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.
There’s one thing to like about visceral fat: It yields fairly easily to aerobic exercise. Vaporizing calories via running, biking, swimming—anything that gets your heart rate up—is an effective way to whittle your middle. In fact, one 2011 study from Duke University Medical Center, published in the American Journal of Physiology, found the sweet spot: Jogging the equivalent of 12 miles a week was even more effective in reducing visceral fat than resistance training three times per week. However, both types of exercise were beneficial when it came to belly fat, the researchers say. (Don’t have time to hit the gym? Try these fun at-home cardio workouts if you’re in a pinch.)
Useful goals should be (1) specific; (2) attainable (doable); and (3) forgiving (less than perfect). "Exercise more" is a great goal, but it's not specific. "Walk 5 miles every day" is specific and measurable, but is it doable if you're just starting out? "Walk 30 minutes every day" is more attainable, but what happens if you're held up at work one day and there's a thunderstorm during your walking time another day? "Walk 30 minutes, 5 days each week" is specific, doable, and forgiving. In short, a great goal!
For our purposes here, high-intensity cardio falls between about 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate (MHR) or, if you're not using heart rate zones, about a 6 to 8 on a 10-point perceived exertion scale. What this translates to is exercise at a level that feels challenging and leaves you too breathless to talk in complete sentences. But you're not going all out, as in sprinting as fast as you can. There's no doubt that some high-intensity training work can be helpful for weight loss as well as improving endurance and aerobic capacity.
"Crash diets (dramatically cutting down how much you eat) might help you to lose a few pounds at first, but they’re hard to sustain and won’t help you keep the weight off. It might seem like a quick and easy option, but eating too few calories can actually do more harm than good. If your calorie intake dips too low, your body could go into starvation mode. This will slow down your metabolism, making it harder for your body to lose weight. Make sensible, healthy changes to your lifestyle that you can stick to and avoid the fad diets."
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.
Routinely squeaking by on five hours or less per night increases visceral fat levels, according to a 2010 Wake Forest University study. What’s more, after analyzing 28 different studies, UK researchers found that people who slept 5.5 hours or less per night ate an extra 385 calories the day after compared to those who snoozed for at least 7 to 12 hours. On top of that, they preferred to munch on fatty foods full of empty calories, like chips.
Do this: Most guys who are fairly active and exercise regularly burn about 18 calories per pound of bodyweight or more per day. On that basis, a 200-pounder would consume 3,600 calories daily. To start dropping body fat, reduce your calories to between 14-16 per pound of bodyweight per day on workout days, or 2,800-3,200 calories daily. On nonworkout days, drop to about 12 calories per pound per day (2,400 calories for the guy who's 200lbs).
Cross-training is important for a few reasons: First off, it makes you a stronger runner and reduces your risk of injury. “Running is only hard on your joints if you don’t have the muscle to support them,” Rubin says. Secondly, lifting will help you lose weight. “The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest,” she says. That's right, more muscle means more burned calories when you're just sitting around. To get started, try these 10 essential strength exercises for runners.
Sure, ketchup is tasty, but it’s also a serious saboteur when it comes your weight loss efforts. Ketchup is loaded with sugar — up to four grams per tablespoon — and bears little nutritional resemblance to the fruit from which it’s derived. Luckily, swapping out your ketchup for salsa can help you shave off that belly fat fast. Fresh tomatoes, like those used in salsa, are loaded with lycopene, which a study conducted at China Medical University in Taiwan links to reductions in both overall fat and waist circumference. If you like your salsa spicy, all the better; the capsaicin in hot peppers, like jalapeños and chipotles, can boost your metabolism, too.
A new German study found that when you drink 17 ounces of water (about two glasses) within a certain time frame, your metabolic rate shoots up by about 30 percent. Using these results, they estimate that by increasing your current water intake by 1.5 liters a day, a person would burn an extra 17,400 calories a year, resulting in about a five-pound weight loss.
Belly fat is, in fact, the colloquial term for abdominal fat. According to medical experts, belly fat can be potentially dangerous. Excess of it can lead to a number of health problems including heart diseases, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, a decrease in the level of HDL or good cholesterol, and can even lead to strokes or sleep apnea. You need to combat this problem before it gets too late.
Literally: According to a recent study published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, cold temps may transform body fat from the typical white kind to brown fat, which actually helps you burn calories and burn fat fast. While more research needs to be done, taking your workout outside on a cold day or setting the thermostat slightly lower in the house could potentially help trigger the change at a cellular level.
Making sure not to starve yourself is making sure you’re eating enough. Outdated recommendations to restrict calories leaves you hungry and on the dieting roller-coaster. Cutting calories isn’t sustainable for several reasons. When your body senses you’re eating less, your metabolism slows down to preserve the calories you’re getting. This makes losing weight even harder — and is a big reason why your weight-loss efforts often plateau.
Stress may contribute to abdominal fat, according to several studies, including a recent one at the University of California, San Francisco. "When you're stressed, hormones like cortisol stimulate your appetite, slow your metabolism down and encourage fat storage inside your abdomen," explains Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Clinic at the University of Utah. So what's a frazzled girl to do? "Find an activity that reduces stress for you, whether it's listening to soothing music or taking yoga, and do it daily," advises Talbott.
• If you’re a Restrictor personality type: While no foods should be off limits, some foods should be limited. For example, for the restrictor type personality, foods that you have trouble controlling yourself around should be kept out of the house. The more the temptation is there, the more likely you are to break down and overeat. This becomes even more important when you’re dieting and hunger and cravings are at an all time high.
REALITY: Fat doesn’t make you fat—consuming too many calories does. Foods that contain fat are part of a healthy diet, help maintain your lean body mass, and assist with metabolic function. Healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, can be found in extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, almonds, avocados, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, flaxseeds, and more. If you want to lose fat, you need to eat fewer calories and/or burn more calories.
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.
Do more HIIT: High intensity interval training (HIIT) is as close to a magic pill as we have (except it involves a whole lot more work than just swallowing a capsule—sorry). Not only does it surge your body to max intensity during the workout, but because you’re working so hard, your body can’t deliver enough oxygen in the moment, explains personal trainer Jeremey DuVall. Your muscles accumulate a “debt” of oxygen that then has to be repaid post-workout. This throws your body into a phase of fat burning for hours after you’re done sweating, known as post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Plus, super intense circuits like this activate muscle-building hormones like growth hormone and IGF-1, he adds.