Some cheat meals are better than others. And a high-carbohydrate, moderate-protein meal, however “naughty,” can help you stay on track. The reason: Carbohydrates have the greatest influence on leptin levels, which help you burn fat and feel satisfied. And protein has the greatest influence on satiety because of its influence on appetite-regulating hormones and high thermic effect—the process of digesting protein requires more energy of your body than any other macronutrient. So, go ahead and grab a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. Contrary to popular belief, pasta is actually a fairly low-glycemic food, meaning it won’t drastically spike your blood sugar levels.
Citrus fruits contain the fat-burning nutrients fiber and vitamin C. Vitamin C stimulates your body's fat-burning capability found in the carnitine amino acid, according to Fat Free Kitchen. Vitamin C plays a role in your body's fat processing capability. This nutrient speeds the process up by diluting the fat and then eliminating it from your body. Eat a variety of fiber and vitamin C-rich citrus fruits to increase your metabolism and burn fat. Citrus fruits include grapefruit, guava, lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, papaya and tomatoes. Drinking juices made from these fruits can also help burn fat.
This classic lunchbox sandwich condiment is teeming with flat-belly nutrients such as cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats and is a great source of plant-based protein. According to a recent study presented at the annual Society for Endocrinology conference, researchers found that when protein is digested and broken down into amino acids in your body, one of those amino acids—phenylalanine—triggers hormones that help reduce appetite and ultimately leads to fat burn and weight loss. Go for brands that have an ingredient list of just two items: nuts and a little salt, or look to our guide: Best and Worst Peanut Butters.
The leafy green is jam-packed with energy-boosting nutrients such as vitamin A, iron, and folate. It can also reduce your appetite—helping to curb your calorie intake and encourage your body to start burning fat—thanks to natural compounds called thylakoids. Swedish researchers found that over three months, women who consumed a five-gram thylakoid supplement from spinach reported a 25 percent reduction in hunger and cravings and significantly more weight loss (11 pounds) than the control group!
If you’re only getting a minimal amount of sleep each night, that leaves more time for you to snack and make otherwise unhealthy decisions that could affect your weight loss. Although it will vary from person to person on how much sleep you actually need to be most effective (and therefore make progress toward your weight loss goals), the ideal number is typically 7 or 8 hours, says Dr. Cheskin. (Struggling to get that shut-eye? This doctor-approved breathing exercise will help you fall asleep fast.)
Some of the most well known marine veggies are nori, wakame, kombu, hijiki and arame. With Omega 3 fatty acids, sea veggies are perfect for combating inflammation. This is a potent means of fighting inflammation so that the body can prevent inflammation and flatten the belly. So remember to buy these fresh and organic rather than processed and filled with sodium.
But you'll lose the most fat by doing HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. This training technique involves working at full throttle for short intervals -- typically 10 seconds to a minute -- then recovering at a slow pace or resting for a minute or two. It increases your metabolism after a workout, since your muscles need to work hard to get "back to normal." HIIT also burns more belly fat than traditional, steady-pace cardio, according to Penn State University.
Don’t buy your tickets to Bonnaroo just yet; the kind of acid that will help you slim down is the stuff right inside your cabinet. A 12-week study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry reveals that obese study subjects who made vinegar part of their diet dropped more belly fat than a control group, and other research suggests that acidic foods, like vinegar, can increase the human carbohydrate metabolism by as much as 40 percent.
One of the reasons your metabolism isn’t burning away fat as efficiently as you’d like? Look to your magnesium levels. This essential micronutrient is required for the body to produce and store energy, and also helps boost lipolysis (a process by which your body releases fat from its stores to use as energy)—yet 75 percent of Americans do not get their RDA of this important metabolism-boosting mineral. Just a half cup of pumpkin seeds provides nearly 100 percent of your daily magnesium needs.
Each slice of grapefruit you add to your salad acts like a match to spark your body’s fat-burning ability. A study published in the journal Metabolism found that those who ate grapefruit for six weeks lost a full inch off their waistlines. What’s behind the belt-tightening effect? The fruit is rich in phytochemicals, bioactive compounds that recent research shows stimulate the production of a hormone called adiponectin, which is involved in the breakdown of body fat. Japanese research suggests the smell of the juicy fruit can “turn on” calorie-burning brown fat cells, promoting the breakdown of body fat while reducing appetite.
Research suggests these magical pulses are one of the closest things we have to a fat-burning pill. For starters, beans are a great source of resistant starch, a type of slow-digesting, insoluble fiber that feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, triggering the production of the chemical butyrate, which encourages the body to burn fat as fuel and reduces fat-causing inflammation. They’re also one of the top sources of soluble fiber. A recent study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers found that for every additional 10 grams of soluble fiber eaten per day, a study subject’s belly fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. Black beans? One cup boasts an impressive 4.8 grams of soluble fiber.
There are plenty of fun ways to get moving and exercise. The key is figuring out what you find fun and then going and doing it. Many find classes like cycling, Zumba, hip hop, step, boot camp to be great fun, while others find their fun hitting the trails, playing tennis, biking, swimming, or even just walking with their dog. Sometimes a personal trainer, a friend, or even an online program can make any format of fitness fun as well. Be open minded and try everything you can. You won't be disappointed.