This question is on so many minds: how can I lose belly fat...and fast? While there's no magic formula of food and exercise to reduce belly fat with the snap of your fingers, there are nutrition choices, exercises and lifestyle changes that can help. Here's your guide to understanding exactly what belly fat is and how you might be able to reduce it over time.
While it may not be earth-shattering, there’s evidence to back up the advice that registered dietitians have been giving for decades. For many years, R.D.s have been urging weight-loss clients to eat dinner earlier and stop snacking a few hours before bed. It seemed like a no-brainer—after all, when was the last time a late-night binge consisted of a salad and carrot sticks?—but researchers from Brigham Young University decided to put the theory to the test.
That’s basically what I did. I counted calories for a while using good old spreadsheets. That made me realize that foods like pasta and rice where high calories, so I should watch with that. Now I haven’t counted calories and years, and watch out with carbs. That’s how I’ve been able to keep my weight stable and visible abs over the past 10 years or so.
After stepping on the scale, he considered weight-loss surgery. Like anyone opting for gastric bypass surgery, he had to lose some weight prior to the procedure and started following an eating plan. He added foods high in lean protein, low in carbs and rich and fruits and vegetables. The first month, he dropped 25 pounds. The second month, he shed 30 pounds. By June he had lost 100 pounds and his doctor was shocked.
Another thing that messes with circadian rhythms? The blue light of digital devices. “We have seen increasing scientific evidence that the more you use devices, the higher your risk of obesity,” says Gillespie. The reason is twofold: One, the more time you spend in front of a screen, the less time you’re running around and playing. But also, experts believe, the blue light these devices emit can disrupt your internal clock. One study found that using a blue light-emitting device before bed delayed the release of melatonin, a hormone responsible for sleep, and the effect carried over to the following night as well.
Wheatgrass has a high concentration of iron, magnesium, calcium, amino acids, vitamins C, A and E, B12, B6 and chlorophyll. These vitamins and minerals provide many therapeutic benefits. Consuming wheatgrass can rid the digestive system of harmful bacteria and cleanse the body of toxins. It also cleanses the colon and can help in the treatment of joint pain, ulcerative colitis, skin infections and can even prevent diabetes. No wonder it is regarded as a superfood!
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.
Of course, not all carbohydrates are equal. In short, fast-digesting carbs tend to create a large insulin burst, leading to more potential fat gain. These carbs include white bread, most cold cereals, any sweets, rice cakes, white rice, and white potatoes. Conversely, slow-digesting carbs (found in whole-grain breads, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and legumes) don't cause much of an insulin rise, so these should make up the vast majority of your carb consumption.
A daily run or Spin class is great for your heart, but cardio workouts alone won't do much for your waist. "You need to do a combination of weights and cardiovascular training," says Sangeeta Kashyap, MD, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. Strength training increases muscle mass, which sets your body up to burn more fat. "Muscle burns more calories than fat, and therefore you naturally burn more calories throughout the day by having more muscle," says Kate Patton, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. Patton recommends 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 125 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week.
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.
Before you even get started on a fat loss plan the first thing you want to do is to set goals for yourself. This goal could be to lose 30 lbs. or it could be to see your abs. Whether your goal is to lose a certain number of pounds or to just achieve a certain look you will need to set a reasonable time frame to achieve this. If you do not set a time frame there will be no sense of urgency when trying to make progress.
Going for a jog before a night out is a great way to crush calories, but if you strength train, you’ll continue to fry fat post-workout. To maximize the afterburn, do “weight-bearing exercises involving the most muscle mass,” such as mountain climbers, push-ups, and lunges, advises Len Kravitz, PhD, program coordinator of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.
In October, I heard about the FWTFL Program through my high school friend, Beth Chappo. I had been doing CrossFit for over two years and felt stronger, but I was seeing no change in my body. My problem area was weight around my mid-section. I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my son, therefore I am more prone to later develop diabetes later on in life. I knew I had to get rid of my belly fat in order to prevent this from occurring. I told my husband about the program and said I am going to sign up and do this. I don’t think he believed that I would follow through with the program (especially during the holiday season).
Whey protein is best known for its ability to increase muscle growth and recovery which becomes vitally important on any fat loss plan. Many of the benefits of whey are due to its fast digestion rate and high concentration of the amino acid leucine. It is important to remember that anything that is used to build muscle will also maintain muscle while dieting.
Gastrointestinal disorders are another common cause of unexplained weight loss – in fact they are the most common non-cancerous cause of idiopathic weight loss. Possible gastrointestinal etiologies of unexplained weight loss include: celiac disease, peptic ulcer disease, inflammatory bowel disease (crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), pancreatitis, gastritis, diarrhea and many other GI conditions.
Unintentional weight loss may result from loss of body fats, loss of body fluids, muscle atrophy, or even a combination of these. It is generally regarded as a medical problem when at least 10% of a person's body weight has been lost in six months or 5% in the last month. Another criterion used for assessing weight that is too low is the body mass index (BMI). However, even lesser amounts of weight loss can be a cause for serious concern in a frail elderly person.
Sleep quality matters as much as quantity, according to Gillespie. In general, an uninterrupted seven hours is better than 12 hours of tossing and turning. Of course, for new moms or others for whom sleep is hard to come by, naps are better than nothing. But if it’s possible to get your nightly sleep done in a solid block, that’s your best bet, she says.
Increase Fibre intake – One of the ways our brain determines fullness is the physical stretching of the stomach. Foods high in fibre, such as vegetables and whole-grains, help stretch out the stomach and signal to the brain that you’re full. Fibre also tends to slow down digestion – when you add in fibre to your meals, the rate at which the body digests the food takes longer. The longer this food sits in your stomach the fuller you’ll feel.
I'd like to think I'm pretty athletic and on the higher end of competitive, rounding out my high school and college days on swim team and playing soccer my freshman year of college - continuing as I got older I was a gym regular for at least the last 10 years, if not more, mixing in countless rec soccer leagues, kickball, and flag football teams as a boost to what I considered my "fitness routine". 5 years ago I got the crazy idea to start triathlons and quickly immersed myself in the sport - Lee and I had started dating and I hated to run and didn't own a bike but loved to swim! Lee trained me for my first 5K and after I bought a bike it was on to sprints, olympics and 2 Half Ironmans. In between all the crazy races I dragged him to (Minnesota, Miami, all over NC) we completed 2 half marathons together. To say he is a good sport ant very supportive is an understatement.
Like protein, fiber slows the rate at which your body plows through carb calories so you feel full for longer and maintain steadier blood sugar levels, one reason why research consistently links fiber intake to weight loss. That means fibrous whole grain bread tends to be a better choice than white bread and also explains why fruits, which contain fiber and valuable vitamins in addition to sugar, beat straight-up candy every time.
Boundary bullies are the people, places, and activities that pop out of nowhere and suck the time and energy out of your day. Figure out where they are, who they are, where they’re "hiding" and what it is that makes you the victim of said "bullying." Is it happy hour at the local bar where the buffalo wings become dinner? (Pack a snack before you go.) Is it a colleague who always gets coffee at the same time as you and talks you into donuts? (Make this mid-morning run a part of your breakfast by eating half of your breakfast sandwich before the break, and the other half during coffee.) Is it friends who order items "for the table" when you’re at a restaurant, only to leave you grazing on a bucket of fried dumplings you didn’t even want in the first place? (Tell Jane, "No thanks, I’m having the shrimp and broccoli instead.")
The normal fat cell exists primarily to store energy. The body will expand the number of fat cells and the size of fat cells to accommodate excess energy from high-calorie foods. It will even go so far as to start depositing fat cells on our muscles, liver and other organs to create space to store all this extra energy from calorie-rich diets – especially when combined with a low activity lifestyle.
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.
Researchers have debated the role of dairy foods in weight management. Diets with at least three daily servings of [low-fat] dairy products speed weight loss and body fat loss in obese people compared to a diet with little dairy, according to Michael Zemel, PhD, of the University of Tennessee, who has published his results of the value of dairy in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition and other journals.
Belly fat is is different from fat elsewhere in your body. The extra weight some people carry around their waists, arms, and love handles isn’t the same — that’s subcutaneous fat, which sits beneath the skin and is relatively harmless, according to Harvard Medical School. The stuff in your belly, visceral fat, lodges deeper down, around your abdominal organs. It's metabolically active tissue that actually functions like a separate organ, releasing substances into the rest of your body that, in excess, can increase your risk of disease.
If you ever needed an excuse to eat more avocados, this is it. People tend to steer clear of healthy fats when they're trying to lose weight, but they might just be the solution. Studies show that by simply adding some avocado to your lunch every day, it'll fill you up enough that you won't be mindlessly munching on junk food later. "Slice one in half, sprinkle a little sea salt, and eat the inside with a spoon," says Alexandra Samit, a Be Well Health Coach at Dr. Frank Lipman's Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC.
Stimulus (cue) control involves learning what social or environmental cues seem to encourage undesired eating, and then changing those cues. For example, you may learn from reflection or from self-monitoring records that you're more likely to overeat while watching television, or whenever treats are on display by the office coffee pot, or when around a certain friend. You might then try to change the situation, such as by separating the association of eating from the cue (don't eat while watching television), avoiding or eliminating the cue (leave the coffee room immediately after pouring coffee), or changing the circumstances surrounding the cue (plan to meet your friend in a nonfood setting). In general, visible and reachable food items are often cues for unplanned eating.
I have struggled with my weight and binge eating my entire life. Finally, at 49 years old, I have found a lifestyle - the FASTer Way to Fat Loss lifestyle - that works with me and my busy life. I am a busy full time professional and I travel quite a bit. Never knowing where I am, I am able to do the workouts and eat following the guidelines of the plan from anywhere. I knew I had experienced a major mind set shift over the weekend when I came across an old bottle of prescription diet pills I had been hanging onto as a crutch. I no longer need those and never would consider taking those now that I have taken control of my body and changed my mindset. Eating real whole food and moving my body consistently has led to this transformation from a size 10-12 to a size 6. I'm wearing clothes I haven't worn in years. Most importantly, I don't have a deadline to get weight off or see a certain number on the scale as I used to. I am trusting that my body will continue in its transformation until I lose this excess body fat. I am halfway there, and I know I'll be successful. I no longer have the mindset that I have to be perfect in my eating. I used to fall off the wagon and literally binge for three days and then feel horrible. Progress, not perfection. Thank you for that mantra, Amanda, and for creating this wonderful program. I am so thankful that I discovered this program and can continue to enjoy it with VIP membership now that I've completed two 6 week cycles.
I built this protocol for people who simply won’t take my advice to be patient and eat the Bulletproof Diet while using Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting. It uses biohacking techniques I pioneered on myself to reduce – but not eliminate – the risks of rapid fat loss. It prevents the metabolic harm and brain fog that come with very low-calorie diets (or multiple day fasts), and it does everything I can think of to maintain health in the face of additional toxins. This is also not intended for people who are already fairly lean (10-14% body fat). It is designed for obese and severely overweight people who want to lose fat as fast as possible.
One of the very first cardio exercises to reduce belly fat is walking. Surprised? Do you think it’s too simple to be effective? Well, then you should know that walking is a great and effective way to burn away that ugly belly fat. In fact, it is an excellent fat burner for your entire body. If you follow a healthy diet along with walking at a steady pace for 30-45 minutes for at least four to five days every week, you will witness a gradual decrease in your weight.
High blood sugar levels coupled with high blood ketones, on the other hand, will mean that you have a pathologically low level of insulin – something non-diabetics do not suffer from. This can lead to ketoacidosis – a potentially life-threatening condition. If this happens, you’ll need to inject more insulin; if you’re at all unsure of what to do, contact a medical professional. Coveting really high blood ketones for weight control is not worth the risk for type 1 diabetics.
"It’s easy to become impatient and frustrated when you’re trying to lose weight and haven’t seen the results yet. But be realistic – you won’t see the affect overnight. Your brain’s wiring plays a huge part in resisting changes in lifestyle, and it takes time to establish new habits – up to 12 weeks. Stick with it for at least eight weeks and you should notice a change."
Whether you sit or stand at work may play as big a role in your waistline as your fitness routine. Missouri University researchers discovered that inactivity (4 hours or more) causes a near shut- down of an enzyme that controls fat and cholesterol metabolism. To keep this enzyme active and increase your fat-burning, break up long periods of downtime by standing up—for example, while talking on the phone.
Once your body adapts to the stress you put on it, it's time to change the stress. Personally, I'd only run for a long distance if I were being chased by a hungry lion, so it's unlikely you'd catch me on the treadmill. I prefer to do weight training circuits combined with calisthenics, sprints, and jumps to keep things interesting. You can mix things however you wish, as long as you find it challenging.
3. Caffeine: Coffee is good for more than just a jolt in the morning. A study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that consuming caffeine an hour before you hit the gym can help you burn about 15 percent more calories than normal. What’s more, other research has found that sipping on the stimulant before the gym can help you eat fewer calories afterward.