Shedding the extra weight all comes down to diet and exercise.
But when looking for ways to go the extra mile without all the rules and routine, there are a few tricks that will help you see results a little faster.
Get More Fiber
You don’t have to eat a bag of Grandma’s prunes. Leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, and beans are all good for keeping away the fat that stays deep in your belly. That’s called visceral fat, and it’s the most dangerous kind because it can wrap around major organs, including your liver, pancreas, and kidneys.
Get More Fat
Seriously. When it comes to fat vs. carbs, believe it or not, fat may be the better choice for your belly. Studies show that when fat calories replace carbohydrate calories in a balanced weight-loss diet, people gain less fat around the middle. And that’s the worst place to carry it. A woman who has a waist of more than 35 inches or a man who has one of more than 40 is at greater risk of a heart attack, a stroke, or possibly even certain types of cancer.
Stop Trying to Outrun It
Still trying to “burn off” that belly fat by pounding the pavement hour upon hour? Research shows that a few quick bursts of high-intensity exercise — a 30-second sprint or intense pull-up set — may be more effective, not to mention easier to fit into your schedule.
Sleep: the Goldilocks Formula
When it comes to weight gain, shut-eye is a bit like porridge: Too little — less than 5 hours — can increase belly fat. But too much — more than 8 hours — can do that, too. “Just right” seems to be around 6 or 7 hours.
Forget a ‘Quick Fix’
If you think cosmetic surgery can undo the negative effects of belly fat, think again. Liposuction doesn’t reach inside the abdominal wall, so it can’t get rid of harmful visceral belly fat.
Are you stressed out? That can make you eat more fat and sugar, and unleash the “stress hormone” cortisol, which can boost belly fat. Stress also can make you sleep less, exercise less, and drink more alcohol — which can add belly fat, too. A great reason to take a deep breath, unwind, and relax.
As if you need another reason to quit. Lighting up makes you more likely to store fat in your belly, rather than your hips and thighs. And that’s bad. Oh, and it’s also a cause of diabetes. And cancer. And heart disease. And lung disease. And … you get the idea.
Think about hitting the gym instead of the trail. In one study, healthy middle-aged men who did 20 minutes of daily weight training gained less abdominal fat than men who spent the same time doing aerobic exercises, such as biking. So lift something heavy. And 12-ounce curls at your local drinking establishment do not qualify.