While many people turn to artificial sweeteners in a misguided attempt to whittle their waistlines, those fake sugars are likely to have the opposite effect. According to researchers at Yale, artificial sweeteners are actually linked with an increased risk of abdominal obesity and weight gain, possibly because they can trigger cravings for the real stuff and spike insulin levels in a similar fashion to real sugar.
Those trans fats on your menu are hiding out in plain sight and sabotaging your lean belly plans every time you eat them. If a food product says it contains partially hydrogenated oils, you’re eating trans fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and obesity with every bite. In fact, research conducted at Wake Forest University reveals that monkeys whose diets contained eight percent trans fat upped their body fat by 7.2 percent over a six-year study, while those who ate monounsaturated fat gained just a fraction of that amount. Instead of letting harmful trans fat take up space on your menu, fill up with the 20 Healthy Fats to Make You Thin.
When you're at the gym, don't head straight for the treadmills. Tim Rich, personal trainer and district fitness manager at Crunch Gyms in San Francisco says, "you lose steam when you save the weights for last, and that's where the magic happens." Weight-training burns approximately 30 to 50 more calories a day for every pound of muscle you gain, so "when you have more energy you'll be able to lift heavier weights, which helps you burn more fat everywhere, including your belly," he says. And researchers found that, while those who lifted heavy weights lost the same amount of weight as those who only did cardio, the only weight they lost was fat—the cardio queens lost muscle, and that's never good, especially as you get older.
Very low calorie diets provide 200–800 calories per day, maintaining protein intake but limiting calories from both fat and carbohydrates. They subject the body to starvation and produce an average loss of 1.5–2.5 kg (3.3–5.5 lb) per week. "2-4-6-8", a popular diet of this variety, follows a four-day cycle in which only 200 calories are consumed the first day, 400 the second day, 600 the third day, 800 the fourth day, and then totally fasting, after which the cycle repeats. These diets are not recommended for general use as they are associated with adverse side effects such as loss of lean muscle mass, increased risks of gout, and electrolyte imbalances. People attempting these diets must be monitored closely by a physician to prevent complications.
4. Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans (including soy). Studies show that these plant-based disease-fighters make up only 10% of the calories in the American diet. Plant-based foods are high in water and fiber and essential vitamins and antioxidants, yet very low in calories. Diets high in plant-based foods play a key role in the prevention of diseases, including obesity, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
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.