Sleep takes all that hard work you’re doing in the kitchen and the gym, and fast tracks those results. A good night’s sleep helps your body recover from activity and also regulates hormones responsible for hunger cues. “Sleep is essential [for fat loss and overall health]. It’s recommended that adults get 7-8 hours per night. There are a lot of studies on [sleep and fat loss], showing that good sleep can help us eat better and help us to lose weight,” says White. The two specific hormones sleep has an influence over are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin works to keep your energy steady and appetite low. Alternatively, ghrelin increases feelings of hunger. When you fail to get adequate sleep, ghrelin is increased and leptin is decreased, which messes with your hunger signals and can cause you to eat more. By getting your 7-8 hours a night you’ll avoid any wacky cravings and emotional eating, which will make your fat-loss goals that much easier to achieve.
“Whether it’s an app or paper food logs, tracking what you eat will certainly be eye-opening. Almost everyone consumes more than they think. Write everything down as soon as you’re done eating so you don’t forget anything. The simple act of recording what you eat will make you eat less. When the calories are in your face, it makes you think twice!” — Martha McKittrick, RD, CDE
Very well said, love the article… I’ve tried to explain this to people before but a lot of them seem to get offensive about it. They usually come back, with a very sarcastic tone, with something like “So you’re saying I can eat cake all day and lose weight”. I tell them, “if you consume less calories then you burn, yes”, that’s when they usually say “whatever” and stop listening to me.
After reading all that, you may still think you have some major dietary changes to make. Before you freak out, start by taking inventory of exactly what you’re eating, including portion size. An app like MyFitnessPal can make logging easier, with its extensive database, barcode scanner, and “memory” of most-used foods (we’re creatures of habit, after all). If you’re not good at estimating how much you ate (and studies show that most people aren’t), measure your food until you’re better at eyeballing it. And don’t ignore the calories you drink (soda, juice, beer), which Jackson says are easy ones to cut down on right off the bat. Once you know where you’re starting, you can make changes—slowly. “Try adding one more serving of fruit and one more of veggies, and one less of meat each day,” suggest Hensrud. Gradually, the goal is to have the nutrient-dense foods you add crowd out the calorie-dense ones you should limit, so you can eat plenty of food and feel full but consume fewer overall calories.
Dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar), which slows down weight loss. What’s more, part of the protein in milk generates a significant insulin response, which can have the same effect. Consequently, cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss. This applies especially to dairy products typically lacking in fat, such as regular milk and various yogurts, but be careful with full-fat dairy such as cream and cheese all the same. And don’t forget whey protein powder, which is pure milk protein.
“There are many foods that aid weight loss, but one that I often recommend to my clients and eat myself is grapefruit. Researchers at Scripps Clinic in San Diego found that when obese people ate half a grapefruit before each meal, they dropped an average of 3.5 pounds over 12 weeks. Apparently, the tangy fruit can lower insulin, a fat-storage hormone, and that can lead to weight loss. Plus, since it’s at least 90 percent water, it can fill you up so you eat less. However, if you are on certain medications you should not have grapefruit or grapefruit juice, so check the label on all your prescriptions, or ask your pharmacist or doctor,” Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, author of Eat Right When Time is Tight tells us in How To Lose 10 Pounds Fast.
When you sleep more, you simply have less time to eat, and studies have shown you may also make better food choices. But it’s deeper than that. Those who are sleep deprived have higher levels of ghrelin—a hormone that stimulates appetite—circulating in their blood, which causes an increase in hunger. In other words, your body’s hormonal response to being tired is to tell you to eat more. Give it a rest, instead. It’s really just as critical as choosing kale over cookies.

Replace high-calorie foods with filling, low-calorie options. Since you’re consuming fewer calories, you might be worried that you won’t get full. However, it’s the amount of food you eat that makes you full, not the number of calories. Fruit and vegetables contain fewer calories than junk food, and they’re packed with water and fiber, which help make you feel full.[8]


Many people believe that by doing crunches or sit-ups, they will reduce their belly fat. This is a myth. Sure, you can enlarge your stomach muscles by doing sit-ups, and make it look like you have less belly fat, which isn't a bad thing, but you will still possess the belly fat you had way before you began doing 100 sit-ups every day. In order to successfully lose belly fat, you have to exercise. Exercise burns calories and fat. Mix in a brisk walk after dinner, join an aerobics class or join a gym, and with regular exercise you can trim fat off your entire body, including your stomach. Nutrition is important. In the pursuit of a flatter stomach, many people diet or starve themselves. Little do they know that by starving themselves, they are slowing their metabolism and forcing their body's to go into starvation mode. Basically, their body's think they're dying, and so they store as much energy in fat as is possible, in order to be used at a later date. This means that they are actually gaining more fat when they do eat, than they would if they ate regularly. Starving yourself also leads the way to binge eating and eating disorders, two things you definitely don't want to get. Instead, follow a healthy diet plan, that lets you eat several small portions of food on a daily basis. Vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lots of water, are a good place to start.. It is nearly impossible to healthily lose all of one's belly fat in a week. However, one can remove it over a month. This can be achieved by skipping desserts, fatty meals, eating small meals frequently (about 6) throughout the day (healthy of course, not fast food or fried foods, baked foods are better) and exercising daily for half an hour. Using this method, one can get rid of belly fat in 2-3 weeks, depending on how vigorous the exercise, and how much belly fat you have.

And maybe a new mattress, because it’s not just the amount of time you spend sleeping that keeps you lean, it’s also the quality of your sleep. Fat cells in your body produce a hormone called leptin that helps the body keep track of how much potential energy (i.e. fat) it has stored. But leptin is only produced during certain stages of sleep. Miss out on those stages because you’re not resting soundly enough, and you’ll disturb levels of the hormone, leaving your body with no real idea of its energy reserves. Consequently, you’ll end up storing calories rather than burning them.
Making meals from scratch is time-consuming, sure, but relying on frozen dinners and other packaged products won't help you out in the long run. One recent study found that we burn 50% more calories metabolizing whole foods than processed foods. So not only are you likely to decrease your calorie intake when prepping your own meals, your body will thank you with a metabolism boost.
Rather than spending hours on the treadmill, however, focus on doing fat-torching circuits that target your entire body. For example, create a circuit with goblet squats, dumbbell/barbell rows, push presses, and pushups, do them each for 30 seconds, and rest for 30 more seconds before moving to the next on. As a finisher, use an Airdyne bike, rowing machine, prowler, etc., and do max-effort intervals, 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off.
SOURCES: WebMD Feature: "With Fruits and Veggies, More Matters." 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD,author, Comfort Food Makeovers. Brian Wansink, PhD, professor and director, Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Ithaca, N.Y.; author, Mindless Eating. Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences; and director, laboratory for the study of human ingestive behaviors, Penn State University; and author, The Volumetrics Eating Plan.
“A study by David Jenkins, MD, PhD—the University of Toronto pioneer in low-glycemic eating — demonstrates that eating small portions at frequent intervals is good for your health in a number of remarkable ways. Within the study, they found that people who ate every three hours reduced their blood cholesterol by over 15% and their blood insulin by almost 28%. That’s key, because in addition to regulating your blood sugar level, insulin plays a pivotal role in fat metabolism, inflammation and the progression to metabolic syndrome. When your body produces less insulin, you’re much less likely to convert dietary calories into body fat.

If you want to burn fat quickly, you need to dial up your cardio another notch. A recent Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise study found that HIIT improves VO2 max, and burns more calories compared to continuous aerobic training. Furthermore, this 2013 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study found that four weeks of HIIT rowing burned significantly more fat than traditional rowing.
Have Protein at Every Meal and Snack. Adding a source of lean or low-fat protein to each meal and snack will help keep you feeling full longer so you're less likely to overeat. Try low-fat yogurt, small portion of nuts, peanut butter, eggs, beans, or lean meats. Experts also recommend eating small, frequent meals and snacks (every 3-4 hours), to keep your blood sugar levels steady and to avoid overindulging.
Another win for your morning cup of joe: Caffeinated coffee keeps things moving through the digestive tract. Since staying regular is key to a tighter-looking tummy, drinking about 8 to 16 ounces of java at the same time every day can help you stay on schedule. Remember: Sugary drinks can lead to weight gain, so skip fancy flavorings and synthetic sweeteners containing sugar alcohols, which can cause bloating.

In what is perhaps the biggest buzzkill of all time, sex doesn’t quite count as cardio or burn a significant amount of calories: Women burn about 3.6 per minute. “It’s still a good idea,” Dr. Seltzer says, citing the activity’s other benefits, like increasing the output of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which naturally reduce food cravings.

You don’t have to go low-carb to ditch those extra pounds around your waist in a short period of time. In fact, opting for more whole grains might just get you there faster. Researchers at Tufts University have linked eating three or more daily servings of whole grains to as much as a 10 percent reduction in visceral body fat, the kind that ups your risk for chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

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