A simple guide to help you lose belly fat in the new year.
Recent studies tracking the weights of thousands in Germany, Japan and the US have found a weight spike following every major holiday, with the largest gains over the Christmas-New Year holiday season.
Americans in particular gained about a pound over the holidays, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Weight begins to rise in late October through November (think Halloween candy and Thanksgiving food comas). The peak weight gain occurs about 10 days after Christmas.
What’s one pound, anyway? You can still fit into your jeans and you enjoyed the food and wine and eggnog, right? The problem comes when we don’t lose it. Add up ten holiday seasons paired with an aging (read: slowing) metabolism, and that’s a 10-pound increase. Most of the weight heads straight to the gut, where we store much of the high-sugar, processed foods.
Why Belly Fat is the Worst Fat
While we’re all about promoting positive body image, let’s start by clearing something up: belly fat is bad fat. Even if you’re at a normal weight. The problem is visceral fat. Unlike subcutaneous fat (the kind you can grab with your hands), visceral fat surrounds your organs and disrupts normal body processes. When this happens, you are at increased risk for:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Colorectal and kidney cancers
- Premature death
- Type 2 diabetes
- Breast cancer
Losing belly fat now won’t just make your jeans fit better, it can change the way you live.
Best Ways to Lose Belly Fat
Whether you’ve eaten a bit too much Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas cookies or New Year’s drinks, you can make lifestyle changes that will help you drop the belly fat and keep it off.
1. Keep it Moving, Longer
You’ve probably heard all the buzz about high intensity interval training (HIIT) helping individuals lose weight fast. Maybe so, but it is still not as effective as steady-state aerobic exercise, or also LISS (low-impact steady state), when it comes to losing belly fat. Harvard Health recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-to-intense physical activity per day to combat belly fat.
Did you know: Walking five miles at a moderate pace five days a week burns around 3,150 calories (or just under 1 lb).
LEARN MORE: Is LISS Right For You?
2. Supplement with Weight Training
When trying to lose weight, a lot of people skip out on a gym session to pound the pavement. While running is the best way to lose abdominal fat, strength training is another key component. No, you can’t get rid of visceral fat with crunches and planks alone, but you can improve your fat burning power by increasing lean muscle mass.
3. Eat More Protein
Cinnamon rolls, French bread, pasta – ditch ‘em. When it comes to cutting belly fat, carbs are not your friend – protein is. Diets that are high in protein have been found to improve satiety and decrease fat mass by altering the satiety hormones associated with weight gain and loss. High protein diets also increase the thermic effect of food. That means your body uses more energy (calories) to break down proteins as compared to carbohydrates.
4. Add More Healthy Fats to Your Diet
It might seem counter intuitive, but to lose fat you’ve got to eat more fat – the healthy kind that is. Avocados, almonds and olives all contain unsaturated fats. When eaten in moderation, unsaturated fats help you feel fuller, for longer. This is because diets that are rich in unsaturated fats help control insulin sensitivity. For an added fat-fighting boost, try adding more fish, like salmon and tuna, to your diet. Not only will it up your protein intake, you also get a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Sleep More
Lack of sleep increases the release of stress hormones, like cortisol, that signal your body to hold onto fat, not get rid of it. In fact, studies have found that getting less than five hours of sleep a night can result in weight gain. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who are sleep deprived tend to choose high-calorie foods more often which contributes to an overall increased daily caloric intake. This is true of men, women, even children. The lesson? Catch your ZZZs to lose your lbs.
There’s no reason to wait any longer. Start losing belly fat today.
Bonus: Try a Detox Diet to Get Back on Track
Get your free 5 Day Body Reset meal plan and kick start your New Year’s Resolution.
Go To The Source!
Look no further, here’s where you can find more information.
- Abdominal fat and what to do about it (Harvard Health)
- A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats (Nutrition & Metabolism)
- The effects of carbohydrate, unsaturated fat, and protein intake on measures of insulin sensitivity: results from the OmniHeart trial (Diabetes care)
- Is too little sleep a cause of weight gain? (Mayo Clinic)