9 Simple Ways to Trim Your Waist
1. Cut just 100 calories a day.That's all you need to ditch to beat belly bulge, says Mehmet Oz, MD, author of YOU on a Diet: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management. Dropping this amount from your daily intake -- we're talking one cookie, a soda, or a glass of wine -- will help you lose about 12 pounds a year. And it's a cinch to stick to a plan that requires no actual dieting or deprivation.
2. Build muscle mass.During a cardio workout, your body zaps hundreds of calories, but your metabolism slows down almost instantly when you stop. After strength training, on the other hand, you burn fat for hours. "Regular weight lifting can boost your metabolic rate by about 15 percent," says Tim Davis, director of personal training at Peak Performance, a gym in New York City. He recommends three 45- to 50-minute sessions a week.
3. Run from fat.One of the most effective ways to reduce flab around your middle is to jog it off. "Hit the road for 30 to 60 minutes two to four times a week," Davis suggests. Steady running not your thing? "Interval training -- constantly switching up the pace of your workout -- will also help you lose weight, because it blasts more calories," Davis says. "Do two minutes of sprinting followed by a 60-second walk, then repeat for a half hour."
4. Eat good-for-you foods.Your body is smart -- it knows when it's not getting any nutrients. So if you munch on processed foods like chips and doughnuts, you'll still be hungry, Dr. Oz says. The fix: Chow down regularly on fruits, vegetables, fish, low-fat dairy, and whole grains, says Keri Gans, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association).
5. Have a high-protein breakfast.Skip the sugary cereals. They're too easily digested, which means they speed through your system. "An egg-white omelet is a good choice," says Louis Aronne, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and director of the weight-control program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. If you're eating on the go, try unsweetened Greek yogurt with fruit and a dollop of honey or a piece of string cheese with whole-grain bread.
6. Don't skip meals.That will only set you up to overeat. "Nosh on small portions every three to four hours to keep your metabolism running, so your body won't panic, go into starvation mode, and stop burning calories -- which is what happens when you haven't eaten in a while," Gans says.
7. Head off a freak-out.Stress causes the body to start stockpiling fat in the gut. "Your system thinks a crisis is coming," Dr. Oz explains. "It deposits fat cells into the belly because it's the most convenient storage space." Chill out with yoga, meditation, or massage. If you're a stress eater, keep healthy snacks such as almonds on hand to prevent junk-food binges.
8. Get your shut-eye."Lack of sleep increases the likelihood you'll gain weight," Dr. Aronne says. "When you're tired, the hormones that stimulate appetite increase, while the hormones that help you feel full plummet." Aim for seven to eight hours a night.
9. Move more all the time.Computers, TVs, video games, and cars keep us glued to our seats. The result: We're less physical than ever before. To trim your tummy, "do whatever you can to keep moving," says Olson. "Even 10 minutes can help." Studies show that you can burn up to 350 calories a day (the equivalent of your lunch!) by walking around when you're on the phone, tapping your toes when you're surfing the Web, doing squats when you're brushing your teeth. Before you know it, you'll be saying buh-bye, belly fat!
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2009.
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