It's normal to feel a few hunger pangs when you cut your calorie intake, but you don't want to feel ravenous. Filling your diet with low energy-density foods -- ones that have a low calorie count per gram -- allows you to fill up on larger portions while controlling your calorie intake. Many of these foods also supply water and fiber, which can make you feel full, to help with weight loss.
Your parents weren’t kidding about how important veggies are for a healthy body. What they probably didn’t tell you, however, was that snacking on veggies is also one of the easiest ways to shed unwanted belly fat, too. According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, opting for non-starchy veggies, like cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumber, as snacks helped overweight kids shed 17 percent of their visceral fat while improving their insulin sensitivity over a five-year period. Think snacking on veggies will leave you hungry? The 20 Most Filling Fruits and Veggies will have your belly satisfied in no time.
“Starting slow and working your way up is better than overdoing it and giving up,” says Gagliardi. “I like the idea of attaching the new behavior of taking a walk to an existing behavior.” An easy way to approach it: Commit to going for a quick 10-minute walk after dinner, and slowly increase the time as you become more comfortable with daily movement.
If you thought losing weight would mean giving up all your indulgences, look no further than dark chocolate. Louisiana State University researchers found that gut microbes in our stomach ferment chocolate and boost our body’s production of gut-healthy polyphenolic compounds, including butyrate, a fatty acid that encourages the body to burn fat as fuel and turns off genes linked to inflammation. (Add fruit to the chocolate to boost fermentation and the release of the compounds.) Make sure you go with chocolate that has a cacao content of 70 percent or above—these have the highest concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols.
Although you do want to increase your walking over time, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be working your way up to a more intensive form of cardio like swimming or running. “Moving on to new exercises is not something someone should feel they have to do unless their goals change and a new exercise is needed to support those goals,” says Gagliardi. “Walking alone can be progressed by changing the distance, speed, terrain, and by adding intervals.”
Whether you're headed to the beach, prepping for a special occasion or just want to jump-start a healthier lifestyle, you can set the foundation for belly fat loss in a week. And while you likely won't reach your final weight loss goals in a week -- unless you're only looking to lose a pound or two -- you might be able to see minor differences and burn some initial belly fat. However, the results from diet and exercise modifications can keep you motivated to stick to longer term goals, and they'll set you on a road to success -- without the high risk of weight regain associated with fad crash diets.
Kickstart your morning—and your metabolism—with this warming spice. Cinnamon contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols that are proven to alter body composition and improve insulin sensitivity (which means it keeps blood sugar stable, preventing hunger-inducing spikes and crashes). Japanese researchers found that mice who ate a daily helping of cinnamaldehyde (the ingredient that gives cinnamon its flavor) lost belly fat, while those who skipped the spice did not. Add it to your overnight oats or sprinkle some in your coffee to reap the benefits.
Whether you’re adding it to your smoothie or having it as the perfect post-workout recovery fuel, Greek yogurt will help you build muscle. This creamy snack is brimming with muscle-building protein—about 20 grams in a 7-ounce cup. It has the one-two punch of vitamin D and calcium, which turn off cortisol, a stress hormone that causes the body to hang on to belly fat. Don’t believe us? Take it from the researchers at the University of Tennessee who found that people who ate 18 ounces of Greek yogurt a day lost 22 percent more weight and 81 percent more belly fat than those who didn’t.
Legumes provide plant-based lean protein. Protein takes longer to digest, thereby burning more calories, according to Fat Free Kitchen. Eating a bowl of bean soup for dinner or having a bean salad can help burn calories during sleeping hours. Legumes include lentils, split peas and varieties of beans. Beans include dried and/or canned kidney, black, navy, white, red, chickpeas or garbanzos, great northern and lima varieties.
Load up on low energy density foods, like vegetables, fruits and fat-free broths. A few minor tweaks can lower the energy density of your favorite meals, too. For example, substitute a half-cup of spaghetti and a half-cup of spiralized zucchini "zoodles" for a full cup of spaghetti. Or make a chicken, vegetable and brown rice soup instead of serving grilled chicken with brown rice and veggies; the broth is often very low or virtually free of calories, lowering the energy density of your meal, so you may fill up on fewer calories.
You say tomato, I say 9-oxo-ODA. That’s the name of a compound found in the brilliant red fruits that Japanese researchers recently discovered can effectively activate your DNA to burn more fat. Tomatoes are also brimming in beta-carotene and lycopene, two potent antioxidants that mop up harmful compounds that promote fat storage. One Journal of Nutrition study found people whose diets contained the most beta-carotene and lycopene had the smallest waists and the least belly fat. And at only 5 calories apiece, grab a few sun-dried tomatoes! Cooked tomatoes contain more bioavailable lycopene than raw tomatoes, according to Cornell University researchers.
Exercise every day. A week is a short time, so commit to strenuous exercise to reach your goal. An hour of intense cardio will help you burn calories and sweat out some of your water. Just be sure to drink water to replace what comes out in the sweat or your body will be dehydrated. You'll also want to work on your ab muscles, which will help you stand taller and look slimmer. Do exercises that focus on each area of the abs -- upper, lower and obliques.
Many teas have been shown to boost metabolism, block the creation of new fat cells, speed the release of fat from cells, and actually turn off fat genes due to their catechin levels, but green tea has a leg up on the competition. This magical elixir is particularly high in the antioxidant ECGC, the compound that burns fat and stops it from forming. Pair your tea with a workout for a fat-burning bonus. Exercisers who drank four to five cups of green tea daily and worked out for 25 minutes lost more belly fat than their non-tea-drinking counterparts, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition found.
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.