But don’t lose hope just yet. You can still incorporate strategies that help you lose total body fat, which will benefit your belly. At the end of the day, nothing sheds belly fat like diet, exercise, and everyday changes to your lifestyle. The slimmer stomach of your dreams is always within reach, but it takes time and dedication. Commit to these habits, and you’ll start dropping pounds before you know it.
Note: Are you a vegetarian or vegan and want to go on a ketogenic diet? It’s still possible! Just keep in mind that the dietary restrictions can sometimes be a little bit intense. Make sure to plan ahead and prepare to aid your success. To help out, we’ve published articles (with 7 day meal plans included) for both the vegetarian ketogenic diet and the vegan ketogenic diet.
Even though the diet does provide foods from serval food groups, registered dietitian Toby Amidor R.D. says it's not enough for complete daily nutrition—especially since high-calorie, low-nutrient foods like hot dogs and vanilla ice cream are part of the limited menu. "Due to the lack of adequate amounts of whole grains, vegetables, dairy, and protein, you won't be able to meet your complete nutrient needs over these three days," she explains.
A complete plant protein boasting all nine essential amino acids, quinoa is a weight loss superfood win. One cup of cooked quinoa has about 220 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein. “Complex carbohydrates like those in quinoa can help with satiety when eaten with other healthy foods (like heart-healthy avocados for a healthy dose of fats) that inevitably will help with weight loss in the long run,” explains Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, CPT.
Stop treating your kitchen like an all-night diner and you’ll stop seeing those unwanted pounds piling onto your frame, too. The results of a study published in Cell Metabolism found that mice who only had access to food during an eight-hour period stayed slim over the course of the study, while those who ate the same number of calories over a 16-hour period gained significantly more weight, particularly around their middle. When you’re finished with dinner at night, shut the fridge and don’t look back until morning — your belly will thank you. When you do head back to the kitchen in the A.M., make sure the 40 Things Healthy Cooks Always Have in Their Kitchen are there waiting for you.
"Your body needs a healthy balance of exercise and rest. Doing too much prevents the body from shifting excess fat. Exercising without rest can impact our levels of the steroid hormone cortisol and cause an increase of stubborn fat stored in the belly. Not allowing your body to recover can increase the risk of injury too, so make sure you factor in rest days to your plan."
We reached out to two experts to see what they thought — and if the diet works. "It’s a low calorie diet that includes typical American foods," said Janis Jibrin, MS, RD, an adjunct professor of Nutrition at American University. "It’s nutritionally deficient, but not as crazy as some (i.e. juice fasts)." When it comes to the meal plan, she's not a fan. "It’s too low in many nutrients," she explains. Day 2 alone is "so low in fiber, iron, calcium and other nutrients, yet it manages to hit the daily sodium max. (Actually, most health authorities recommend 2,300 mg as a max, so this diet exceeds it.) Sure, the other four days offer more calories and nutrients, but even so, you’re still skimping."
^ McMillan-Price, J.; Petocz, P.; Atkinson, F.; O'neill, K.; Samman, S.; Steinbeck, K.; Caterson, I.; Brand-Miller, Janette Cecile (2006). Written at Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. "Comparison of 4 Diets of Varying Glycemic Load on Weight Loss and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction in Overweight and Obese Young Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial" (PDF). Archives of Internal Medicine. USA (published 24 July 2006). 166 (14): 1466–75. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.14.1466. PMID 16864756.
Just this week, a 25,000-person study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich suggested that people on the lowest-carb diets had the highest risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular conditions, and all other causes. Another study, published this month in the Lancet, also found that people who followed diets that were low in carbs and high in animal proteins had a higher risk of early death compared to those who consumed carbs in moderation. (The opposite was true, however, for low-carb dieters who opted for plant-based proteins over meat and dairy.)
Do you really need to lose weight? We weren't all born to be thin or conform to society's definition of the ideal body. Your body size and shape depend on multiple factors, including your genes, eating patterns, Resting Energy Expenditure (see definition below) and exercise. You may want to accept and Love Your Body while trying to improve your health.
I know it's cliché, but let me get specific: When I arrive at a party, I don’t go immediately to the food. I first think about how many hours I plan on being there and try to pace myself accordingly. If I know it’s a three-hour buffet dinner, I may not start eating until an hour into being there. I’ll focus on drinking lots of water first and talk to people, so I don’t stuff my face too early and overdo it.