Call it what you will: An eating plan, a lifestyle, a diet, a philosophy, but few things garner such heated debate as how to lose weight. The truth is, whether you’re on a low-carb keto program, devoted to the Paleo lifestyle, all in to the Whole 30 or remain committed to low-fat eating, these plans have more in common than you think. What’s more, follow any one of them religiously, and you’ll likely notice results.
It’s impossible to target belly fat specifically when you diet. But losing weight overall will help shrink your waistline; more importantly, it will help reduce the dangerous layer of visceral fat, a type of fat within the abdominal cavity that you can’t see but that heightens health risks, says Kerry Stewart, Ed.D., director of Clinical and Research Physiology at Johns Hopkins.
Thanks to the hormone estrogen, the female body likes to hold on to fat, too. A study in Obesity Reviews shows that women store fat more efficiently than men in an effort to prepare the body for pregnancy. But while it seems like women may have drawn the short-end of the stick, the stereotypical pear-shape is actually considered healthier than boasting a beer gut, because belly fat is a red flag when it comes to your health. “Visceral fat is associated with increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome,” says Harris-Pincus.

Eat less. Move more. Repeat. I’m 38 years old and 6’8″ tall and got up to 300 lbs in March of 2013. I started out tracking calories and realized how much I was eating. For me a regular day was 4000 calories and almost no exercise. I setting a budget for calories got used to the lower intake then lowered it some more. 3000 then 2500 then 2000 then 1500. I did a few days around 1000 but I didn’t feel good so I bumped it back up to 1200 to 1800 with 1500 being the average. I got a mountain bike that fit and would ride that a few days a week for 8 to 10 miles. I also started “jogging”, an activity I hate with a deep and abiding passion – 4 miles of walking and jogging a few times a week to start. I was loosing about 12 pounds a month from June till January. My low weight was 217lbs. I still had belly fat and I lost muscle with fat as I was dieting. Then in mid January 2014 I started Crossfit. I have been going 3 days a week from January to now (end of May and have started upping my calorie intake to about 2500cal/day with high days over 3000 cal/day and low days about 2000 cal/day. I am putting on muscle when I eat more and loosing fat when I eat less. My metabolism is running hot and I can run 9:00min mile for 3 miles at a time without a problem. A year ago I would have fallen down dead if I tried to do a single 9:00min/mile. If I had it to do over again I would have done calorie cycling sooner and introduced weights sooner. Other than that I am happy with my progress. I figure I have another 20lbs of fat to get rid of and I will be happy to trade it for 20 pounds of muscle. I am still one of the last to finish the WOD (Work Out of the Day). The path I took is working for me and there are many ways to approach the challenge but it all comes down to Eat less, move more. repeat.
Hi, I’m a 39 year old female, 5 feet 8.5 inches, and previously 160 lbs. My weight loss goal is to lose the last 10 pounds. I did the Kick Start plan July 8-14, 2018 and lost 4 pounds. I had to increase the nut portions to a 1/4 cup, and I also ate slightly larger portion sizes of broccoli and cauliflower to insure I had enough energy for my workouts. I ate quinoa instead of brown rice, and I ate warm oatmeal instead of overnight oats. Overall I tweaked the plan to put the daily calorie totals around 1400-1500.
The internal and external obliques, which I like to call "nature's girdle," are located at the sides of the rectus abdominis. They are the muscles you use when you bend sideways at the spine or twist at the waist. They also contract to compress the abdomen, so you should work them just as hard as you work the rectus abdominis. Adding a twist to crunches works, as well as dumbbell side bends, but be careful not to use any jerky motions, especially if you've had back problems.
Thanks to the hormone estrogen, the female body likes to hold on to fat, too. A study in Obesity Reviews shows that women store fat more efficiently than men in an effort to prepare the body for pregnancy. But while it seems like women may have drawn the short-end of the stick, the stereotypical pear-shape is actually considered healthier than boasting a beer gut, because belly fat is a red flag when it comes to your health. “Visceral fat is associated with increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome,” says Harris-Pincus.
For the biggest fitness gain/weight loss bang for your exercise buck, combine the two, doing your strength training first and finishing off with your cardio. An American Council on Exercise study on exercise sequencing found that your heart rate is higher—by about 12 beats per minute—during your cardio bout when you’ve lifted weights beforehand. That means more calories burned.

Given that all participants in the study were overweight and “healthy”, what was not studied, and could have been very useful, was what was the impact of the two diets on participants’ blood sugars (HbA1c), insulin levels, and on some measure of inflammation. It is possible that there could have been little difference in weight loss between the two diets but big differences in the impact on risk factors related to diabetes.
Kelley Vargo, MPH, MS, CSCS, ACE Health Coach is a recent graduate of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University where she received her MS in Exercise Science with a concentration in Strength & Conditioning and her MPH in Communication & Marketing. Ms. Vargo has contributed content to Discovery Health as well as the ACE Fitness Journal. She is a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, Delta Omega Public Health Honors Society, and a Metabolic Effect Instructor. She enjoys sharing her passion and energy with others, helping them create healthier and happier lives. Follow Kelley on twitter @kelleyvargo or contact her at [email protected] or www.kelleyvargo.com.
Weight Watchers is still the best choice for both short-term weight loss and long-term healthy eating, while Jenny Craig rules in the prepackaged convenience category. But if neither of those works for you, we also review the top diet books, low carb diets, the Paleo diet and more. We even recommend less-expensive alternatives to the top commercial diets.
It’s simple math, says study co-author Cris Slentz, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Duke University. “Minute per minute, cardio burns more calories, so it works best for reducing fat mass and body mass.” That’s not to say that you shouldn’t lift weights, especially as you get older and start losing muscle mass, he notes. “Resistance training is important for maintaining lean body mass, strength and function, and being functionally fit is important for daily living no matter what your size."
Sure, there's your one friend who swears by the Taco Cleanse. And that other friend who ate nothing but broccoli soup for a month and dropped 20 pounds, found the love of her life, and got promoted at work. But before you start blending 80 stalks of broccoli into a cup or crunching your way through a crate of tacos, check out which diets are backed by science. Because don't you want to try one that will do the trick for you?
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