If you need to reduce calories, start by reducing your fat intake. Keep your carbohydrate and protein consumption as high as possible for as long as possible to maintain your energy. Just don't let your total fat intake dip below 10 percent of your total daily calories. Having fewer fats than that in your diet can harm your performance, recovery, muscle maintenance, and testosterone production.
But in order to get to your goal as quickly as possible, you've got to forget about crash dieting. That's because making strategic tweaks to your diet and exercise plan, rather than skimping on calories and exercise bingeing, is the fastest way to torch fat and keep it off, says Torey Armul, R.D. spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the major causes of occurrence of belly fat. If you don’t indulge in any physical activity, and spend most of the time sitting, watching T.V., reading, etc., it is known as a sedentary lifestyle. Lack of regular exercise, or not exercising at all can lead to fat storage around the belly area. In other words, being a couch potato will make you fat.
The final possible culprit behind stubborn weight issues may be the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol will increase hunger levels, bringing along subsequent weight gain. The most common cause of elevated cortisol is chronic stress and lack of sleep (see tip #10), or cortisone medication (tip #9). It’s a good idea to try your best to do something about this.
A 2012 study also showed that people on a low-carb diet burned 300 more calories a day – while resting! According to one of the Harvard professors behind the study this advantage “would equal the number of calories typically burned in an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity”. Imagine that: an entire bonus hour of exercise every day, without actually exercising. A later, even larger and more carefully conducted study confirmed the effect, with different groups of people on low-carb diets burning an average of between 200 and almost 500 extra calories per day.
Certain carbohydrates have a tendency to be poorly absorbed in your intestines and then rapidly fermented, leading to gas and bloating. Common culprits include refined carbohydrates and simple sugars—like those found in processed foods with added sugars. Excess sodium can also cause bloating due to increased water retention. Opt for freshly prepared foods and reduce processed, packaged foods to cut back on belly bloaters. In the morning, swap your sugar-laden bowl of cereal for this Green Smoothie, made with fresh fruits and vegetables to get your day started the right way.
In our eat-and-run, massive-portion-sized culture, maintaining a healthy weight can be tough—and losing weight, even tougher. If you’ve tried and failed to lose weight before, you may believe that diets don’t work for you. You’re probably right: some diets don’t work at all and none of them work for everyone—our bodies often respond differently to different foods. But while there’s no easy fix to losing weight, there are plenty of steps you can take to develop a healthier relationship with food, curb emotional triggers to overeating, and achieve lasting weight-loss success.
You don’t have to be the next Usain Bolt in the making to enjoy some serious belly-slimming results from hitting the track from time to time. Even a moderate-rate jog a few times a week can blast through that belly fat; in fact, a study conducted at Duke University Medical Center found that, over the course of an eight-month study, overweight adult study subjects who jogged 12 miles a week lost the most belly fat and burned 67 percent more calories than participants who did an equivalent amount of resistance exercise, or a combination of cardio and resistance work.
"Your body needs a healthy balance of exercise and rest. Doing too much prevents the body from shifting excess fat. Exercising without rest can impact our levels of the steroid hormone cortisol and cause an increase of stubborn fat stored in the belly. Not allowing your body to recover can increase the risk of injury too, so make sure you factor in rest days to your plan."
Continuing weight loss may deteriorate into wasting, a vaguely defined condition called cachexia. Cachexia differs from starvation in part because it involves a systemic inflammatory response. It is associated with poorer outcomes. In the advanced stages of progressive disease, metabolism can change so that they lose weight even when they are getting what is normally regarded as adequate nutrition and the body cannot compensate. This leads to a condition called anorexia cachexia syndrome (ACS) and additional nutrition or supplementation is unlikely to help. Symptoms of weight loss from ACS include severe weight loss from muscle rather than body fat, loss of appetite and feeling full after eating small amounts, nausea, anemia, weakness and fatigue.
"Refined grains like white bread, crackers, and chips, as well as refined sugars in sweetened drinks and desserts increase inflammation in our bodies," says Patton. "Belly fat is associated with inflammation, so eating too many processed foods will hinder your ability to lose belly fat." Natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are full of antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may therefore actually prevent belly fat, Patton says.
There’s mounting evidence that our body’s natural internal clocks, or circadian rhythms, drive a lot of our biological processes, including weight maintenance. They tend to sync up with daylight. That could be why studies have shown that shift workers tend to have a higher rate of obesity and weight gain—their body clocks are out of sync. One study even found that a third of people who experienced an interrupted sleep cycle for less than two weeks became prediabetic; all of the poor sleepers saw markers for the risk of obesity and type two diabetes climb.
We often make the wrong trade-offs. Many of us make the mistake of swapping fat for the empty calories of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead of eating whole-fat yoghurt, for example, we eat low- or no-fat versions that are packed with sugar to make up for the loss of taste. Or we swap our fatty breakfast bacon for a muffin or donut that causes rapid spikes in blood sugar.
Losing fat means something different to everyone. Some are just trying to lose a few pounds, some want to get a six pack, and some want to get absolutely shredded. The goals may be different but the principles that will achieve these results remain the same. Follow this guide and your future will be filled with smaller belts, better abs, and many more excuses to take your shirt off in public.
"When we’re lacking in sleep, our body’s hormones get thrown off balance which can impact our hunger levels the next day. We all have two hormones that affect our appetite: ghrelin and leptin. When we don’t get enough sleep, our ghrelin levels (the hormone that makes us feel hungry) rise, and our leptin levels (the hormone that makes us feel full) drop. This means that when we’re awake, we tend to eat more but feel less satisfied. Try going to bed a little earlier than usual to avoid this imbalance and remember to remove any distractions that might prevent you from nodding off."
Before you scarf down meal number one, get moving: Working out first thing in the morning can help you lose 20 percent more fat than exercising after breakfast, according to a 2013 study in the British Journal of Nutrition. For a quick sweat session, try this fat-burning HIIT workout that includes challenging moves like squat jumps and lunges, but can still be done in the comfort of your living room. The best part? It takes just 10 minutes to complete.
When you’re cutting calories, it can be tough to make sure you’re still getting enough of all the good stuff your body runs on. “Nutrient deficiencies can stall or halt weight loss,” says Crandall. She sees lots of patients with low levels of vitamin D, for example, a nutrient that is critical to parathyroid hormone function—it helps with weight regulation. If you’re not eating a well-balanced diet, a multivitamin can be a good way to bridge those nutritional gaps and make sure you’re not missing anything that could impede weight loss or muscle building, such as calcium or iron.
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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.)
The human body will process carbohydrates the same way first thing in the morning as it does right before bed. So feel free to eat some carbs before bed. It will not hinder your fat loss one bit. In fact, newer studies have even shown that consuming carbs before bed may even lead to a slightly higher metabolism, but further research is still needed on this subject.
It’s bad for every part of your body. Your body is actually breaking down, your relationships suffer, your brain doesn’t work right, your joints hurt, you lose muscle, and you just don’t look good in the mirror. Conventional wisdom says you should start cutting fat and calories and run on a treadmill for an hour a day. Then you’re made to feel as if it’s your fault because their advice doesn’t work.
Matheny recommends a Tabata-style workout to rev up your fat-burning power. For this, you'll spend 20 seconds doing an intense exercise, like burpees, followed by 10 seconds rest. You'll repeat the sequence eight times, giving you a four-minute workout. For a quick and dirty full-body workout, repeat the sequence five times with five different exercises for a total of 20 minutes.
This kind of strength training recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers, which increases fat burning, says Shore. Although you could see a small increase in the scale as you build muscle, keep in mind that muscle is more dense than fat. That means it’s very likely that you're losing fat while gaining muscle, so don’t stress, says Shore. To keep up your progress, aim to increase the amount of resistance you use when your current weight becomes too easy to lift, says Shore.
You might have heard the term ‘middle-age spread’. This means, as women progress towards their middle years, the ratio of body fat increases compared to the body weight. During menopause, when the levels of estrogen go down, and the amount of androgens or male hormones increase, then there is an increased risk of fat accumulation in the waist. Hormones actually regulate the fat concentration in the body, and your figure depends entirely on it!
5. Reduce your stress levels: Working out and eating right can help keep cortisol from running rampant in your body, but if you spend your 9-to-5 stressed to the max, levels of this hormone are going to shoot through the roof regardless. Study after study shows one of the healthiest things you can do for your waistline (as well as your happiness and life span) is to minimize the amount of stress you encounter every day. Incorporate zen activities like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises into your day to help teach you to control spikes of stress when they come up.