It takes more than just crunches! We start to gain weight in our midsection when our cortisol levels spike. Stress is one of the primary culprits for high levels of cortisol secretion. When this happens cortisol breaks downs lean muscle (the type of tissue that burns calories most efficiently) and also holds on to fat storage in the abdominal region. That stress can even get WORSE with bad dieting; studies show that the stress caused by dieting can increase cortisol levels, making no change in belly fat even with calorie restriction. So how do you shape up? Incorporate these 6 things below and you will be on your way to a flatter belly in no time flat!
If you've been trying to eat healthy for a long time, you know how quickly you get sick of chicken breasts and broccoli. Break out of your diet rut with the Middle Eastern diet. It's based on the same principles as the Mediterranean diet but with more of an emphasis on plant-based foods and a different flavor profile. With all the tasty and healthy spices, you'll never get bored of making dinner and you'll get all the same heart-healthy benefits as its geographical cousin's diet.
The keto diet did jump considerably in one specific category, however: This year it tied with several other diets for No. 2 in Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets (after the HMR Diet, a commercial plan that replaces most meals with pre-packaged nutrition bars and shakes), up from No. 13 last year. “Yes, you can do this for quick weight loss,” says Dr. Katz, “but I wouldn’t recommend it.”
4. You'll need to find a workout you genuinely enjoy if you have any hope of sticking with it. "Finding a trainer or workout that makes you happy is actually really important to weight loss," says Rilinger. When you enjoy doing it you'll be more likely to stick with it. Below are 10 workouts that will help you reach your weight loss goal. If you've tried one of the classes here and there and didn't really love it, don't give up on the sport or practice altogether. You may not have found an instructor you love yet, and that can make or break your goals.

Sure, you can lose weight quickly. There are plenty of fad diets that work to shed pounds rapidly -- while leaving you feeling hungry and deprived. But what good is losing weight only to regain it? To keep pounds off permanently, it's best to lose weight slowly. And many experts say you can do that without going on a "diet." Instead, the key is making simple tweaks to your lifestyle.
When you build muscle, you increase the amount of lean tissue on your body. A body with more lean muscle mass burns more calories even when it is at rest. For this reason, experts recommend that we include strength training exercises to lose weight more effectively. You don’t have to be bulky and muscular, but a toned tight frame is more likely to have an efficient metabolism. A body with more muscle also has a better shape than a body that has more fat.
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.
Why it works: Burpees are a full-body workout that don’t require any equipment. You’re targeting multiple muscles as you work, which increases your overall energy expenditure. Plus, capping your workout with a HIIT sprint session will help you reap the benefits of an aerobic workout without having to go on a distance run. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

When you severely restrict carbs, your body draws on glycogen for energy — meaning that you’ll drop water weight quickly during the first few weeks. This fact alone can encourage you to stick with it, but ultimately, if limiting most carbs and some protein is dramatically out of your comfort zone, then it’s crucial that you consider how you can achieve weight loss for the long haul.
Burning body and belly fat with cardio exercises is half the battle. Next is strengthening abdominal muscles so you have something to show once the fat is shed. In a recent study, ab exercises were ranked from best to worst. The bicycle exercise ranked as #1 because it requires abdominal stabilization, body rotation, and more abdominal muscle activity.

One of the biggest differentiating factors of Weight Watchers is their famous claim that you can eat whatever you want. A points-based system allows members to select which indulgences they want to spend their calories on, and that’s also one of the secrets to its success. When people feel that they aren’t being restricted, psychologically, it is easier for them to follow a diet plan. This is part of what you’ll get from a Weight Watchers membership:

Another diet that's highly ranked by experts is the Mediterranean Diet (Free). Experts say that eating the Mediterranean way is the healthiest dietary choice you can make. The difficulty for most people is figuring out exactly what that means since there is no formal "Mediterranean Diet;" rather, it's a way of eating that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats in moderation, whole grains, legumes, seeds and healthy fats. However, there are some guidelines on the Oldways website that may be helpful, and there are a wealth of other online resources from those who have adopted the Mediterranean diet lifestyle, as well as plenty of cookbooks.


The Paleo Diet (Free) is not intended to be a weight loss diet, per se, but rather a way of eating that is meant to be permanent. In many Paleo protocols, there is a strong emphasis on grass-fed or organic foods, which can be pricey and may not be readily available to some, but other programs recommend that you just purchase the highest quality of food you can afford. Exercise is strongly encouraged. You don't count calories; you just eat until you're satiated.


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.
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.
The popular "flat belly diets"embrace much of the wisdom found in eating a Mediterranean diet, which helps everything from brain health to hearth health. The basic premise for both diets is eat foods rich in monosaturated fatty acids (MUFA) that may help reduce your belly fat storage. MUFA-rich foods include olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocodos, and fish. Eating yogurt regularly has also been found to be helpful in reducing belly fat.

And that brings us to the second thing: If your goal is to lose weight, you should know that working out isn’t enough on its own to actually make that happen. There’s so much else that goes into weight loss and body fat loss; in fact, exercise isn’t even technically necessary to lose weight for most people. We wouldn’t ever recommend a weight loss regimen that doesn’t include exercise, though, because exercise is good for you and it’s a healthy way to live. And on that note, even if you are doing everything “right” — working out regularly, eating appropriately — lifestyle habits like sleep and stress, and health conditions (think thyroid issues, to name just one of many) can get in the way of your weight loss efforts. Weight loss is an extremely personal journey that doesn’t look or work the exact same way from one person to the next.
She recommends adding a pinch of Celtic sea salt or real salt (unrefined and unbleached) to your water before chugging. "The electrolytes in the salt will push water into the cells where they need to be, rather than letting the water get flushed out, causing you to go to the bathroom every other minute." You'll notice a spike in energy after staying hydrated, too, and you'll be less likely to give in to cravings which are even harder to avoid when you're running on empty.

The Volumetrics plan does not have a website, therefore there is no formal support, but it can be paired with any free online support program, such as SparkPeople or MyFitnessPal, both free, highly rated diet and fitness-support websites. For some people the big drawback to the Volumetrics approach is that food preparation, both shopping and cooking, is not optional -- you will need to have some level of comfort in the kitchen. However, the book features meal plans, and the recipes are reported as easy to follow by consumer reviewers. At least one expert says this particular approach is probably best for people who have hunger or portion-control issues rather than emotional eaters who often eat for reasons other than hunger. Also, if you're more a meat-and-potatoes kind of eater, you may get weary of a diet that's heavy on vegetables, fruits and soups.

The South Beach Diet started as a book that was originally published in 2003, The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss (Est. $9). The book is still considered to be the best way to get information on the basic diet, but there are also many follow up books and cookbooks to supplement the original, as well as South Beach compliant recipes available around the Internet. The official South Beach Diet website is mostly fee-based.

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.
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