If you’re actively watching your weight this season, know this: Research from the University of Chicago found that dieters lost 55% less fat when they slept for 5½ hours than when they slept for 8½ hours. To settle into slumber more easily, avoid lit screens, food and, yes, booze for a full two hours before bed, and fill your plate with foods that help you fall asleep earlier in the night (think cherries, jasmine rice, and bananas).
Sometimes, to whip your body into shape, you have to get a little nutty. While nuts are high in fat, it’s that very fat that makes them such powerful weapons in the war against a ballooning belly. In fact, research from Reina Sofia University Hospital reveals that study participants who consumed a diet rich in monounsaturated fats, like those in nuts, over a 28-day period gained less belly fat than their saturated fat-consuming counterparts while improving their insulin sensitivity.

These fatty acids rocketed to fame for their ability to decrease the harmful inflammation that is associated with many chronic diseases—including obesity. Crandall is quick to point out that researchers have yet to find a cause-and-effect link—so don’t expect to pop a fish oil supplement, for example, and drop 10 pounds. But, she says, getting omega-3s from whole foods such as nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon is a good way to hedge your bets. And bonus: If you’re suffering from other kinds of inflammation, that can lessen your willingness to be active, omega-3s might help there, too. Find out the fat-burning foods you should add to your diet.


Say cheese! Adding some extra calcium to your diet could be the key to getting that flat stomach you’ve been dreaming about. Over just 12 months, researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville found that obese female study subjects who upped their calcium intake shed 11 pounds of body fat without other major dietary modifications. To keep your calcium choices healthy, try mixing it up between dairy sources, calcium-rich leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.
“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.

"Order without looking at the menu. Almost every restaurant has the basics—veggies, grains, and protein. If you go in knowing what you want, I guarantee you'll be able to make a meal. If you're too uncomfortable to ask for what you need, tell a white lie: Say you're allergic. I know it's controversial to suggest this, but women in particular can really have trouble standing up for their own needs. So if you want the broccoli soup puréed without cream, tell the waiter you're lactose intolerant."


Stress may contribute to abdominal fat, according to several studies, including a recent one at the University of California, San Francisco. "When you're stressed, hormones like cortisol stimulate your appetite, slow your metabolism down and encourage fat storage inside your abdomen," explains Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Clinic at the University of Utah. So what's a frazzled girl to do? "Find an activity that reduces stress for you, whether it's listening to soothing music or taking yoga, and do it daily," advises Talbott.
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.
The best way to stick with your diet and know if it is actually working is to comprehensively track your progress. Any online weight loss plan you consider should provide tracking tools that allow you to record your weight, meals, exercise, nutrient intake and other factors. Reporting tools such as line graphs that display your weight loss are also important to help you gauge your progress and results. Most programs should provide a mobile app to help you manage your diet and exercise no matter where you are. Some diet programs include a mobile app to track both food intake and exercise. The best will also sync directly with Fitbit, Apple Heath and other fitness tracking devices.

Where commercial weight loss programs go hands-on, the Mayo Clinic Diet goes streamlined. The vibrant, best-selling hardback (that looks a lot like a fun middle school health textbook) is the first resource for diet information, you can also employ the sleekly designed but minimalist app, plus a full website of tips, recipes, and workouts. Those patient enough to cycle through all of Mayo’s resources will find lots of solid health information.


The fad military diet consists of low-calorie, odd food pairings such as bun-less hot dogs with banana, carrots, and broccoli. “Any diet like the military diet that severely limits the amount of calories you consume or eliminates one or more entire food groups puts any individual at risk for nutrient deficiencies,” says Kyle. “This can be more harmful than holding onto those 10 extra lb you’re trying to lose.” (32)
If you lead a very busy life, it can be very difficult to include healthy, fat-burning foods as part of your daily diet.  Try to form a battleplan on your days off that includes a healthy breakfast, high-protein snacks, and balanced meals.  Ideally, you want to eat something about every three hours to keep your metabolism going strong.  Also, remember to schedule that all-important decompression and sleep time at the end of the day to help your body recoup and burn that belly fat!
Eating is for nutrition. This study analyzes weight loss, but not nutrition. I would be interested in which diet meant people had no vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Many people who eat low carbohydrate eat few vegetables and fruit because of their carbo content. I have a difficult time believing that is healthy. The extreme, of course, is the Ketogenic diet.
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.
The best way to stick with your diet and know if it is actually working is to comprehensively track your progress. Any online weight loss plan you consider should provide tracking tools that allow you to record your weight, meals, exercise, nutrient intake and other factors. Reporting tools such as line graphs that display your weight loss are also important to help you gauge your progress and results. Most programs should provide a mobile app to help you manage your diet and exercise no matter where you are. Some diet programs include a mobile app to track both food intake and exercise. The best will also sync directly with Fitbit, Apple Heath and other fitness tracking devices.
Given that all participants in the study were overweight and “healthy”, what was not studied, and could have been very useful, was what was the impact of the two diets on participants’ blood sugars (HbA1c), insulin levels, and on some measure of inflammation. It is possible that there could have been little difference in weight loss between the two diets but big differences in the impact on risk factors related to diabetes.
Stress skyrockets your levels of cortisol, often called “the belly fat” hormone because it signals to the body to store fat around your waist. Add the daily stressors of living our modern lifestyle and you can see how cortisol can be constantly coursing through your veins. This perma-stress mode isn’t good for a lot of healthy reasons, your tummy being just one of them, so it’s important to take time every day to de-stress. Yoga, meditation, walking, journaling, doing a hands-on hobby, or playing a musical instrument are all great time-tested methods. (Hint: Know what isn’t? Watching television. The boob tube actually increases your levels of cortisol!)
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