There’s one thing to like about visceral fat: It yields fairly easily to aerobic exercise. Vaporizing calories via running, biking, swimming—anything that gets your heart rate up—is an effective way to whittle your middle. In fact, one 2011 study from Duke University Medical Center, published in the American Journal of Physiology, found the sweet spot: Jogging the equivalent of 12 miles a week was even more effective in reducing visceral fat than resistance training three times per week. However, both types of exercise were beneficial when it came to belly fat, the researchers say. (Don’t have time to hit the gym? Try these fun at-home cardio workouts if you’re in a pinch.)
The diet doesn't offer balanced nutrition: some of the recommended foods are high in sodium, the reduced calorie intake is below the recommended allotment for both men and women, and you may not receive sufficient fiber, vitamins, and minerals during this three-day period. Prolonged application of the diet may weaken your organs and immunity as well as increase your risk of heart damage.
There's not a lot of reliable information available about how the military diet plan was started — or, for that matter, who started it. MilitaryDiet.co and TheMilitaryDiet.com, the two main resource sites for the diet regimen, are both run by fans and proponents of the diet without any cited health professional credentials. According to them, though, the military diet plan is an intermittent fasting diet that combines three days of a strict, low-calorie meal plan with four days of eating whatever you want (as long as it still falls below the calorie intake).
Unfortunately, some women are just more prone to carrying weight in their middle instead of their hips and thighs. Sometimes, it’s genetics—maybe your mother was more apple-shaped. Belly fat can also increase around menopause, or for women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Even certain lifestyle habits, from lack of sleep to stress, can make your belly grow. To lose belly fat, talking with a doctor about what other factors may be affecting your weight gain can be a good place to start. From there, you can craft a belly fat busting routine.
There's a reason (well actually, many reasons) why lentils are considered one of the world's healthiest foods. With 13 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber per serving, this legume—another member of the pulse family—will keep you feeling full for hours in between meals. They're a great source of fat-burning resistant starch, too, with 3.4 grams in a half-cup serving.
If you want to sip your way to a faster metabolism, pour yourself a cup of green tea. The beverage is filled with powerful antioxidants that can help fight inflammation, burn fat, and increase energy. According to one study, drinking five cups a day could help you lose twice as much weight, mainly in your midsection. And drinking green tea could also reduce risk of Parkinson's disease, as well as ovarian, colorectal, skin, and prostate cancers.
Day two is even lighter fare. For breakfast, have one slice of whole-wheat toast, one egg cooked however you like, and half a banana. Lunch is one cup of cottage cheese, one hard-boiled egg, and five (yep, count 'em out) saltine crackers. Dinner features two hot dogs (just the hot dogs themselves, no buns or condiments), one cup of broccoli, a half cup of carrots, half a banana, and one half cup of vanilla ice cream.
Compared to other nut varieties, pine nuts tend to be on the pricier side, but adding them to your shopping cart could be a good investment for your health. Research suggests that the fatty acids in these little nuts could increase satiety hormones, helping you feel full. They're also packed with vitamin B1 and manganese, a mineral that helps your body metabolize carbohydrates and protein.
Thanks to the hormone estrogen, the female body likes to hold on to fat, too. A study in Obesity Reviews shows that women store fat more efficiently than men in an effort to prepare the body for pregnancy. But while it seems like women may have drawn the short-end of the stick, the stereotypical pear-shape is actually considered healthier than boasting a beer gut, because belly fat is a red flag when it comes to your health. “Visceral fat is associated with increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome,” says Harris-Pincus.
The Military 3-Day Diet plan is one of the most regimented diets that I’ve ever reviewed for Cooking Light. It’s free to sign up, and participants can download the plan directly from militarydiet.com. The plan is a weekly cycle that includes a three-day meal plan, followed by 4 days off. You can repeat this cycle as many times as you need until your weight loss goal is met.
The Military Diet’s focus on small quantities of high-fat food might leave you feeling hungry, too. “This is allowing a very little bit of rich food,” explains Gomer, noting that you’ll still feel hungry despite indulging in ice cream each night. “It makes me frustrated because I could give people six times the amount of food [for the same amount of calories],” says Gomer.
That sour cherry is pretty sweet when it comes to your health. The results of a study conducted at the University of Michigan found that rats given high-fat foods along with tart cherries ditched nine percent more body fat than those in a control group over just 12 weeks. Cherries are also a good source of antioxidant pigment resveratrol, which has been linked to reductions in belly fat, dementia risk, and lower rates of macular degeneration among the elderly.
Boredom is dangerous and so easily leads to weight gain. While free time gets perceived as relaxing, it actually makes me feel anxious, which can lead to bad eating habits. My busiest days are the ones when I tend to focus less on my food and more on what I need to get done. That's why I always try to fill my schedule with things that make me feel productive—so I don’t find myself rummaging through the pantry for a lack of something to do.