The reasons to rid your belly of that “inch (or more) to pinch” aren’t just about looking svelte and sexy. Having a high body-fat percentage sets the stage for serious health complications that come with being overweight or obese, like chronic diseases, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than one billion overweight adults globally, and at least 300 million of them are obese. So check yourself! Body-fat percentages greater than 20 percent for men and 30 percent for women are considered high, says the Mayo Clinic. But there are no shortcuts or gimmicks to losing body fat quickly. Follow these eight steps for real, long-lasting fat loss and health.
CLEAN UP YOUR DIET
It’s true what they say, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. And abs are made in the kitchen. So the first step to any fat-loss plan starts with improving your diet. First, cut out processed foods, fake sugars and refined carbs. That means cutting out the cakes, cookies, ice cream, deep-fried foods and candy. Next, add more foods to your diet with low-energy density. Said more simply, include fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, lean meats and fish in your diet. To help make grocery shopping easier, try primarily shopping the perimeter of the store where they keep the fresh produce and meat counter.
A study in Finland looked at sets of identical twins and discovered that in each set of siblings, the twin who slept less and was under more stress had more visceral fat.
Your body needs protein to maintain lean muscle. In a 2006 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers argued that the current recommended daily intake for protein, 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, is woefully inadequate for anyone doing resistance training and recommend that women get between 0.54 and 1 gram per pound of body weight. (If you want to lose weight, use your goal body weight as your guide.)
Add a serving, like 3 ounces of lean meat, 2 tablespoons of nuts, or 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt, to every meal and snack. Plus, research shows that protein can up postmeal calorie burn by as much as 35 percent.
DRINK MORE WATER
Skip high-calorie beverages with little to no nutritional value and grab a glass (or two) of water instead. This means forgoing flavored lattes, dessert coffees, artificially sweetened juices, sweet tea, alcohol and soda. Water not only helps keep your body hydrated and functioning optimally, but it also helps continually flush your system and can help boost your metabolism. Drink a full glass of water about 30 minutes before a meal to help prevent overeating and continue to drink water throughout the day. Many times, the hunger and thirst signals to your brain can feel similar. So when you feel like snacking, drink a glass of water before noshing.