You don’t have to hop on the Paleo train and ride it all the way to the station, but increasing your intake of protein and reducing your intake of carbs is one of the fastest ways to lose belly fat without additional exercise. Protein helps to balance blood sugar and lower levels of insulin, a hormone that signals your body to store fat, especially around your midsection. For healthier carb alternatives, skip the white bread and pasta in favor of whole-grain complex carbs, seasonal fruits, root vegetables, and squashes. Here are more foods that are proven to flatten your belly.
Luckily, that doesn’t mean you need to dedicate even more time exercising. In fact, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts can slash the time commitment while boosting results. HIIT workouts last about 20 minutes and combine bursts of super-intense exercise with slower recovery phases. This type of workout has been found to help people lose more fat once the workout is over, even though they burn less calories during the workout (since workouts are shorter) and also build muscle, rather than break it down the way conventional cardio does. (3)
If you want to lose fat, then you must work out. One of the most effective and efficient ways to lose unwanted belly fat, or simply extra weight distributed all over, is burst training or HIIT workouts. High-intensity interval training–style has been shown to be an excellent way to burn fat in a short period of time and help improve the physical performance of athletes of all kinds. (8)
Pace around your office while talking on the phone or run into the bank to cash your check instead of using the drive-thru. When researchers at the Mayo Clinic fed a group of volunteers an extra 1,000 calories a day over the course of eight weeks, they found sedentary individuals gained eight times more weight than those who fidgeted a lot during the day.
The idea is that the fasting induces mild stress to the cells in your body, helping them become better at coping with such stress and possibly helping your body grow stronger. The verdict is still out regarding the diet’s long-term effectiveness with weight loss, according to a review of preliminary animal research published in January 2017 in Behavioral Sciences. (17)
Don’t cut protein to save calories. You want to consume 60 to 70 grams of protein a day to maintain healthy bones and muscles, says Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D., director of Sports Medicine Nutrition for the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and the Center for Sports Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Also consider: A 2005 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that if you’re trying to shed pounds, keeping adequate protein in the diet wards off muscle loss and increases fat burning. Go for eggs, skinless poultry, or lean meat or fish, and avoid fried or fatty luncheon meats and high-fat cheese.
As noted by Time Magazine, sometimes the only thing standing in your way is a lack of commitment to your own health. "Are you committed to the work needed to lose belly fat? 'Reducing belly fat takes a combination approach of a low-calorie diet that is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates and sugar along with cardiovascular and weight training,' Dr. Kashyap says. "If you are willing to do the work, you can move past genetics and lose it."
At any given time, there are dozens of weight-loss hypes in the marketplace that claim to take off 10 pounds in 10 days, or whatever. Desperation can tempt us to try anything — from "clean eating" to cutting out food groups entirely. Keep in mind: Just because an avocado-walnut-"crunchy"-kale-salad dripping in coconut oil is deemed "clean" by a so-called "expert" on your Instagram feed does not make it an unlimited food. Moral of the story? Avoid fads, eat real food, watch some Netflix, and unwind (perhaps with a glass of wine in hand). Now that's my kind of detox.
Want to blow away your belly without logging months of mind-numbing hours on the treadmill? High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) will kickstart your metabolism like no other workout, burning more than twice the calories as a lighter and longer session, according to a study from Southern Illinois University. And the total amount of time you need to dedicate to HIIT: 20 minutes. It really is the least time exercising for the biggest results.
“Most people who have been lean their whole lives have a much better understanding of proper portion size than people who are overweight,” says Deborah Riebe, Ph.D., a professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Rhode Island. “If they go out to eat, they’re much more likely to ask for a doggie bag right away or to leave food on their plate rather than cleaning it up.”
The researchers hypothesize that participants who abstained from animal products dropped significantly more pounds since plant-based foods include loads of filling fiber and slow-to-digest complex carbs. Though more research is needed to confirm these results, the study authors write, "Vegetarian diets appeared to have significant benefits on weight reduction compared to non-vegetarian diets."
After a cancer diagnosis sent her normally healthy lifestyle off-course, flight attendant Tracey Z. Dickson was heavier than she had ever been. When she was declared cancer-free, she hopped back on the treadmill and got her diet in order—and went from 158 pounds to 117. One of her diet secrets? "Instead of dessert, I'll have a baked sweet potato sprinkled with cinnamon," she says. "It tastes like I'm eating sweet potato pie, but for a ton less calories." For more healthy ideas on how to get your sugar fix, check out these desserts with 150 calories (or less).
Not all carbs are created equal. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that dieters who eat whole grains lose more belly fat than those who consume refined grains. How does it work? Whole grain foods are high in fiber, which help maintain low insulin levels. Research from the University of Kuopio in Finland suggests that low levels of insulin may shrink fat cells.
Verreijen, A. M., Engberink, M. F., Memelink, R. G., van der Plas, S. E., Visser, M., & Weijs, P. J. M. (2017, February 6). Effect of a high protein diet and/or resistance exercise on the preservation of fat free mass during weight loss in overweight and obese older adults: A randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal, 16(1), 10. Retrieved from https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-017-0229-6