Dark chocolate is packed with MUFAs—or monounsaturated fatty acids—that help your body burn belly fat. Dark chocolate is also filled with flavonoid antioxidants (more than 3 times the amount in milk chocolate) that keep blood platelets from sticking together and may even unclog your arteries. It may also help with weight loss by keeping you feeling full, according to a study from Denmark. Try a chocolate with 70% or more cocoa. Get your fix in these 10 Guilt-Free Chocolate Desserts.
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!)
Spanx are maybe no one's idea of a good time, but sometimes you just need a little extra (firm) help to flatten your tummy to wear your favorite dress or for a special evening out. And there's nothing wrong with turning to technology to help you get there. Body shaping undergarments have come a long way in the past few years with more breathable fabrics and styles for both men and women.
Snacks are an important part of your weight-reducing diet because they provide a boost of energy in the midafternoon and aid in hunger control. A healthy snack option might include a small orange with 1 ounce of mozzarella cheese, a container of fat-free yogurt with 3/4 cup of blueberries, or six whole-grain crackers with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter. Each snack option contains about 150 calories.
Get more "bang" for your ab-exercise "buck." Ideally, instead of focusing on muscle-toning exercises that target only your abdominals, you should seek out alternatives that utilize other muscle groups as well. They often require more exertion, which can help with fat burning. Also, additional muscle tone in the back, chest, shoulders, legs, etc. can improve posture and otherwise help make your belly appear slimmer.
Even if dieters have cut out the cheese pizza and ice cream, losing that extra fat around the middle can prove frustrating, especially for those over 30. Author and doctor Randolph (From Hormone Hell to Hormone Well), along with women's health expert James, asserts that much of the blame can be placed on estrogen. A three-pronged approach to reverse the trend, resulting in additional weight loss, involves eating foods to balance one's hormone levels (primarily cruciferous vegetables, citrus and fiber); using a natural, topical progesterone treatment (naturally, he suggests Dr. Randolph's Natural Balance Cream); and taking seven key dietary supplements, including a range of vitamins, a "calcium-magnesium combo" and DHEA. The importance of exercise and physician visits are acknowledged but not discussed ("When You Will Need a Doctor" is essentially two paragraphs about getting one's hormone levels checked). The month's worth of meal plans provided are generally tasty, healthy dishes such as Cauliflower Crab Cakes, Pickled Beets and Grilled Salmon with Dill and Lemon; that said, Randolph's bold assertions and self-promotion give the book an infomercial feel that compromises an otherwise medically sound diet.
"Researchers are now discovering that gut bacteria also seem to play a role in the complex process of weight loss and weight gain," he writes. "We don't know exactly how much impact our Little Buddies have on our weight, but we're learning enough to believe that understanding the connection more fully may help us as we confront the obesity epidemic in the United States — and in our own bodies."