A diet that’s low in fat and carbohydrates can improve artery function, according to a 2012 study by Johns Hopkins researchers. After six months, those on the low-carb diet had lost more weight, and at a faster pace. But in both groups, when weight was lost—and especially when belly fat shrank—the arteries were able to expand better, allowing blood to travel more freely. The study shows that you don’t have to cut out all dietary fat to shrink belly fat. For heart health, simply losing weight and exercising seems to be key.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These are essential fatty acids you have to get from food or supplements because your body cannot produce them. Since you'll be reducing fat early in your dieting phase, supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids will make sure you get the essential fats you need to optimize your recovery, heart health, and cognitive function. Research suggests regular omega-3 fatty acid consumption can even enhance fat loss, as long as you're eating and exercising properly.
The body doesn't react to all fats in the same way. Research correlates high intake of saturated fat (the kind in meat and dairy) to increased visceral fat, says Patton. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats (the kind in olive oil and avocados) and specific types of polyunsaturated fats (mainly omega-3s, found in walnuts, sunflower seeds, and fatty fish like salmon) have anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and if eaten in proper portions may do your body good. But Patton warns that eating too much fat of any kind increases your calorie intake and could lead to weight gain, so enjoy healthy fats in moderation.
It’s a little counterintuitive, but consuming calories after you’ve just burned them appears to be vital to fat-burning. Your muscles need a combo of protein and carbs to replenish energy stores and build new muscle. In one study, people who downed a 270-calorie shake with 24 grams of protein and 36 grams of carbs after their workout lost about four more pounds of fat and built more lean muscle than those who didn’t refuel post-exercise. Eating protein after a workout may help with lean muscle gains and could also help to prevent overeating later in the day, says Lesli Bonci, RD, a nutritionist and owner of Active Eating Advice. Find out what fitness instructors eat post-workout.
Fat metabolism is the most efficient way to produce energy, allowing you to go and go and go without burning through a ton of calories. But efficiency is the enemy of fat loss. To lose body fat, you want to churn through calories—calories from carbs, calories from fat, calories from anything—and you get there through carb metabolism. “The more energy-demanding the work, the more likely you are to lose body fat,” Zimmerman explains.
Skip Breakfast – Restricting your eating window to a shorter time frame by skipping breakfast will mean you can eat larger meals which in turn will help keep you full, both mentally, and physically. While people freak out at the idea of skipping breakfast, it isn’t the most important meal of the day, and it won’t ruin your metabolism. Instead of eating 4-5 small meals at 200 calories, eating 3 large meals at 500 calories will result in better satiety.
Cardio exerts two benefits: It burns calories and affects hormone levels in the body. Specifically, cardio helps raise levels of norepinephrine. Yet when you do cardio it makes a big difference in how your body handles the hormonal changes. Cardio on an empty stomach allows norepinephrine to readily target fat cells, which triggers maximal fat-burning. On the flip side, if you eat before doing cardio, and particularly if you eat carbs, the fat-blocking hormone insulin rises, making your body less effective at burning fat.
Historically, fat storage worked well for humans. The energy was stored as small packages of molecules called fatty acids, which are released into the bloodstream for use as fuel by muscles and other organs when there was no food available, or when a predator was chasing us. Fat storage actually conferred a survival advantage in these situations. Those with a tendency to store fat were able to survive longer periods without food and had extra energy for hostile environments.
Shaping is a behavioral technique in which you select a series of short-term goals that get closer and closer to the ultimate goal (e.g., an initial reduction of fat intake from 40 percent of calories to 35 percent of calories, and later to 30 percent). It is based on the concept that "nothing succeeds like success." Shaping uses two important behavioral principles: (1) consecutive goals that move you ahead in small steps are the best way to reach a distant point; and (2) consecutive rewards keep the overall effort invigorated.
While rolling out of bed earlier than usual isn’t always appealing, running first thing in the morning is a great habit to form for a few reasons. First, it guarantees you won’t skip out on your mileage later when work runs late, or you have an unexpected obligation. Plus, the morning miles might make you more productive and communicative with your colleagues and friends, as studies have found that running can sharpen your focus and critical thinking skills.
The trick here is not only to avoid all obvious sources of carbohydrate (sweets, bread, spaghetti, rice, potatoes), but also to be careful with your protein intake. If you eat large amounts of meat, eggs and the like, the excess protein will be converted into glucose in your body. Large amounts of protein can also raise your insulin levels somewhat. This compromises optimal ketosis.
High-intensity interval training—HIIT—has gained a reputation as an efficient way to get fast results. This workout involves short (30 seconds to five minutes), vigorous bursts of activity interspersed with periods of rest for maximum results. Incorporating HIIT into your strength training may offer even more results, according to a recent study by the American Council on Exercise—the results suggest the combo may be even more effective in burning fat fast.
That said, a Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise study found that runners lost more weight than walkers over a six-year period, possibly because of the afterburn effect. “Running at a high intensity will create an afterburn, which is when your body continues to burn calories when you’re no longer moving,” Rubin says. She suggests starting with three 30-minute runs a week, sprinting for 30 seconds then recovering for 30 seconds to a minute.
A slow, low-intensity run uses more fat for fuel but takes longer to burn a lot of calories in total. That’s why it’s advised to run longer than 30 minutes when running at a low-intensity. However, a faster, high-intensity run can burn more calories in a shorter time period. And even if just a small percentage of those calories come from fat, it can still significantly boost your weight loss!
We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. All too often, we turn to food when we’re stressed or anxious, which can wreck any diet and pack on the pounds. Do you eat when you’re worried, bored, or lonely? Do you snack in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make all the difference in your weight-loss efforts. If you eat when you’re:
3. Exercise Ball Crunch: This is one of the most effective ways to strengthen and flatten abs. Studies show this exercise is 40% more effective than regular ab crunches as it targets smaller muscles for flat toned abs including the oblique’s for a small waist and the outermost muscles that your typical ab crunch may miss. To begin, lie down on the ball positioning it under the lower back. Place arms behind your head. Tighten your abs as you lift your torso off the ball while keeping the ball stable. Lower back down and repeat 15 times with 1-3 sets.
Then May comes around and Amanda and Brandon introduce the FWTFL Men’s Group. Yeah! I talked to my husband and he immediately agreed to sign up. My husband is a fireman and had just finished two months of non-stop studying for a promotional exam. He didn’t gain weight during that time period, but he lost muscle tone. I knew this program would be perfect for him to get back into shape. It has been so much fun to have my partner and best friend workout with me.
3. Stand up more: By now, we all know sitting for too long increases your risk for most diseases, including obesity. But it also shuts down your body’s ability to metabolize fat. According to a study from Missouri University, certain enzymes in the blood vessels of muscles that are responsible for burning fat are “shut off” if you sit still for too long. The good news? The researchers say standing and moving just lightly will re-engage the enzymes.
A University of Michigan study found that lab rats who nommed on a diet enriched with powdered blueberries had less abdominal fat after 90 days than rats who ate a standard diet. The researchers suspected that blueberries are so good at targeting belly fat because of their high levels of phytochemicals, a naturally occurring antioxidant. FYI, blueberries are also an excellent source of fibre.
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.
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.
Always be sure to get enough protein and healthy fats to start your day. Your energy after a breakfast of 2/3 eggs, 1/3 – 1/2 an avocado and 1 piece of fruit or Breakfast Tacos will be significantly higher and sustain you longer than a carb-heavy bowl of cereal. Think about it this way – if you want to lessen the “carb-chase-cravings” and energy drops that often hit in the later mid-morning and/or late afternoon, the key is to increase your protein and healthy fats earlier in the day. Avocados and blueberries are great breakfast additions because they are nutrient rich superfoods that can easily be added to your daily diet.
Sure, calories and hormones can determine whether your body deposits food into muscle or as body fat, but meal frequency, or how many times you eat each day, affects your overall metabolism. Every time you eat, the body's calorie-burning engine, also known as metabolism, slightly increases. This is especially true for meals that contain protein. So if you eat six times a day, you'll experience six metabolic surges a day, rather than just four if you eat only four times a day. And, of course, eating seven or eight times per day would be even better than six. This is one way to lean out without having to drastically reduce calories. Frequent feedings tend to increase the chance that what you eat will make its way into muscle tissue rather than being packed away as body fat.
Moving isn’t just for the gym. Americans tend to sit too much in general. You can combat that, finds research, by engaging in “spontaneous physical activity”—fidgeting, tapping, and getting up from your desk or the couch frequently. Make moving a habit by standing when you take calls, for instance, using the stairs when possible, or bouncing your legs when you’re seated. Every calorie burned helps.
There's no way around the fact that, when it comes to burning more fat, you have to work at it. There is no magic exercise, workout, or pill that will do the job for you. The good news is that it doesn't take much activity to push the body into that fat burning mode. Try incorporating some type of activity every day, even if it's just a quick walk, and build on that over time as it becomes more of a routine. Do that and you're on the way to burning more fat.
Obviously, it’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – just eat fewer calories than you burn, right? The problem with this simplistic advice is that it ignores the elephant in the room: Hunger. Most people don’t like to “just eat less”, i.e. being hungry forever. That’s dieting for masochists. Sooner or later, a normal person will give up and eat, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting”.
Weight training can sometimes seem like an afterthought in many fat loss plans. This is a huge mistake since weight training burns an incredible amount of calories and raises the metabolism for hours after training. Many people mistakenly believe that the best way to lose fat is to stop lifting weights and focus on cardio. This will cause you to lose weight but most of it will not be fat.
When we decided Nick should join the FWTFL through the first Men’s program, we thought it would just be a way to help support each other through the process, especially to provide additional accountability to avoid stress eating. Prior to the FWTFL, every time our son would have his quarterly brain MRIs, a follow up appointment, or a scary fall at daycare- we would immediately begin stress eating. The awful food choices started a cycle in which we would stress eat, feel gross because of the fatty processed foods, then go to bed, sleep awful, wake up and do it all over again. Our days were full of processed foods, large portions, and increasing displeasure in the way our bodies looked, especially at such young ages (26 & 30). After I had successfully completed 3 weeks of the women’s FWTFL with Amanda, Nick was ready to join the Men’s version so we BOTH looked better, and more importantly FELT better. During our FWTFL cycles, we faced our son’s one year “cancer-versary” along with his scan and follow up appointment. For the first time in the last year, we felt in control. Not just of our food, but of our lives, as we were always REACTING to bad news, bad days, etc. and now we were able to take control of our choices and especially our bodies. Yes, we have seen victories on the scale, and in the form of inches lost. BUT our non scale victories have been SIGNIFICANTLY more amazing and impressive. We have more energy to play with our three kids, we are in better moods, and are happier throughout the day, we don’t get “hangry” like we used to, and most importantly for us, we don’t eat out of stress. We eat to fuel our bodies appropriately for the right reasons. We are also saving money as a NSV, as we were eating out 3-4 days PER WEEK, and now we are cooking more than ever at home- and I. ATE. SALAD! I used to hate the idea of anything green, and last week I bought and ATE salad on my own. Nick is no longer drinking Energy Drinks (he used to drink 1-2/day for the last 10 years) and hasn’t had A SINGLE DRINK since starting the FWTFL, and doesn’t NEED the energy. I am no longer drinking soda, which I can easily say was an addiction, as I needed the caffeine in order to stay awake because my body was SO out of whack.
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.
Close the Kitchen at Night. Establish a time when you will stop eating so you won't give in to the late-night munchies or mindless snacking while watching television. "Have a cup of tea, suck on a piece of hard candy or enjoy a small bowl of light ice cream or frozen yogurt if you want something sweet after dinner, but then brush your teeth so you will be less likely to eat or drink anything else," suggests Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, WebMD's "Recipe Doctor" and the author of Comfort Food Makeovers.
We both agree, and me especially, that any group that has accountability (facebook, IG, live calls) far outweighs the "workout plan" almost anyone can pick up, try to start, and quickly fall off (though some super disciplined people make it work) but as with team sports, if you have other people rooting you on, picking you up when you miss a day/workout/meal and are actually checking in to see your progress, its like your own little fitness team. The facebook groups were full of people all working to achieve the same goals and there was only positive support from complete strangers. having Amanda and Brandon as the coaches was an added bonus. I get excited for each week or workouts, how to get creative with meals and not feel as though I'm depraving us AND how can I share what I'm doing to change my lifestyle with others.
As said before, measuring your waist with the tape is the easiest way to check belly fat. Measure your torso at the level of your navel. As per the official guidelines, measure your abdomen from just above the hip bone or the iliac crest, just where it intersects the line dropping down from the middle of the right armpit. Breathe normally while taking the measurement, and don’t hold the measuring tape too tight against the skin. Those with a waist size more than 33 inches are at risk of developing chronic heart disease.
The study authors believe that sleep deprivation can cause your body to produce extra hunger hormones (like ghrelin) and fewer satiety hormones (like leptin). This means you’ll feel hungrier and have a harder time controlling your cravings once they hit. Most adults should aim for at least 7 to 9 hours of shuteye per night, per the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations.
"Protein is great for fat loss. It helps build and preserve lean muscle tissue and can increase the amount of calories you burn. It’s also a great source of energy that helps you feel fuller for longer, so you’re less tempted to snack. Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, eggs, milk and chickpeas. And if you’re finding it difficult to avoid snacks that are high in carbohydrates, try substituting them for protein shakes or bars. Remember also to opt for the lean sources of protein because some sources can be high in saturated fat."
At weigh-in this morning, I had to check twice... I lost 19.4lbs, and 18.5 inches. I gained confidence and a clear mind. I am so motivated to keep going with this completely sustainable lifestyle, I seriously feel better than I ever have in my adult life. Thank you Amanda for this program. Thank you for introducing me to the women in our group, and to this way of life.
Stand in front of the bar, shins touching metal, feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Squat down and grab the bar overhand, hands slightly wider than shoulder width and elbows straight. Draw your shoulders back, push your chest out, and tense your lats. Taking a deep breath, begin standing up, pushing heels into the ground and pulling your chest up. Keep the bar as close to your legs as possible. As soon as the bar passes your knees, push your hips forward with power, ending standing tall and straight with the bar in front of your groin. Slowly reverse the motion, making sure to keep your abs braced, and lower the bar to the floor.