Visceral fat, commonly known as belly fat, is the layer of fat below the muscles of your abdomen. Due to its crucial location surrounding many of your vital organs, belly fat supplies a constant source of energy but also exposes the body to harmful toxins and hormones. When you have too many fat cells or your fat cells get too large, they can overproduce toxins that increase your risk for chronic inflammation, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This is why belly fat can be more dangerous than subcutaneous fat—or the outer layer of fat that you can pinch with your fingers. That said, the reason you're having trouble buttoning your pants may not be visceral fat: what we're calling "belly fat" these days could be bloating or water retention rather than a fat buildup. Read on for steps you can take to beat the bulge.
We’re almost up to speed, but still rewind a little bit back to the early years of college. In the fall of 2012 I started school at Truman State University in good old Kirksville, Missouri. If you’re in college or have been to college, you know that it’s the time to form independence and truly make decisions, on your own, for how you wish to live your life. For a lot of people this means starting over, turning over a new leaf, making new habits, developing a new lifestyle, etc. Honestly college is crazy and weird and I don’t want to ramble on it too much because this post is focused more on the fitness/nutrition journey I’ve experienced (though I now realize its all connected.)
It takes more than just crunches! We start to gain weight in our midsection when our cortisol levels spike. Stress is one of the primary culprits for high levels of cortisol secretion. When this happens cortisol breaks downs lean muscle (the type of tissue that burns calories most efficiently) and also holds on to fat storage in the abdominal region. That stress can even get WORSE with bad dieting; studies show that the stress caused by dieting can increase cortisol levels, making no change in belly fat even with calorie restriction. So how do you shape up? Incorporate these 6 things below and you will be on your way to a flatter belly in no time flat!
Drinking plenty of water is essential for overall health, and is a great way to boost your weight-loss efforts. But if you’re getting your H2O from cheap bottled water, the bottle itself could pose a problem; Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, has been linked to obesity, and it’s still found in many cheap plastics. A 2011 Harvard study found that adults with the highest concentration of BPA in their urine had significantly larger waists and a chance of being obese than those without as much of the chemical in their systems. So if you must drink store-bought bottled water, check to see if the bottle is BPA-free. And whatever you do, don’t reuse the same bottle; constantly refilling the same plastic bottle can cause BPA to leak into the water.
The fact of the matter is battling the bulge takes different strategies and approaches depending upon your genetics, your metabolism, your willpower, etc. What works for your buddy won’t necessarily be your be-all and end-all solution. To simplify things, we compiled plenty of tips to help rev your metabolism, lose your love handles, and unsheathe your abs. You’ll have to do some trial and error to deduce which ones work best for you (hey, losing weight is hard work). But if you put in the work (aka incorporate a few of these tips each week), you’ll be well on your way to a smaller waistline. Who said your glory days were in the past?
Ease into running. You might get discouraged if you attempt a jog without building up that type of strength—and this could put a damper on your motivation. "I started walking, and before long, I was running," says Cipriana Cuevas, who lost 60 pounds and eventually completed a half marathon. "Getting lighter made running easier, and, in turn, more fun."
Women who ate low-fat dairy products, such as non-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese three to four times a day lost 70 percent more fat than low-dairy dieters, according to a study published in the journal Obesity Research. "Calcium serves as a switch that tells your body to burn excess fat faster," explains study author Michael Zemel, M.D., director of the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Sorry, but you won't reap the same benefits from calcium-fortified O.J. Research shows that you get the best results from dairy products themselves, not fortified foods. Aim for 1,200 mg, which includes about three servings of dairy a day.
Testing your limits brings about than just bragging rights. Lifting a heavier weight for fewer reps burns nearly twice as many calories during the two hours after your workout than lifting a lighter weight for more reps, according to research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Feel smug in the knowledge you’re still torching calories in that 10am meeting.
Thank you so much for your sweet words! I definitely understand that feeling where you just don’t know that you can do it, especially when you have bigger things going on in your life. I am so thankful you have a job! I’m not sure if you are able to, but not having a vehicle may be the perfect way to lose weight while doing practical things – walking to work, the grocery store, friends’ houses, etc. I know sometimes that’s not possible, but you CAN do it! Let me know if you need more specific suggestions and we can talk through some possibilities that may fit your life. Good for you, fighting through the struggles of life. In Him, we are overcomers, and you are living that out daily!
Remember that these are all perfectly understandable evolutionary design features. Higher estrogen levels during puberty drive fat gain as an energy reserve in case you get pregnant. During early pregnancy, they go into overdrive to “stock up” for the approaching challenge. Your body still hasn’t caught up to the 21st century; it still thinks its job is to keep you (a) alive, and (b) fertile in an environment of extreme food scarcity and a constant threat of famine. So storing extra fat at every opportunity makes perfect sense: back in the day, it could have meant the difference between life and death (or a healthy baby and a miscarriage).
I do agree with you 100% that the best way to lose weight is to learn how to eat healthy without excluding any food group from your meals and in essence to follow a balanced diet, but not all people have the patience and willingness to do that. From the hundreds of commercial diets in the market today we consider these 5 to be among the healthiest and most effective for people who want to go for a commercial solutions. Having said that, for those who want to avoid commercial programs they can start by reading: http://www.weightlosshelpandtips.net/2011/04/healthy-weight-loss/
About: Hannah resides in London and she’s positively adorable, clever and fun to follow as she blogs her way to resisting temptation and staying fit and healthy. Hannah’s also been there, done that. Two years ago she lost 50 pounds through a complete lifestyle overhaul. Now, she’s in maintenance mode, but one of the things that’s unique about Hannah is that she still loves to eat out and socialize, and she knows how to do it in a way that doesn’t result in weight gain. And yes, she shares that in her posts.
"Sleep is a cornerstone of weight management because of the impact it has on your hormones that control how you burn fat, how you store fat, and how you're maintaining muscle. The better your hormone balance, the better your weight management. I work my butt off to get eight hours a night, but right now I'm at six—the show is murdering me! Even if I go to bed early my son wakes up."
It's not just what you eat that can make you pack on pounds—it's also how much. Before dropping 102 pounds, DeGennaro did not have a grip on proper serving sizes. "Sitting down to dinner with my husband and three kids, I'd scarf down mounds of pasta and endless rolls," she says. "Adjusting to smaller portions was tricky at first; I'd round out meals with extra veggies to keep from getting hungry."
About: One of the things you’ll notice first when you open up Lori’s blog is that she’s a very visual person — a style that reflects in her posts, which are chock full of photos sharing her fitness, food, travel and more. Lori started blogging about three years ago when she decided to lose 115 pounds. Now, she’s 105 pounds down and went from tipping the scales to doing a triathlon. Quite impressive, especially considering Lori has been overweight all her life. Follow her if you want to read about someone who’s the epitome of success, someone who continues to eat right, stay fit and maintain a huge weight loss.
Top Quote: “If I surrender, give up the fight to do it all alone, then I’ll probably remain on the outskirts of that tribe of origin permanently. Is that a tough thing to write? You bet. But here’s the gorgeous thing about life – you can make your own tribe. You can form your own crew, you can find other lovable, crazy-about-life people that will be there to support you and lift you up.”
Weight training is the ultimate way to burn calories fast. "A pound of muscle burns up to nine times the calories of a pound of fat," explains Richard Cotton, M.A., chief exercise physiologist for myexerciseplan.com. Weight training increases your resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories you burn while sitting on your butt. What's more, it gives your metabolism an added boost after you exercise, staying in overdrive for up to two hours after the last bench press, according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Strapped for time? Try these quick moves: squats, bench step-ups, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups and planks. In a pinch, just do single sets of 10 for each exercise — you'll get optimal results for the time invested.
I always refrain from providing any hacks or tips I might recommend to shed the “last ten pounds” or what-have-you. I find most of these tips to be unhealthy and antagonistic to healthy weight maintenance in the long-run. Yet even more importantly, I do not want to open doors to you that lead down winding corridors of obsession with weight loss and body image. I know how terrible it is to walk those corridors. I don’t want to be a part of encouraging anyone to do it. In some ways, I consider it my moral duty to refrain from ever facilitating obsession with appearances.
About: If the title alone doesn’t draw you in, we don’t know what will. Start with Mariana’s “About the Fluff” section, and by then you’re for sure hooked. Mariana is a Puerto Rican on a journey to get rid of everything that weighs her down, whether that’s extra pounds, distractions from living a healthy life, unhealthy relationships, stress, you name it. Her blog is a day-by-day, step-by-step process that blends humor with reality in a way you’re darn sure going to understand if you’ve ever struggled with weight.
Remember that in order to keep the pounds off and maintain your happy weight, you need to develop a healthy lifestyle. That means forming a routine and keeping up the habits so you can hang on to them for life. "I forced myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. four to five times a week to run," says Erin Bowman who has kept off 69 pounds. "My first few were horrible. But I stuck with it, eventually trading my run-walk intervals for steady 45-minute jogs," she says.
Before beginning any nutrition or exercise program like this one, one must consult with their doctors or other licensed physicians and receive full clearance. The author claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application or interpretation of the material in this product.
At SkinnyFit, we believe that healthy is beautiful, just like you. And no matter what phase of your weight loss journey you’re in, we are here to help you look and feel positively radiant from the inside out. We believe that self-love, body positivity, and confidence creates a necessary foundation for a sustainable lifestyle change and that our dedication to providing premium, all-natural health, and wellness products will help you get there.
When Tufts University researchers studied the waistlines and diets of 459 people, they found that even in men of similar age and activity level, those who ate white bread frequently weighed more than those who didn’t. “The calories from white bread and refined grains just seem to settle at the waistline more than calories from other foods,” says Katherine Tucker, Ph.D., the study author.
Additionally, many women have to face one lifestyle change before getting to another, such as overhauling eating habits before taking on exercise. For example, Michelle DeGennaro got a handle on her diet and soon after found that she was more inclined to exercise. "Feeling lighter on my feet was thrilling, and it gave me the confidence to start walking every day," she says. And as Blanca Valdez noticed, "Eating right made my energy soar, which I channeled into exercise." She has kept off 78 pounds.
About: Jade’s 6+ years of experience blogging means, at first glance, we would have passed right over her for this list. But it’s her recent debut into weight loss and healthy living blogging that caught our eye. Jade lives in Singapore, and just looking at Jade’s photos, it’s hard to imagine her as ever being overweight. But in 2012, she was unhappy with the way she looked, a feeling she’d had her whole life. Then the thought occurred to her that she had the power to change it. A total lifestyle overhaul and 44 pounds later, and Jade’s story is a success we can all admire.
You know the kind, says Jillian: "Everyone's like: 'Give up carbs!' 'Give up fat!' 'Wait, no, now I'm taking pills!' None of them are manageable long-term—and they wreak havoc with your metabolism! Because you're either starving yourself or you're cutting out a major food group. Then you go back into weight-gain mode, but it's even worse, because your body has adjusted to all that crazy fad crap."
Another popular mainstream diet, Dr. Barry Sears's plan is considered to be one of the first in the recent wave of "anti-inflammatory" plans. It sets you up for success by calibrating your plate to be a third protein and two-thirds carbohydrates (not starchy ones like potatoes, think colorful vegetables instead) with a little bit of MUFAs, or monounsaturated fatty acids (the good-for-you kind ) in the mix.
Drink water. Contrary to another popular misconception there is no specific amount of water you should ingest. Everyone has different needs based on genetics, activity level, the environment they live in etc. The key is to drink water until your pee looks like lemonade. If it looks like apple juice keep drinking. The reason this helps flatten your tummy is two fold: hydration can boost fat metabolism by up to 3% and drinking water flushes out excess bloat and water weight you might be holding on to.
The above diet does work. In fact we’re coming out with an eBook in a few days that will layout exactly what to eat for a 2-week time period, including complete grocery shopping list and daily meals. The thing about this particular diet is that you need to be pretty strict with managing blood sugar levels in order to see the type of results in the 4-5 pounds per week range.
The female body is naturally slightly less insulin sensitive when progesterone levels are higher in the luteal phase (after ovulation, in the last two weeks of the cycle). This means it does not tolerate carbohydrate as well in these weeks. Women who are diabetic know this well. I’ve read many studies and heard from many women I know that their insulin injections have to increase in the second half of their cycle because their blood sugar levels are inordinately high.
About: Ruzele’s had weight issues her whole life, but it wasn’t until after her mother passed away in 2011 that the pounds really started to pile on. She ballooned up to 335 pounds and had a rock-bottom moment that led her to where she is today: 50 pounds lighter and on a mission to lose 130 more. Ruzele’s blog posts are short and sweet, but always delightful and full of musings, emotions, progress reports and the occasional vlog (which work oh-so-perfectly). Ruzele’s one to follow if you’re looking for someone who’s accountable and gets to the point, but still leaves you rooting her on day-in and day-out.
Sarah Dussault is a mother, a Certified Personal Trainer, Holistic Health Coach, and full-time health and wellness blogger and YouTuber. Her mission is to help young women learn how to eat clean and get fit so they can feel confident about the way they look, without depriving themselves of a social life. She shares fitness videos, healthy recipes, mom stuff, and health and fitness for pregnancy all on her blog!
Certain carbohydrates have a tendency to be poorly absorbed in your intestines and then rapidly fermented, leading to gas and bloating. Common culprits include refined carbohydrates and simple sugars—like those found in processed foods with added sugars. Excess sodium can also cause bloating due to increased water retention. Opt for freshly prepared foods and reduce processed, packaged foods to cut back on belly bloaters. In the morning, swap your sugar-laden bowl of cereal for this Green Smoothie, made with fresh fruits and vegetables to get your day started the right way.
About: Kelsey’s blog is packed with easy-to-follow healthy recipes and fitness routines (and they’re not just your run-of-the-mill workouts, either). They’re formulated or endorsed from Kelsey herself — a 50 pound weight loss success story. Kelsey had been pretty fit and thin her whole life, but shortly after leaving college, countless nights of eating out and drinking led to her packing on an extra 50 pounds. Unhappy, Kelsey decided to make a change. What’s especially inspirational about her story is that she did so slowly. She made small changes, slowly started eating cleaner and eventually lost all the weight. Now, five years later, she’s still fit and sharing her story on her blog and in her books, fitness routines and recipes with readers. She even hosts weight loss challenges (with cash prizes) to really cheer people on and give them incentive to keep going.
I am 40 years old, I weigh about 146 and I am 5’5″. I haven’t been down to 130 in a couple of years, but I have always felt more comfortable and more confident in my own skin at that weight. I wouldn’t mind to get down to 128, but how? My weight fluctuates all the time, literally, I feel like I can gain 2 lbs in a day…I dont know when your ebook will be out, but I would love to lose this weight once and for all and keep it off. As I have gotten older, it is definitely harder to lose weight and keep it off. mI do get exercise, about 20-30 mins 3-4 x a week. Can you help?? Any advice?? Thank you in advance!!
Dinner: Dinners are all over the place. If you missed my blog post from a few weeks ago, I made a Recipes for Success post which included a lot of the meals I've been cooking recently. You can read the post for actual recipes, but basically my favorite thing to make is "bowls." I like having quinoa or brown rice with veggies, greens, and protein. You also don't need to be a cook to throw everything in a bowl. I just tried to make a lot of "lighter" means with protein and fresh foods.
I would work out to On Demand/Exercise TV for months and months, and you know what, nothing happened. My weight was hanging out at about 145 pounds. I was frustrated but I never gave up. I was counting calories and exercising. I felt great! My asthma went away,after having it since I was a child, I sleep better, I have more energy and I had self-esteem! But I still had a goal to meet, but wasn’t getting there. I heard that losing those last 10lbs are the hardest! It’s true! Wondering why no weight loss? What was I doing wrong? I was on what you call a plateau for 8 months, yes 8 months! Ridiculous!!!
Before I found you Stef I never knew the weight loss advice I was following from paleo gurus (I won’t name names!) was actually the very thing preventing me from losing weight. Then I found you and it all clicked. Before you my weight loss was up and down and up and down (130-145) for years. Now I am happily stable at around 123lbs, right where I feel I am meant to be.
I think we can all relate to this feeling, because, let’s face it—losing weight is hard AF. It takes a lot more than just a spurt of motivation and a trip to the produce section at the grocery store to really see lasting results. And thankfully for us, the internet has helped us all obtain the information we need to lose weight by the simple click of a button.