How to Lose the Last 5 Pounds of Fat

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You've swapped whole grains for fried foods, and made peace with the vending machine. You work out, park in the middle of nowhere, use the stairs and do everything else the fitness magazines say will take off the pounds. But that last 5 pounds won't budge. Perhaps your diet needs a fresh eye, or your exercise routine needs revamping. Take steps to shed those remaining pounds for good by working harder and eating smarter. And make the weight loss last.

Exercise

  • Raise the intensity to match your enhanced metabolism. Challenge your cardiovascular system, focusing on high-intensity interval sessions of your favorite exercise type. Start with moderately paced intervals, performing a cardio-based activity for one to two minutes with 30-second high-energy stints mixed in between each interval. Gradually lower the time between moderate and high-paced intervals.

  • Torch those final pounds by increasing the frequency of your workouts. Sticking to the minimum -- 75 minutes of high-intensity activity or 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week -- will work to shed most of your weight, but some pounds may linger. Go beyond what's recommended with extra or longer workouts. Tack on muscle-building strength exercises, using weights, resistance bands or your own body weight, to give your metabolism the muscle it needs to burn that 5 pounds -- and keep it away.

  • Avoid a stale routine -- and the risk you'll abandon ship before losing that last bit of weight. Mix in new exercises to your strength routine every two to three weeks, but don't go for a total workout overhaul. Swap two or three moves, exchanging them for more challenging exercises that work the same muscle groups. Prevent injury and start slowly, doing fewer reps and watching your form. Trade the treadmill for open road, or an elliptical for a swimming pool, if possible. Look into a spin class or step aerobics.

Nutrition

  • Eat to lose weight and keep it from coming back. Choose small, low-fat meals, and eat them frequently all day. Pack them with lean protein and calcium. Pass over packaged foods that are filled with water-retaining sodium and nutritiously empty calories.

  • Drink more than just water. Toss back a protein drink or shake after vigorous exercise to replace nutrients lost through sweat. Consider your exercise intensity and duration, and the climate where you'll be working out. Go with water or an electrolyte sports drink for long exercise sessions. Sip down 20 ounces three hours before hitting the gym. Hydrate with a glass of H2O followed by 10 ounces every 20 minutes during your workout once you get going. Keep hydrated with an 8-ounce glass after your workout, and drinking throughout the day.

  • Drop alcohol and sugary drinks, like soda pop and juice, from your diet if you haven't already done so. Adding empty calories and carbs, these drinks may be helping that 5 pounds stick around.

Tips & Warnings

  • Talk with your doctor if you have weight-loss concerns, or questions about your specific diet and exercise program.

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  • Photo Credit Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
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