And at the gym, that difference just gets exacerbated. Women, worried about bulking up, tend to lift lighter weights and focus more on cardiovascular fitness, while men tend to gravitate toward the kind of heavy lifting that boosts muscle composition and metabolic rate, says Jim White, a Virginia Beach-based nutrition expert and certified personal trainer.
"Caffeine causes the body to rely more on fat for fuel during a workout, rather than glucose," Aceto says. "But the caffeine effect is lessened when you eat a high-carbohydrate meal with it." Drink 1-2 cups of black coffee within two hours of working out, and emphasize healthy fats and protein if you're drinking it with a meal or snack. Skip the cream and sugar (which add unwanted calories and fat), and avoid drinking coffee at other times of the day; doing so can desensitize you to the fat-burning effects of caffeine.
That’s why cardio isn’t the answer. Or, at least, it’s not the primary solution. Cardio will burn calories, and weight training is more likely to burn fat. If you’re going to do cardio, make it secondary to weight training. That means either doing cardio on separate days (if you have the time) or after a weight training workout. The best thing about lifting weights is that your body adapts to the new muscle mass you'll build, which means your metabolism will be higher, you'll burn more calories, and you'll change your hormones (like insulin) to be able to handle the foods you love.
When it comes to food, there is evidence that men and women’s brains are wired differently. In a study published in the January 2009 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, even though women said they weren’t hungry when asked to smell, taste, and observe treats such as pizza, cinnamon buns and chocolate cake, brain scans showed activity in the regions that control the drive to eat (not the case for men).
Stroll around the block for 15 minutes and you’ll torch nearly three times as many calories as you would by sitting for the same amount of time, says a new study in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. Plus, walking after a big holiday meal will help aid digestion. In the mood for a longer stroll? These three 40-minute walking workouts from celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak will help you burn even more calories.
A trim midsection is good for many things, like fitting into your favorite jeans or walking the beach in a swimsuit with confidence. But there are even better reasons to work off extra baggage around your stomach. That baggage, known as visceral fat, isn’t just the most annoying kind — it’s also the most dangerous. As it forms between your organs, deep within your abdominal cavity, it secretes proteins that can trigger chronic inflammation, putting you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
Stress kills your health and is your biggest enemy when you’re trying to lose weight. Proven stress relievers are exercise (do it regularly — every day in some form), meditation (start with 5 slow, steady breaths through your nose and repeat), journaling, and happy hobbies (gardening, making art). You may need to invent your own brand of stress relief to find what works for you.
“Trying to lose fat can be very stressful, and depending on the goal at hand, it can take weeks, months or years to see the results you want,” says Marchese. “Being consistent and determined and refusing to give up is everything if you want to be successful.” Some days will be easier than others, which is to be expected, but it’s important to celebrate your wins—so long as it’s not with sweets. Hit the gym four days a week all month long? Why not treat yourself to a massage or a new pair of sneakers? Those are gifts to yourself that will keep you on track towards success.
It works in three different phases. The first phase takes two weeks and helps you eliminate cravings for starches, carbs and sugars by removing them from your diet. It replaces these foods with plenty of lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods. Phase 2 allows you to reintroduce some foods previously prohibited back into your diet with the intention of having better control over your eating habits. You stay in this phase until you reach your weight goal. Phase 3 allows you to eat all types of food in moderation; this should become the healthy lifestyle you will live by from now on. To make food choices simpler, this program delivers meals directly to your door. While this means very little food preparation is required, it also makes this one of the most expensive dieting services on the market. Unfortunately, there is no food substitution guide. To keep you on track, you can contact nutritionists weekly to ask questions and receive tips. Our own tester was able to lose 10 percent of her body weight within two weeks using this program. The biggest downside to her experience was not being able to access progress reporting through the company.
There are a plethora of resources for getting started on, or maintaining, the Atkins Diet. In addition to the official Atkins website, with recipes, many free downloads, and a support community, there are thousands of websites built by low carb devotees with additional tips, recipes and encouragement. The book, New Atkins for a New You (Est. $12), is also a good place to start the low carb journey. It's highly rated by users, who say it's a great guide for making a dietary lifestyle change. Some like that the science of low carb eating is well presented, others say they would prefer a more casual approach and more recipes. Others point out that all of the information in the book is available on the Atkins website, free of charge.
We see very few downsides to Weight Watchers. Even though it's fee-based, the fees are pretty reasonable. Everyone pays a $20 registration fee (although that's often waived as an incentive to sign up, especially December through March). Then, membership fees are as low as $20 a month for online only. You can even pay-as-you-go if you want to attend meetings just occasionally; it costs about $15 per meeting. There are also pricier plans available that provide you with individual coaching sessions. Regardless of the plan you choose, experts say you get a lot for your money, especially in online tools and support. However, if you're on a tight budget, these fees may still be a bit too steep. The only other complaint we noted is that some people say they feel hungry all the time or often in spite of the plethora of food choices, but we see that with virtually all diets as calorie restriction tends to have that result.
Want a flatter stomach in two seconds? Stand up straight! Slouching emphasizes belly rolls but straightening your spine elongates your whole body, making you look taller and sleeker. Want to go even flatter for a picture? Use the old modeling trick and arch your back slightly—this will pull your skin tighter across your stomach while moving it farther away from the camera, making it look slightly smaller. Yeah, it’s a temporary fix but good posture offers many health benefits beyond looking good.