Want a flatter stomach? Look in your glass—milk and soda are two major causes of tummy inflation. Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy, which means that your glass of warm milk before bed may be the reason you wake up with too-tight pajamas. And when it comes to soda, both regular and diet are belly busters both from the sweeteners used and the carbonation. Try eliminating these from your diet and see if it helps flatten your tummy.

There’s mounting evidence that our body’s natural internal clocks, or circadian rhythms, drive a lot of our biological processes, including weight maintenance. They tend to sync up with daylight. That could be why studies have shown that shift workers tend to have a higher rate of obesity and weight gain—their body clocks are out of sync. One study even found that a third of people who experienced an interrupted sleep cycle for less than two weeks became prediabetic; all of the poor sleepers saw markers for the risk of obesity and type two diabetes climb.
Believe it or not, sleeping, dieting and training are equally important when it comes to sculpting a sick set of abs. No matter how many calories you cut or miles you log, it won’t get you anywhere near your goal unless you’re also getting enough sleep. In fact, losing a mere hour of shut-eye over the course of three days has been shown to negatively impact the body’s hunger hormone, ghrelin, increasing the number of calories you’re bound to consume each day. Researchers also say that skimping on sleep increases the odds you’ll wind up munching on junk food, especially at night, which can make it difficult to get chiseled abs. Conversely, quality sleep fuels the production of fat-burning hormones that can help you get you that washboard stomach you’ve been working for.
Sure, you certainly need to drink plenty of water to help expedite the process of ridding your body of excess sodium, you can (and should!) also consume high-water content foods. Reach for cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, asparagus, grapes, celery, artichokes, pineapple, and cranberries — all of which contain diuretic properties that will also help you stay full due to their higher fiber content.

In other words? "Drinking makes you more likely to eat sh*t," Dr. Seltzer says, referring to drunk foods. At the same time, he stops short of asking patients to quit alcohol cold-turkey to lose weight. Plus, research suggests you don’t have to, as long as your intake is moderate—i.e., less than about a drink a day. "If you drink a glass of wine every night and notice you eat more afterward, eat less early to account for this," he says. "Or, if you’re drinking four glasses of wine a week, drink three instead so you’ll won’t feel such a big difference."
It's easy to overdo it when you're eating something delicious — and that's why it's good to focus on foods that will force you to slow down. "Slowing down can help you check in with your hunger levels. For that reason, I love snacking on 100-calorie packs of in-shell pistachios," Gorin says. "Shelling the pistachios helps you slow down your snacking, and the shells leave a visual cue to remind you of how much you've eaten. Because you're more in tune with what's gone into your mouth, you may be less likely to have extra servings." In one preliminary study, people snacking on in-shell pistachios ate 41% less calories than those who ate the shelled version.
1 Reference for 5%: Blackburn G. (1995). Effect of degree of weight loss on health benefits. Obesity Research 3: 211S-216S. Reference for 10%: NIH, NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative. Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Available online: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/ob_gdlns.pdf Cdc-pdf[PDF-1.25MB]External
Eliminating any food group strictly for weight loss is not a healthy diet approach—and it doesn’t work for long term weight loss. Research shows that food deprivation and restriction consistently increases food intake, which could lead to weight gain. More importantly, restricting food groups also inadvertently limits vitamins and nutrients. For example, dairy products are a top source of calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Most people find that low-anything diets are hard to sustain over time because they often require a lot of cooking or buying specialty food items—and a diet certainly won’t work if you don’t follow it. Caroline Apovian, MD, director of nutrition and weight management at Boston Medical Center, adds that any diet could help you lose weight—the mistake is thinking you can indefinitely stay on a diet that eliminates one food group. “The only diet you can truly stay on forever is the Mediterranean or DASH diets,” she says.
If you dislike cooking, abhor making food choices, or simply want low-calorie options shipped to your door, Nutrisystem might slot into your life. But it can get expensive, and food selection and flavor are hit-or-miss. Mostly miss. “It’s enough substance to call it a meal, but the texture of every ingredient was lacking,” our tester reported without enthusiasm.

If figuring out what to put into your body is too overwhelming, start with how much you're serving yourself. The easiest way to do this? Swap out your plates for smaller ones, like mother of two Jeanenne Darden did. With the help of this trick, she managed to lose an amazing 22 percent of her body weight, going from 187 pounds to 146 pounds. "I ate normally," she says. "I just ate less of everything." Pro tip: This trick is even easier with some cute portion-control dishware.
Considering that only 1 in 10 Americans meet their produce requirements, it’s pretty safe to say you need to eat more veggies. And no matter what food philosophy you subscribe to, veggies are a big part of the program. Vegetables have a lot going for them: They fill you up for very few calories, and they flood your body with the nutrients it needs to fight diseases, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
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."
Invest in single-serving containers. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says that a serving size on a food label may be more or less than the amount of food you should eat, depending on your age, height, sex, and weight. Once you're done cooking, place the excess servings in the containers to eat for lunch or dinner tomorrow. That way, you won't polish off everything in one sitting.
The plan promotes long-lasting, sustainable changes, and undoubtedly a bounty of research backs this up. In fact, one December 2013 study in the American Journal of Medicine shows that people following Weight Watchers were close to nine times more likely to lose 10 percent of their body weight, compared to people following a self-help diet plan. (20)
There are many ways to do intermittent fasting — ranging from fasting for a number of hours each day up to an entire 24-hour fasting period one or two times a week. “If you're trying to kick a habit like eating late into the night, then stopping eating earlier in the evening and fasting overnight could be beneficial for you,” says Hultin. “There are many types of intermittent fasting, so ensuring you pick one that works for you and your lifestyle is important.”
A $70 billion industry has grown fat off answering the question of what is the best way to lose weight. Scientists at the University of Toronto studied 59 weight-loss research articles and clinical studies from 48 randomized control trials to answer this question, and their conclusion was simple: The best diet is whatever you can stick to. The scientists found that each diet program produced similar weight loss on average. The success of the diet was based on how well the participants were able to adhere to it. Ultimately it doesn't matter if the diet is low-carb, high-fat, paleo, vegan or a point system like Weight Watchers; the most effective weight-loss diet is the one you’re able to stick to in the long term.
Yup. Here's what Josie Brady, 36, would tell herself about hitting the gym at the beginning of her journey: "It's not a chore anymore. Your legs are going to look and feel great. Keep working on that pull-up game. This journey is going to be for the rest of your life, so if the results you want take a little longer, so be it!" (Related: How to Make Exercise a Habit You Love) 
The HMR Program uses meal replacements – think low-calorie shakes, meals, nutrition bars and hot cereal – in phases, coaching from experts, physical activity and an emphasis on fruits and vegetables to help dieters shed pounds fast. While last year the diet shared the No. 1 ranking in this category with the Biggest Loser diet, this year it has the top spot to itself. "This diet makes it easy to lose weight fast and would likely be effective for someone who wants to lose weight for a specific event," one expert said. "However, as far as long-term healthy-habit-forming, this diet falls short" in part because dieters don't learn to make their own healthy food choices.
‘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.
Vegetables, preferably wild or organic and raw, should make up more than half of your plate. The majority of bulk should come from fresh green, leafy, vegetables such as kale, spinach, leaf lettuce, bok choy, collard greens, and other greens. Colorful vegetables are excellent, but limit starches, especially white potatoes and corn. Fresh veggies are best, but steamed, lightly cooked, frozen, and canned without preservatives or additives work, too.

Your weight-loss goals, personality and lifestyle al impact on your potential to lose weight, so selecting a plan that fits in with all these criteria gives you the best chance of success. Avoiding fad diets and fast-track options is important as these are rarely sustainable. When choosing a weight-loss plan, it’s important to consider the following points:
While the American College of Sports Medicine warns that women who eat less than 1,300 calories a day and men who eat less than 1,800 risk slowing down their metabolism over time. But a rev-up stage that only lasts two weeks is approved by doctors and isn’t as difficult as it seems. Our tester found the Mayo Clinic day pretty satisfying, and still had enough energy to hit the gym.
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.
Carbs aren’t evil -- but sugar might be. “The concept of carbohydrates has really gotten such a bad reputation, and we need to understand that there are complex carbohydrates and ancient grains that can really help us not only lose weight, but increase satiety so we stay full longer and want to eat less. It actually decreases the cholesterol and stabilizes the blood sugar, and all of these things are a really important part of a weight loss program,” said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, an American Heart Association volunteer medical expert. These “good” carbs include whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans; the refined carbs (including refined grains and starches like white bread, white rice, pasta and mashed potatoes) should be consumed in limited amounts. “They are high in simple sugars, and that’s what adds weight,” said Dr. Steinbaum.
“Diet and exercise are a marriage that should never divorce,” said Giancoli, noting that the benefits of exercise aren’t restricted to the sheer number of calories you burn during thirty minutes on a treadmill. (Need one of those, by the way? We have some favorites.) Instead, research shows that muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, proving that “muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss.”
There are lots of individuals and companies out there keen to get their slice of the pie, so to speak. With the US weight loss industry’s net worth sitting at around $66 billion at the end of 2017, it’s obvious that diet supplements, plans, and programs are doing well but that doesn’t mean you have to help them. Pay for a plan, by all means, but try to sustain yourself on natural foods rather than dietary supplements or detox drinks.
Many bodybuilders jack their protein through the roof when they diet. But protein has calories, too, which can be stored as fat if overconsumed. Take in 1-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight each day, (200-300g for a 200-lb person). This provides sufficient amino acids to maintain muscle mass, while keeping your total calorie count under control.
Plus, a 2013 study from the University of California, Berkeley suggests that skipping sleep makes your brain's reward zone react to fatty and sugary treats way more enthusiastically. What's more, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who didn't get enough sleep ate an average of 385 extra calories that day. In short, more sleep = less calories in your mouth and less fat on your body.  
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.
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