Dr. Travis Stork: Food plays the most important role for most of us in the battle against belly fat and contrary to popular belief; one cannot single out belly fat with a particular exercise. But the good news is that any activity when combined with an improved diet will target belly fat as a whole. And let’s not forget that exercise is great for our overall health – it can help prevent heart disease, some kinds of cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, and anxiety to name a few.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach, cabbage, and broccoli not only provide substantial amounts of fibre to your diet, they also offer many essential vitamins and minerals that can help counteract the bloat-inducing effects of sodium. Make green veggies a regular part of your diet to boost metabolism, cleanse your colon and prevent gaining belly fat.
It’s impossible to target belly fat specifically when you diet. But losing weight overall will help shrink your waistline; more importantly, it will help reduce the dangerous layer of visceral fat, a type of fat within the abdominal cavity that you can’t see but that heightens health risks, says Kerry Stewart, Ed.D., director of Clinical and Research Physiology at Johns Hopkins.
Indulging in delicious food is a core principle of Zero Belly Diet. It was the balanced, “zero sacrifice” approach that helped test panelist Jennie Joshi finally lose her pregnancy weight. In just over a month on Zero Belly Diet, Jennie lost 11 pounds, “and the pregnancy pooch is leaving!” she said. “I couldn’t believe I was indulging in dark chocolate—and finally getting results! It’s a lifestyle, not a diet. It’s easy to stick with, and it makes sense.”
But that’s only part of the story. Because intense workouts burn more calories overall, you’ll still burn more fat in the same amount of time. As an example, Acosta points out that if 20 minutes of the fat-burning setting burns 100 calories (50 from carbs, 50 from fat) and the cardio setting burns 200 calories (140 from carbs, 60 from fat), the sweatier option is better for weight loss.
Sleep’s a big deal. Losing a mere hour of shut-eye over the course of three days is enough to negatively impact the body’s hunger and appetite-regulating hormone, ghrelin. Quality sleep, on the other hand, fuels the production of fat-burning hormones, making it a top priority if you’re trying to drop a few pounds. Valerian is an herb that’s long been valued as a mild sedative, and now research is showing what tea enthusiasts have known for centuries. In a study of women, researchers gave half the test subjects a valerian extract, and half a placebo. Thirty percent of those who received valerian reported an improvement in the quality of their sleep, versus just 4 percent of the control group.
If you’re only getting a minimal amount of sleep each night, that leaves more time for you to snack and make otherwise unhealthy decisions that could affect your weight loss. Although it will vary from person to person on how much sleep you actually need to be most effective (and therefore make progress toward your weight loss goals), the ideal number is typically 7 or 8 hours, says Dr. Cheskin. (Struggling to get that shut-eye? This doctor-approved breathing exercise will help you fall asleep fast.)
With its gut-healthy probiotics and satisfying protein content, yogurt has taken center stage as go-to healthy snacks. But take a closer look at that nutrition label. “There’s so much yogurt on the market that’s just glorified ice cream in terms of sugar and artificial ingredients,” says Nolan Cohn. Most fruity and dessert-inspired varieties have tons of added sugar, negating any of the benefits you’re getting. And those fat-free, low-calorie versions usually have been stripped of their protein and probiotics.
If you feel like you're making smart moves to lose weight but the scale isn't moving the way you want, your diet may contain some sneaky foods that can lead to bloating, water retention (ahem, salt!), and a higher calorie intake. Veggies, fruits, seeds, nuts, fish, whole grains, and other smart choices loaded with fiber and protein will keep you fuller longer, all while working their nutrient-powered magic. When it comes to healthy eating and weight loss, these plant-based foods loved by registered dietitians have your back.
And as for whether doing “The Bachelor” set him on this TV career path, Stork claims he never had any intention to pursue the limelight. “I didn’t even have a goal of doing TV after "The Bachelor," said Stork. "That’s what is interesting. So no, I went to dinner one night, ended up as 'The Bachelor' because a casting director was there … Then I went back to practicing medicine and then that's when Dr. Phil and his son Jay McGraw called."
Want a flatter stomach in two seconds? Stand up straight! Slouching emphasizes belly rolls but straightening your spine elongates your whole body, making you look taller and sleeker. Want to go even flatter for a picture? Use the old modeling trick and arch your back slightly—this will pull your skin tighter across your stomach while moving it farther away from the camera, making it look slightly smaller. Yeah, it’s a temporary fix but good posture offers many health benefits beyond looking good.
In that study, the researchers looked at the results of previous studies on green tea and weight loss. They found that while some earlier studies found green tea helped people lose about half a pound to 8 pounds more than those who didn't drink green tea, most of studies found no significant difference in weight loss. So while green tea deserves a place in your weight loss diet, simply drinking the tea won't burn fat.
Before a workout, turbocharge the fat-blasting effects by sipping a cup of green tea. In a recent 12-week study, participants who combined a daily habit of 4-5 cups of green tea each day with a 25-minute sweat session lost an average of two more pounds than the non tea-drinking exercisers. Thank the compounds in green tea called catechins, flat belly crusaders that blast adipose tissue by triggering the release of fat from fat cells (particularly in the belly), and then speeding up the liver’s capacity for turning that fat into energy.
If you’re taking lots of vitamins and probiotics each day, you may want to reevaluate your strategy. Increased levels of B vitamins have long been associated with a higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes, perhaps because megadosing triggers our fat genes. A daily multivitamin is probably fine, but don’t try to convince yourself that more is better. And a recent study by ConsumerLab.com found that most commercial probiotics have far less healthy bacteria than they claim. Your better bet is to focus on the Zero Belly foods to ensure your belly is getting plenty of love—and your fat genes are being cut off at the pass.
Each of these 5 Best Teas for Weight Loss has its own individual, magic properties, from dimming your hunger hormones to upping your calorie burn to—literally—melting the fat that’s stored in your fat cells. Oh, and they can also help reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, too. (Stick to 3-4 cups—or tea bags—of tea per day, and choose brewed varieties over bottled to avoid extra calories and sweeteners.)
Add resistance training. A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests that combining cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise with resistance training is more effective than cardiovascular training alone in getting rid of abdominal fat. You can do resistance training with free weights, exercise machines or resistance bands and it may also be useful to train from unstable positions due to increased muscle activity.
The upshot of all these chemicals floating around is big trouble for big-bellied guys. In a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, researchers took 137 men of all ages and sizes and used seven different measurements to determine their risks of cardiovascular disease. The single best sign of multiple heart-disease risks? No, it wasn't the guys' family histories or their cholesterol profiles. It was the amount of abdominal fat they carried.
"Only doing abdominal-focused workouts, like crunches, won’t help you banish the bulge. Belly fat is simply where your body stores energy, so you need to take a whole-body approach to tackle it. HIIT training (high intensity interval training) is a great way to burn fat and get your heart rate up. Squats, burpees and treadmill sprints are all examples to try."