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.
Caffeine and other stimulants do have a down side though. Since stimulants act upon the central nervous system if used too often or for too long of a time period they can begin to cause overtraining effects. These effects would be much the same as if you were working out too long and too often. This can lead to decreased energy, muscle loss, and ultimately, a lowered metabolism since your body will be trying to preserve energy.
It’s impossible to target belly fat specifically when you diet. But losing weight overall will help shrink your waistline; more importantly, it will help reduce the dangerous layer of visceral fat, a type of fat within the abdominal cavity that you can’t see but that heightens health risks, says Kerry Stewart, Ed.D., director of Clinical and Research Physiology at Johns Hopkins.
Yes, athletes are constantly optimizing their training plans and race-day strategies, but you don’t need to go crazy if you’re just starting out. “When it comes to weight loss, moving and burning calories are what matters,” O’Connor says. “If you like sprints, which have a higher rate of calories burned per minute, then have at it; but if you prefer walking or slower jogging, you’ll just need to spend more time to burn those calories.”
The probiotics in yogurt can support a healthy gut and your overall wellness. “When your immune system is working well, your gut and brain talk to each other. If you struggle a lot with stress eating, maintaining good digestive health helps nourish a healthy gut so you feel calmer and avoid stress eating,” says Cording. Similar to milk, your best bet is to skip the low-fat varieties—go for full-fat Greek yogurt or Skyr instead.
Some people truly love doing cardio while others absolutely despise it. No matter which side you are on the only that matters is that you have to do cardio if you are serious about getting lean. When I say cardio I am not talking about taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Low intensity cardio is not going to give you the real results you are after. For serious fat loss you need serious cardio.
Control Your Environments. Another simple strategy to help cut calories is to control your environment -- everything from stocking your kitchen with lots of healthy options to choosing the right restaurants. That means avoiding the temptation by staying away from all-you-can-eat restaurants. And when it comes to parties, "eat a healthy snack before so you won't be starving, and be selective when you fill your plate at the buffet," suggests Ward. Before going back for more food, wait at least 15 minutes and have a big glass of water.

A slow, low-intensity run uses more fat for fuel but takes longer to burn a lot of calories in total. That’s why it’s advised to run longer than 30 minutes when running at a low-intensity. However, a faster, high-intensity run can burn more calories in a shorter time period. And even if just a small percentage of those calories come from fat, it can still significantly boost your weight loss!


Another crucial time for protein is before bed. While sleeping the body releases a flood of anabolic hormones such as growth hormone and testosterone. This is yet another time when steps can be taken to preserve muscle while dieting. During the night we typically go several hours without eating. For this reason a slowly digesting protein would be best. This will allow a longer steady flow of amino acids that will continue to feed muscle tissue for hours.
Build more muscle: Cardio gets all the glory for melting fat, but it’s actually far more important to focus on building muscle. It’s pretty simple: Lipolysis happens in the mitochondria of the muscles, so the more muscle you have, the more mitochondria, and the more potential to burn. Plus, the more muscle mass you carry, the more your BMR is burning calories at rest. Strength training is also one of the strongest ways to spark production of testosterone and growth hormone, which both help to break down fat, Seedman adds.
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