You see, when you eat food, your body’s insulin levels rise, and it begins breaking down, absorbing, and using and storing the nutrients you’ve just fed it. This is known as the “postprandial” (prandial means “having to do with a meal”) or “fed” state, and it can last anywhere from two to six or more hours, depending on how much and what types of food you eat in a meal.
If you want to know how to lose belly fat then listen up: cutting out carbs and forcing your body through endless HIIT workouts aren't the answer for shifting lbs from your midriff. In fact, there's no one formula to spot reduce a wobbly waist because several factors affect how to lose belly fat: mental well being, cortisol levels, hormones, nutrition, the intensity of your workouts all play a part.
Finally, don’t push yourself too hard in the gym, either. Jill explains her own pet peeve: “One of my biggest pet peeves is when an inexperienced personal trainer tries to make a Baby Boomer complete a workout that is so challenging that they are so sore the next day that they can barely brush their teeth or get up off the toilet. That is NOT necessary!”
“Lifestyle changes are the best way to improve health and manage weight long term,” says Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program and editor of The Mayo Clinic Diet Book and The Mayo Clinic Cookbook Here are some of the most effective tips and tricks for changing your lifestyle and droppping those extra pounds.
A daily run or Spin class is great for your heart, but cardio workouts alone won't do much for your waist. "You need to do a combination of weights and cardiovascular training," says Sangeeta Kashyap, MD, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. Strength training increases muscle mass, which sets your body up to burn more fat. "Muscle burns more calories than fat, and therefore you naturally burn more calories throughout the day by having more muscle," says Kate Patton, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. Patton recommends 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 125 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week.
If you’ve been eating fast food for years, get real about your approach: You’re probably not going to stick to an organic, gluten-free, paleo overhaul for very long. “You want to change as little as possible to create calorie deficit,” says Dr. Seltzer, who insists the best way to support sustainable weight loss is to incorporate small changes into existing habits. So instead of giving up your daily BLT bagels in favor of an egg-white wrap, try ordering your sandwich on a lighter English muffin. Or say you eat a snack bar every afternoon: Swap your 300-calorie bar for a 150-calorie alternative. “Your brain will feel the same way about it, so you won’t feel deprived,” he says.
For most, the thought of sitting down for 10 minutes without any kind of stimulation is embarrassingly scary. However, if you’re able to muster up the willpower to do so, meditating for a small period of time each day will boost your fat-burn efforts by reducing stress. By reducing stress, you reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to higher amounts of fat in the body. “Definitely find some time to meditate. When we’re stressed it can cause an increase in cortisol which can negatively affect body fat. There are a lot of great apps out there like Headspace which take you through a short meditation to try to decrease stress,” says White. Or, look in to Transcendental Meditiation. Four of our cover guys practice this research-backed type of meditation. Don’t knock it until you try it.
Whether or not you’re specifically aiming to cut carbs, most of us consume unhealthy amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and sweetened breakfast cereals. Replacing refined carbs with their whole-grain counterparts and eliminating candy and desserts is only part of the solution, though. Sugar is hidden in foods as diverse as canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, and many reduced fat foods. Since your body gets all it needs from sugar naturally occurring in food, all this added sugar amounts to nothing but a lot of empty calories and unhealthy spikes in your blood glucose.
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4. Fill up on fruits and veggies. You can eat large portions without loading up on calories—as long as you’re eating fruits and vegetables. Compared with other foods, produce is low in calories and high on nutrients, fiber, and water, all of which will help you lose weight without being hungry. Fill half your plate at every meal with fruits and vegetables. Fill the other half with whole grains and lean protein—lean cuts of meat, beans, tofu, or dairy—to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
You might feel silly, but it works. When Alan R. Hirsch, MD, neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, tried this with 3,000 volunteers, he found that the more frequently people sniffed, the less hungry they were and the more weight they lost—an average of 30 pounds each. One theory is that sniffing the food tricks the brain into thinking you’re actually eating it. Use these other tricks to become a more mindful eater.
Water helps you feel full, so you eat less. “Consuming eight to 10 cups of plain water daily can boost weight loss because research shows that thirst can be confused with hunger,” says Misti Gueron, MS, RDN, nutritionist at the Khalili Center. “Many people reach for food because of cravings, low energy or boredom, and these habits can lead to unnecessary weight gain,” she added. In fact, it’s so powerful that one study found that people who drank two cups of water 30 minutes before meals for three months dropped nearly three more pounds than people who didn’t pre-hydrate before mealtime. To help achieve your weight loss goal, try drinking eight ounces of water when you first wake up, carrying a BPA-free water bottle or tracking your water intake on your phone.
Also called “refeeding” in bodybuilding lexicon, zigzagging means eating more calories on some days and less on others to determine that number of calories that works best for your goals. For example, if you’ve been eating a low-calorie diet you can assume you need to add calories. To find out how many, try increasing by about 400-500 calories. Eat that way 4 days per week while keeping calories where they are now on the others. Keep in mind that, as your fitness increases, so do your caloric needs, so if this stops working, it’s probably time to go up even more.
Standing up taller can make you look 5 pounds slimmer, says Deborah L. Mullen, a certified strength and conditioning specialist in San Luis Obispo, CA. How can you make it a habit? Try Pilates. According to a 6-month pilot study of 18 chronic back pain sufferers, Pilates is one of the best ways to improve posture and strengthen your ab and back muscles. Jessica Chasity, Prevention’s senior fitness editor and a certified Pilates instructor, suggests two moves you can actually do while you’re still in bed that will set you straight for the day:
Try interval training. Interval training is where you do really intense activity for only a short period of time, and then moderate or light intensity work for the majority of the time. Scientists have found, in several studies, that people who do interval training actually end up exercising for shorter periods of time and burning more calories than people who go at medium intensity for their whole workout.
To reduce fat without doing exercise, reduce the number of unhealthy calories in your diet. Avoid eating foods that are high in carbs, sugary snacks, anything fried, and other foods that are high in calories but low in nutrition. Instead, opt for a diet high in lean proteins, healthy grains, legumes, fresh fruit, and vegetables of every color. Leafy greens are especially nutritious, so try to eat 1 1/2 to 2 cups of these veggies each week.
Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that's not really so difficult: "Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings," she says. "Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won't be reaching for the cookie jar."
For most people, a wide variety of factors lead them to pack on unwanted pounds. The answers can lead you to your best first steps. If intense emotions are driving you to eat, identify alternate routes that will offer relief without derailing your weight-loss goals. You might reach out to a friend, get more sleep, sink into the distraction of a good book or movie.
Think of green tea as your fat-melting, metabolism-fueling cocktail. Especially when swapped for other calorie-rich caffeinated beverages like your morning latte, green tea can boost your fat-burn efforts because it’s low in calories and rich in antioxidants. This brew contains certain antioxidants called catechins, which have been found to rev up metabolism and encourage the breakdown of fat cells—particularly belly fat. Researchers from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences suggest that consuming decaffeinated green tea in conjunction with a balanced exercise regimen will increase weight-loss and fat-burning results rather than just sipping on the drink alone.
Who doesn’t want a flat belly, stat? Yet hours of crunches, cardio, and super strict dieting aren’t realistic—or a whole lot of fun—for many of us. Luckily, it is possible to flatten your belly and look slimmer almost immediately. “Your stomach is the one part of your body that reacts quickly to dietary changes—good and bad. If you want to look thinner fast, avoid gassy veggies, chewing gum, salt, carbonated beverages, and any foods with sugar alcohols,” says Erin Palin ski, RD and certified personal trainer. These foods will lead to water retention and bloating, she explains. If you normally eat three larger meals a day, Palin ski recommends cutting those portions in half and eating smaller meals every two to three hours.
When you exercise on the rowing machine, try this interval workout: Row for 60 seconds, note the distance on the machine, then rest 60 seconds. Repeat, only this time, row for 55 seconds and try to match or better your distance from the first time. Rest 55 seconds, then repeat, reducing the time to 50 seconds. Continue until you can’t beat your original distance.
Fishing around for the perfect protein? Salmon is a good place to start. It’s full of healthy fats, and, when combined with regular exercise, can support even greater fat loss, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Salmon’s great because it has omega-3 fatty acids and is a good source of protein. It’s a little higher in fat than other protein options, but it’s the good kind of fat that we need in our diet. I see a lot of athletes that don’t incorporate any fat in their diets and are afraid to eat fat, but this is a good fat to have. Per ounce you get about 7g of protein, so if you’re an average male who’s going to consume around 5oz it can add up to 35g of protein per serving,” says White. Opt for wild salmon vs. farmed varieties, as it tends to contain higher amounts of healthy omega’s and less of the inflammation-causing omega-6 fatty acids.
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If you eat your dinner restaurant style on your plate rather than family style, helping yourself from bowls and platters on the table, you’ll lose weight. Most of us tend to eat an average of 150 percent more calories in the evening than in the morning. You’ll avoid that now because when your plate is empty, you’re finished; there’s no reaching for seconds.
1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): This type of exercise is your key to melting belly fat fast. HIIT is highly effective for all over weight loss, particularly removing stubborn belly fat. If you are not eating right, you have reached menopause or you are not losing weight you should do these exercises. Don’t let the name scare you as it is you who determines the intensity. It is your perceived exertion that counts.
Switch to Lighter Alternatives. Whenever you can, use the low-fat versions of salad dressings, mayonnaise, dairy products, and other products. "You can trim calories effortlessly if you use low-fat and lighter products, and if the product is mixed in with other ingredients, no one will ever notice," says Magee. More smart substitutions: Use salsa or hummus as a dip; spread sandwiches with mustard instead of mayo; eat plain roasted sweet potatoes instead of loaded white potatoes; use skim milk instead of cream in your coffee; hold the cheese on sandwiches; and use a little vinaigrette on your salad instead of piling on the creamy dressing.
So boiling it down even further: reduce calories, eat better, exercise, and most of all, remember it is a practice that has to be repeated over time – months or years. The fact that you'll have to work harder at maintenance than your never-overweight best friend is depressing, but it's worth coming to terms with. And, most important to remember, your brain (the organ behind all this, after all) is plastic, and it will respond to the changes you make – better than you think. And so will your body.
But again, there are very few solid studies that deem apple cider vinegar as a magical weight loss elixir. The drink can, however, be a decent addition to your routine if you’re already eating healthy and exercising frequently. Some research shows that people who sip on ACV may experience smaller blood sugar spikes after they eat, which can help you manage cravings. If you can stand the taste and want to try it, just be sure to dilute a tablespoon or two in 8 ounces of water, since ACV has a high acidity that can burn your throat and damage your teeth.
The secret to a slimmer stomach in no time? A whole lot of fiber in your diet. Although many people are loath to add carbs to their diet when they’re trying to lose weight, adding the right, fiber-rich ones can have inches off your belly in a hurry. In fact, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that every 10-gram daily increase in soluble fiber was associated with a 3.7 percent decrease in dangerous visceral fat over five years. Those who were active got even leaner, shaving off twice that much fat in the same amount of time. To start ditching that extra belly fat today, add the 30 Best Foods For Fiber to your menu!