The trick to keeping your appetite in check is avoiding foods that make you lose control. That's tough to do when you're surrounded by mouthwatering choices everywhere you go, but Stice says that a technique called mindful resistance can help. "If you're tempted to have a scone with your coffee at Starbucks, instead of thinking about how delicious it will taste, tell yourself you'll get health benefits such as a smaller waist or a healthier heart from not having it," he says. "Doing this actually changes your brain by strengthening the area that helps you resist things and weakening the region that makes you think of treats as a reward."
Eating cake first thing in the morning may sound like the worst diet advice ever (or the best!), but Israeli researchers found that "obese participants who ate a breakfast high in protein and carbohydrates that included a dessert were better able to stick to their diet and keep the pounds off longer than participants who ate a low-carb, low-calorie breakfast that did not include sweets." The scientists hypothesize that allowing yourself a treat in the a.m. helps curb your cravings for sweets later in the day.
Don't get me wrong — exercising at any time is good for you. But evening activity may be particularly beneficial because many people's metabolism slows down toward the end of the day. Thirty minutes of aerobic activity before dinner increases your metabolic rate and may keep it elevated for another two or three hours, even after you've stopped moving. What that means for you: You're less likely to go back for seconds or thirds. Plus, it'll help you relax post meal so you won't be tempted by stress-induced grazing that can rack up calories, quickly.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great belly-blasting option for those who already feel comfortable in the gym because it helps you drop fatty tissue and build muscle simultaneously. “High-intensity interval training is when you perform an exercise at or close to your maximum ability for a short period of time and then take a brief respite and do it again. HIIT should usually be done on a 2:1 interval, meaning if you did an exercise for one minute, you rest for 30 seconds and then repeat,” explains Dr. Alex Tauberg, DC, CSCS, EMR in 50 Ways to Shrink Your Belly. To use HIIT to shrink your belly, do workouts that engage your core such as abdominal crunches or bridges. “By performing core workouts using a HIIT plan, you can burn calories and build muscle at the same time,” Alex adds. “This can be a great way to flatten that stomach when you don’t have too much time to work out.”
It is always easier to stick to your weight-loss goals when you have a support system in place to help motivate you to exercise and encourage you to stick to your diet goals when temptation strikes, explains Dr. Petre. This could mean enlisting the help of a gym buddy, joining a support group, or merely confiding in a close friend who will lend an ear when things get tough. Surrounding yourself with people who will help you from sabotaging your goals will go a long way.
Eating while watching television is linked to poor food choices and overeating. Getting sucked into the latest episode of “Scandal” can bring on mindless eating — making it easy to lose track of just how many chips you’ve gone through. It’s not just the mindlessness of watching television that’ll get us. Commercials for unhealthy foods and drinks may increase our desire for low-nutrient junk, fast food and sugary beverages.
When you’re all gung-ho about hitting the gym, there’s nothing worse than pulled hamstrings or pesky shin splints. Read up on how to avoid the most common yoga injuries (often from over-stretching and misalignment), and running injuries (like stress fractures, pulled muscles, and blisters) to make sure you’re in tip-top shape. Make sure to get in a good warm-up, too. Studies show you perform your best and better avoid injury after warming up.
Can’t bear the thought of rising before the sun? At the beginning of each week, take out a planner and schedule all of your workouts for the day’s ahead. If you just let your week and unfold randomly, odds are far lower you’ll fit in your fitness. Schedule an appointment with a trainer or a friend, book a class, or fit it in at home with our 15-Minute Lower Back Workout for Killer Abs.
Then, assuming you don’t want to lose muscle/strength while you’re in this deficit (or that you’d like to gain some while you’re in this deficit), combine that deficit method with the type of heavy, intelligent, strength-focused weight training needed to ensure this second goal is taken care of, too. (Superior Muscle Growth contains workouts that fit this description.)
This research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research (NIHR SPCR, https://www.spcr.nihr.ac.uk/) and NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Oxford at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (https://www.phc.ox.ac.uk/news/clarhc). The views expressed in this research are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health. Jamie Hartmann-Boyce receives funding from the NIHR and also receives funding from the British Heart Foundation.
There’s some truth to the old adage that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day,” and if you’re looking to blast belly fat, what you eat at the start of each day can make all the difference. According to a study from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast may be the most important investment you can make for your waistline. The study showed that eating breakfast triggered women’s brains to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical that helps to control impulses. In other words, eating a balanced breakfast decreases your chances of reaching for that 3 p.m. candy bar and keeps your belly slim.
Basically, the effect of exercise on our weight is vastly overrated. That’s why it’s only number 15 on this list. There are other things you need to take care of first. It’s not a good idea to eat bad food, drink sugar water (so-called “sports drinks”) or be on medications which force you to exercise for hours daily just to compensate. Metaphorically that’s like digging a hole, into which you put your ladder, on which you stand and paint the basement-level windows of your house.
When grabbing grub at a fast-food restaurant, the “combo” or “value meals” are typically less expensive and make you feel like you’re getting a better deal, but oftentimes they’re also nutritional nightmares. A study in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing shows that compared to ordering à la carte, you pick up a hundred or more extra calories by opting for the aforementioned cheap “value meals.” That’s because, when you order items bundled together, you’re likely to buy more food than you need or want, and end up overeating as a result. To keep your weight in check, order your food piecemeal instead.
This healthy brew acts like a diet drug in a mug, but without the negative side effects. A review of studies concluded that regularly sipping green tea can help you drop pounds. This weight loss is the result of EGCG, a compound known to reduce fat absorption, according to new research from Penn State. But that's not all this magic drink does: As it's reducing fat absorption, "green tea also increases the amount of fat that your body eliminates," explains study author Joshua D. Lambert, PhD, an assistant professor of food science at the university. So think about trading your usual afternoon java for green tea instead. Experts say that drinking three to five cups of the regular or decaf variety every day may help you lose weight.
She recommends setting aside time on Sunday to plan out the week ahead. “Planning is so important from an organization perspective,” says Delaney. “When it comes to organizing you really need to think about what’s important to you. I always tell people, don’t over-schedule. You don’t have to say yes to every single invitation. Think about what your week is going to look like and how you’re going to find time for what’s important.”
Plus, working out early could mean you get more sunlight, which is key to properly setting your body's internal circadian rhythm. In one study, people who basked in bright sunlight within two hours after waking were thinner and better able to manage their weight than those who didn't get any natural light, regardless of what they ate throughout the day.
The CDC found that the average adult consumes about 100 calories worth of alcohol daily, but favoring a glass of wine instead of beer or sugary cocktails can drastically reduce that figure and make your waistline slimmer. Plus, wine is a healthy alternative for those who don’t want to give up booze entirely. In addition to having fewer calories than most alcoholic beverages, red wine in particular is a good source of those waist-shrinking flavonoids that are also found in red fruits. Resveratrol, a particular flavonoid found in red wine, is believed to have heart-healthy benefits because it helps prevent blood vessel damage and reduces your bad LDL cholesterol. Just remember to imbibe in moderation.
The trick here is not only to avoid all obvious sources of carbohydrate (sweets, bread, spaghetti, rice, potatoes), but also to be careful with your protein intake. If you eat large amounts of meat, eggs and the like, the excess protein will be converted into glucose in your body. Large amounts of protein can also raise your insulin levels somewhat. This compromises optimal ketosis.
“[These tools’] potential benefit is awareness,” Fear says. “Knowledge can be power, but these things can be counterproductive when they simply create alarm without any clear course of action to take. Seeing your weight rise doesn't necessarily provide you with any action steps you can take. It's just upsetting, like a fire alarm going off with no exit routes identified.” Langer notes that “in people who have a history of or are at risk for an eating disorder or compulsiveness, tracking anything should be off limits.”