Have you been skipping the gym lately? No judgment: So you overdid it on gingerbread lattes at Starbucks or grabbed too many fast-food meals after marathon shopping trips? No biggie—as long as you stay active in other ways. "A lot of people skip workouts completely when the holidays get busy and promise they’ll exercise in January,” says Mike Donavanik, a personal trainer in Los Angeles. “But it’s that much harder to motivate when you’ve skipped the gym for two-plus weeks.” While you don’t have to maintain your exact same exercise routine, keeping your body in motion will help you balance out the indulgences and start the year strong. To help you do that on the quick, we’ve rounded up a dozen research-backed ways to get more out of your workouts and improve your metabolism to boot.
Whereas many beverages can increase your waistline (see above), there is one that is guaranteed to trim your tummy: water. Drinking plain ol’ H2O works because staying fully hydrated tells your body it’s okay to release any extra water it’s retaining, decreasing the accompanying bloat. Plus, drinking water has been proven to reduce cravings for sweets, lower your appetite, and help you feel satiated faster. Here 9 more ways to bust belly fat in a single day!
Try adding apple cider vinegar to your daily diet. “Foods that help keep blood sugar stable aid fat loss,” says Lauren Slayton, MS RD founder of Foodtrainer in NYC. “When blood sugar rises, insulin is secreted. The more insulin secreted, the more fat we store.” Slayton recommends mixing 1 tablespoon ACV in water and topping it with a little cinnamon, while Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer, Co-Founders of Shred415, like to mix hot water with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, ½ tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of honey. “It suppresses your appetite and reduces water retention,” they explain.
But just because belly fat comes off a bit more easily doesn’t make it less dangerous. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. “Belly fat is unfortunately the most dangerous location to store fat,” says Dr. Cheskin. Because belly fat—also known as visceral fat, or the deep abdominal fat that surrounds your organs—is more temporary, it’s more active in terms of circulating in the bloodstream. That means it’s likely to raise the amount of fat in your blood (known as blood lipid levels) and increase your blood sugar levels, which as a result raises your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Speaking of intervals, high-intensity interval training (otherwise known as HIIT) has been shown to be incredibly effective for weight loss. Because the workouts are so intense, you don't need to put in an hour — or even 30 minutes — at the gym. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, seven minutes is all you need to get in the best shape of your life.
Actively support your thyroid with food, vitamins and minerals. This small change can make a huge difference to your weight in a fairly short time. It’s smart to have your thyroid checked though many conventional tests come back “normal” even when you may have low thyroid. But you can still add daily thyroid support safely to see if it helps. If you suspect you have a low-thyroid issue, you can get a handle on your weight issues by making small diet changes and supplementing with the right herbs and minerals.
One easy way to find out if you’re carrying too much abdominal fat is to wrap a measuring tape around your body at the top of your hipbones. If your number is more than 35 inches, it may be time to take action. The good news: Getting rid of belly fat is simpler than you might think. With the right plan, it’s actually easier to lose than stubborn lower-body fat or the seemingly impossible to tone back-of-the-arm flab. Stick to these diet and exercise guidelines, and you’ll be slimmer — and healthier — by summer.
Schedule a workout with a friend—you'll be less likely to skip out on it knowing that she is expecting you to show up. Or, use your workouts as "dates" where you can catch up with friends. "Every Wednesday, I take a Zumba class with the friends I met at Weight Watchers," says Michele August, who lost 117 pounds. "It's our weekly girls' night. We catch up, bond, and even enjoy a fun workout that burns a bunch of calories!"
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.”
If you’re logging just a few hours of sleep a night, you may actually find yourself gaining weight. Researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that subjects who slept just four hours had a harder time processing carbs. "When you're exhausted, your body lacks the energy to do its normal day-to-day functions, which includes burning calories efficiently," says Talbott.
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.