Stress may cause even slender women to grow a bit of a pot, says Elissa Epel, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco’s Center for Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment. “It’s not just a formula of calories in and calories out. What we eat and how much may determine our overall weight, but stress influences where that fat actually gets deposited on our body,” Epel says.
“That first day was so tough, I almost caved and reached for the vending machine at work but I remembered a quote I had on my Facebook page that said ‘The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it’ and that was enough to make me turn away from the machine,” she says.
Sometimes, to whip your body into shape, you have to get a little nutty. While nuts are high in fat, it’s that very fat that makes them such powerful weapons in the war against a ballooning belly. In fact, research from Reina Sofia University Hospital reveals that study participants who consumed a diet rich in monounsaturated fats, like those in nuts, over a 28-day period gained less belly fat than their saturated fat-consuming counterparts while improving their insulin sensitivity.
A program that works and can be followed by the majority of women: Many weight loss solutions can generate results but not for the average women. They can work for celebrities or fit women but not for women of all ages and body type. Our goal was to present you with programs that you can follow and above all programs that will generate the results YOU want. Both men and women have weight problems but in general women are more anxious to lose weight. We wanted the programs to be ‘women friendly’ and take into account the different life stages that a woman has to undergo in her life (period, wedding, pregnancy, and menopause).
Wanting a smaller waist and flatter belly isn't all about looking good in your jeans. People sporting large amounts of visceral fat (the type of internal fat that dangerously hugs organs) are more likely to have a higher risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, especially true if a woman's waist circumference exceeds 35 inches. There is no true magic bullet when it comes to belly fat. But research shows filling your plate with foods that fight abdominal fat—as part of an overall healthy diet—can help. Here's what to dig into to help beat belly fat.
“We try not to vilify any food, except sugar,” added Dr. Aronne. “Having it as a treat is what sugar is for; it’s not meant to be the main part of your meal.” Yet added sugars in the form of sweeteners and syrups to flavor processed foods sees the average adult eating 20 teaspoons of hidden added sugar every day, or an extra 320 calories, according to the USDA’s recent nationwide food consumption survey. And then there’s sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas, sports drinks, juices and flavored coffees and teas stirred with empty calories. “The typical glass of orange juice has three oranges in it; that’s the calories of three oranges. But it’s easy to drink a glass of orange juice and still eat a number of other things,” added Dr. Aronne. “You’re better off just eating a single orange and feeling full.”
To lose belly fat and uncover amazing abs, Schuler recommends a series of core stabilization exercises based on a training program devised by co-author and personal trainer Alwyn Cosgrove. "Core exercises like the plank help train muscles to stabilize the spine and pelvis so you can avoid back pain and improve posture, Schuler says. "Planks also burn more calories than crunches because they work more muscles." (P.S. crawling is a great dynamic abs exercise too.)
The study began with 609 relatively healthy overweight and obese people, and 481 completed the whole year. For the first month, everyone did what they usually did. Then, for the next eight weeks, the low-fat group reduced their total fat intake to 20 grams per day, and the low-carb group reduced their total carbohydrate intake to 20 grams per day. These are incredibly restricted amounts, considering that there are 26 grams of carbs in the yogurt drink I’m enjoying as I write this, and 21 grams of fat in my half of the dark chocolate bar my husband and I split for dessert last night.
We all want a toned, flat stomach. No surprise there. But since many women are still relying on crunches to get it, we want to make one thing clear: Crunching is not the most effective abs workout. "Crunches work only the muscles on the front and sides of your abdomen, but it's important to target all the muscles of the core to get more defined abs—including lower back, hips, and upper thighs," says Lou Schuler, co-author of The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. (Also try these 20 tricks for engaging your core and getting a sneaky abs workout.)
Assume plank position. Keeping your hands under shoulders, arms locked out straight, and core tight, draw your belly button drawn in toward spine. Tucking your tail bone tucked, bring your right knee toward your chest and touch toes on right foot to ground with left leg in the start position. Then jump switch your feet continuing this back and forth pattern throughout the entire duration of the exercise.
Practicing mindful eating can be really helpful if you’re an emotional eater. Check in with yourself to see if you’re actually hungry or just avoiding that assignment that’s hanging over your head. If you’re going to eat, sit down and give your food your full attention. No eating out of the bag, either. If you’re going to snack on some chips, but them in a bowl so you can see how much you’re eating. That might help curb your cravings.
Visceral fat is also called “organ fat” or “intra-abdominal fat” — and it’s one of the primary reasons why you must learn how to lose belly fat. This stubborn fat lies in close proximity to the vital organs of the body, including the liver, kidneys and other digestive organs, meaning it’s a real health concern. Fat is actually similar to an organ, in that it releases compounds in the blood and alters hormone levels. (4)
While there is some evidence for the use of carnitine as a fat-burner, it isn't easy to increase your body's carnitine levels by eating foods containing this substance or taking carnitine supplements. An article published in the Journal of Physiology in 2011 found that taking carnitine supplements along with eating plenty of carbohydrates for six months may potentially increase fat burning, but this is not true for taking these supplements for a shorter time. So this supplement isn't a practical way to lose weight overall, and definitely isn't a quick way to lose belly fat, as it takes at least six months to even start working.
Bran muffins sound like a healthy breakfast option—with all that cholesterol-lowering oat bran, right? But the prepackaged ones found at the supermarket aren’t nearly as fresh or healthy as they claim, and they’re almost always oversized, packing in some 300 calories—about the same as a cream-filled doughnut! Many are also loaded with saturated fats butter and oil and contain upwards of 600 grams of sodium. Homemade is key when you’re trying to lose weight, so why not try making your own? While baking definitely does take more time than going to the store, you’ll reap the benefits of all your hard work spent in the kitchen.
Where commercial weight loss programs go hands-on, the Mayo Clinic Diet goes streamlined. The vibrant, best-selling hardback (that looks a lot like a fun middle school health textbook) is the first resource for diet information, you can also employ the sleekly designed but minimalist app, plus a full website of tips, recipes, and workouts. Those patient enough to cycle through all of Mayo’s resources will find lots of solid health information.
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.