Sitting around can make you flabby. No surprise there, but despite what you may think, the culprit is not just a lack of exercise. In fact, the physical act of sitting or lying down may actually speed up your body's production of fat. When we lounge on a sofa or in a chair, we exert forces on our cells that cause them to become stretched out and to generate flab, researchers say. Glued to your desk every day for eight hours or more? You need to take action, says Richard Atkinson, MD, a clinical professor of pathology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Get up and walk around for five minutes at least once an hour. Take a stroll around the office. Go talk to a coworker rather than sending her an e-mail. Pace back and forth while talking on the phone. "Just standing — even if you're not moving — uses significantly more muscles than sitting down," Dr. Atkinson says. At home, when you're watching TV, get up and jog in place or do jumping jacks during commercials. These short bursts of exercise can help you burn 148 calories an hour and keep your cells slim, not flabby.
There’s one thing to like about visceral fat: It yields fairly easily to aerobic exercise. Vaporizing calories via running, biking, swimming—anything that gets your heart rate up—is an effective way to whittle your middle. In fact, one 2011 study from Duke University Medical Center, published in the American Journal of Physiology, found the sweet spot: Jogging the equivalent of 12 miles a week was even more effective in reducing visceral fat than resistance training three times per week. However, both types of exercise were beneficial when it came to belly fat, the researchers say. (Don’t have time to hit the gym? Try these fun at-home cardio workouts if you’re in a pinch.)
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Most people ignore their lymphatic system, but it needs to function efficiently for the rest of your systems to work well. Pros like Lauren Roxburgh say that stimulating lymph—by foam rolling regularly, for instance—gets rid of waste buildup that may be causing your body to hold onto weight. While there isn’t a lot of research indicating a direct link, research does also show foam rolling affects the nervous system, stimulating a relaxation response—and you know what we said earlier about how crucial stress relief is here.
If you’ve got weight to lose and you want it gone fast, try swapping out your usual proteins in favor of fish. Not only is fish lower in calories than an equivalent amount of beef or chicken, a study published in Obesity reveals study subjects who added omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish, to their diets shed more weight and had an easier time keeping it off than those who skipped them.
As the obesity rate is expected to hit 50% by 2030, many health gurus say the best approach is a low-sodium, low-fat diet that mostly includes fresh fruit and vegetables, and the warn that variety only serves as a temptation. Americans should consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day, the Centers for Disease Control recommends, but most people don’t.
“Use a VersaClimber or take a VersaClimber class. These machines are still not that common, but in my opinion they are far more effective for weight loss than other forms of cardio. They require you to use a large portion of your muscles and it’s functionally better for you than other forms of cardio like spinning. Everyone is talking about Rise Nation in LA at the moment as they are the first dedicated VersaClimbing studio. There’s no harder cardio workout I have tried. To lose fat you have to put in the work. — Dan Roberts, celebrity trainer and creator of Methodology X
3. Twist: One foot placed slightly in front of the other with body facing the corner. This should resemble the movement of wringing a towel while taking knees further “inward” and opening body in the opposite direction. Start with knees bent and straighten with the twist by lifting the hip and leading it to the opposite corner.10 reps each side, then 10 again (total of 20, alternating after 10)
If exercise feels like a chore, then you won't want to do it—and you may wind up eating more as a result. In a 2014 Cornell University study, researchers led volunteers on a brisk walk, telling half the group that it was for exercise and the other half of the group that it was a scenic stroll. After the walk, the "exercise" group ate 35% more chocolate than the "scenic stroll" group.
‘Do it for a couple of minutes in bed and you’ll actually be able to wind down and fall asleep more easily. But it’s a skill, so it requires a commitment to practice it, as with anything. Think of it a bit like dating – the first time you do it it’s terrible, it’s uncomfortable, nobody knows what they’re doing, but the more dates you go on the better it gets.
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.
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.
Maybe you had a particularly stressful month, leading to sky-high cortisol levels and overeating. Maybe you went on the Italian vacation of a lifetime and decided pasta was going to be a main food group for that period of your life (duh). Or maybe you’ve simply been sticking to healthy habits but still feel like there’s just a little bit of extra weight that won’t budge.
Women who wake up and go to bed at the same time each day have lower levels of body fat, according to a study of more than 300 women from Brigham Young University in Utah. Chaotic sleep habits cause your internal clock to go haywire, which in turn causes your body to secrete fat-storing hormones like cortisol. The sweet spot? Try not to stray an hour from your usual sleep pattern, the study authors say. More than a 90-minute difference in sleep and wake times were linked to more body fat. (Tossing and turning? Check out these 100 tips to sleep better every night.)
Watching that extra junk around your trunk turn your body into a full-blown Buddha belly puts you at an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and early death. Luckily, losing the weight doesn’t have to take forever; with these 22 belly fat-fighting tips, you can shave two inches off your waistline in as little as two weeks. Think your age will stand in the way of your weight loss? The 20 Ways to Lose Your Belly When You’re Older will help folks of any age get on track to their best body ever.