But the whole idea of fast weight loss may be the root of the problem. According to a Time expose on the subject: “When people are asked to envision their perfect size, many cite a dream weight loss up to three times as great as what a doctor might recommend.” An improbable and disheartening goal, and one that obscures the truth that losing small amounts of weight — even ten pounds — still has great health benefits.
And maybe a new mattress, because it’s not just the amount of time you spend sleeping that keeps you lean, it’s also the quality of your sleep. Fat cells in your body produce a hormone called leptin that helps the body keep track of how much potential energy (i.e. fat) it has stored. But leptin is only produced during certain stages of sleep. Miss out on those stages because you’re not resting soundly enough, and you’ll disturb levels of the hormone, leaving your body with no real idea of its energy reserves. Consequently, you’ll end up storing calories rather than burning them.
Before we get into the best workouts for weight loss and how to use exercise as a tool in your weight loss journey, let’s make two things clear. First, there are a huge number of reasons to work out that have absolutely nothing to do with losing weight. From mental health benefits to better sleep to boosted immunity, regular exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise doesn’t have to be about losing weight, and for a huge number of people, it isn’t.
But just because belly fat comes off a bit more easily doesn’t make it less dangerous. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. “Belly fat is unfortunately the most dangerous location to store fat,” says Dr. Cheskin. Because belly fat—also known as visceral fat, or the deep abdominal fat that surrounds your organs—is more temporary, it’s more active in terms of circulating in the bloodstream. That means it’s likely to raise the amount of fat in your blood (known as blood lipid levels) and increase your blood sugar levels, which as a result raises your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
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."