In addition to helping maintain heart health and keep inflammation levels under control, monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, may stop belly fat before it starts. Research in the journal Diabetes Care found that people who got roughly 25 percent of their total daily calories from MUFAs gained no visceral fat over the course of the study, while those who ate less MUFAs and more carbs added fat to their midsections. My favorite MUFA-rich food is olive oil because you can use it in so many meals (check out the belly-blasting breakfast I recommend), but avocados and nuts are other excellent sources. Pine nuts are particularly great because they also contain high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids. These acids increase levels of two hormones that signal your brain when you’re full. Try snacking on one ounce of pine nuts (about the amount you can fit in a shot glass) 20 minutes before mealtime to avoid overeating.
Bend at your hips and hold a kettlebell (or dumbbbell) with both hands at arm’s length in front of you. Now rock back slightly and “hike” kettlebell between your legs. Then squeeze your glutes, thrust your hips forward forcefully, and swing the weight to shoulder height. Allow momentum to swing the weight—you’re not trying to actively lift it with your arms.
Once you hit 30, your lean muscle mass decreases by about a pound a year. If you’re inactive, that lost muscle mass often is replaced by fat. So if you’re not already lifting weights two to three days a week, start now. Need proof that weight training will reduce your waistline? Two studies that analyzed the effects of strength training in older adults between ages 50 and 70 showed a 10 to 15 percent decrease in belly fat despite no weight loss. “Stick with basic moves that work the major muscle groups—shoulders, chest, back, abs, butt, legs, and arms,” says Sherri MacMillan, owner of Northwest Personal Training in Portland, Oregon, and author of Fit Over Forty: The Winning Way to Lifetime Fitness (Raincoast Books, 2003). “As you get stronger, continue to increase your weight load to counter gradual muscle loss.” But don’t rush it: progress no more than 5 to 10 percent every one to two weeks to minimize strain on your tendons, ligaments, and muscles. (Check out our total-body strength-training workouts using either free weights or fitness machines.)
Your parents weren’t kidding about how important veggies are for a healthy body. What they probably didn’t tell you, however, was that snacking on veggies is also one of the easiest ways to shed unwanted belly fat, too. According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, opting for non-starchy veggies, like cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumber, as snacks helped overweight kids shed 17 percent of their visceral fat while improving their insulin sensitivity over a five-year period. Think snacking on veggies will leave you hungry? The 20 Most Filling Fruits and Veggies will have your belly satisfied in no time.
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 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) advances, about 35% of patients experience severe weight loss called pulmonary cachexia, including diminished muscle mass. Around 25% experience moderate to severe weight loss, and most others have some weight loss. Greater weight loss is associated with poorer prognosis. Theories about contributing factors include appetite loss related to reduced activity, additional energy required for breathing, and the difficulty of eating with dyspnea (labored breathing).
Have Protein at Every Meal and Snack. Adding a source of lean or low-fat protein to each meal and snack will help keep you feeling full longer so you're less likely to overeat. Try low-fat yogurt, small portion of nuts, peanut butter, eggs, beans, or lean meats. Experts also recommend eating small, frequent meals and snacks (every 3-4 hours), to keep your blood sugar levels steady and to avoid overindulging.