Stress wreaks havoc on every part of your body, and can lead to breakouts, joint pain, headaches, and yes, even excess belly fat. That’s because when you’re stressed, your body pumps out extra cortisol, that not-so-great hormone you keep hearing about. Studies show that cortisol not only spikes your appetite, but may also redistribute body fat to your belly area, according to a review published in the journal Obesity.
72. Check Your Hormones With A Blood Panel – Nutrient deficiencies and hormonal imbalances cause stress to your system. For example, if your cortisol is high and your adrenals are insufficient, or you’re low in vitamin-D3, thyroid hormone, or vitamin B12, you could experience low energy and difficulty losing weight. A blood panel can also tell you whether your blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and other values are in the normal, healthy range. All of this information can help inform you about what nutrition and lifestyle changes to make to optimize your energy and health. Work with a medical professional to determine what blood values to test.
It sounds silly, but switching which hand you eat with can save you calories, and help boost weight loss. “It takes 15 minutes for your brain to realize that you’re full,” celebrity personal trainer Jay Cardiello told us in our article 40 Weight Loss Tips for Over 40. “To give your mind time to catch up to your mouth, simply switch your fork to non-dominate hand. It may be frustrating, but it’s a simple and unnoticeable way to curb overeating and lose weight.”
Also known as branch chain amino acids. BCAAs are three amino acids known as Leucine, Valine and Iso-Leucine. They help prevent muscle breakdown and can be bought as yummy flavoured powders to use in place as sports drinks. Drink them during your workout instead of water as they will help you tone up as you lose that belly and may even help in the formation of abdominal muscle.
SOURCES: WebMD Feature: "With Fruits and Veggies, More Matters." 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD,author, Comfort Food Makeovers. Brian Wansink, PhD, professor and director, Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Ithaca, N.Y.; author, Mindless Eating. Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences; and director, laboratory for the study of human ingestive behaviors, Penn State University; and author, The Volumetrics Eating Plan.
But it's important to remember that "fat" doesn't mean "unhealthy." Yes, women have larger fat stores, but it's part of their physiology, meaning it's not extra weight. So if a woman has 11 percent more body fat than a man, it doesn't mean she's 11 percent "fatter." A perfectly fit woman will still hold six to 11 percent more body fat than a perfectly fit man.
There's one thing to like about visceral fat: It yields fairly easily to aerobic exercise. Running, biking, or swimming—basically anything that gets your heart rate up—wins over resistance training when it comes to getting rid of the stuff. A recent study from Duke University found that jogging the equivalent of 12 miles a week is enough to melt belly fat.
There's no magic number or one-size-fits-all recommendation, but doing a few calculations can give you an idea of how many calories you should eat for weight loss. First, figure out your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is how many calories your body burns at rest, by just keeping basic functions running (like breathing). Experts use a formula called the Mifflin St. Jeor equation: (10 x your weight in kilograms) + (6.25 x your height in centimeters) – (5 x your age in years) – 161. You can also get your BMR measured at an endocrinologist's office. Then, factor in your activity level—try using this interactive calculator from the United States Department of Agriculture, which will give you a rough estimate of how much you should eat to maintain your current weight considering your BMR and activity level. To lose weight, you need to cut calories from that base number, either by deleting intake or increasing output. "Losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is reasonable, safe, and healthy for most," Cederquist says. Since 1 pound of fat is around 3,500 calories, you'd need to achieve a 500-calorie deficit each day to lose 1 pound each week.
The problem is that when you rely on exercise alone, it often backfires, for a couple of reasons. This is partly because of exercise’s effects on the hunger and appetite hormones, which make you feel noticeably hungrier after exercise. “If you walk briskly for an hour and burn 400 kcal,” says Klein, “and then have a beer and a slice of pizza afterwards because the exercise made you feel hungry…you will eat more calories than you have burned.” It may not always be beer and pizza, but people do tend to naturally compensate for the calories they expend.
Spice up your favorite foods with a few dashes of hot cayenne pepper sauce. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, an appetite suppressant; a study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate capsaicin consumed 200 fewer calories at the next meal. Not only will this help you cut back on calories and boost weight loss, but researchers have also found that capsaicin can help you lose belly fat and lose weight fast.
There is some scientific legitimacy to today’s lower-carb diets: Large amounts of simple carbohydrates from white flour and added sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and lead to weight gain. While avoiding sugar, white rice, and white flour, however, you should eat plenty of whole-grain breads and brown rice. One Harvard study of 74,000 women found that those who ate more than two daily servings of whole grains were 49 percent less likely to be overweight than those who ate the white stuff.
Let’s take Mike who is 200-pounds and wants to lose weight fast. If Mike burns 2,500 calories each day and eats 2,000 calories per day, he’ll create a 500 daily calorie deficit (2,500 calorie burn – 2,000 calories eaten). After 7 days, he’ll have a 3,500 calorie deficit, which means he will burn 1 pound of fat. So in one week he has burned 1 pound of fat. Pretty good.
The conclusion? Intermittent fasting was just as effective for weight loss as daily calorie restriction. So if you struggle with daily food restriction, fasting might be an easier way to dial back the amount you’re eating without feeling completely deprived. Read more in-depth about how intermittent fasting works (and if you’ll be able to stick to it) here.
Eating healthier takes a little more time and a little more money. When you're not focused on being health conscious, you can easily satisfy your hunger by going through a drive-thru or grabbing something from the vending machine. When you are focused on your health, or a specific fitness goal like weight loss, you're better off to prepare your own food than to eat out, making it a more time-consuming process, especially if you live somewhere like a food desert.
If you drink regular, go to 2%. If you already drink 2%, go down another notch to 1% or skim milk. Each step downward cuts the calories by about 20 percent. Once you train your taste buds to enjoy skim milk, you’ll have cut the calories in the whole milk by about half and trimmed the fat by more than 95 percent. One disclaimer: There are times when fat-free dairy isn’t the best option.
On the rare chance that you did lose too much weight and want to put on some muscle, Jim says to slowly add in more (healthy) calories, about 200 to 300 extra a day. "Stick with adding in mostly lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy," he said. When it comes to exercise, he recommends weight training two to three times a week.
If you’re super stressed, consider calming down in the yoga studio (or try these yoga poses for men) instead of revving up in the gym, McCall advises. The key stress hormone, cortisol, increases the amount of fat your body stores, especially in the abdominals. “Your sympathetic nervous system—the fight or flight response—is already activated from stress, and doing HIIT can put it into overdrive,” McCall explains. Instead, activate your parasympathetic nervous system—the rest and digest. “By going to a gentle yoga class during a stressful time, while it might not normally be what you do, you’ll be surprised at how much calmer you’ll come out of it, and that you’ll actually lose weight from it.” Plus, it’ll help you sleep, he adds.
Nuts. It’s very easy to eat until the nuts are gone, regardless of how full you are. A tip: According to science, salted nuts are harder to stop eating than unsalted nuts. Salted nuts tempt you to more overeating. Good to know. Another tip: Avoid bringing the entire bag to the couch, preferably choose a small bowl instead. I often eat all the nuts in front of me, whether I’m hungry or not.