This easy a.m. ritual works on two levels. First, a recent study found that exposure to sunlight in between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon reduced your risk of weight gain regardless of activity level, caloric intake, or age. Researchers speculate that the morning light synchronizes your metabolism and undercuts your fat genes. And burning calories before you eat means you're exercising in a fasted state—the energy you burn comes right from your fat stores, instead of from the food you ate. But what really stunned Martha was the improvement in her heart health. Before starting Zero Belly Diet, Martha's heart rate would typically soar to 112 beats per minute (bpm) within moments of starting her exercise bike workout. "After the first week and a half I could not raise my heart rate over 96 bpm with the same workout. It was great to see change in the mirror, and even better to know good things were happening that I couldn't even see."
Research shows the average American eats about 20 teaspoons of sugar daily, often hidden in processed foods, including “healthy” ones such as yogurt, frozen dinners, sauces, and salad dressings. Twenty teaspoons adds up to 325 empty calories a day, and insulin production increases with sugar intake, which can slow your metabolism, making it harder to burn those empty calories. Read labels and try to reduce your intake as much as possible.
But you need to exercise, too. In Slentz's study, walking or jogging miles a week kept visceral and subcutaneous fat at bay, and jogging miles melted them off. At 11 miles a week, it made no difference whether people in the study walked or jogged, and it's fairly safe to say that it wouldn't at miles either. "It's not the intensity of the exercise that matters," Slentz says. "It's the amount."
WHAT'S GOING ON: There are two kinds of belly fat: There's the stuff right under your skin that you can pinch (ugh), called subcutaneous fat. But that's actually the less harmful kind. It's visceral fat that poses a real threat to your health. It plumps your middle from the inside out, surrounding organs such as your liver, lungs, and heart—and putting you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, says Kristen Gill Hairston, M.D., an endocrinologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC.
The next part of the plan aims to reduce inflammation. Belly fat has been linked to inflammation and elevated cortisol (the stress hormone). Belly fat is even thought to be "toxic" to your system as it releases chemicals into your body that wreak havoc on your appetite and the way your body metabolizes food. That's why anti-inflammatory foods are thought to be effective in fighting belly fat and breaking the vicious cycle.
That means Pink Lady over Granny Smith, watermelon over honeydew, red grapes over green ones. The higher levels of nutrients called flavonoids—particularly anthocyanins, compounds that give red fruits their color—calm the action of fat-storage genes. In fact, red-bellied stone fruits like plums boast phenolic compounds that have been shown to modulate the expression of fat genes. To learn more about turning on and off your fat genes, check out the essential list: 21 Nutrition Myths—Busted!
Just don't wait until you blow the tape-measure test to start defending your belly from this flab. Step one is to toss the trans fats, which are found in prepackaged treats under the alias partially hydrogenated oils and have been shown to pack on body fat, particularly in the abdomen. Replace them with monounsaturated fats — for example, olive oil and those in walnuts and avocados — which help your body metabolize belly fat. And swig some reduced-fat milk, like 1 percent or skim, while you're at it: Calcium increases the activity of enzymes that break down fat cells and reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which triggers your body to hoard belly fat.
Look for a brand of Greek yogurt that contains live and active cultures, which will promote healthy bacteria in your gut to prevent bloating. (These are signs you could have an unhealthy gut.) Plus, the protein in the yogurt will keep you full. Beef it up with fiber-rich oats, berries, and chia seeds for an extra filling morning meal—just don’t go overboard if your body isn’t used to digesting that much fiber, says Jessica Crandall, RDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “If you’re not used to that amount of fiber it causes gas, but if you work up to it slowly, it promotes a healthy GI system,” she says. Slowly add a little more fiber to your diet every day for a flatter belly, and increase your fluid intake to aid digestion and reduce icky symptoms like diarrhea and bloating—here’s how to get more fiber into your diet without really trying.
Try the Spiderman Climber: Get into plank position with arms and legs extended, hands beneath shoulders, and feet flexed. Keeping your abs tight, bend your left leg out to the side and bring the knee toward the left elbow. Pause, then return to start. Switch sides. Do 20 reps, alternating sides, with 30 minutes of cardio 5 to 6 times a week. For an additional challenge, perform planks with forearms on the floor, as shown. (Watch this video to make sure you're neailing the proper form every time.)
If you’re the type of person that drowns your sorrows in a pint of ice cream, you might be what experts refer to as an “emotional eater”—and it’s likely the primary reason you have trouble staying trim. To lose weight, you need to first learn the difference between emotional hunger, which comes on suddenly, and physical hunger, which comes on gradually and is often accompanied by physical cues like a growling stomach, explains Forberg. The best way to overcome the urge to eat? Realize that although a bad feeling will eventually go away, the calories you consumed while you were feeling down, won’t. And the next time you’re feeling emotional, don’t try to mask your emotions or distract yourself. Experts say that truly experiencing your emotions will teach you that it’s possible to tolerate them head-on. Once you’ve done this exercise, it’s time to find a new, healthy coping strategy. Hitting the gym or calling a friend to vent are both solid options. For more tips from Forberg, check out her latest ETNT article, The Biggest Loser Dietitian’s Top 25 Weight Loss Foods.
With the weather getting warmer it’s the perfect time to go for a walk or run, but remember to vary your speeds. Why, you ask? Research has shown it will help you shrink your belly. In a Danish study reported by the American Diabetes Association, two groups of people with type 2 diabetes were put on a walking program. One group walked at a steady speed, while the other group varied their walking speed. After four months, the interval-training group lost eight more pounds than the steady walkers. Even better, the walkers who changed up their speeds lost visceral belly fat and improved their blood sugar control.
Many people chew gum as a way to stifle cravings or prevent mindless eating but this tactic may have an unfortunate side effect: belly bloat. Everyone naturally swallows a small amount of air when they chew but it’s magnified for people who chew gum, which causes gas and bloating. In addition, some artificial sweeteners have been shown to increase your appetite for junk food, so gum could be increasing your waistline on two fronts.
Unfortunately, because the pharmaceutical industry has created so much marketing hype about a woman's need for estrogen replacement as a fountain-of-youth treatment for menopause, most medical practitioners and healthcare consumers are misinformed and/or confused. The consequence for millions of people is that the very real condition of estrogen dominance is often overlooked or, worse, misdiagnosed and mistreated. For instance, consider the case of a woman I'll call Sylvia.
You'll find lean, satiating protein in every single bite you take on Zero Belly Diet. The muscle-building macronutrient is fundamental to the plan, and eggs happen to be one of the easiest and most versatile delivery systems in the universe. Not only that, they're also the number-one dietary source of a nutrient called choline. Choline, which is found also in lean meats, seafood, and collard greens, attacks the gene mechanism that triggers your body to store fat around your liver. (That's why eggs are one of the best foods for weight loss.) One Zero Belly Diet recipe—a breakfast hash with sweet potatoes and fresh farm eggs—became test panelist Morgan Minor's go-to breakfast, and after just three weeks on the program, the female firefighter lost 11 pounds and 4 inches from her waist! The more eggs you eat, the less egg-shaped you get.
I posted nearly the exact same thing as you, it’s been a real problem for me and preventing me from completing the workout! But I’ve tried putting my hands behind my head and lifting my shoulders off the floor which helps as it is bending my back the other way, preventing it happening, although it makes it really hard! I’m not sure if that’s the correct thing to do, though, I hope we can get an answer!
Zero Belly Smoothies are supercharged with belly-flattening nutrients. The key: Each drink is packed with protein, healthy fats and fiber. Here’s the Mango Muscle-Up: Mix 1 scoop vegetarian protein powder, 2/3 cup frozen mango chunks, 1/2 tablespoon almond butter, and ½ cup unsweetened almond, coconut or hemp milk. You’ll get 29 grams of protein for just 224 calories!
Test panelist Bryan Wilson, a 29-year-old accountant, lost 19 pounds and an astounding 6 inches from his waist in just six weeks on the program, and he attributes his success to the Zero Belly shake recipes in the program. "I love the shakes. I added them to my diet, and almost immediately I lost the bloat," Bryan said. "I'm a sweet craver, and the shakes were an awesome alternative to bowls and bowls of ice cream I would have had."
But because you don't have X-ray vision to see whether too much of the potentially dangerous visceral fat is parking itself in your own belly, scientists have figured out a couple of DIY guidelines. To avoid increased risk of obesity-related diseases, women should have a waist measurement no bigger than 35 inches (measure it at the smallest point of your midsection), and some experts recommend a waist-to-hip ratio of around 0.8, meaning that your waistline should be no greater than 80 percent of your hip circumference. According to a Mayo Clinic study released last May, the ratio of waist to hip is believed to be a measurement of visceral fat. Other fascinating research, published in the American Journal of Human Biology, found that women who give birth before age 40 have an average of two centimeters more fat around their bellies than women of the same ages who haven't given birth. (I'll have to thank my two daughters for those extra centimeters.)
DR. RANDOLPH: Synthetic hormone drugs, such as the popularly-prescribed Premarin and Prempro family of products, have been shown to be very dangerous, increasing a woman's risk of breast cancer, blood clotting, stroke and even Alzheimer's disease. That is because these synthetic hormones have a very different molecular structure than the ones produced by the ovaries.
I have a question on doing the Double Leg Lifts. I’m about to start Day 7. Ever since day one whenever I try to do the DLLs, moving my legs down, I get this arch in my back. When I get this arch unless I’m holding onto something as a kind of counterweight I can’t lift my legs back up. I still use my core to bring my legs back up, but it seems impossible without holding onto something like a door frame.
As for celebrity fad diets, Stork says he's suspicious. “I'm wary of all celebrity fad diets. I think when we started hosting 'The Doctors' is when the maple syrup diet came out, and it was all about, 'Oh pour a little maple syrup with lemon,' and I was like, 'No, no, that's not going to cure you of all that ails you. I think people need to be careful with celebrities because we always forget … celebrities have a lot of money and access to a lot of things that most normal people don't."