Usually work out for 30 minutes? Exercise for a third of that—but go hard! "An intense 10 minutes jump-starts your metabolic furnace and equals about 20 or 30 minutes at a moderate intensity," says Jordan Metzl, MD, author of Dr. Jordan Metzl’s Workout Prescription. If you can’t spare the full 10 minutes, you can sweat for even less time: According to a 2013 study from Colorado State University, exercising for just 2 ½ minutes at a high intensity (think running or biking sprints) can help you burn 200 more calories over the rest of the day.
If you ate nothing but Twinkies or apples for a few months, you'd probably lose weight. You'd also lose muscle mass and gym performance—and threaten your overall health. Your goal is to build a healthy diet that gives you the right amount of macros (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) that will sustain you over that time. Let's look at these macros one at a time.
Spreading the same amount of calories out over the course of your day so that you’re eating within an hour of waking up and then every four to six hours will jumpstart your metabolism, kicking off your calorie burn, and keep it going at a steady pace all day long, Crandall says. This works for a lot of people by keeping blood sugar levels steady, preventing the surges and plunges that can lead to ravenous hunger and overeating. It also keeps you from feeling deprived.
Fighting constantly with your S.O.? It’s time to address your issues head-on. "Research has shown that cortisol, the hormone that's released during stressful activity, is linked to fat storage,” says Gina Guddet, couples counselor and co-author of Love Metabolism. “And poor communication between couples is the most common type of stress that you tend to experience."
While the Duke study found no added benefit to resistance training (aka weight or strength training) when it comes to belly fat, a 2014 study from a Harvard University team found otherwise. Twenty minutes of weights a day was linked to less of an increase in belly fat (particularly for older men). “Engaging in resistance training or, ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass," said the paper’s lead author Rania Mekary.
The upshot of all these chemicals floating around is big trouble for big-bellied guys. In a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, researchers took 137 men of all ages and sizes and used seven different measurements to determine their risks of cardiovascular disease. The single best sign of multiple heart-disease risks? No, it wasn't the guys' family histories or their cholesterol profiles. It was the amount of abdominal fat they carried.
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.
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.
As Max explained, fat loss progress is far more "linear" than weight loss progress, with a far more steady development as opposed to a constantly fluctuating one. Putting it into context, Max notes that "our body fat percentage or lean mass does not fluctuate in the instance where we drink a glass of water, or eat a big meal and then step on the scale — only our bodyweight does this."
Drink cold water: Staying hydrated period is important to keep your systems sharp, but adding ice to your water can help give your fat-burning potential a boost. German researchers found that drinking six cups of cold water can raise your BMR—that’s your resting metabolism—by roughly 50 calories a day because your body has to work to heat the H2O to body temperature.
Standing with feet hip-width apart, hold the barbell at chest height with palms facing up and your elbows extended out in front of you. Keeping the barbell rested at your chest, squat deep. In one explosive movement, push up into standing, tilting head back slightly to surge the barbell straight overhead so knees and elbows are both locked straight. Lower barbell back down to shoulders and repeat.