While any diet that reduces your intake of fat, sugar, and carbohydrates will help you lose weight, a weight-loss plan can offer you much more and give you a much better chance of long-term success. As weight-loss plans have been developed by dietitians, fitness coaches and nutritionists, they are designed to help you lose weight safely and progressively, while altering your attitude to food and encouraging you to adopt healthier habits.
It’s also important to remember one essential fact about exercise and weight loss, says Slentz. “Exercise by itself will not lead to big weight loss. What and how much you eat has a far greater impact on how much weight you lose,” he says. That’s because it’s far easier to take in less energy (calories) than it is to burn significant amounts and it’s very easy to cancel out the few hundred calories you’ve burned working out with just one snack.
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.
Make sure to program your cardio exercise in with your weight training the right way, though — a 2017 study found that performing cardio and weight training workouts on alternate days was far more effective for burning belly fat than stacking the workouts on top of each other in the same session. Put the two together, and watch that unhealthy midsection shrink.
Those trans fats on your menu are hiding out in plain sight and sabotaging your lean belly plans every time you eat them. If a food product says it contains partially hydrogenated oils, you’re eating trans fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and obesity with every bite. In fact, research conducted at Wake Forest University reveals that monkeys whose diets contained eight percent trans fat upped their body fat by 7.2 percent over a six-year study, while those who ate monounsaturated fat gained just a fraction of that amount. Instead of letting harmful trans fat take up space on your menu, fill up with the 20 Healthy Fats to Make You Thin.
Aerobic activity is the core of most balanced workout routines when weight loss is the goal. Why? Because aerobics burns fat and calories. When you participate in cardio training, you put your metabolism into hyperdrive and rev up your calorie-burning engine. And if you exercise hard enough, you burn fat and calories both during and after exercise.
Many television ads are now pitching devices that supposedly stimulate muscles to contract repeatedly without exercise. I even saw an infomercial for an "ab belt" that claimed it does the work of 700 sit-ups in 10 minutes! The ad shows people doing various abdominal exercises the wrong way, hating every second of it, versus smiling men and women going about their days with "Ab-whatevers" strapped around them. How enticing!
The upshot of all these chemicals floating around is big trouble for big-bellied guys. In a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, researchers took 137 men of all ages and sizes and used seven different measurements to determine their risks of cardiovascular disease. The single best sign of multiple heart-disease risks? No, it wasn't the guys' family histories or their cholesterol profiles. It was the amount of abdominal fat they carried.
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.)
Diet is a major part of the equation, but you can also lower your belly fat with a strategic workout plan. Since you can’t reduce fat in one area, you’ll have to focus on a full-body burn. The good news? That means you’ll be trim and lean all over, not just your mid-section. To torch fat, holistic nutritionist and certified personal trainer Ashley Walter recommends weight training and fasted exercise.
This popular plan recently underwent a rebranding to create a more balanced program, changing its four-phase approach with the help of a science advisory board. The Atkins Diet is still low-carb, but you won't be chowing down on steak and eggs all the time to promote weight loss. Lean protein is still key, but there's more of a spotlight on fiber, fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats.