Spending more time in the kitchen can help you shed belly fat, as long as you’re cooking with the right foods, according to one 2017 study. After analyzing data from more than 11,000 men and women, UK researchers found that people who ate more than five homemade meals per week were 28 percent less likely to have a high body mass index, and 24 percent less likely to carry too much body fat than those whole only downed three meals at home.
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.
“Speed is key—move, walk, or run a little faster and you’ll burn more total calories,” says Kravitz. In fact, changing up your walking pace quickly and frequently can help you melt up to 20% more calories, compared with maintaining a constant speed, according to a 2015 study from The Ohio State University. Try speeding up for 30 seconds, then walking at a comfy pace for three minutes.
• If you’re in a caloric deficit: you’ll be better off choosing foods that are low in energy density and high in nutrient density. These foods will help keep you full when calories are low. Energy-dense foods like cereal, chocolate bars, ice cream, Pop-Tarts, etc. are less filling and thus less satiating. This is why you can eat a chocolate bar and be hungry again ten minutes later, while a [calorically] comparable meal filled with protein and veggies will keep you fuller for longer.
Water isn’t just a calorie-free beverage, it’s also essential to the process of metabolizing fat, known as hydrolysis, says Pence. So it’s important to drink enough fluids every day—and you’ll need even more if you’re overweight. A good rule of thumb is to drink a milliliter of water for every calorie you consume. Not into the metric system? If you’re following a 2000-calorie diet, that comes to 67 ounces or just over a half gallon of water.
Keeping a toothbrush handy can do more than polish up that smile (and counter the effects of all that belly-slimming garlic); brushing your teeth throughout the day can also help you ditch that belly fat fast. A study conducted a sample of over 14,000 participants found that brushing after every meal was linked to lower weight. That minty toothpaste flavor not only clashes with virtually every food, brushing may also trigger a Pavlovian response that tells your brain the kitchen’s closed.
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Fiber—both soluble and insoluble kinds—tends to fill you up so you don’t eat as much, and is prevalent in lower-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables. Though not all of them, Crandall cautions. “Lettuce does not have a ton of fiber” so you can’t get by on salad alone. She recommends adding one cup of fruit or vegetables to every meal or snack to meet your quota. Or try these fiber-filled recipes.
Basal (resting) metabolism: Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) accounts for 60 to 70 percent of your overall metabolism, and surprisingly, it's the number of calories you burn doing nothing at all: lying in bed staring at the ceiling or vegging on the couch watching TV. As we said earlier, it's fueled by your body's inner workings—your heart beating, your lungs breathing, even your cells dividing.
Saturated fats in food will pack on more visceral fat than polyunsaturated ones, according to a 2014 Swedish study. When subjects ate 750 more calories daily for seven weeks, either in the form of palm oil (saturated) or sunflower oil (polyunsaturated), the former gained more visceral fat while the latter gained more muscle mass and less body fat. The study authors believe different fat types can impact both the way your body forms fat and stores it. What’s more, including healthy fats in your meals can make them more satiating and keeps hunger at bay.
Exercising at lower intensities will use more fat for energy. This basic premise is what started the theory of the fat burning zone, which is the idea that working in a certain heart rate zone (around 55 to 65 percent of your maximum heart rate) will allow your body to burn more fat. Over the years, this theory has become so ingrained in our exercise experience that we see it touted in books, charts, websites, magazines, and even on cardio machines at the gym.
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.