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.
Ready to step it up with your Fitbit tracker and set some new health and fitness goals? That’s awesome! Cue the fireworks! But if your ultimate goal is to lose weight, unfortunately, activity alone isn’t going to get you there—you also have to change what you eat. That does not mean you need to do a cleanse or detox. But it is possible to get a jump on weight loss, the smart and healthy way. Fitbit Dietitian Tracy Morris developed this kickstart one-week meal plan to help her clients see results, fast. Disclaimers: Please don’t try to lose more than 2 pounds per week, or dip below 1200 calories per day, which can compromise your metabolism. This is not a long-term plan, so you definitely don’t want to eat this way every week. But it’s a great way to kick off a weight loss goal, with specific meal and snack ideas, so you’ll see an initial drop—and be extra motivated to keep the momentum going this year. Increase your drive to succeed, and see how many consecutive days your can stay on track, by using Fitbit’s food logging feature.
While a kettlebell workout isn’t technically a cardio-only exercise, its calorie-burning effects are too high to keep off this list. “Kettlebell workouts combine the best of both worlds: strength training and cardio,” says Adams. “In addition, a recent study on the calorie-burning effects of this type of workout puts it at around 20 calories per minute.” This total takes into account not only the aerobic calorie expenditure, but also the anaerobic calories burned. Very few cardio exercises build muscle—this is one of the exceptions. You can expect to burn around 400-600 calories in just 30 minutes, says Adams.
As for cross fit, I’d suggest passing on it. Newbies are too often motivated to the point where they try to progress too quickly. There is a ‘hardcore’ culture in cross fit gyms and nowhere else have I seen more people sacrifice good form and safety so that they can outdo the person next to them. I’m not knocking it all together, but just warning people new to it that many crossfitters get hurt a lot and don’t concentrate on perfecting proper form.
I'm not telling you that it's easy, but it really is pretty simple. In an age where people don't even have to go outside to grill a steak, it's tempting to spend a few dollars on a quick fix. Human anatomy hasn't changed much throughout history, however. If you adopt your grandparents' work ethic and apply it to your every day life, you will achieve your greatest results.
Pros: Technically a subtype of low-carb diet, the keto diet is unique: By depriving your body of carbohydrates, you not only force your body to become fat-adapted, but also, if you keep protein low as well, elevate your levels of ketone bodies, which is basically a sign your body is running on fat. The keto diet puts you in a unique metabolic state called ketosis wherein your brain burns ketones instead of glucose—and, in doing so, supposedly leads to clearer thinking. Physically, eating such a high amount of fat significantly increases your body’s ability to burn body fat, according to the study analysis. Research also shows keto athletes have a higher VO2 max, and are able to lose fat without losing strength or power.
The South Beach Diet is also considered low-carb, but it's not as restrictive as Atkins in its later phases. In fact, even in the early phases of the South Beach Diet, small servings of complex, non-vegetable carbs are allowed. South Beach earns high praise for weight loss and as an overall healthy way of eating, but gets panned for its complicated meal plans and time-consuming recipes by both users and experts. The ingredients in its recipes can jack up your grocery bill as well. Still, it's popular for those who love to cook, or prefer meals that aren't just a hunk of meat and a vegetable (or two).
Lifestyle fit: Figure out whether a plan is compatible with your lifestyle before committing. Some meal plans are very simple; others require more work. Think about how much time and planning goes into each weight loss program. Some people find that meal planning and preparation takes up too much time, while others enjoy planning meals and spending time in the kitchen.
Here's the thing: Working out isn't enough on its own to make weight loss happen. There's so much else that goes into weight loss and body fat loss; in fact, exercise isn't even technically necessary in many cases. If you want to lose weight—and it's totally cool if you do and totally cool if you don't—adopting healthy eating habits has got to be step numero uno. To get technical, you need to create a calorie deficit, which means using more calories in a day than you consume—and the consumption part plays a much bigger role in that than burning calories in the gym, or while carrying your groceries home, or any of the other myriad ways you put your muscles to work each day. Other lifestyle habits, like sleep and stress management, and health conditions (think thyroid issues, to name just one of many) also affect your weight. Point is, weight loss is a complicated and extremely personal journey that doesn't look or work the exact same way from one person to the next.
The truth is that weight loss is about creating a calorie deficit -- in other words, burning more calories than you take in. So, they say, while running at an 8-minute-mile pace might be a great calorie burner, if you're not going to do it, it's not going to help you. Instead, start with something you can do, like walking or working out on an elliptical machine or exercise bike.
Rounding out the top three for best weight loss programs on the U.S. News and World Report 2016 rankings, the Biggest Loser meal plan uses a pyramid system with fruits and veggies setting the foundation. Simple tenets back the plan: for example, being mindful of portion control, keeping a food diary, and exercising regularly. So, yes, work will be involved, but the plan is sustainable in the long-term and a likely way to shed pounds.