Losing actual body fat takes longer, because the only way to burn excess body fat is to create a calorie deficit, and that can be much trickier than it sounds. So we checked in with the top experts in the field and scoured the latest research to bring you everything you need to reach your weight loss goals and stay there. Follow these 10 expert-approved strategies for how to lose fat-not muscle. And keep it off for real this time. Take note: Being fit does not mean having a six-pack!
Seriously: Your fat can help you shed pounds. Just as there's more than one kind of fat in food, there's more than one type in your body. White fat is the bad stuff you want to zap. But a second kind, brown fat, actually torches calories. Cypess, M. This good fat is powerful because it's packed with mitochondria, the parts of cells that generate heat. When activated, as little as two ounces of brown fat can burn as much as 20 percent of your body's calories. Exercise is one of the best ways to get your brown fat in gear.
In a study , scientists at Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute discovered that working out releases a hormone called irisin, which converts white fat to brown.
2. Build a better breakfast.
Exercise for a half hour at least five days a week to turn up the burn. Taking this vitamin daily may help you drop pounds. A study at the University of Minnesota found that people who started a weight-loss program with higher levels of D lost more weight than those who weren't getting enough of the nutrient.
Other research suggested that vitamin D appears to boost the effectiveness of leptin, a hormone that signals the brain that you're full. Because it's difficult to get D from food, Shalamar Sibley, M. Being deficient in D affects your body in more ways than one. Many experts now recommend 1, international units IU every day. You don't really want dessert, but your friends are having some, and they're urging you to join them. So you give in and order a piece of tiramisu. Sorry to say it, but you've just committed sociotropy, aka people pleasing-a behavior that can make you gain weight.
In a recent study, women and men who regularly experienced negative emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger, and were impulsive and disorganized, tended to be heavier than those who were more even-keeled. That may be because guys are raised to be assertive while women are socialized to value relationships and "basically to be nicer," Exline explains.
In other words, we're inclined to go along with what the rest of the group wants to do, which includes digging into the tiramisu after dinner. If you feel pressured, "tell your friends politely but firmly that you're fine with what you have and that you're not hungry for more right now," says Exline. Hold your ground and your pals will get the message or, better yet, get them on board: Teaming up with a buddy can help you be more successful with your weight loss goals.
How to lose weight safely and naturally: 20 tips
Talk about a catch Doing something healthy, like eating a low-cal meal , can make you less likely to exercise and more likely to gorge yourself with food later on. This is because of a phenomenon scientists call licensing, which happens when we feel that we've earned the right to be self-indulgent. Most people have a tendency to want to balance things out, says Kathleen Vohs, Ph. So when we do one thing that's good for our health, which often requires exerting plenty of discipline and self-control, we like to follow it up with something that lets us indulge ourselves.
So how can you get your urge to splurge in check? Being alert to the fact that good choices can trigger bad behavior is a smart start. Next time you're tempted, think of an instance in the past when you failed to resist; recent research found that you'll want to improve on your previous performance. Most of us eat quickly, chewing each bite just a few times, which means we consume more food than we realize.
Slow down and try to eat more mindfully : In a study, people who chewed each bite 40 times ate almost 12 percent less than those who chewed just 15 times. When we chew longer, our bodies produce less ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite, and more of the peptide hormones that are believed to curb hunger. Discover five ways your hormones might be messing with your appetite.
Plus, the more you chew, the more thoroughly you break down food, which may release nutrients into your blood faster and give your brain time to register that you're full. From now on, focus on eating slowly at every meal. Put down your fork between bites and work your way up to 40 chews per mouthful of food. Don't blame your chocolate craving on a lack of willpower.
Turns out, there's a physiological reason ice cream, french fries, and cupcakes are so hard to resist: Our bodies are wired to crave rich food. Studies have shown that the taste of fat can give us the munchies by triggering a release of chemicals similar to those experienced by drug addicts. The trick to keeping your appetite in check is avoiding foods that make you lose control. That's tough to do when you're surrounded by mouthwatering choices everywhere you go, but Stice says that a technique called mindful resistance can help. In addition, eat healthy foods throughout the day to keep your glucose which fuels your body at a high level so that you feel energized and satisfied.
You'll also be better able to resist cravings when you snack on nutritious choices like fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and whole-grain bread topped with a little peanut butter, according to a recent study that showed that eating consistently helps us control our impulses. Over time, these small, consistent healthy choices will be how to lose fat and keep it off.
You're more likely to stay at a healthy weight if the view out your window includes hills, water, a park, or a street that leads to one of those things. Research has found that counties with more natural amenities, including mountains and lakes, had lower obesity rates. And that's the start of the health benefits of nature.
For instance, research has shown that people tend to be happier walking outdoors than inside. They also stride faster, yet feel less exertion, than they do on a treadmill. Not only that, hoofing it outside curbs cravings along with calories: In a study, regular chocolate eaters who took a brisk minute stroll consumed about half as much of their favorite treat as those who didn't go for a walk. So take your workout outdoors. If your neighborhood isn't made for exercising, find a park nearby and head there as often as you can to bike, run, or hike.
Or try our day outdoor workout challenge! Despite what most people think about how to lose fat, it's not just about exercise-it's just about moving more in general. In fact, the physical act of sitting or lying down may actually speed up your body's production of fat. When you lounge on a sofa or in a chair, you exert forces on your cells that cause them to become stretched out and to generate flab, researchers say.
Glued to your desk every day for eight hours or more? You need to take action, says Richard Atkinson, M. Get up and walk around for five minutes at least once an hour. Take a stroll around the office. Go talk to a coworker rather than sending her an email. Pace back and forth while talking on the phone.
At home, when you're watching TV, get up and jog in place or do jumping jacks during commercials or try one of these at-home workouts. These short bursts of exercise can help you burn calories an hour and keep your cells healthy. This healthy brew acts like a diet drug in a mug, but without the negative side effects. A review of studies concluded that regularly sipping green tea can help you drop pounds. This weight loss is the result of EGCG, a compound known to reduce fat absorption.
But that's not all this magic drink does: As it's reducing fat absorption, "green tea also increases the amount of fat that your body eliminates," explains study author Joshua D. Lambert, Ph. So think about trading your usual afternoon java for green tea instead. Experts say that drinking three to five cups of the regular or decaf variety every day may help you lose weight. Here's more on the benefits of matcha green tea. First, the bad news: Three-quarters of Americans have a "fat gene" associated with a 20 to 30 percent higher risk for obesity.
But that doesn't mean you're destined to be heavy. For starters, research found that just believing that you have the fat gene may actually reinforce unhealthy behaviors. Plus, a British review found that exercise can trump your genetics: Physically active people with the fat gene are 27 percent less likely to become obese than couch potatoes who have it. We're not talking about training for a triathlon ; the active people got just one hour or more of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a week. Aim for the recommended five hours a week three days of cardio and two days of strength training and you'll rev your weight-loss results even more.
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The weight tends to develop in the abdomen. Although losing weight can be more challenging during menopause, there are various methods that many people find effective. This article will discuss the relationship between menopause and weight, as well as proven ways to lose weight during the transition. During menopause and perimenopause — the period leading up to menopause — people may gain body fat and find it harder to lose weight.
Low estrogen during menopause does not directly cause weight gain, but it may lead to increases in total body fat and abdominal fat. Doctors associate excess weight during middle age with heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Hormone replacement therapy may reduce the tendency to gain abdominal fat. As people age, they tend to become less physically active.
Their metabolism also naturally slows down.
20 ways to lose weight safely
These variables lead to a reduction in muscle mass and an increase in body fat. Doctors also associate menopause with poor sleep , which can stem from hot flashes or night sweats. Research in animals links sleep deprivation with weight gain. Many people experience decreases in muscle tone as they get older, and a loss of muscle tone can cause an increase in body fat. Exercise is a key way to build muscle and prevent age-related muscle loss. Research shows that aerobic exercise can decrease body fat after menopause. Another study has found that resistance training three times a week can improve lean body mass and reduce body fat in postmenopausal women.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that people should aim for at least minutes of aerobic activity every week and that people should do muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days each week. A combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training will help reduce body fat and build muscle. Menopause-related weight tends to settle around the abdomen. Find tips for losing belly fat here. If a person is not already active, they may find it easier to increase their activity levels gradually. Little ways to build more activity into the day include:.
To lose weight, people need to consume fewer calories than they use up. Making dietary changes is a key part of losing weight. Healthful, nutrient-dense foods should be the basis for all meals and snacks. A person's diet should contain a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. A Mediterranean-style diet is a very popular and effective diet for health.
A study has reported that this diet can improve heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure and lipid levels, and result in weight loss. People should avoid processed foods and those containing high amounts of trans or saturated fats. Some examples include:. Reducing the consumption of sweetened drinks — such as sodas and juices — can also help.
Sugar-sweetened beverages carry a lot of extra calories. Getting enough high-quality sleep is vital for maintaining a healthful weight and overall health. Low-quality sleep can lead to weight gain. Research has linked sleep disturbances to aging processes and metabolic disruption during menopause.
Alteration in sleep quality and circadian rhythms can affect:.
Focusing on getting a sufficient amount of restful sleep can help reduce menopause-related weight gain. Overall, there has not been a lot of well-conducted, conclusive research into whether alternative medicine is effective in reducing symptoms related to menopause. While these therapies may not lead to significant weight loss, they may help relieve some symptoms and reduce stress. Potential complementary and alternative therapies include:. Practicing mindfulness while eating can help change eating behaviors and may prevent weight gain.
Mindful eating can help a person become aware of internal, rather than external, cues to eat. It can be a helpful approach to binge eating and eating related to emotional states. In some studies , mindful eating led to reduced food intake in overweight individuals and people with obesity. Tracking meals can help a person identify which unhealthful foods they regularly consume and in which contexts.
This information can help with making specific dietary changes.
Research shows that people who keep food logs , weigh themselves regularly, and maintain high activity levels are more likely to have clinically significant weight loss. Portion sizes in restaurants have increased over the years, and people are eating out more, so it can be difficult to gauge how much food a person actually needs per meal and per day. To determine how much to include in a meal, it can help to understand standard serving sizes of some common foods. For example, some standard servings are:. Meal planning and having healthful foods on hand will make a person less likely to choose unhealthful foods in a pinch.
Stock the kitchen with healthful foods for simple meals, and plan for these meals, to prevent quick, less mindful eating. Carry healthful snacks to prevent trips to the vending machine. Having the support of family and friends is an integral part of weight loss. Having a workout buddy, for example, can help people stay motivated to exercise. Fad diets tend to result in short-term weight loss, while adopting healthful habits, including cooking routines and getting regular exercise, are more likely to result in long-term effects. People often experience an increase in body fat during menopause.
This is linked with reduced estrogen levels, lower-quality sleep, and reductions in metabolism and muscle mass. Researchers have linked low estrogen levels with an increase in body fat, particularly abdominal fat. Maintaining healthful lifestyle habits can help with losing weight. People who have concerns about their weight or symptoms of hormonal fluctuations should speak with a doctor about appropriate treatment.
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Article last reviewed by Tue 4 June Visit our Menopause category page for the latest news on this subject, or sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest updates on Menopause. All references are available in the References tab. Changes in weight and fat distribution.