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.
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.
Choose Liquid Calories Wisely. Sweetened drinks pile on the calories, but don't reduce hunger like solid foods do. Satisfy your thirst with water, sparkling water with citrus, skim or low-fat milk, or small portions of 100% fruit juice. Try a glass of nutritious and low-calorie vegetable juice to hold you over if you get hungry between meals. Be careful of alcohol calories, which add up quickly. If you tend to drink a glass or two of wine or a cocktail on most days, limiting alcohol to the weekends can be a huge calorie saver.
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.
When you eat carby, sugary foods and snacks, you end up with the all-too-familiar sugar spikes and energy crashes. That’s all due to insulin, which skyrockets when you eat carbs. Insulin also tells the body to store calories as fat — and most people trying to lose weight aren’t looking for extra padding in the belly or thighs. Since dietary fat has less impact on insulin levels than carbohydrates or even protein does, you don’t have to worry about sugar crashes, cravings or storing rolls of body fat.
Too little sleep or too much sleep can throw your stress and regulatory hormones out of whack, and may lead to weight gain. A single night of sleep deprivation can increase levels of ghrelin (a hormone that promotes hunger), making you more likely to overeat the next day. Reduced sleep may also lead to fatigue during the day (duh) and less physical activity, which may be another reason why people who regularly don't get enough sleep tend to gain weight.
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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.
What can work like magic, though, is simply eating fewer calories than you're burning. It's pretty easy to do that every now and then. It's when you try to do it for weeks and months that things get a little trickier. By incorporating insight gained from research-backed fat-loss strategies, you have a better shot at losing the weight you want without compromising your fitness or health.
When a lot of insulin is released by the body consistently throughout the day, not only does it prevent fat loss, but it also encourages the body to store energy as body fat. The types of calories that spike insulin the most are those from carbohydrates in the form of simple sugar. So if you want to eat carbohydrates, stick to healthy carbohydrates from food that gets digested slowly. Along with carbohydrates, protein can also spike your insulin levels, especially those from dairy-based sources like skim milk and yogurt.
Since muscle mass actually increases your metabolic rate, building muscle through weight training increases your caloric burn, says Alberty Matheny, C.S.C.S., R.D., and co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab. To increase your muscle mass, he suggests doing three to four sets of exercises like bicep curls, triceps pull downs, squats, lunges, bench presses, and upright rows. Perform eight to 12 reps per set, taking a 45 to 90 second breaks between sets. Tackle this sequence three times per week and increase the weight and sets to keep making progress as you get stronger, he says.
Yes, you can dance your way slim! Grooving hard while celebrating with pals can blast even more calories than running, swimming, or cycling, per recent research from the University of Brighton in England. Dancing for an hour can burn anywhere from 200 and 600 calories, while also helping to build strength, increase flexibility, and even slow the aging process.
BCAA’s work with a double sided attack on fat loss. First by increasing muscle growth which will eventually lead to an increased metabolism, secondly by increasing fat utilization within the body. This makes BCAA’s one of the most effective supplements on the market. To get the most benefit out of your BCAA supplementation it is best to consume 8-12 grams during training and another 10-20 grams throughout the day in between meals. This will optimize both muscle retention and fat loss.
When attempting to lose body fat, insulin control is crucial. The total amount of insulin released by the body isn't related to just how many carbohydrates you eat but how fast those carbs are digested. Refined carbs digest quickly, raising insulin levels substantially, which is why you should avoid them. But if you do happen to eat, say, a bowl of cold cereal (typically a fast-digesting carb), you can still take measures to ensure those carbs digest more slowly. This will cause less insulin to be released and therefore have less of an impact on your ability to burn fat.
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.
Your body needs protein to maintain lean muscle. In a 2006 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers argued that the current recommended daily intake for protein, 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, is woefully inadequate for anyone doing resistance training and recommend that women get between 0.54 and 1 gram per pound of body weight. (If you want to lose weight, use your goal body weight as your guide.)
‘Lastly, if your nutrition is on point but you still have excess tummy fat, then you need to look at your training. There’s a real craze for high-intensity workouts and really pushing yourself at the moment, but training is a stress on the body, and if you’re not giving it the tools to manage that stress and recover from it, then it can lead things like excess belly fat.
Try a diet in which you consume 2200 calories (men) or 2000 calories (women) per day. This should cause a deficit sufficient for you to lose one or two pounds per week, depending on your activity level. Some women may require lower daily calorie intake, such as 1800 or 1500 a day. Start by limiting yourself to a 2000 calorie limit per day, and lower the limit if you do not see progress.
A study from Canada’s McMaster University (partly funded by Dairy Farmers of Canada) put women on several different diets (lower protein, low dairy; lower protein, medium dairy; higher protein, high dairy) and found they all lost the same amount of weight — but that the higher-protein, high-dairy group lost the most belly fat while also gaining and holding onto the most muscle mass. “It seems… increasing calcium and protein in the diet may help to further promote loss of fat from the worst storage area in the body,” said Andrea Josse, lead author of the study.
Want to lose that belly fat? In your dreams! Seriously, though: a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to get rid of that extra fat around your waist for good. Among the 60,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, those who snoozed for fewer than five hours a night were at the greatest risk of becoming obese and gaining 30 or more pounds over the course of the 16-year study period when compared to those who slept for seven or more hours.
Every expert ever will tell you that crash diets don’t work, are unhealthy, and offer at best a temporary fix since you may end up gaining back more than you initially lost once you fall off the wagon. But that doesn’t mean losing weight has to be a slow, torturous process either. Yes, you’ll still have to eat few calories than you burn, but nutrition and exercise researchers have uncovered some scientifically tested ways to make that easier and faster than ever.
1. Boost your metabolism throughout the day: Your BMR regulates how many calories you burn at rest and the more you move, the higher your BMR, and the more you’ll burn when standing still. Small efforts like taking the stairs, walking to pick up lunch, even playing pool with the guys during happy hour can all jumpstart your metabolism. (Check out these 30 Easy Ways to Burn Fat in 30 Minutes Without the Gym.)