Many people struggle with weight loss issues. Losing belly fat in particular is about more than just aesthetics: visceral fat, the kind of fat that tends to settle around the midsection, can cause an increase in your body's production of stress hormones that can affect your body's insulin production. As a result, excess belly fat can lead to serious complications like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.[1] There is no way to target belly fat, but diet and exercise will eventually burn off belly fat. Knowing how to take the first step can help you feel better and get you on the road to a healthier, more active lifestyle.
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.
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.
The number one training method the experts turn to again and again for weight loss: interval training. What’s that? “Any form of exercise where your heart rate spikes and then comes down repeatedly,” says Rilinger. This type of training keeps your heart rate elevated, which in turn keeps your metabolism humming. When that’s happening, you burn more calories.
A similar program, TOPS (Est. $32 per year, plus $5 chapter dues), pairs a wealth of educational material with group meetings in your community, also called "chapters." TOPS, which stands for Take Off Pounds Sensibly, uses The Food Exchange System, which users say is easy to understand and follow. It has categories of foods with similar serving sizes and caloric loads, and it's easy to swap one food for another. You can even purchase exchange cards that give you food options within categories at a glance, as well as a variety of other accessories, such as food prep tools scaled to accurate portion sizes.

WH Verdict: While it’s unlikely to be popular with those who’ve chosen a plant-based lifestyle for ethical reasons, the principal of eating real, whole food is sound. And combining two ways of eating certainly makes it easier to get enough protein and vital nutrients. But it’s still pretty restrictive, so consult a nutrition professional to make sure you aren’t at risk of nutritional deficiencies.


One of the many styles of interval training is indoor cycling, though this workout leans heavily toward cardio over strength training, Rilinger explains. She also notes that cycling requires you to use various muscles in your body — quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core, for starters — which once again translates to weight loss. “The more muscles you have to incorporate, the more calories you’re going to burn because those muscles all require energy in order to work,” she says. “And the more energy you use, the higher those calorie-burning numbers climb. It’s all a cycle.”
The best way to burn fat while swimming: An easy way to burn calories in the water is to simply tread water. You can do a few laps, then have a water-treading interval, then repeat. “If you’re able to swim at a high level, then swim as fast as you can for as long as possible,” says Adams. “If you aren’t such a strong swimmer, then do swimming intervals: Swim as fast as you can down the length of the pool and back, then swim slower for the same distance.” Alternate these intervals for the duration of your workout.
These are very convenient if you don't have the time, energy or ability to plan for and prepare meals. A prepackaged food program gives you a no-hassle, no-brainer approach to dieting, but the best come at a cost. Even the least expensive prepackaged plans cost more than just buying your own food, and it can be difficult to find out the true cost until you actually commit. Still, if you can afford it, you get a nutritionally balanced, calorie-controlled eating plan with lots of support and no additional tools needed -- except a microwave oven, which are covered in a separate report.

A new player in the weight loss program space, Noom packs a lot of behavioral psychology into one sophisticated app. It aims to help you identify and break bad habits, and have some fun doing it. The powerful app echoes Weight Watchers’ successful community approach, but outleagues that program in terms of learning resources. While it’s the more expensive of our two favorite programs, it’s the richer when it comes to virtual experience — with personalized lessons, tasks, and support that made us look forward to opening up the app.

Ultimately, you need to pick a healthy eating plan you can stick to, Stewart says. The benefit of a low-carb approach is that it simply involves learning better food choices—no calorie-counting is necessary. In general, a low-carb way of eating shifts your intake away from problem foods—those high in carbs and sugar and without much fiber, like bread, bagels and sodas—and toward high-fiber or high-protein choices, like vegetables, beans and healthy meats.


Spinning, whether it's on an actual bike or a stationary one, is one of the best ways to burn calories and build endurance. If you don't like running, spinning is a low-impact alternative that'll crank up your heart rate. But there's more to pushing the pedal than speed. By practicing good form and engaging your core as well as your thighs and glutes, spinning can be a full-body workout, too. Whether you're doing a heavy climb in first position or sprinting in second, your core is the key to spinning efficiently and quickly. And as you drive your foot down with each stroke, it's all about squeezing your inner thighs.
"Protein is great for fat loss. It helps build and preserve lean muscle tissue and can increase the amount of calories you burn. It’s also a great source of energy that helps you feel fuller for longer, so you’re less tempted to snack. Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, eggs, milk and chickpeas. And if you’re finding it difficult to avoid snacks that are high in carbohydrates, try substituting them for protein shakes or bars. Remember also to opt for the lean sources of protein because some sources can be high in saturated fat."
While many people turn to artificial sweeteners in a misguided attempt to whittle their waistlines, those fake sugars are likely to have the opposite effect. According to researchers at Yale, artificial sweeteners are actually linked with an increased risk of abdominal obesity and weight gain, possibly because they can trigger cravings for the real stuff and spike insulin levels in a similar fashion to real sugar.
Proponents of the Paleo diet say it's a much healthier way to eat than the standard American diet, which is often heavy on added sugars and processed foods. Critics say it's too restrictive, banning dairy, wheat and legumes -- food groups that many nutritionists feel should be part of a healthy diet. However, as we noted earlier in this section, veganism and vegetarianism also ban entire food groups and do not come under the same cloud of criticism.
1000 crunches a night may get you strong abdominal muscles, but with a full layer of fat on top, you will not get the results you really want. Instead of all those crunches, do exercises that engage multiple muscle groups and work your cardiovascular system. Try planking, where you hold yourself in a push-up position, resting your forearms on the ground. Try 3 or 4 sets of holding for 30 seconds each. Getting up and moving throughout the day by going for walks will also help.
“Don't like eating meat?” asks Ginger Hultin, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in Seattle and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Then don't be paleo! Travel a lot and rely on eating out? The DASH diet may end in frustration for you.” The bottom line: The diet you choose needs to be safe and effective, while taking into account your lifestyle.
But the greatest benefit enjoyed by dieters who stretch is that it relieves stress. People who struggle with weight loss often cite emotional eating as a key reason that they cheat on their diets. If dieters can find a healthier way to relieve stress then they may be able to use it as a preventative solution to eliminate binge eating or cheating when their emotions get the best of them.
But the greatest benefit enjoyed by dieters who stretch is that it relieves stress. People who struggle with weight loss often cite emotional eating as a key reason that they cheat on their diets. If dieters can find a healthier way to relieve stress then they may be able to use it as a preventative solution to eliminate binge eating or cheating when their emotions get the best of them.
When Johns Hopkins researchers compared the effects on the heart of losing weight through a low-carbohydrate diet versus a low-fat diet for six months—each containing the same amount of calories—those on a low-carb diet lost an average of 10 pounds more than those on a low-fat diet—28.9 pounds versus 18.7 pounds. An extra benefit of the low-carb diet is that it produced a higher quality of weight loss, Stewart says. With weight loss, fat is reduced, but there is also often a loss of lean tissue (muscle), which is not desirable. On both diets, there was a loss of about 2 to 3 pounds of good lean tissue along with the fat, which means that the fat loss percentage was much higher on the low-carb diet.
Considering that only 1 in 10 Americans meet their produce requirements, it’s pretty safe to say you need to eat more veggies. And no matter what food philosophy you subscribe to, veggies are a big part of the program. Vegetables have a lot going for them: They fill you up for very few calories, and they flood your body with the nutrients it needs to fight diseases, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
Cons: That same study on the perks of being a keto athlete also found those same dieters had a lower exercise economy (how efficiently you use oxygen while moving). And whereas pretty much every other diet offers flexibility in the macro range, eating a few too many grams of carbs or protein will knock your body out of ketosis, so you have to be pretty committed to see the perks of this one. Lastly, the low protein count required to stay in ketosis may be holding you back here: A study analysis in Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases found upping protein on a keto diet by just 5% tripled fat loss.

The body senses stress and adapts as quickly as possible, your body starts to adapt to your exercise routine. When begins to adapt, you stop seeing results. You burn less calories and tax your muscles inefficiently. It doesn’t take long for you to start questioning little to no weight loss from your 45 minute elliptical ride five times a week. However, once the training parameters change, the body must re-adapt, thereby accelerating your progress. If possible change your exercise routine every three to four weeks.


Regardless of where you stand, the fact is that the Paleo way of eating is becoming increasingly popular, as are "nutritional reset" programs based upon Paleo, such as the Primal Blueprint 21-day Challenge hosted by Marks Daily Apple, or the Whole30 program, popularized by the New York Times bestseller, It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways (Est. $15).
Again, cycling is an effective cardio exercise, which strengthens leg muscles and burns abdominal fat. You can experiment with resistance and grip on the cycle to modify your workout. Another thing you should do is to replace your other vehicles with a bicycle for short distances. Nowadays, spin classes are very famous. They are fun, entertaining and effective.
So how does this work? A quick run-through: The first tip was to eat low carb. This is because a low-carb diet lowers your levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin, allowing your fat deposits to shrink and release their stored energy. This tends to cause you to want to consume fewer calories than you expend – without hunger – and lose weight. Several of the tips mentioned above are about fine-tuning your diet to better this effect.

With those disclaimers out of the way, however, it’s also true that there are certain exercises and workouts that can be particularly useful in helping you lose weight or burn fat or change your body composition as you please (and, on that token, there are certain mistakes you might be making in your exercise routines that can get in the way of your weight loss goals). The best workouts for weight loss, as we explore below, all have certain elements in common: They’re generally high-intensity and they burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time.
If you're reading this right now, you're probably in the market for a heart-thumping, blood-pumping, balls-to-the-wall workout. And, friend, we've got you covered. We're all about helping you get sweaty in pursuit of your goals, whether that means getting stronger, hitting a new PR, or losing weight. But let's be real for a second here: The tricky thing about weight-loss workouts is that they're kinda, sorta... a myth. Don't get me wrong—if you're trying to lose weight, a solid exercise regimen should be part of your plan. It just can't be the only part.
Strength training is the kind of exercise that builds healthy muscle tissue. Strong muscles help you to move your body more efficiently. Some people refer to strength training as “lifting weights” but there are simple body weight exercises that qualify as strength training even though they don't involve lifting a dumbbell or a weight plate on a machine.
Bye bye muffin top! Abdominals, a set collectively known as the core includes the many interconnected muscles that run up the back and stretch down to the butt and the front and inner thighs - not just the fat that blooms over the top of your skinny jeans. Here are weight loss exercises that will keep the love handles away:Crunches - Lie on your back with your knees bent, and your hands behind your head. Lift your shoulders off the floor and curl your legs towards your ribcage; simultaneously. Slowly, return to starting position.
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14 ways to lose weight without diet or exercise Strict diets can be challenging to follow, and people may not always have the time or ability to exercise. However, a variety of simple lifestyle changes can help people lose weight and improve their health. These include taking probiotics, getting enough sleep, and thoroughly chewing food. Learn more here. Read now
There is always a lot of controversy when it comes to evaluating diets. Many people are firmly in one camp or another over the "right" way to eat. Studies are often contradictory in their findings, and many critics charge that government recommendations are influenced by the food industry. We present the controversies and cross-opinions, when relevant, but we do not take sides; in our opinion the best diet is the one you feel best on and can stick with.
Also, the natural sugar in fruit does affect your carbohydrate intake — especially if you eat a lot of fruit. This may temporarily raise your blood sugar or certain blood fats. However, this effect is lessened if you are losing weight. If you have diabetes or any other health conditions or concerns, work with your doctor to adjust the Mayo Clinic Diet for your situation. For example, people with diabetes should aim for more vegetables than fruits, if possible. It's a good idea to snack on vegetables, rather than snacking only on fruit.
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 number one training method the experts turn to again and again for weight loss: interval training. What's that? "Any form of exercise where your heart rate spikes and then comes down repeatedly," says Rilinger. This generally means going hard for a set interval of time (hence the name), followed by active rest, then going hard again. That active recovery portion is key. You need to take it down a notch—OK, several notches—before ramping back up to a higher intensity interval.

Consider weight training “the mother of all weight-loss techniques, the highest in the workout food chain, the top of the totem pole,” says Rilinger. Resistance training, whether it’s with your bodyweight alone or with added weights, is an effective method to help you drop pounds, if that’s your goal. Lifting weights has been shown to increase your resting metabolic rate, which means you’ll continue to burn calories even after you finish working out. It’s called the “afterburn effect,” and you can read all about it here. Rilinger suggests adding weight training to your routine at least three times a week. And since your body adjusts to workouts after being exposed to the same moves at the same intensity, becoming less effective over time, she says to mix it up about every three weeks to keep your body guessing.


What the diet advocate says: ‘We are committed to always being the best weight management program on the planet, but now we’re putting our decades of knowledge and expertise in behavioral science to work for an even greater mission,’ says Mindy Grossman, President and Chief Executive Officer, WW. ‘We are becoming the world’s partner in wellness. No matter what your goal is – to lose weight, eat healthier, move more, develop a positive mind-set, or all of the above – we will deliver science-based solutions that fit into people’s lives.’
Both Weight Watchers and Noom provide lots of guidance. If you’re more of a self-starter — someone who just needs to be pointed in the right direction — The Mayo Clinic Diet provides pure resources. Picking up the entertaining, densely informative book is the only associated cost. You can also get the app for about half the cost of WW Mobile, but we didn’t find it as useful.
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