“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.”
The most important thing when it comes to weight-loss plans is to view them as a tool rather than a set of restrictions. If you don’t like one of the exercises or want to substitute one ingredient for another, go for it. As soon as a weight-loss plan becomes a weight around your neck, your motivation and dedication will take some serious knocks, so making sure the plan suits you is your best chance of success.
When fat loss is the goal, planning a good mix of workouts is key. Gary suggests incorporating a combination of strength training, high- and moderate-intensity cardio and something to help relax the muscles. “I’ll train my clients hard on the strength training and high-intensity cardio side of things, then suggest they get to a good yoga or pilates class and fit in a run or sign up for a spin class,” he says.
"Any competitor who drastically cuts calories to try to get leaner for a show learns that that's not the best way to diet," says IFBB fitness competitor Laurie Vaniman. "You end up looking flat and depleted." The same holds true for noncompetitors; aim for a modest decrease in calories instead. Smaller bodybuilders shouldn't cut more than 200-300 calories per day, and larger bodybuilders shouldn't cut more than 500, says Aceto.
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.
Stress causes our bodies to pump out a hormone called cortisol which causes us to build and retain belly fat. If you’ve tried every health food, trick, cheat, and exercise under the sun but you just can’t seem to lose the weight around your waist, relax. It may be the stress itself that is to blame. Instead of worrying about your weight, set aside some time each day to do something you love. Think about what makes you happy and find a way to include that in your daily routine.
Foods that have thermogenic properties burn your calories as you eat them. Protein is highly thermogenic. Animal proteins are more thermogenic than vegetable proteins. Thus, lean meats are the best calorie burning food. When you eat lean meat, you burn about 30 percent of the calories it contains within it just by digesting the food. So, if you eat a 300 calorie chicken breast, you will use about 90 calories to digest it. It’s wise to include some protein in each of your meal. This can be lean chicken, beef, or pork, especially in dinner so that you burn most of the consumed calories through digestion at a time when your body’s metabolism is slower. Just remember, do not fry your lean meat!
“When you want to burn fat from your midsection it’s so important to first look at what you’re eating,” says Kit Rich, celebrity trainer and co-owner of SHIFT by Dana Perri. “Before anything else, decrease the amount of sugar, alcohol and processed, starchy foods in your diet. Then replace these foods with high-protein foods and healthy fats like butter, ghee and coconut oil. Not only will this strategy boost satiety, which aids weight loss, it will also help the body burn fat.”
Women’s challenge with weight loss also comes down to nature. Nature wants to preserve a woman’s ability to bear children. When you’re in a calorie deficit, it can interfere with your fertility, so your body fights weight loss to prevent jeopardizing your reproductive capacity. So don’t cut more than 1,000 calories a day or eat fewer than 1,200 calories daily.
Usually work out for 30 minutes? Exercise for a third of that—but go hard! "An intense 10 minutes jump-starts your metabolic furnace and equals about 20 or 30 minutes at a moderate intensity," says Jordan Metzl, MD, author of Dr. Jordan Metzl’s Workout Prescription. If you can’t spare the full 10 minutes, you can sweat for even less time: According to a 2013 study from Colorado State University, exercising for just 2 ½ minutes at a high intensity (think running or biking sprints) can help you burn 200 more calories over the rest of the day.
This could be because the body increases insulin secretion in anticipation that sugar will appear in the blood. When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Whether this chain of events regularly takes place is somewhat unclear. Something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max though, and there are well-designed studies showing increased insulin when using artificial sweeteners.
Your parents weren’t kidding about how important veggies are for a healthy body. What they probably didn’t tell you, however, was that snacking on veggies is also one of the easiest ways to shed unwanted belly fat, too. According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, opting for non-starchy veggies, like cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumber, as snacks helped overweight kids shed 17 percent of their visceral fat while improving their insulin sensitivity over a five-year period. Think snacking on veggies will leave you hungry? The 20 Most Filling Fruits and Veggies will have your belly satisfied in no time.
You already know that a perfect diet doesn't exist, but many of us still can't resist the urge to kick ourselves when we indulge, eat too much, or get thrown off course from restrictive diets. The problem: This only makes it more difficult, stressful, and downright impossible to lose weight. So rather than beating yourself up for eating foods you think you shouldn't, let it go. Treating yourself to about 200 calories worth of deliciousness each day — something that feels indulgent to you — can help you stay on track for the long-haul, so allow yourself to eat, breathe, and indulge. Food should be joyful, not agonizing!
While not everyone has time to spend two hours at the gym every day, it is still possible to get enough daily activity to help your body burn off unwanted belly fat. Try to fit in three five minute sets of vigorous exercise per day, five days out of the week. Some great examples of workouts that will get your heart pumping and help you lose belly fat include:
Some antidepressant medications can cause weight gain, especially the older tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as Tryptizol, Saroten, and Clomipramine; as well as newer drugs such as Remeron (Mirtazapine). Lithium (for manic-depressive disorder) often causes weight gain. The most common antidepressants known as SSRI’s (for example Citalopram and Sertraline) usually don’t impact weight significantly. More on depression
You will find that you lose up to 8 lbs quickly, which is your glycogen (and water) going down. Then you will plateau for a few days. I recommend you weigh-in only once per week, which will stop the emotional ups and downs. The mirror is your scale the rest of the time. The weight will come off in chunks after that. Nothing for a couple days, then sometimes 3-5 lbs in one day. It just keeps happening. But the mirror never lies.
Protein is a must for any weight loss plan, but it doesn’t always have to come from meat. Beans and legumes are a fantastic alternative because they tend to be lower in calories and fat, and high in filling fiber as well as protein. Swapping them in for meat has been shown to boost weight loss and can burn fat fast. Next, check out these 50 ways to lose weight without a lick of exercise.
Gym memberships can be expensive, and some days you just can't make it into the gym. Or maybe, you might not feel comfortable in a gym quite yet. At the start of her weight loss journey, Suheily Rodriguez says he was too embarrassed to go to a gym. "So I built a home one," she says, "where I exercised an hour a day, six days a week." She credits this to her 96-pound weight loss.
Real talk: It could take weeks or months to see the metabolic effects of exercise on the scale, and even then, building muscle, which is denser than body fat, could lead to weight gain. "Do what you like because it’s good for you," Dr. Seltzer says, noting the way exercise is awesome for your heart, mental health, and more—and that not all measure of progress can be seen on the scale.
How much of a deficit? A 500 calorie a day deficit is sustainable for some while leaning down, but any deficit will do. A 1000 calorie a day deficit is aggressive and difficult to maintain. No matter what, don’t drop your calories below 1000 per day, even if you think it will lead to faster weight loss. You’ll be losing muscle at that point, and sacrificing your health and sanity. Not worth it.
If you tend to gain weight in your midsection and no amount of crunches seems to reduce your belly fat, you're in the company of millions of (frustrated) women. As many of us have learned the hard way, belly fat is a particularly stubborn area of the body. But don't despair just yet — losing that weight in a healthy manner and keeping it off is possible. The most effective way to reduce belly fat is to do so naturally, which requires a multipronged approach.
You’re only losing one or two pounds a week. Sustainable weight loss is slow and steady. “It depends on where you start — if you have quite a bit of weight to lose, you tend to lose the initial weight faster,” noted Dr. Steinbaum, “but losing more than a pound a week is quite a bit. A gradual decrease in weight loss implies that your dietary changes are sustainable. If you lose weight very quickly, it means that there has been a calorie restriction or an increase in activity that is really significant, and it is really hard to sustain that.” That’s why so many yo-yo dieters gain the weight back. But aiming for smaller targets can add up to big changes -- and reaps more health benefits than the numbers on the scale suggest. “Even when you lose only 3% of your body weight (six pounds for a 200-pound person), your blood sugar improves; your insulin sensitivity is improved; inflammation goes down; your cholesterol goes down,” said Dr. Arad. “You don’t have to cut down half of your weight; even losing 3% to 5% is an excellent goal.”
There’s a reason why protein takes center stage in many popular diet plans: it helps you feel full and stokes your metabolism enough to help you avoid the typical one or two pounds most adults gain each year. Your body burns slightly more calories after eating protein compared with fats or carbs, and protein from food also helps keep your muscles from deteriorating as you age. (Strength-building exercise is another important part of this process.) In order to get these benefits, you need to include protein at each meal, and getting adequate amounts of protein at breakfast — about 20 grams — is especially important. Making a beeline for the bagels or cereal means your body misses a key opportunity to rebuild muscle tissue, which naturally breaks down as you sleep. If this is your morning routine, your muscle mass will start to decline, and that means your metabolism will slow down. So skip the AM pastries and other carb-rich fare, and opt for an omelet or smoothie made with Greek yogurt or protein powder, instead.
The final possible culprit behind stubborn weight issues may be the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol will increase hunger levels, bringing along subsequent weight gain. The most common cause of elevated cortisol is chronic stress and lack of sleep (see tip #10), or cortisone medication (tip #9). It’s a good idea to try your best to do something about this.
Food preferences: Think about whether the foods on a given diet are things that you generally enjoy. If you hate eating greens, you won’t like a diet filled with salads; but if you have a sweet tooth, a diet that substitutes milkshakes for meals might be more your speed. Consider a diet's overall approach to food and ask yourself, realistically, if you can eat the foods on this plan more or less for the rest of your life? And will you enjoy the foods on a given diet plan, or if it will feel like a “diet” food that you won’t be able to stick with long-term?
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.