Stress wreaks havoc on every part of your body, and can lead to breakouts, joint pain, headaches, and yes, even excess belly fat. That’s because when you’re stressed, your body pumps out extra cortisol, that not-so-great hormone you keep hearing about. Studies show that cortisol not only spikes your appetite, but may also redistribute body fat to your belly area, according to a review published in the journal Obesity.
Stroll around the block for 15 minutes and you’ll torch nearly three times as many calories as you would by sitting for the same amount of time, says a new study in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. Plus, walking after a big holiday meal will help aid digestion. In the mood for a longer stroll? These three 40-minute walking workouts from celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak will help you burn even more calories.
Eating meals frequently helps combat fat gain by giving your body long-lasting energy and preventing intense hunger that leads to irrational food choices and over eating, says Armul. At each meal, fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies, one quarter with whole grains, and one quarter with lean protein, like beans, nuts, eggs, fish, and poultry, she says. These nutrient-rich foods increase satiety by slowing the digestion and absorption of food in the stomach, which ultimately leads to less calories consumed and more weight loss.
Interval Training: A great way to incorporate high-intensity training without doing it continuously is by doing intervals. Alternate a hard segment (e.g., running at a fast pace for 30 to 60 seconds) with a recovery segment (e.g., walking for one to two minutes). Repeat this series for the length of the workout, usually around 20 to 30 minutes. A 30-60-90 interval workout is a good example of this kind of high-intensity workout.
You can get an estimate of how many calories you burn every day by using this calorie calculator. When you fill out the form, do your best to pick the level of activity that matches what you do on an average day. If you say you're more active than you really are, you'll end up with a lot more calories than your body needs, and you'll start gaining weight. For the moment, choose "maintenance" as your goal.
The 2003 research indicated that exercise is a top weapon against visceral fat, backed up by a 2011 study which found that aerobic exercise is basically a magic bullet. Aerobic exercise is known to most people as cardio — activities such as running and cycling, as opposed to resistance training (where you lift heavy stuff around). While participants in the study worked fairly hard (jogging 20km per week at a high intensity), the researchers said lower-intensity but longer workouts should have similar benefits.
Research also shows that workouts involving high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can help reduce excess fat around your middle. Besides working your core, try incorporating a day or two of more vigorous exercise into your weekly schedule. (You can start with these three beginner routines.) Keep in mind that you can lower your total body fat percentage even by moving around more at work, according to another study.
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.
Want to burn more fat? Sleep more because the impact of sleep on weight loss is significant. The importance of sound sleep is the #1 non-negotiable – it is the time your body requires to heal, rest and power up for the next day. By not getting enough sleep, you are putting stress on your body and increase the hormones that make you even more tired – which leads your body to STORE fat instead of burn fat! Besides feeling excessively tired, lack of sound sleep also spurs bad carb cravings and caffeine which can become a vicious cycle that millions of people are currently stuck in. Tips: Stop all technology at least 30 minutes before bed, invest in a great bed/pillow, use blackout curtains and try doing something calm and restful before bed like reading. Sip on some sleepy time or chamomile tea 60 minutes before bed for the calming effects of the herbs.
4. Eat more protein: Upping your protein is crucial for shedding fat. For starters, the macronutrient helps keep you full, preventing overeating and extraneous calories. And without adequate amounts of the macronutrient, muscle protein synthesis is diminished, your muscles can’t rebuild bigger and stronger, and your resting metabolism is lowered, says nutrition specialist and exercise physiologist, Marta Montenegro, CSCS, adjunct professor in Exercise & Sports Sciences at Florida International University. Plus, it gives your calorie burn a little boost since protein takes more energy for your body to process than carbs or fat.