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.
As you exercise, calories are burned and your body fat percentage decreases. So, exercising not only helps you lose belly fat, it also sheds fat from other areas. Running and walking are two of the best fat-burning exercises. Plus, the only equipment you need is a good pair of shoes. Between the two, running burns more calories, but walking really isn’t too far behind.
In his latest work, best-selling author John Chatham blasts the myths surrounding belly fat. The groundbreaking research in The Belly Fat Diet reveals a science-based approach to healthy eating and looking good, and it doesn't involve starving yourself. Getting rid of belly fat is not about doing hundreds of crunches or worrying about how much you eat; it's about what you eat. The Belly Fat Diet teaches you how to eat more and weigh less, so there's no need to ever go hungry.
But then I got sick and tired of being sick and tired, and since then, I’ve made it my life’s work to learn everything there is to know about how to lose belly fat fast. But nothing in my 20 years of health journalism has prepared me for the groundbreaking research that has emerged in just the last year—new science that shows exactly how we can turn off our fat genes and lose weight almost automatically.
Skipping breakfast should be an easy way to lose weight, but numerous studies suggest that eating breakfast actually helps prevent weight gain. One reason may be that keeping yourself evenly-fueled all day long prevents that crazy end-of-day urge to eat everything in sight. Another reason may be that eating protein in the morning stokes your metabolism, the mechanism by which energy is burned and weight is lost. Breakfast doesn’t have to be a sit-down affair: Smear a little peanut butter on toast and eat your sandwich during your commute, or pour a handful of nuts and cereal in a ziplock bag for a desk snack once you get to the office.
Too little sleep or too much sleep can throw your stress and regulatory hormones out of whack, and may lead to weight gain. A single night of sleep deprivation can increase levels of ghrelin (a hormone that promotes hunger), making you more likely to overeat the next day. Reduced sleep may also lead to fatigue during the day (duh) and less physical activity, which may be another reason why people who regularly don't get enough sleep tend to gain weight.
But just because belly fat comes off a bit more easily doesn’t make it less dangerous. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. “Belly fat is unfortunately the most dangerous location to store fat,” says Dr. Cheskin. Because belly fat—also known as visceral fat, or the deep abdominal fat that surrounds your organs—is more temporary, it’s more active in terms of circulating in the bloodstream. That means it’s likely to raise the amount of fat in your blood (known as blood lipid levels) and increase your blood sugar levels, which as a result raises your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Remember that it takes a 3500-calorie deficit to lose one pound of fat. That is, you have to either burn off 3500 calories through exercise or eat 3500 calories less than you burn in a week. Break this up into daily limits. To burn 3500 calories a week, you should aim to have a 500 calorie deficit every day. For example, you can exercise to burn 250 calories and cut 250 calories from your diet.
Fennel, peppermint, and ginger have all been shown in research studies to have calming effects on the belly. They work by enhancing digestive enzymes so your food gets moved through your system faster. And faster-moving food means a flatter tummy. In addition, peppermint reduces cramping and gas, ginger helps with nausea and inflammation, and fennel is a diuretic to help you stop retaining water.
It takes more than just crunches! We start to gain weight in our midsection when our cortisol levels spike. Stress is one of the primary culprits for high levels of cortisol secretion. When this happens cortisol breaks downs lean muscle (the type of tissue that burns calories most efficiently) and also holds on to fat storage in the abdominal region. That stress can even get WORSE with bad dieting; studies show that the stress caused by dieting can increase cortisol levels, making no change in belly fat even with calorie restriction. So how do you shape up? Incorporate these 6 things below and you will be on your way to a flatter belly in no time flat!
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.
Green tea, known as carmellia simensis, contain polyphenols that produce a thermogenic activity in your body, utilizing calories to be converted to energy, instead of stored as stomach fat. It also contains a natural compound called catechin polyphenols, which stimulates your resting metabolic rate. The caffeine content causes a lipolitic reation in your body, meaning it allows your body to use stomach fat for energy.
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.
Oolong, a Chinese name for “black dragon,” is a light, floral tea that, like green tea, is also packed with catechins, which help to promote weight loss by boosting your body’s ability to metabolize lipids (fat). A study in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine found that participants who regularly sipped oolong tea lost six pounds over the course of the six-week time period. That’s a pound a week!
Puerh tea is a type of Chinese black tea that has been fermented. It is traditionally enjoyed after a meal and studies have shown it may lower blood sugar and blood triglycerides. The cooked ripe puerh tea can keep the stomach fit and warm it, while the fresh raw puerh tea has a better effect on weight loss than the cooked tea, on account of its strong taste. It helps burn fat and help shed pounds, as well as having a deliciously mellow and deeply earthy flavour.
Weight loss teas and supplements have been found to contain dangerous (and sometimes illegal) ingredients like ephedra and cybutrine, which are tied to heart attacks. Bitter orange, a banned stimulant, has also been found in some products. I’ve had patients who’ve taken weight loss supplements that were purchased from places like vitamin shops, who then suffered seizures. (These 15 common supplement ingredients could make you seriously sick.)
Grains get a bad rap when it comes to weight loss, but that's because refined grains (read: processed foods!) are linked to wider waists. 100% whole grains are bloat-busting superstars, however, as they're packed with minerals and de-puff by counter-balancing salt. Stick to brown rice, quinoa, wheat, barley, millet, farro, sorghum, and amaranth for the biggest benefits.
We also love yoga, hula-hooping (yep, great for the abs) and the good standby “Abs of Steel” videos, and trust me the outfits in the 1990’s video will increase the cardio aspect just from laughter alone! There are also a slew of videos online, find one you love and can stick to every few days and you’ll be toning as you shed the unwanted belly fat.