Seriously: Your flab can help you shed pounds. How? Just as there's more than one kind of fat in food, there's more than one type in your body. White fat is the bad stuff you want to zap. But a second kind, brown fat, actually torches calories. "Up to 80 percent of adults have brown fat deposits in their bodies," says Aaron M. Cypess, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School. This good fat is powerful because it's packed with mitochondria, the parts of cells that generate heat. When activated, as little as two ounces of brown fat can gobble up as much as 20 percent of your body's calories.
“Stop focusing on calories and start focusing on the quality of the foods you eat. High-quality diet options are natural, whole, minimally processed foods, like vegetables, fruits, nuts or seeds that offer a lot more nutritional value in the form of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and fiber. These foods help tame hunger naturally and nourish our cells at the deepest level so that we aren’t left with constant cravings. — Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, CSSD, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Go Wellness in Orange County, California
Ultimately, making sure there are periods in each year when you eat more actually benefits your fitness. Athletes spend at least part of the year eating all they want (within reason), perhaps even more than they need, to ensure they have the reserves to train as hard as they can. Fighting weight, race weight, or competition shape is a phase. Bodybuilders and fitness trainers don’t walk around in contest shape all the time. It’s not because they’re lazy. In an online chat, Shaun Thompson said he doesn’t like the feeling of being in ASYLUM shape all the time as it’s too draining. Six-packs look awesome in photos and impress your friends at reunions, but your body functions better with a little more “reserve.”
3. Spice Up, Salt Down. High-salt diets lead to water retention. Cut the salt, and you cut the bloat. But it takes more than just leaving the salt shaker on the table. A study reported on by the American Heart Association found that 75% of American’s salt intake comes from the food itself! While you need a little salt in your diet, for most people, everything they need will already come from the food that they eat, and most people will get too much. Cut out processed foods as much as possible and you will drastically reduce your excess sodium. Food items like salad dressings and sauces are some of the worst culprits. For example, per tablespoon, ketchup has 20 calories and a whopping 6% of your daily salt intake. A few squirts of ketchup and you’re already at 20% of your daily value, and that’s not even including what the ketchup is on! Instead of “secret sauces” that will cause bloating and completely mask the flavor of what you’re eating, try spices, especially hot ones. Conversely, spices enhance the flavor of what you’re heating, and hot spices that contain capsaicin increase thermogenesis in your body. The latter can help burn more calories after your meal. Sprinkle some cayenne pepper, bell pepper or jalapeno into two of your daily meals and increase your metabolism.
The upshot of all these chemicals floating around is big trouble for big-bellied guys. In a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, researchers took 137 men of all ages and sizes and used seven different measurements to determine their risks of cardiovascular disease. The single best sign of multiple heart-disease risks? No, it wasn't the guys' family histories or their cholesterol profiles. It was the amount of abdominal fat they carried.
You don't need to work out for hours on end to see results. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) alternates bursts of all-out exercise with brief rest periods, and research shows this training style burns fat more effectively than longer workouts that maintain a steady intensity. Download, print, or Pin this HIIT workout that gets the job done in 10 minutes.
Trying to lose weight is a lot like cleaning out the basement: It’s overwhelming and near impossible to know where to start—even when you don’t have a ton of weight to lose. But getting the body you’ve always wanted doesn’t have to be a source of stress. If the scale won’t budge and you’re looking to shed the last 10 pounds, there are plenty of ways to reach your goal. To help you get there, we spoke with a handful of celebs that have successfully slimmed down (and kept it off) and dozens of the fitness and diet industries top experts.
Get 2,000 people in a room and at least half will say they'd like to lose a little weight. Get 2,000 hard charging, go-getting, Type A personality entrepreneurs in a room and many of them will say they'd like to lose weight fast. Plus, entrepreneurs are their businesses, and that means how they feel (and how they feel about how they look) can be extremely important to them.
Eat Breakfast Every Day. One habit that's common to many people who have lost weight and kept it off is eating breakfast every day. "Many people think skipping breakfast is a great way to cut calories, but they usually end up eating more throughout the day, says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. "Studies show people who eat breakfast have lower BMIs than breakfast-skippers and perform better, whether at school or in the boardroom." Try a bowl of whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and low-fat dairy for a quick and nutritious start to your day.
Studies show that eating protein for breakfast may help increase how satisfied you feel throughout the day and help prevent nighttime noshing. It also helps build muscle, and more muscle means more fat burning. Fat, meanwhile, also helps you burn fat! Portion control is key, but be sure to get about 30 percent of your calories from fat, and eat it consistently throughout the day.
A diet that’s low in fat and carbohydrates can improve artery function, according to a 2012 study by Johns Hopkins researchers. After six months, those on the low-carb diet had lost more weight, and at a faster pace. But in both groups, when weight was lost—and especially when belly fat shrank—the arteries were able to expand better, allowing blood to travel more freely. The study shows that you don’t have to cut out all dietary fat to shrink belly fat. For heart health, simply losing weight and exercising seems to be key.
This is a large part of why exercise is critical in the maintenance phase, which is well known to be more difficult than the weight loss phase. Essentially, it buys us some wiggle room, says Michael Jensen, MD at the Mayo Clinic. “Exercise is very, very important for maintaining lost weight, and people who are not physically active are more likely to gain weight. We think it’s partly because in the extra calories burned from physical activity, you have a bit more flexibility in food intake, so you’re not so much relying on ridged changes in eating habits; it makes it more tolerable.”
“If a client has come to me looking to lose 10 pounds, I would tell them to simply move. Move more, and more often. Walk or bike ride to class or work, even park further away from your location in the parking lot. Take the stairs or take a walk during lunch. You don’t have to spend hours every day in the gym sweating, but you do have to make a conscious effort to move more, and sit less. This works great because it doesn’t feel like work and you’re burning more and more calories throughout the day.” — Ajia Cherry, personal trainer and Founder at Functional Innovative Training
But you’ll likely experience some benefit before then. Fiber helps slow down your digestion and requires more chewing, which helps signal to your body that it’s full, keeping your hunger in check throughout the day. One small study published in Food & Nutrition Research actually found that men who ate meals rich in high-fiber foods, like beans and peas, felt more satisfied than those who focused only on protein-rich foods, like pork and veal. Adult women should aim to eat 25 to 28 grams of fiber per day.
Eat a variety of veggies every week. Each day, you should eat about 2 1⁄2 to 3 c (590 to 710 mL) of vegetables. Go for all the veggie groups, which include leafy greens, starchy vegetables, legumes, and red and orange vegetables. You don’t have to eat vegetables from each group every day, but you should consume a minimum amount of each group weekly.
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."
Fancy coffee drinks from trendy coffee joints often pack several hundred calories, thanks to whole milk, whipped cream, sugar, and sugary syrups. A cup of regular coffee with skim milk has just a small fraction of those calories. And when brewed with good beans, it tastes just as great. You can also try nonfat powdered milk in coffee. You’ll get the nutritional benefits of skim milk, which is high in calcium and low in calories. And, because the water has been removed, powdered milk doesn’t dilute the coffee the way skim milk does.
We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. All too often, we turn to food when we’re stressed or anxious, which can wreck any diet and pack on the pounds. Do you eat when you’re worried, bored, or lonely? Do you snack in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make all the difference in your weight-loss efforts. If you eat when you’re:
Getting magnesium into your diet is as simple as adding to your water. Carolyn says, “Add sea salt and an absorbable form of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate powder, to your water. This will definitely make following low-carb diet easier, and it will help you avoid the loss of energy, sluggishness, and headachy feeling associated with electrolyte depletion.”
Also known as branch chain amino acids. BCAAs are three amino acids known as Leucine, Valine and Iso-Leucine. They help prevent muscle breakdown and can be bought as yummy flavoured powders to use in place as sports drinks. Drink them during your workout instead of water as they will help you tone up as you lose that belly and may even help in the formation of abdominal muscle.
Portable and gut-friendly, keeping Greek yogurt on hand is going to help rid you of those unwanted love handles. From a quick snack—pair it with fresh fruit or nuts—to a smoothie enhancer or sour cream substitute, Greek yogurt is very versatile when it comes to daily usage, making it an easy addition to your diet if it’s not a staple already. “It’s high in protein, and a good source of vitamin D and calcium to help rebuild the bones. Especially if you get the plain variety, it’s very low in sugar—it’s a great snack for fat loss,” says White. The key here is to avoid pre-flavored varieties. Fruit-on-the-bottom versions pack in an unsightly amount of sugar that may actually inhibit weight loss and potentially contribute to your fat deposits. A 7-oz serving contains a whopping 18g of protein on average, and also provides healthy gut bacteria to keep your belly feeling good and digestion regular.
You can eat twice as much pasta salad loaded with veggies like broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes for the same calories as a pasta salad sporting just mayonnaise. Same goes for stir-fries, omelets, and other veggie-friendly dishes. If you eat a 1:1 ratio of grains to veggies, the high-fiber veggies will help satisfy your hunger before you overeat the grains.
Vegetarians are generally thinner and healthier than meat-eaters, according to a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics. While going totally vegetarian may not be realistic for you, one way to slim down your meals is to replace some meat with plant protein. Black beans, for example, give you 15 grams of protein per serving, and mushrooms are rich in umami flavor, and can be used to replace half the ground beef in most recipes.
Do not try to lose weight too rapidly. Crash diets and diet pills that promise weight loss are usually bad for you and actually don't help keep the weight off in the long run. Resist the urge to take the "easy" way out and instead stick with a healthier lifestyle. This way you lose the weight and improve your health, helping you keep the weight off in a way that won't harm you in the long run.
“Nuts are a superior weight loss food in my book. They offer plenty of protein, healthy fat, and fiber that can really take the edge off hunger at any meal or snack. Nuts are also so versatile and convenient. They can be mixed into oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast, paired with fruit as a snack, or tossed into a hearty salad for a little satisfying crunch at lunch. — Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, CSSD, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Go Wellness in Orange County, California
“Even though a smart diet is key, exercise can help boost your body’s metabolism to shed fat. Through health care providers often recommend brisk walking or jogging, these exercises may not help you see the results you want. Instead, try interval training. Here’s how: While performing your usual walking or jogging routine, intersperse faster paces periodically throughout your workout. In other words, you may be walking at your normal pace for 2 minutes and then begin a slow jog or fast walk for 1 minute. After the faster speed, return to your slower speed and continue this alternation for 20 minutes. Research shows this type of exercise can stimulate metabolism, melt fat and push your fitness status to the next level.” — Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS Owner and PT, Naples Personal Training, LLC
Rather, you need to understand calorie density versus nutrient density. Foods that are calorie-dense tend to be high in fat (after all, there are 9 calories per gram of it) and/or full of “empty” calories—as in, ones that don’t provide much nutrition (sorry, French fries, candy bars, and soda). On the other hand, nutrient-dense foods have lots of good vitamins and minerals for their calorie load. The best ones also have fiber, protein, and/or “good” fat content, which will keep you fuller longer (which is another reason that sugar-laden juice should probably be limited). Hello, veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean fish, chicken, beans, and nuts.
Mason, A. E., Epel, E. S., Aschbacher, K., Lustig, R. H., Acree, M., Kristeller, J., … Daubenmier, J. (2016, May 1). Reduced reward-driven eating accounts for the impact of a mindfulness-based diet and exercise intervention on weight loss: Data from the SHINE randomized controlled trial. Appetite , 100, 86–93. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4799744/
Other diabetes medications. Insulin-releasing tablets (e.g. sulphonylureas) often lead to weight gain. These include: Minodiab, Euglucon, Daonil, and Glibenclamide. Tablets like Avandia, Actos, Starlix and NovoNorm also encourage weight gain. But not Metformin. The newer drugs Victoza and Byetta (injectable) often lead to weight loss, but possible long-term side effects are still unknown. More on diabetes
1. Bicycle Crunches are a great ab exercise and work the abs from every angle. It’s a combination of the regular crunch, a side-to-side motion that hits the oblique muscles and a reverse crunch that targets the lower abs. You can change the difficulty level by increasing or decreasing the range of motion used and the speed of movement as well as the intensity of the crunch by holding and squeezing.
The trick here is not only to avoid all obvious sources of carbohydrate (sweets, bread, spaghetti, rice, potatoes), but also to be careful with your protein intake. If you eat large amounts of meat, eggs and the like, the excess protein will be converted into glucose in your body. Large amounts of protein can also raise your insulin levels somewhat. This compromises optimal ketosis.
Those trans fats on your menu are hiding out in plain sight and sabotaging your lean belly plans every time you eat them. If a food product says it contains partially hydrogenated oils, you’re eating trans fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and obesity with every bite. In fact, research conducted at Wake Forest University reveals that monkeys whose diets contained eight percent trans fat upped their body fat by 7.2 percent over a six-year study, while those who ate monounsaturated fat gained just a fraction of that amount. Instead of letting harmful trans fat take up space on your menu, fill up with the 20 Healthy Fats to Make You Thin.