Including sufficient protein in your diet is essential in staying lean. Not only does it help you feel fuller at meals, but it can also bump up your metabolism a bit and help your muscles grow (and then more muscle tissue revs your metabolism even further). People who regularly ate what are defined as "quality protein sources," or foods that supply about 10 grams of essential amino acids (like eggs, beef and milk) at each meal had a smaller amount of fat around their waists, reported research in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism. However, it's all too common to eat most of your protein at dinner. The problem with that is that your muscles can only use so much protein to rebuild at a time, so for the best fat-burning results, aim to divvy up these high-quality sources throughout the day, and exercise regularly too.

Try not to think that you can't eat certain foods because you're "too overweight." According to the National Eating Disorder Association, dieting, drive for thinness, and body dissatisfaction can become internalized at a young age and lead to an eating disorder. Change your mindset to celebrate the healthy foods you're eating because they're helping your body stay healthy and energized.

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!

●Halt bad eating habits. Before you cave to the crave, hit the pause button, recommends Pamela Peeke, author of the bestseller “The Hunger Fix: The Three Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction.” Ask yourself: “Am I hungry? Angry? Anxious? Lonely? Tired?” Get in touch with your emotions and ask, “Am I’m emotional right now? Am I about to knee-jerk into overeating?”
Picking healthy foods is not as simple as finding a “healthy” brand and sticking to it. Every restaurant and every brand has some dishes and products that are healthier than others. It’s key to look beyond advertised health claims on the front of the box. In fact, research from Washington State University shows that reading food labels can improve weight loss.
Studies found that people who keep food diaries wind up eating about 15 percent less food than those who don’t. And, new research suggests logging what you eat is one of the most effective and easy ways to lose weight. Watch out for weekends: A University of North Carolina study found people tend to consume an extra 115 calories per weekend day, primarily from alcohol and fat.  Then cut out or down calories from spreads, dressings, sauces, condiments, drinks, and snacks; they could make the difference between weight gain and loss. Here are 50 easy ways to lose weight naturally.
Lose It! This two-week phase is designed to jump-start your weight loss, so you may lose up to 6 to 10 pounds (2.7 to 4.5 kilograms) in a safe and healthy way. In this phase, you focus on lifestyle habits that are associated with weight. You learn how to add five healthy habits, break five unhealthy habits and adopt another five bonus healthy habits. This phase can help you see some quick results — a psychological boost — and start practicing important habits that you'll carry into the next phase of the diet.
The results are those of the individual that is identified. Typical results vary up to 6 and 8 pounds lost during the first two weeks and up to 2 pounds per week thereafter when the Ideal Protein® Weight Loss Method is followed properly. You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other diet program to determine if it is right for your needs. ... See MoreSee Less
Luckily, exercise can help spur things along when it comes to that pesky stomach fat. “Visceral fat responds well when… [you] start exercising and watching your calories and what you eat,” Harris-Pincus says. And while endless crunches aren’t your ticket to a flat stomach, it is still important to train your ab muscles. “Everything radiates from the center of your body – your balance, your posture, your functional movement,” says Joe Ardito, founder of Fit Crush NYC. “You can perform better when you have a strong core.”
Several studies show that alcohol can increase appetite and food intake, and certain types of alcohol are associated with belly fat specifically. If you're an ale aficionado, be especially mindful of your consumption: One 2013 study review from Denmark suggests that intake of beer is associated with abdominal obesity, while a German study found that lifetime consumption of alcohol is positively related to abdominal fat in 160,000 women. (Not to mention, drinking too much alcohol can mess with your fitness goals.)
If figuring out what to put into your body is too overwhelming, start with how much you're serving yourself. The easiest way to do this? Swap out your plates for smaller ones, like mother of two Jeanenne Darden did. With the help of this trick, she managed to lose an amazing 22 percent of her body weight, going from 187 pounds to 146 pounds. "I ate normally," she says. "I just ate less of everything." Pro tip: This trick is even easier with some cute portion-control dishware.
Chronic migraines were what first inspired Amanda Tagge to start exercising. “I was hoping to find some relief from my headaches and working out did help but I realized that if I really wanted to feel better I needed to revamp my health habits overall and lose weight,” she says. The more she changed, the better her headaches got and she lost 70 pounds in the process which helped her feel even better. Focusing on all the ways her health was improving kept her going even when the scale wasn’t moving.
Melissa Feldman is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Canada. She is skilled at writing compelling articles and producing academic, marketing and creative content. Her education includes a BA in psychology, a TEFOL teaching certificate and an MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies. She has over 15 years’ experience in writing content for online and mobile platforms. You can connect with her on Linkedin.
Also, while your menstrual cycle may not affect weight gain or loss, losing or gaining weight can affect your menstrual cycle. Women who lose too much weight or lose weight too quickly may stop having a period, or have irregular periods. Women who have obesity may also have irregular periods. A regular period is a sign of good health. Reaching a healthy weight can help women who have irregular periods to have cycles that are more regular. Learn more in our Menstrual Cycle section.
Switch to Lighter Alternatives. Whenever you can, use the low-fat versions of salad dressings, mayonnaise, dairy products, and other products. "You can trim calories effortlessly if you use low-fat and lighter products, and if the product is mixed in with other ingredients, no one will ever notice," says Magee. More smart substitutions: Use salsa or hummus as a dip; spread sandwiches with mustard instead of mayo; eat plain roasted sweet potatoes instead of loaded white potatoes; use skim milk instead of cream in your coffee; hold the cheese on sandwiches; and use a little vinaigrette on your salad instead of piling on the creamy dressing.
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