This question is on so many minds: how can I lose belly fat...and fast? While there's no magic formula of food and exercise to reduce belly fat with the snap of your fingers, there are nutrition choices, exercises and lifestyle changes that can help. Here's your guide to understanding exactly what belly fat is and how you might be able to reduce it over time.
For example, you might not realize just how much you eat when you go out to happy hour with friends. But if you take the split second to take a step back and make yourself aware of that fact, you’re more able to make a healthy decision. “The awareness and then planning and coming up with strategies for what else I can be doing—that might give me the same benefit of eating those comfort foods that make me feel better,” says Gagliardi.
Belly fat is associated with many health issues and diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Specifically it's the deepest layer of belly fat that poses health risks. That's because these "visceral" fat cells actually produce hormones and other substances that can affect your health.[1] There are many dangerous and ineffective gimmicks about how to lose belly fat. While there is no "magic bullet" that will target abdominal fat in particular, this article will explain what causes an expanding waistline and how you can make that spare tire go away.
“I have one heck of a sweet tooth, and so I have to refuse to bring candy, cake, or sweets into the house, period,” say Lin Williams, who’s lost 105 pounds. Instead, if she wants a treat she has to want it bad enough to get up, get in the car, leave her home, and go to the store—a process that rarely feels worth it. And on the rare occasion she does indulge? “I get exactly what I want and enjoy every bite of it!” she says.
What the diet advocate says: Controversial Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson is a fan, crediting the diet for curing his daughter’s various ailments, from juvenile arthritis to depression. But it was popularised by Shawn Baker, author of the aptly titled ‘The Carnivore Diet’ – in which he describes the diet as ‘a revolutionary, paradigm-breaking nutritional strategy that takes contemporary dietary theory and dumps it on its head’.
There are many ways to do intermittent fasting — ranging from fasting for a number of hours each day up to an entire 24-hour fasting period one or two times a week. “If you're trying to kick a habit like eating late into the night, then stopping eating earlier in the evening and fasting overnight could be beneficial for you,” says Hultin. “There are many types of intermittent fasting, so ensuring you pick one that works for you and your lifestyle is important.”
There’s a reason everyone harps on about protein: Not only does it help keep you full, but it’s also responsible for repairing the tiny tears caused by strength training in your muscles. This helps them grow bigger and stronger, nudging out body fat in the process. As a general rule of thumb, aim to get at least 70 grams of protein throughout the day, says Dr. Cheskin. (These high-protein foods can help you reach that goal.)
The secret lies in something called ‘postprandial thermogenesis’. It may sound like something straight out of the science lab, but it’s the reason why high-protein foods like chicken and eggs are your weight loss allies in the battle against the bulge. Digesting protein is more energy-intensive than any other food (about 50-100% more than carbohydrates!) and the good news is that all of this extra work uses up energy in the form of calories.
And some emotional eaters, in an effort to feel better, are prone to reach for foods that will ignite the reward center of the brain, which tend to be the sugary, fatty, salty, hyper-palatable foods that can lead to weight gain, says Pamela Peeke, author of the “The Hunger Fix: The Three-Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction.”
One of the problems with many of the easy diets listed is that they include a lot of processed foods. Frozen products and microwavable meals are generally not as nutritious as a home-cooked meal. And if you get used to eating foods like brownies and chocolate shakes when you're slimming down you may continue to crave those foods after the diet is over. And of course, if you consume non-diet versions of those foods, the pounds will come back.
Your phone, tablet, and television may be affecting your waist size in more ways that one. Obviously if you’re sitting on electronics then you’re not moving around and burning calories. But the effects go beyond just energy. Blue light from electronic screens can disrupt your circadian rhythms; so our addiction to electronics is reducing our sleep as people favor Netflix-bingeing to bed. Both of these effects have been linked to higher levels of belly fat. These 21 other terrible habits will make your belly fat worse.
“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.
27. Use tech and other tools to your advantage. "I started out just by cutting little things like soda out one by one so I wouldn't burn myself out mentally and give up. I then discovered counting calories on MyFitnessPal, which was [a huge help] for me in my weight loss. A few years in, I lost my way a little bit and found Renaissance Periodization diet templates, which helped me rebuild a healthy relationship with food."

Because men are larger than women on average and have more muscle to support, men can usually eat more calories while still losing weight, compared to women. Portion control may be especially important for women. In one study, women who ate smaller portions of food (and less food overall) had lower BMIs than women who limited or avoided a certain type of food.2 This approach seems to work better for women than men.3
Women’s challenge with weight loss also comes down to nature. Nature wants to preserve a woman’s ability to bear children. When you’re in a calorie deficit, it can interfere with your fertility, so your body fights weight loss to prevent jeopardizing your reproductive capacity. So don’t cut more than 1,000 calories a day or eat fewer than 1,200 calories daily.
This research found the weight loss was slightly greater in the group fasting for two days compared to the other group. It’s worth noting that the participants in these studies were given a huge amount of support, which wouldn’t happen if you were just picking up a book on the 5:2 diet. Overall, there isn’t actually much evidence and we need more data on the long-term success of these diets.’
Pros: Compared to eating a traditional diet, switching to a low-carb diet can significantly reduce body fat, studies show. Cap your carb intake at 20% of daily calories and the weight-loss results are even stronger—plus, you can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Some research suggests low-carb diets are even better than low-fat diets: One study in Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who limited their carbs lost eight more pounds than those who cut back on fat. If you cut back on carbs enough, your body learns to burn fat as fuel instead. Studies are mixed on how low-carb diets affect performance, but some evidence suggests that endurance performance can actually improve among people whose bodies adapt to fat-burning fairly easily.
Well in the same light, those following a low carb approach can simply load up on “unhealthy” foods that don’t have any carbs. For instance, wrapping your meat in bacon and snacking on pork rinds. These are all nice low carb ways of inviting a heart attack, not to mention high calories, sodium and processed chemicals likely to exacerbate weight and other health problems.
A little garlic in your meals could mean a lot less weight around your middle. The results of a Korean study found that mice given a high-fat diet supplemented with garlic lost significantly more weight and abdominal fat than those who just ate fatty foods. Even better, they also improved their liver health, making it easier to stay healthy and burn off that excess fat in the long term. For more flavorful ways to make your food more enjoyable, turn to the 20 Spicy Recipes That Fire Up Your Metabolism and watch those pounds melt away.
In a Nutrisystem-funded study of 69 obese Type 2 diabetics, published in the journal Postgraduate Medicine in 2009, researchers reported that those assigned to eat meals on the Nutrisystem D diabetic track lost an average of 18 pounds after three months compared with 1 pound for the control group, who attended educational sessions on diabetes management and nutrition. At six months, the Nutrisystem dieters were down an average of 24 pounds, while the controls – who were switched to Nutrisystem meals halfway through the six-month study – were down 13 pounds. In a similar study published in 2013 in Nutrition Diabetes, 50 Nutrisystem dieters lost an average of about 22 pounds in six months, while the 50 control dieters lost only about 5.
Do you really need to lose weight? We weren't all born to be thin or conform to society's definition of the ideal body. Your body size and shape depend on multiple factors, including your genes, eating patterns, Resting Energy Expenditure (see definition below) and exercise. You may want to accept and Love Your Body while trying to improve your health.
Notes: Defrost the shrimp under cool running water and pat dry. In a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, toss the shrimp with a little all-natural cooking spray, and cook until bright pink, tightly furled, and warmed through. Chop and steam the carrots and broccoli until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes for the carrots, 3 minutes for the broccoli. Drizzle everything with the teriyaki sauce and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
Useful goals should be (1) specific; (2) attainable (doable); and (3) forgiving (less than perfect). "Exercise more" is a great goal, but it's not specific. "Walk 5 miles every day" is specific and measurable, but is it doable if you're just starting out? "Walk 30 minutes every day" is more attainable, but what happens if you're held up at work one day and there's a thunderstorm during your walking time another day? "Walk 30 minutes, 5 days each week" is specific, doable, and forgiving. In short, a great goal!

One review found that people who sleep between 3.5 and 5.5 hours a night consume nearly 385 more calories the next day when compared to those who sleep between 7 and 10 hours. (6) Sleep is critical for our bodies to repair and function properly. When you consistently don’t get enough sleep, not only are you more likely to gain weight, but you’re also at a higher risk for chronic diseases, anxiety, irritability and more.
"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL
Ranging from just-juice to just-tea cleanses, these typically short-term plans can be dangerous. “Detoxes and cleanses are usually low in calories, protein, and fiber, all nutrients that our bodies need to function,” says Alissa Rumsey, RD, who is in private practice in New York City. “These plans leave you feeling hungry and cranky, causing a rebound food binge once you stop the detox.”
If you’re allergic or sensitive to a certain ingredient and continue eating it, you’re likely to struggle with losing weight. The food is triggers inflammation, as your body fights against it. As you continue eating the same food that’s making you ill, the inflammation continues, making you a lot more susceptible to extra pounds and other health issues.
Cons: Teaching your body to burn fat instead of carbs takes time, so you have to be patient while you feel sluggish during the weeks it takes to become fat-adapted. And not every body burns fat as efficiently as carbs, so your endurance may never measure up (though, as we said before, others actually see an improvement here.) Without carbs, your body’s ability to generate explosive energy will most likely decline, so if you love sprinting or HIIT, you might need to consume more carbs than other low-fat dieters. And while you’ll probably lose body fat, this kind of diet is actually keeping you focused on the wrong macro: Studies have proven that the higher protein aspect of a low-carb diet helps promote weight loss, rather than the lower carb count.
Try a diet in which you consume 2200 calories (men) or 2000 calories (women) per day. This should cause a deficit sufficient for you to lose one or two pounds per week, depending on your activity level. Some women may require lower daily calorie intake, such as 1800 or 1500 a day. Start by limiting yourself to a 2000 calorie limit per day, and lower the limit if you do not see progress.
But I've seen some women beat themselves up over a few extra pounds, even though this does little more than destroy their self-worth. Berating yourself will not help motivate you to control your weight and improve your health. So the next time those negative thoughts creep into your head, recognize them for what they are and replace them with positive ones.
While the American College of Sports Medicine warns that women who eat less than 1,300 calories a day and men who eat less than 1,800 risk slowing down their metabolism over time. But a rev-up stage that only lasts two weeks is approved by doctors and isn’t as difficult as it seems. Our tester found the Mayo Clinic day pretty satisfying, and still had enough energy to hit the gym.
If you get enough protein and fat, your total calorie intake should take care of itself. Because you feel full, you won't binge on a can of Pringles and blow your calorie count for the day. The remaining 45 percent of calories in our plan comes from carbohydrates — enough to give your palate a full range of tastes and your body a combination of fast- and slow-burning fuel.

“Starting slow and working your way up is better than overdoing it and giving up,” says Gagliardi. “I like the idea of attaching the new behavior of taking a walk to an existing behavior.” An easy way to approach it: Commit to going for a quick 10-minute walk after dinner, and slowly increase the time as you become more comfortable with daily movement.
Rob Miller founded SupplementCritique.com over 7 years ago, and has been the chief editor ever since. He has a diploma in Advanced Dietary Supplements Advisor, and worked at GNC for 3 years. He KNOWS supplements, both inside and out. Rob currently resides in Jupiter, FL, with his wife of 4 years.  Learn more about him in his Bio here. Follow him on Twitter , Facebook, LinkedIn, or find him on Google +. View all posts by Rob Miller
There are many ways to do intermittent fasting — ranging from fasting for a number of hours each day up to an entire 24-hour fasting period one or two times a week. “If you're trying to kick a habit like eating late into the night, then stopping eating earlier in the evening and fasting overnight could be beneficial for you,” says Hultin. “There are many types of intermittent fasting, so ensuring you pick one that works for you and your lifestyle is important.”
Nutrisystem is a commercial weight loss diet that involves eating the company’s prepackaged and delivered meals and snacks, along with some produce you shop for yourself. By outsourcing meal-management chores, you won’t have to think about portion control, meal prep, or meal timing, but you may tire of heat-and-eat meals and smallish portions. Nutrisystem claims you can lose up to 13 pounds and 7 inches overall in your first month on its central plan, Turbo13, which isn’t surprising since the program makes for guaranteed calorie restriction, the tried-and-true weight-loss tactic.
Notes: Defrost the shrimp under cool running water and pat dry. In a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, toss the shrimp with a little all-natural cooking spray, and cook until bright pink, tightly furled, and warmed through. Chop and steam the carrots and broccoli until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes for the carrots, 3 minutes for the broccoli. Drizzle everything with the teriyaki sauce and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
Don’t forget, non-animal sources of protein including lentils, leafy-green veggies, legumes, tofu, nuts, beans and grains are all excellent sources of protein, too. Finally, if you’re struggling to meet your daily protein quota, a quality protein powder, whey or plant-based (checkout our review of PlantFusion protein) can make it easy when you’re stretched for time.
A little garlic in your meals could mean a lot less weight around your middle. The results of a Korean study found that mice given a high-fat diet supplemented with garlic lost significantly more weight and abdominal fat than those who just ate fatty foods. Even better, they also improved their liver health, making it easier to stay healthy and burn off that excess fat in the long term. For more flavorful ways to make your food more enjoyable, turn to the 20 Spicy Recipes That Fire Up Your Metabolism and watch those pounds melt away.
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