There is no doubt a big part of shedding belly fat has to do with your lifting and cardio regimens. But to really keep the fat off your belly for good, you have to look to your lifestyle around food and in the kitchen.
Here is a list of 15 practical and simple tips that will help you clean up your eating habits and, achieve that lean, mean and fit body you’ve always wanted – and stay that way!
Pick 5 to start and follow them consistently. You’ll definitely feel the difference after the first 3 days, and then see your body change after 2 weeks. Good luck.
1. CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE.
When you go on a “program” to lose body fat, you may set yourself up for failure. A program implies an endpoint, which is when most people return to their previous habits. If you want to lose fat and keep it off, make changes that you can live with indefinitely. Don’t over-restrict calories, and find an exercise program that adequately challenges you, provides progression and offers sufficient variety so that you can maintain it for years to come.
2. DRINK MORE WATER.
Water is the medium in which most cellular activities take place, including the transport and burning of fat. In addition, drinking plenty of calorie-free water makes you feel full and eat less. Drink at least 1 ounce of water per 2 pounds of bodyweight a day (that’s 100 ounces for a 200-pound person). Keep a 20-ounce water bottle at your desk, fill it five times a day, and you’re set.
3. REDUCE STARCHY CARBS.
Consuming too many starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, pasta and breads (especially at one sitting), provides your body with more than it needs for energy and glycogen stores; anything left over will be stored as fat. You don’t have to eliminate starchy carbs completely, but you should really cut back on them when trying to shed body fat. Limit total starch servings per day to 3-5, where a serving size is one cup of pasta, rice or sliced potatoes.
4. EAT A FULL, BALANCED BREAKFAST.
Your body has been starving all night long, and it needs nutrients to rebuild itself. If you just catch something quick on the run instead of eating a full meal, it negatively impacts your workout, and everything else you do during the day. Eat sufficient protein (30-40 grams), a complex carbohydrate, like oatmeal, and a piece of fruit to start your day off right.
5. LIMIT SUGAR CONSUMPTION.
Taking in simple carbs (sugars) right after weight training replenishes muscle and liver glycogen stores, but excess sugar consumed at other times will be stored as fat. Satisfy your sweet tooth occasionally, but try limiting your intake of sugar to fresh fruit. Replace sugary beverages like soft drinks and juice with water, coffee, tea or diet soda.
6. DRINK COFFEE (BLACK) BEFORE WORKING OUT.
Caffeine causes the body to rely more on fat for fuel during a workout, rather than glucose. But the caffeine effect is lessened when you eat a high-carbohydrate meal with it. Drink 1-2 cups of black coffee within two hours of working out, and emphasize healthy fats and protein if you’re drinking it with a meal or snack. Skip the cream and sugar (which add unwanted calories and fat), and avoid drinking coffee at other times of the day; doing so can desensitize you to the fat-burning effects of caffeine.
7. EAT 5-6 MEALS A DAY.
Dieters often decrease the number of daily meals in an attempt to reduce calories—a big no-no. If you eat six meals a day versus three with the same total calories, you can lose more fat because more meals burn more calories – by increasing thermogenesis, the production of heat, in the body.
8. INCREASE VEGETABLE CONSUMPTION.
Vegetables are nutrient-dense, meaning they pack maximum nutrition value with minimal calories, leaving you more full on fewer calories. Consume five servings a day of veggies, whether as a snack, on a sandwich or on the side of a chicken breast. Order your next burger with fresh vegetables instead of french fries.
9. DON’T OVER-RELY ON FAT BURNERS.
Fat burners help reduce body fat, but they won’t counter poor eating habits. If you take the products mentioned in tips 11-13 without exercising or eating well, you’ll be more inclined to pack it on than to lose it. Fat burners are not magic pills -use them along with a solid nutrition and exercise plan.
10. CONSUME 25-35 GRAMS OF FIBER A DAY.
Fiber lowers insulin levels—along with total calories—affecting how lean you’ll get. Fiber absorbs water and takes up more space in your stomach, fighting off hunger pangs, too. Fiber rich foods include bran cereal, oatmeal and beans. Check nutrition labels for fiber content.
11. ELIMINATE JUNK FOOD.
This cannot be said often enough. Junk food is food that offers almost nothing but calories—like french fries, potato chips and sweets. Cheat foods, on the other hand, like pizza and hamburgers, have some nutritional benefit, and eating them once in a while can really help when you’re on a diet. Know the difference.
12. EAT THE PROPER AMOUNT OF PROTEIN.
You may not realize this but protein has calories, too, which can be stored as fat if over-consumed. Take in 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight each day, (200-300 grams for a 200-pound person). This provides sufficient amino acids to maintain muscle mass, while keeping your total calorie count under control.
13. EAT MORE HEALTHY FATS.
A lot of women who are on a diet cut out fatty foods completely, as a result, healthy fats are totally under-consumed. You have to reduce calories to get rid of body fat, but you don’t want to cut out healthy fats completely – fats take longer to break down in your stomach and help control blood-sugar levels, leaving you more satisfied and reducing your cravings. So, try to include healthy fats like avocados, fatty fish, olives, nuts and seeds, olive oils, flaxseed and canola in your diet.
14. EAT CHEAT FOODS FOR FLAVOR.
If you love a particular food, you shouldn’t prohibit yourself from eating it. Avoid the bad foods that you don’t love or crave. And when you eat cheat foods, eat them for flavor. Don’t eat the whole pizza—have a few slices, savor the flavor and enjoy it. Share the rest.