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.
Carrying that spare tire around your midsection not only makes it hard for you to buckle your belt, but it's also bad for your health. Abdominal fat, also known as visceral fat, raises your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and men have a greater tendency of accumulating belly fat than women. Despite what many weight-loss ads say, no one food or diet plan is going to help you get a flat belly. A reduced-calorie diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups can help you lose weight all over, which may help improve the tone and look of your belly.
C.W. Randolph, Jr., M.D., one of the nation's leading bioidentical hormone physician experts, has treated thousands of women and men with hormone imbalances for more than a decade. A graduate of Louisiana State University School of Medicine, Dr. Randolph is board-certified by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as the American Board of Holistic Medicine. As the co-founder of The Natural Hormone Institute, Dr. Randolph continues to be a frequent speaker for medical and consumer health organizations across the country. He is the co-author of the best-selling books, From Hormone HELL to Hormone WELL, From Belly FAT to Belly FLAT, and In the Mood Again.
Who knew leftovers could taste this good? Lean pork tenderloin is the perfect protein for this Thai-inspired salad. We like to top it off with two dressings that play off each other. The first is the leftover cilantro-lime vinaigrette, and the second is a spicy peanut sauce to add some healthy polyunsaturated fats to your plate. If you don’t already have some peanut butter, be sure to check out our PB guide, The 36 Top Peanut Butters—Ranked!, before you head to the store.
Pass up baked goods. This is my own personal rule to get (and keep) flat abs. I love baked goods but there’s really nothing good about them as far as your abs are concerned. Cupcakes are awesome but they are bad for your belly. Baked treats often contain way too much sugar, tons of fat and almost no nutritional value. Many packaged baked goods also contain trans fat. If you really need dessert, have a small square of chocolate or a small scoop of ice cream. At least ice cream contains metabolism-boosting protein, which is essential for weight loss
But talking in expert technicalities, let's get real: there's no hard and fast way to get rid of belly fat. You may think that you can spot reduce, but ask any PT worth their REPS Level 3 qualification – the certificate your fitness pro should have – and they'll bust this belly myth. That's because your body decides where it wants to store fat, not you.
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.
Stand with feet together, arms out at your sides like airplane wings. Exhale, and lift the right leg forward and up. At the same time, sweep the arms forward at shoulder level and round your spine, like a cat. The navel should feel as though it's pressing toward the spine. Inhale, open back up, and return to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg. Switch between sides for 20 reps.
Another imbalance that plagues the abs is between the obliques, the muscles that cinch your sides. You have two sets on both your right and left, and if you show them love, they'll give you a nice hourglass shape. Sadly, your left obliques start out at a disadvantage, says Hahn. Blame your heart, which takes up extra space and makes the obliques difficult to tone—an issue that's compounded if you're right-handed. "Think about where your mouse pad is," says Hahn. "Then you shake hands, change the radio station in the car—you do so much with your right side, making it stronger."
Naturally sweet oatmeal recipes in Zero Belly Diet were the key to test panelist Isabel Fiolek's dramatic 13-pound weight loss. "I happen to have a big sugar addiction," Isabel admits. "But the recipes have been surprisingly satisfying for my sweet tooth." Isabel also made dramatic health strides: A checkup after her six weeks on Zero Belly Diet revealed she'd dropped her total cholesterol by 25 percent and her blood glucose level by 10 percent.
Maximize belly-fat loss by boosting anti-inflammatory foods that are high in magnesium and monounsaturated fatty acids. You’ll continue to enjoy one Belly Soother Smoothie per day, but your other meals will be larger, to keep your metabolism humming. Here, we introduce fiber-rich and carb-light grains—quinoa and oat bran—and pair them with magnesium-rich fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, plus MUFA-rich oils and other foods, to create filling stir-fries and protein-packed dinners that will keep you fueled up and feeling good.
High intensity interval training is one of the most effective fat burning fitness techniques you can employ. This is because it places a tremendous energy call on the body and greatly increases the body's need for oxygen it incinerates calories. It’s done by engaging in short bursts of intense exercise at 100% effort followed by short recovery periods of complete rest or an light active recovery exercise. For example: you might do a set of 15 sprints where you go all out for 1 minute then walk for 30 seconds. Or, you can work HIIT intervals into a resistance-training workout by injecting high intensity moves that elevate heart rate and then perform another easier exercise for an “active recovery”. An example of this would be jump squats for 30 seconds followed by plank pose for 30 seconds.
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms by your sides, palms facing down. Brace your abs in tight and press through your heels to bridge your hips off the floor. Keeping your hips lifted and square, extend your left leg up to the ceiling, foot flexed. Sweep your left leg to the right, passing the midline of your body and then sweep back out to the left, slightly past your left hip. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times (back and forth) with the left leg, and then switch legs and repeat 10 more times before lowering out of bridge.
Incorporate strength training. While it's true you'll need to lose the fat over your abdominals so that your muscle tone can show through, don't rely on cardio alone to get the job done. Muscle will help reshape your body and allow you to actually burn calories while your body is at rest, not just when you're hitting the gym. Studies show that those who lift weights have a lower fat mass percentage than those who do aerobic exercise alone.
Munching on the right snacks throughout the day is one of the best ways to shrink your waistline. Need proof? According to a recent study, researchers found participants lost significantly more body weight when they incorporated low-sugar, high-protein snacks into their daily food routine. Fitting in healthy, high protein snacks (such as a handful of unsalted almonds) helps to maintain blood-sugar levels—which keeps your brain from triggering hunger pangs—and stops your body from indulging in unhealthy foods after what feels like a long day of starvation.