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Getting Bikini-Season Ready Part 1: Your Diet

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With summer just around the corner, you may be wondering what last-minute steps you can take to get your body bikini-ready. While we want to strive for a strong, healthy body year-round, the thought of baring all in a revealing swimsuit may be enough of a motivating factor to finally do what it takes to say goodbye to those last stubborn 5-10 pounds.

A few tweaks to your diet here and there can help you cut just enough calories to get rid of those pesky extra pounds without making you feel so deprived that you give up altogether. You likely don't need to completely overhaul your diet, but a handful of small changes can add up to big rewards when it comes to revealing your new bikini-ready body.

Avoid Drinking Your Calories

Research has shown that liquid calories don't satisfy us the same way that solid food does. From frozen coffee drinks to sodas and juices, these drinks provide calories but little to no beneficial nutrients. Other empty-calorie liquid losers are alcoholic beverages. Alcohol provides seven calories per gram, more than carbohydrates and protein, which each provide four calories per gram (fat provides the most at nine calories per gram). Those happy-hour cocktails and weekend beers at your friends' barbeques can add just enough extra calories to keep you from dropping those last few pounds.

Cut the Cake...And Other Sweets

Many of us like a little something sweet after a meal, but consider cutting out extra sweets and desserts for the next few months. If you're craving something sweet, reach for some fresh fruit, a dessert-flavored yogurt with 100 calories or less or a sugar-free pudding cup. For a nearly calorie-free treat, grab some sugar-free jello or pop in a piece of sugar-free gum to satisfy that sweet tooth.

Leave a Little on Your Plate

Many of us were taught from a young age to "clean our plates." However, abiding by this old rule is counter intuitive because it tells us not to listen to our bodies. We eat every bite on our plates and we do so very rapidly. Try to leave just a few bites of food on your plate at each meal, and you'll be cutting calories left and right. You may not think 4-5 bites can really make a difference, but if done often enough, these dropped calories will really add up, equaling weight-loss success.

Snack Smart

We've become a nation of constant snackers. We snack at every chance we get, regardless of whether or not we are truly hungry. You may even be enjoying a snack while reading these words. Snacks can definitely be a part of a well-balanced diet, but choosing the right snacks at the right times can be make a big difference when it comes to whittling your waist. If your usual daily snack contains around 200 calories, consider slashing that in half. Doing this once a day each day will cut 700 calories a week. If you snack twice a day and downsize your snacks, you'll cut 1,400 calories from your weekly intake.

Part 2: The Exercise

Part 3: Maintenance

Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children. Contact Kari at [email protected].

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