"Anytime you’re stressed, you probably go for food," Dr. Seltzer says. (Have we met?!) That’s because cortisol, the stress hormone, stokes your appetite for sugary, fatty foods. No wonder it’s associated with higher body weight, according to a 2007 Obesity study that quantified chronic stress exposure by looking at cortisol concentrations in more than 2,000 adults’ hair.
The three major ingredients of a perfect Zero Belly Diet meal or snack are protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and all three can be found in abundance in a good trail mix. Sadly, most commercial mixes are made with extra oils, salt, and sugar. Mix up your own high-protein snacks from a selection of nuts, seeds, unsweetened dried fruit, and dark chocolate pieces. Make sure to include peanuts: they’re a top source of both genistein and resveratrol, two nutrients that help diminish the action of your fat-storage genes.
Lean protein like fish is a great way to fight fat and boost your metabolism. But the farmed salmon you get at the local market might not be the best bet for your belly. The cold-water fish has a well-deserved reputation for packing plenty of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids—1,253 mg of the good stuff, and just 114 mg of inflammatory, belly-busting omega 6s. But the farmed variety—and 90 percent of what we eat today is farmed—has a very different story to tell. It packs a whopping 1,900 mg of unhealthy omega-6s.
This drug is an injected variant of a satiety hormone called GLP-1. It slows down how quickly the stomach empties and tells the brain that you don’t need to eat yet – a great idea for losing weight. As a bonus this drug works fine while one is on the keto diet and it works even better with intermittent fasting – for a rapid weight loss with no hunger.
“Extreme diets where you're cutting out entire food groups like carbs should be monitored by a doctor or a professional,” says Cara Clark, a certified clinical and sports nutritionist in Orange County, Calif. “This is not usually good for most people. My favorite thing to tell them is if you're cutting carbs to lose weight, expect to be tired and dumb. Our brains thrive with using carbs as fuel. They are essential to our health.”
The final possible culprit behind stubborn weight issues may be the stress hormone, cortisol. Too much cortisol will increase hunger levels, bringing along subsequent weight gain. The most common cause of elevated cortisol is chronic stress and lack of sleep (see tip #10), or cortisone medication (tip #9). It’s a good idea to try your best to do something about this.
“Food is medicine,” says Clark. “Often people ask what they can do or add to achieve health and it's not about one food or even one supplement. It's about figuring out the best foods for your own body. We are all unique. We get our clients feeling well, having a stable blood sugar then we start to get to the bottom of their inflammation. Some foods cause inflammation for one person and not another!”
Make sure that everything you're eating is whole — as in nothing processed or packaged. Since salt is a preservative, these are the foods that are highest in sodium — something to keep in mind when planning your meals. Plan on making sure that all items you choose are fresh. That means filling up on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
The body doesn't react to all fats in the same way. Research correlates high intake of saturated fat (the kind in meat and dairy) to increased visceral fat, says Patton. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats (the kind in olive oil and avocados) and specific types of polyunsaturated fats (mainly omega-3s, found in walnuts, sunflower seeds, and fatty fish like salmon) have anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and if eaten in proper portions may do your body good. But Patton warns that eating too much fat of any kind increases your calorie intake and could lead to weight gain, so enjoy healthy fats in moderation.
Intermittent fasting has blown up in the past year, but scientists are just starting to figure out how it can help you lose weight. In one study from the University of Illinois at Chicago, researchers compared obese people in a traditional weight loss group and fasting group. For the experiment, the calorie-restricted group simply reduced the amount of calories they ate by 25 percent each day. The fasting group, however, alternated days: they ate 25 percent of the calories they needed one day between 12 and 2 p.m., and then had feast days the next, where they ate 125 percent of their required calories.
Not only does staying hydrated speed up your metabolism, in most cases, it also helps boost your immune system, improves digestion and clears up your complexion. In fact, research studies have shown that drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner results in consuming 75 to 90 fewer calories at each meal, ultimately resulting in a faster way to meet your weight loss goals.
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the major causes of occurrence of belly fat. If you don’t indulge in any physical activity, and spend most of the time sitting, watching T.V., reading, etc., it is known as a sedentary lifestyle. Lack of regular exercise, or not exercising at all can lead to fat storage around the belly area. In other words, being a couch potato will make you fat.
Have you ever noticed that a couple hours after a big greasy (yet delicious) meal you feel hungry again? That’s because you have not turned off your hunger receptors, and as soon as your body starts to process that food your brain will start up again with “we need nourishment”… because you guessed it, that carton of kung-pow did not give you nourishment, just a full belly. Next time go for more veggies, you’ll stay fuller longer and thus eat fewer calories.
Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist and Arivale Coach Ginger Hultin, MS, CSO, and Vermont-based registered dietitian nutritionist Maddie Kinzly MS, LD, told POPSUGAR that while you can't choose where on your body you gain (sorry boobs!) or lose fat, some people are more predisposed to holding weight in their belliesw. "Much of this is driven by genetics, so you can look to your parents and other relatives to better understand the body shape that you naturally have and where you may deposit fat stores," Hultin explained.
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Have you been consistent with workouts but haven’t gotten the results you were hoping for? Your low-key resolution is to change up your workout. Commit to the same number of workouts per week, but make these workouts completely different. If you’ve been going to yoga three times a week, go to a cycling class instead. Or if you’re walking on the treadmill every day, move over to the recumbent bike instead. By sparking a change in your routine, your muscles will be forced to work differently and hopefully you’ll begin to see the results you’ve been hoping for!