Losing weight is no small feat—it often requires a complete lifestyle overhaul, and with so much information out there, it can be tough to know what strategy might work for you. And to top it all off, all the weight loss myths that just will not die threaten to throw you off track. That's why it's helpful to know what has worked for real people—in their own words. Here, we've gathered advice from 28 women who have lost between 26 and 174 pounds—and kept that weight off for good.
No, we’re not telling you that you need a tummy tuck (although that would flatten your belly, we suppose). Rather, there are several common health conditions that can make your belly bulge and until you fix the anatomical issues underneath, nothing else can flatten it out. For instance, many women have a diastisis recti, or separation of the abdominal muscles, after pregnancy. In about 25 percent of these women, the muscles never quite come back together, leading to a permanent protrusion. Similarly, a hernia (congenital or from an injury) can also cause your belly to stick out. Both conditions can be resolved surgically.
People with chronically high levels of the stress hormone cortisol tend to carry excess visceral fat. Foods that are high on the glycemic index (GI), which uses a ranking system of 0 to 100, cause more rapid spikes in your blood sugar, in turn triggering the release of cortisol when glucose levels crash. The constant up and down of your blood sugar levels can also lead to insulin resistance — the first step on the road to type 2 diabetes. To help keep cortisol levels stable, choose low-GI foods (with a rating of 55 or less) like beans, lentils, and chickpeas, instead of high-GI options like white rice and potatoes. To find the GI rating of your foods, use the University of Sydney’s database at glycemicindex.com.
If you feel guilty about your eating habits and ashamed of your body, you will always feel deprived. If you love and respect your body, it will not feel like a chore to research restaurant entrees before you go out to eat or to read nutrition labels in the grocery store or to cook for yourself and your family. Instead, it will be a privilege to take care of yourself by making smart, healthy food choices. Ardolino adds that body shape and size changes throughout our lives—and that’s OK. “If you’re consistently exercising, eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats, sleeping properly and managing your stress, you’re doing the best you can,” she says. “Try not to get too caught up in achieving your ‘ideal’ body; try instead to care for it—it’s the only one you’ve got.”
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AKA the top nutrition authority in America) released a revised paper this year saying that both vegetarian and vegan diets are best for people's health as well as the environment. If you're not ready to make a complete shift to meatless and cheese-less, consider "part-time" vegan and vegetarian plans, where you eat mostly plant-based at breakfast and lunch or on weekdays, and then eat fish, meat, dairy, and eggs only during designated times.
Tip #1: Eat nutrient-dense foods daily, like green smoothies, hearty salads, and bone broth. Green smoothies should be made of primarily leafy greens that are packed with vitamins and minerals, filling fiber, and raw food enzymes to aid digestion (add Future Greens for a boost to the flavor and nutrition). And the low, slow cooking of the bones of pasture-raised animals to make bone broth draws out the collagen, marrow, and other healing elements from the bones, including amino acids, minerals, glycine, and gelatin—which helps heal the gut, provide nutrients, and reduce inflammation.
Thus it's best to avoid thinking about a weight-loss diet in terms of a temporary diet designed to help you get to your goal weight. Doing this only sets you up for failure. You’ll either fail to adhere to the diet and never reach your goal weight, or you’ll regain the weight after you’ve reached your goal weight. This is biggest reason why most people regain the weight they lost. Albert Matheny, a dietitian cited in an article about the University of Toronto study, sums it up perfectly, "You didn't gain 20 pounds overnight. It took time. The same goes for losing 20 pounds. Consistency and change of lifestyle over the long term is what leads to health and weight-loss success.”
Tapsell, L. C., Dunning, A., Warensjo, E., Lyons-Wall, P., & Dehlsen, K. (2014). Effects of vegetable consumption on weight loss: A review of the evidence with implications for design of randomized controlled trials [Abstract]. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 54(12), 1529–1538. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24580555
Making a smoothie and ordering a smoothie at a shop are two very different things. When you make a smoothie yourself, you can measure the exact amount of fruit, swap water or almond milk for juice, and avoid any additional sweeteners. But many pre-made smoothies contain between 600 to 1,000 calories, on average, and are loaded with sugar. “An average height woman who is trying to lose weight is probably on a 1,200 to 1,400 calorie diet,” Amidor says. “So consuming one smoothie with 1,000 calories can easily sabotage any weight loss efforts.”
Chronic stress may increase levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in your body. This can cause increased hunger and result in weight gain. If you’re looking to lose weight, you should review possible ways to decrease or better handle excessive stress in your life. Although this often demands substantial changes, even altering small things – such as posture – may immediately affect your stress hormone levels, and perhaps your weight.
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.
So, when we eat protein our body finds it a little difficult to break it down. As a result, our tummy feels full. Try eating egg whites in the morning and you will find that your body feels full for a longer period of time. And why just egg whites? Chicken breast, paneer, fish, lentils, soya beans, soya chunks, pulses these are all great sources of protein and should be in your diet on a daily basis.
“When a client comes to me looking to go down a size or lose fat around their midsection, I’ll often suggest that they do more cardio,” says Cherry. “Many assume that they need to increase their number of abdominal exercises, but the reality is cardio is the most effective strategy—and it doesn’t all have to take place in the gym. Walk more, take the stairs, get up every hour at work. All this extra movement will help to strip away the layers of fat covering your abdominal muscles.”
Carb crazy? Consider this: Refined carbohydrates, such as bread, potatoes and rice, create a surge in insulin that in turn drives down your resting metabolic rate, explains Aronne. "It's important to keep carbohydrates in your diet, but really focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which have less of an effect on insulin levels," he explains. And when buying whole-grain breads and cereals, make sure the first ingredient listed is whole wheat, whole oat or cracked wheat.
There are some simple dietary principles that you need to keep in mind when you are losing weight. You need to eat as much REAL FOOD as possible. Real food is mostly 1 ingredient food items (eggs, pork, broccoli, spinach, black beans, etc.) that your body recognizes. When you give your body simple foods that either come from a plant or another animal, you are going to have a much easier time losing weight than if you are eating convoluted, synthetic foods.
‘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.
Intermittent fasting has become famous when it comes to weight loss. Intermittent fasting consists of an eating pattern involving cycling between eating periods and fasting periods. A popular intermittent fasting method comprises 24-hour fasts twice or once a week. Another one includes fasting each day for 16 hours and having all your meals within 8 hours. Research has shown that participants lose 4-7% of their fat when they fast within 6-24 hours.
An overarching theme is that weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight stems from long-term lifestyle changes. If you’re looking for a quick fix or a temporary diet plan and aren’t incorporating changes you can maintain, you’ll likely have trouble keeping the weight off in the long run. “Overweight and obesity is a disease, and it will never go away, just like diabetes and hypertension,” Dr. Apovian says. “You have to keep up with healthy eating and resistance exercise training to keep the disease at bay.” Next, check out these 25 weight loss myths you need to stop believing—stat.
Sugary treats, while obviously delicious, aren’t very good for our bodies—and that includes our tummies. Not only do the added calories add inches to our waistlines, but sugar overload leads to insulin resistance, which tells the body to store extra fat around the waist. But that’s long-term stuff. Sugar also bloats your tummy in the short-term by feeding the bad bacteria in your gut, leading to extra gas. When it comes to flattening your belly, nixing sugar is one of the best things you can do including these 42 other easy tips to lose weight fast!