Jame LeCheminant and colleagues looked at the short-term effect restriction of night eating had on daily calorie consumption, weight trends, and even mood associated with this deprivation. They recruited 29 young men and asked them to avoid consuming calories (water was okay) between the hours of 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. for two weeks. During these two weeks the participants recorded every bite they consumed, and their weight, mood, and level of hunger at breakfast were monitored. There was a one-week break, and then for two more weeks (a control period) the subjects were monitored as they returned to their usual way of life. That’s it. There were no other interventions or exercises to perform.
Too many tough days at the office or ongoing arguments with family members can sabotage your weight-loss efforts, says Jeremy Shore, C.S.C.S., a group education director for Matrix Fitness. When your body is stressed, your cortisol levels rise, telling your body to store fat for protection, says Shore. While that might be helpful in the Amazon, it's not going to save you from your boss's emails. Shore recommends deep nasal breathing to relax. "This directs air into the lower lobes of the lungs where there are a greater number of parasympathetic nervous system receptors—stimulating repair and recovery while calming the mind," he says. Inhale and exhale deeply from the nose, spending five to eight seconds on each inhale and five to eight seconds on each exhale.
Setting the right goals is an important first step. Most people trying to lose weight focus on just that one goal: weight loss. However, the most productive areas to focus on are the dietary and physical activity changes that will lead to long-term weight change. Successful weight managers are those who select two or three goals at a time that are manageable.
2. Eat smaller meals more frequently: “Insulin is probably the single most important factor that contributes to fat storage,” Seedman explains. This hormone is activated when you eat and responsible for shuttling nutrients into cells, either fat or muscle. A quick biology lesson: Every time you eat a meal, your blood glucose spikes, and when this goes up, so do your insulin levels. More calories at once means a larger spike in both. When these levels are sky high, it signals to your body to put nutrients into fat cells instead of muscle, causing an accumulation of fat, Seedman explains. The same thing happens when your insulin stays elevated for a prolonged period of time, which is why it’s important to let yourself become hungry before eating again, he adds. Aim for five to six meals throughout the day.
So if you’re not supposed to cut calories, how to lose weight? Research shows that you can lose a significant amount of weight with intermittent fasting,where you eat all the food you need in a shorter window of time. Though there are different intermittent fasting methods, the Bulletproof Diet recommends skipping breakfast and replacing it with buttery coffee instead. (You can read more about it here.) If you do it right, you won’t even be hungry.
Science backs these ideas up when it comes shedding belly fat: In one study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers had overweight men and women follow a high-protein diet (30 percent protein, 40 percent carbs, and 30 percent fat) or a high-carb diet (15 percent protein, 55 percent carbs, and 30 percent fat). After one year of weight loss and maintenance, they found that the high-protein group experienced a 21 percent greater weight loss and 27 percent greater body fat loss on average than the high-carb group.
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Also some research shows that the human body is primed to consume most of its calories during daylight hours. But the lifestyle is problematic for many: Because family meals and dinners with friends often are scheduled for after sunset, "people who try to stop eating after 7pm can’t do it every day for the rest of their lives," says Dr. Seltzer, who supports an alternative strategy: Eating a hearty meal at your regular dinnertime.
Thanks to the hormone estrogen, the female body likes to hold on to fat, too. A study in Obesity Reviews shows that women store fat more efficiently than men in an effort to prepare the body for pregnancy. But while it seems like women may have drawn the short-end of the stick, the stereotypical pear-shape is actually considered healthier than boasting a beer gut, because belly fat is a red flag when it comes to your health. “Visceral fat is associated with increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome,” says Harris-Pincus.
These fatty acids rocketed to fame for their ability to decrease the harmful inflammation that is associated with many chronic diseases—including obesity. Crandall is quick to point out that researchers have yet to find a cause-and-effect link—so don’t expect to pop a fish oil supplement, for example, and drop 10 pounds. But, she says, getting omega-3s from whole foods such as nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon is a good way to hedge your bets. And bonus: If you’re suffering from other kinds of inflammation, that can lessen your willingness to be active, omega-3s might help there, too. Find out the fat-burning foods you should add to your diet.
While some people respond well to counting calories or similar restrictive methods, others respond better to having more freedom in planning their weight-loss programs. Being free to simply avoid fried foods or cut back on refined carbs can set them up for success. So, don’t get too discouraged if a diet that worked for somebody else doesn’t work for you. And don’t beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stick with. Ultimately, a diet is only right for you if it’s one you can stick with over time.
It's the age-old question: How many sets do you need, and how much time should you spend in the gym each day? The answer varies from person to person, but when burning fat is the primary goal, a good rule of thumb is to train until you're pretty beat up, but not to the point at which you're flattened and thoroughly exhausted. That type of kamikaze training may satisfy your pysche, but it does a number on your anabolic hormones.
But don’t lose hope just yet. You can still incorporate strategies that help you lose total body fat, which will benefit your belly. At the end of the day, nothing sheds belly fat like diet, exercise, and everyday changes to your lifestyle. The slimmer stomach of your dreams is always within reach, but it takes time and dedication. Commit to these habits, and you’ll start dropping pounds before you know it.
Tight deadlines, bills, your kids—whatever your source of stress, having too much of it may make it harder for you to drop unwanted pounds, especially from your middle. And it's not just because you tend to reach for high-fat, high-calorie fare when you're stressed, though that's part of it. It's also due to the stress hormone cortisol, which may increase the amount of fat your body clings to and enlarge your fat cells. Higher levels of cortisol have been linked to more visceral fat.
Fitness and lifestyle coach Marci Nevin (@marcinevin on Instagram) posted nine simple, easy-to-follow eating tips to lose fat without the tediousness of having to count calories. She said that while counting calories ensures more accuracy in knowing if you're reaching your calorie goal, calorie counting isn't for everyone. Here's how you can still shed body fat "without meticulously counting every calorie."
Seedman recommends eating at least 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight, and scoring it from quality sources like lean meats, eggs, fish, and protein powders. And when in doubt, eat more protein. “Of all the macronutrients to overdo it on, protein is it because excessive amounts are more difficult for your body to turn into fat compared to carbs or fat,” he adds.