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.
Even people who understand the difficulty of long-term weight loss often turn to dieting because they are worried about health problems associated with obesity like heart disease and diabetes. But our culture’s view of obesity as uniquely deadly is mistaken. Low fitness, smoking, high blood pressure, low income and loneliness are all better predictors of early death than obesity. Exercise is especially important: Data from a 2009 study showed that low fitness is responsible for 16 percent to 17 percent of deaths in the United States, while obesity accounts for only 2 percent to 3 percent, once fitness is factored out. Exercise reduces abdominal fat and improves health, even without weight loss. This suggests that overweight people should focus more on exercising than on calorie restriction.
Obese people who consumed a tablespoon or two of vinegar daily for eight weeks showed significant decreases in body fat—particularly visceral fat—according to a 2009 Japanese study. "One theory is that the acetic acid in the vinegar produces proteins that burn up fat," explains Pamela Peeke, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, author of Fight Fat After 40.
It is possible to do more in less time — at least when it comes to your workouts. By incorporating interval training — that means bursts of high-intensity moves — you’ll give your metabolism a huge boost, says Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., director of the Kinesiology Program at the University of Virginia and author of The Spark. If you usually jog at a consistent pace, try adding a 30-second to one-minute sprint every five minutes, or, if you’re on a treadmill, change up the incline for one-minute intervals.
Postmenopausal women who tried yoga for 16 weeks reported significant reductions in visceral fat in one 2012 study. If you're just not that into downward dog, any sort of relaxation exercise (even simple deep breathing) can help. The key is to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to belly fat. (Try these two-minute stress solutions to calm down fast.)
We wanted to know what these studies found and, most importantly, when all the science and evidence were boiled down, what experts recommend for people who would like to shed pounds in a safe, healthy manner. All of the experts emphasized one thing: A person's approach to weight loss should be one that is enjoyable and can be maintained over the long term. Weight loss shouldn't be about deprivation, because diets that deprive people of their favorite foods tend to be short-lived, said Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance.
37. Avoid Extreme Low Calorie Diets – While it may be tempting to eat very few calories to lose weight fast, the strategy can backfire. Very low calorie diets (called semi-starvation diets) are associated with a decrease in metabolism. In fact, one study showed that women following a diet of 1200 calories per day lost more fat than women eating only 500 calories per day over a 24-week period.39 In addition, when eating very little food, you have a greater risk of nutrient deficiencies. If you want to learn more, check out Starvation Mode: Are You Eating Enough?
Cardio is the best, such as elliptical, tread mills, jumping jacks; anything that gets the heart rate up, which burns calories. After the cardio, your muscles are heated up, so move to weight lifting. If you're at home with no weights, look in the cupboard for soup cans and use them as little weights. Muscle weighs more than fat, but muscles burn calories faster than fat. This means that you may stand on the scale and think you've gained weight, but you will notice your clothes fit better. Consistency is the key. Get 6 to 8 hours sleep, and you'll lose 2 pounds during the night.
What I mean is, any diet that actually causes you to lose fat did so because it caused you to create a caloric deficit. That’s a fact. There is literally NOTHING else that could possibly make it happen. This is the most basic proven science of the human body. Calories in vs calories out (aka the law of thermodynamics) is ALWAYS the basis for fat loss (or gain).
Don’t let extra hours lounging in bed stand between you and a flatter belly. While getting enough sleep can help boost your metabolic rate, sleeping in may undo any benefit you’d enjoy from catching a few extra winks. One study reveals that late sleepers who snoozed past 10:45 in the morning ate nearly 250 more calories over the course of the day, despite eating half as many fruits and vegetables as their early bird counterparts. Even worse, they chowed down on more salty, sugary, and trans fat-laden fast food than those who woke up earlier. If you happen to head out of the house early, you’re in for an additional metabolic boost; researchers at Northwestern University have found that people exposed to just a short period of early morning sunlight had lower BMIs than their late-waking counterparts.
Weight training is the ultimate way to burn calories fast. "A pound of muscle burns up to nine times the calories of a pound of fat," explains Richard Cotton, M.A., chief exercise physiologist for myexerciseplan.com. Weight training increases your resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories you burn while sitting on your butt. What's more, it gives your metabolism an added boost after you exercise, staying in overdrive for up to two hours after the last bench press, according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Strapped for time? Try these quick moves: squats, bench step-ups, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups and planks. In a pinch, just do single sets of 10 for each exercise — you'll get optimal results for the time invested.
Fancy coffee drinks from trendy coffee joints often pack several hundred calories, thanks to whole milk, whipped cream, sugar, and sugary syrups. A cup of regular coffee with skim milk has just a small fraction of those calories. And when brewed with good beans, it tastes just as great. You can also try nonfat powdered milk in coffee. You’ll get the nutritional benefits of skim milk, which is high in calcium and low in calories. And, because the water has been removed, powdered milk doesn’t dilute the coffee the way skim milk does.
29. Don’t Make Excuses, Just Start Working Out – If you’re tired, don’t think too much about it. Put your headphones on and just start moving. Do a dynamic warm-up to get yourself in the mindset, and start with easier exercise sets. You can keep your workout low-key if you’re tired or stressed, and you can go hard when you’re full of energy. You never regret a workout, but you might regret skipping one.
“It’s no big surprise, but my go-to weight loss tip is to eat more vegetables. They are the most low-calorie food you can consume, and they’re filled with health-boosting, satiating nutrients. From smoothies and eggs to soups, main and side dishes, they can fit in anywhere and boost volume and nutrition. If you want to eat more while still losing weight, veggies are your answer. —Laura Burak, RD, CDN
A study of 76 undergraduate students found the more they watched television, the more often they ate and the more they ate overall. Sacrifice one program (there’s probably one you don’t really want to watch anyway) and go for a walk instead—in even just 15 minutes, you’ll reap these amazing benefits of walking. And during your favorite shows, get off the couch and try these exercises you can do while watching TV.
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.
Yeah, we just told you to pump iron, but you also need to eat it. "If you don't have enough of this mineral, your body can't get enough oxygen to your cells, which slows down your metabolism," explains Samantha Heller, R.D., a nutritionist at the New York University Medical Center. Most multivitamins contain around 18 mg (the RDA for adults); you can also get your fill by eating three to four daily servings of foods rich in iron, such as lean red meat, chicken, fortified cereal, and soy nuts. If you're feeling symptoms like fatigue and weakness, ask your doctor to test you for anemia (it's a simple blood test) at your next physical.
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, and it’s a great way to build muscle without spending hours in the gym. The idea is to go all out for a short period of time, followed by a slower pace that allows you to recover. Think of jogging or sprinting all out for 30 seconds, followed by a minute or two of rest, then repeat. Short bursts of high-intensity exercises keep your heart rate up while adding lean muscle. More muscle mass equals calories burned on a daily basis. Also, the more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is.
For example, researchers reviewed data from six trials of very-low-calorie diets (fewer than 800 calories a day) and found that, after about 26 weeks, participants lost 16 percent of their initial body weight, whereas participants on a typical low-calorie diet (1,000 to 1,800 calories a day) lost about 10 percent of their body weight. But after about two years, both groups retained about the same amount of weight loss — around 5 to 6 percent of their initial body weight, according to the 2012 study.
Leafy Greens – Help you feel satisfied longer, boost your metabolism and turn off your hunger receptors. You will eat less and lose more belly fat just by increasing your leafy greens! They’re low in calories and high in fiber, making them the perfect weight loss food. Not a fan? Try one of our yummy green smoothies. Examples include spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, bok choy, arugula, chard, and mustard greens.
"It’s easy to become impatient and frustrated when you’re trying to lose weight and haven’t seen the results yet. But be realistic – you won’t see the affect overnight. Your brain’s wiring plays a huge part in resisting changes in lifestyle, and it takes time to establish new habits – up to 12 weeks. Stick with it for at least eight weeks and you should notice a change."
Conversely, the more food in front of you, the more you’ll eat—regardless of how hungry you are. So instead of using regular dinner plates that range these days from 10 to 14 inches (making them look empty if they’re not heaped with food), serve your main course on salad plates (about 7 to 9 inches wide). Instead of 16-ounce glasses and oversized coffee mugs, return to the old days of 8-ounce glasses and 6-ounce coffee cups. Try these other tricks for eating in moderation.
Start a calorie journal in which you write down the values of everything you eat. Creating a calorie journal and writing in it consistently will help you know when you've gone over your limit. It will tell you what foods worked when and whether they tasted good. It will give you a record of your struggles, which are always fun to look back on after the pain has passed!
Sure, ketchup is tasty, but it’s also a serious saboteur when it comes your weight loss efforts. Ketchup is loaded with sugar — up to four grams per tablespoon — and bears little nutritional resemblance to the fruit from which it’s derived. Luckily, swapping out your ketchup for salsa can help you shave off that belly fat fast. Fresh tomatoes, like those used in salsa, are loaded with lycopene, which a study conducted at China Medical University in Taiwan links to reductions in both overall fat and waist circumference. If you like your salsa spicy, all the better; the capsaicin in hot peppers, like jalapeños and chipotles, can boost your metabolism, too.
We’ve now arrived at tip number 16. If you’re still having trouble losing weight, despite following the 15 pieces of advice listed above, it might be a good idea to bring out the heavy artillery: optimal ketosis. Many people stalling at weight plateaus while on a low-carb diet have found optimal ketosis helpful. It’s what can melt the fat off once again.