one-sixth of your monthly allotment of calories on caffeinated milkshakes. Our advice: choose pick-me-ups that don't weigh you down.
Chances are, the thought of giving up one of the aforementioned foods or bevvys left you lookin' like you just got outta Arctic Enema. But guess what? The path to every success is littered with sacrifices, and if you want one six pack, you might just have to forgo the other.