No question about it, burning fat is a 24/7 endeavor. To keep the fires hot, you need to eat every 2-3 hours throughout the day. Not only that, but you must choose the right foods in the right amounts to keep your metabolism revved up so your six pack will be ready for its close-up. The way we see it, there are 12 fundamentals—laws, if you will—that are all you need to shed that unwanted blubber from your midsection and elsewhere. Most of them are nutrition-driven, but training comes into play as well. Your mass-gaining phase is over for the time being; now it's time to get lean. These 12 laws of fat-burning will help get you there.
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.
Most people think of cardio as a weight loss all-star, but you don’t need to spend all day on the treadmill to slim down. In fact, you might want to concentrate your efforts in the weight room. Muscle is metabolically active tissue, which means that it burns calories even when you’re not lifting; your body burns calories just to maintain muscle, so the more of it you have, the more calories you torch. You lose muscle mass naturally as you age, a process known as sarcopenia, which is why losing weight tends to get tougher the older you get. One study found that just ten weeks of resistance training increased resting metabolic rate (the number of calories your body burns when you’re not doing anything) by 7 percent. Check out this simple strength training routine that challenges your entire body.
Muscle tissue is a biologically active tissue, this means that it needs and uses calories just to continue being. Some studies have shown that 1 pound of muscle can burn up to 50 calories per day by simply existing. This means that if you gain 10 lbs of muscle you can eat 500 more calories per day and still lose fat. This is just one of many reasons why it is so important to preserve muscle tissue while cutting fat.
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.
Saturated fats in food will pack on more visceral fat than polyunsaturated ones, according to a 2014 Swedish study. When subjects ate 750 more calories daily for seven weeks, either in the form of palm oil (saturated) or sunflower oil (polyunsaturated), the former gained more visceral fat while the latter gained more muscle mass and less body fat. The study authors believe different fat types can impact both the way your body forms fat and stores it. What’s more, including healthy fats in your meals can make them more satiating and keeps hunger at bay.
Eating sugary foods might be satisfying in the moment, but they can increase your cravings for more sugary foods in the future — and that only leads to trouble. "Many foods high in added sugar are also higher in calories and fill you up less than lower-calorie, still-sweet alternatives like fruit," says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. But there are still ways to satisfy your sweet tooth without ODing on sugar. "When you're baking, cut out some of the sugar in recipes by adding in vanilla extract or cinnamon, blend unsweetened cocoa powder into a smoothie instead of honey, top your French toast with unsweetened frozen fruit instead of syrup, and nosh on a slab of watermelon instead of cookies."
Whole-grain rye crackers, sometimes called crispbreads, offer a low-fat, fiber-packed alternative to traditional crackers. Research suggests people who replace refined grains with whole grains tend to have less belly fat. Whole grains also provide a richer assortment of plant nutrients. This doesn't just apply to crackers. You can get the same benefits by switching to whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas.
That sour cherry is pretty sweet when it comes to your health. The results of a study conducted at the University of Michigan found that rats given high-fat foods along with tart cherries ditched nine percent more body fat than those in a control group over just 12 weeks. Cherries are also a good source of antioxidant pigment resveratrol, which has been linked to reductions in belly fat, dementia risk, and lower rates of macular degeneration among the elderly.
Appetite-suppressant drugs and other diet pills:"Wonder" products that permanently reduce weight do not exist. Products that promise immediate or effortless weight loss will not work in the long run. Appetite suppressants, which often contain a stimulant like caffeine or hoodia, are associated with side effects including nausea, nasal dryness, anxiety, agitation, dizziness, insomnia and elevated blood pressure. Alli reduces fat absorption; following the package directions will reduce risk of side effects, which may include oily diarrhea and anal discharge. With any product, side effects may be worse if you exceed the recommended dosage.
So what happened? The average weight change was a loss of nearly 0.9 pound during the two weeks of nighttime fasting and a gain of approximately 1.3 pounds during the control period. While mood didn’t seem to be affected during the two weeks of restriction, participants in this group reported being much hungrier upon waking. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, given that hunger in the morning is likely to inspire you to consume the most important meal of the day (i.e. breakfast).
Weight loss isn’t a linear event over time. When you cut calories, you may drop weight for the first few weeks, for example, and then something changes. You eat the same number of calories but you lose less weight or no weight at all. That’s because when you lose weight you’re losing water and lean tissue as well as fat, your metabolism slows, and your body changes in other ways. So, in order to continue dropping weight each week, you need to continue cutting calories.
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.