The average manâ€™s body houses 43.2 pounds of fat. And at any one moment, that number is either increasing or decreasingâ€”itâ€™s never stagnant. Spend more of each day burning fat than you do storing it, and, over time, youâ€™ll bury your belly forever. Sound simple? It is. You see, thereâ€™s no single secret formula for losing fat.Â In fact, find 100 successful losers and theyâ€™ll give you 100 different ways to accelerate weight loss and win the battle of the bulge.
But below youâ€™ll find 50 tips designed to help you expedite weight loss (lose your love handles, bust your gut, and define your abs). Simply incorporate three or four into your life every day, and youâ€™ll finish off your fat easier and faster than you ever imagined possible.
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1. Eat more protein
About 25 to 30 percent of the calories in each gram of protein are burned in digestion, compared to only 6 to 8 percent of the calories in carbs. Do the math: You save 41 calories every time you substitute 50g of protein for an equal amount of carbs.
2. Read labels
Avoid foods with â€śhigh-fructose corn syrupâ€ť in the ingredients list. Since 1971, consumption of this sugar substituteâ€”which is used to sweeten soda, commercial baked goods, and even condimentsâ€”has increased more than 350 percent in the U.S., paralleling the rise in obesity.
3. Get off your ass
Do every exercise standing instead of sitting. â€śYouâ€™ll expend up to 30 percent more calories,â€ť says Joe Stankowski, C.P.T. The solution for the bench press? Dips.
4. Mix up your movements
When you lift, perform supersets in which you alternate between sets of lower-body exercises and upper-body exercises. That way, your lower body rests while your upper body is working. â€śThis allows you to work your muscles maximally with very little downtime between sets for a faster, more effective workout,â€ť says Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S.
5. Exercise blind
When youâ€™re using the elliptical trainer, try letting go of the handles and closing your eyes. (Be careful!) Without the visual feedback, your core muscles will have to work harder to keep you balanced, burning more calories to supercharge weight loss.
6. Embrace yardwork
View any type of physical activityâ€”even those you try to avoid, such as mowing the lawnâ€”as a chance to burn fat and condition your body. (Just make sure you use a push mower.)
7. Snack on dill pickles
They have one calorie per slice.
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8. Take larger steps
When using the stair climber, skip one out of every five steps. Then take one large step to get back to your normal walking pattern. This step recruits additional muscle, accelerating weight loss, says Cameron McGarr, C.S.C.S.
9. Rent motivation
Once a week, watch a movie that inspires you to exercise. Examples: Rocky (for the gym), American Flyers (for cycling), Hoosiers (for team sports), and Chariots of Fire and Without Limits (both for running).
10. Break a record
Challenge yourself to run farther in the same amount of timeâ€”even if itâ€™s just one-tenth of a mileâ€”every single workout. This ensures youâ€™re always burning more caloriesÂ (key for weight loss) from one workout to the next.
11. Smash your dinner plates
And buy smaller ones. That way, even if you fill your plate to capacity, youâ€™re ultimately eating less than what you would likely pile on your existing platters.
12. Cut carbs
Yes, youâ€™ve heard it a zillion times. The reason: It works. In just one of many recent studies, a Journal of Nutrition report found that men who reduced their carb intake to just 8 percent of their daily calories lost 7 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of muscle in six weeks.
13. Lift first, then run
By doing cardio after youâ€™ve liftedâ€”when youâ€™re already tiredâ€”the same speed or intensity will have a greater effect than had you done it beforehand, says McGarr.
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14. Change directions
Try this interval-training trick on the elliptical trainer: Ride for 30 seconds as fast as you can, then immediately reverse your direction and ride for 30 additional seconds just as fast in the opposite direction. Rest 60 seconds, and repeat. The force of stopping your momentum, as well as going from a dead stop to full speed twice in the same interval, will give your fat-burning efforts a massive boost, saysÂ Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S.
15. Fill up on high-fiber foods
Consider them â€śgood carbsâ€ť. Their bulk takes up space in your stomach, helping you feel full and eat less. The top fiber food: beans, which contain 8g per 1/2 cup. Research shows that guys who added 12g of fiber a day to their diet lost a quarter of an inch from their love handles, without otherwise modifying their diet.
16. Top your salad with vinaigrette dressing
Studies show that acidic foods such as vinegar and lemon juice work like lighter fluid in your bodyâ€™s fat incinerator, increasing carb combustion 20 to 40 percent. Researchers believe the acids blunt insulin spikes and slow the rate at which food empties from your stomach. Fermented foods like pickles and yogurt are also good sour options.
17. Donâ€™t skip meals
Not eating for long periods of time puts your body into a catabolic state, meaning it starts to break down muscle tissue for energyâ€”and conserves fat. Intermittent fasting might be good for weight loss, but skip meals and you run intro trouble.
18. Try the VersaClimber
The more vertical you are when doing cardio, the more calories you burn.
19. Donâ€™t be a couch potato
If youâ€™re a TV junkie, add up the number of hours you watch right now, and cut out all rerunsâ€”even if thereâ€™s an episode of Seinfeld on youâ€™ve never seen. Spend the time you save on your feet: outdoors or in the gym.
20. Hit the weights
If youâ€™re lazy, itâ€™s not as bad as you thinkâ€”just 10 minutes a day of lifting, three days a week, will help. Harvard research shows that 30 minutes of weight training per week has a greater reduction on waist size than almost any other variable.
21. Pass on the potatoes
In any formâ€”mashed and baked, as well as French fries and potato chips. They raise levels of insulin in the blood, triggering your body to stop burningâ€”and start storingâ€”fat. (Sweet potatoes are acceptable; they have more nutrients and fiber.)
22. Eat your biggest meal of the day after you lift
It takes calories to digest food. And researchers at the University of Nevada found it takes 73 percent more calories to process that food after a weight-training session than if you hadnâ€™t worked out at all.
23. Chug H2O before a meal
The water will take up room in your stomach, making you feel fuller and reducing your appetite, says Christopher Mohr, M.S., R.D.
24. Request substitutions
Any time your restaurant entree comes with a side of pasta, potatoes, or rice, ask for vegetables instead, says Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D. (Your server will be more than happy to accommodate you.)
25. Join a league
That is, sign up for a sport such as softball, soccer, or even kickball. Itâ€™ll automatically schedule exercise sessions into your week, and because youâ€™re part of a team, youâ€™ll have peer pressure thatâ€™ll ensure you keep showing up.
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26. Break between scoops
That is, if you canâ€™t live without ice cream, cake, or other calorie-laden desserts, go ahead and have one scoop (about 1/2 cup) or one small slice. Then, if you still want more, wait 20 minutes. Typically, youâ€™ll find that while you wait, hormones kick in and trigger a feeling of fullness, reducing desire for that second serving.
27. Brush your teeth more often
In a recent Japanese study of 14,000 people, researchers found that men who brushed their teeth frequently were leaner than men who did not. Thank that minty-fresh flavor, which may make you less likely to snack between meals.
28. Eat an unbalanced diet
â€śBy cycling your calorie intake so you eat fewer calories one day and more the next, youâ€™ll keep your metabolism on its toes,â€ť says Volek. And thatâ€™ll ensure you keep burning fat at a high rate. The key: Shoot for an average of 2,000 calories a day over a weekâ€™s time.
29. Dial up an incline
When you run outside, you apply force to the ground and propel your bodyweight forward all by yourself. When you run on a treadmill, the belt helps you. To counteract this, always walk or run on at least a 1 percentÂ inclineâ€”the treadmill grade an English study found is nearly equivalent to outside running.
30. Stick to no-calorie drinks
That means coffee, tea, diet soda, mixes such as Crystal Light, and, of course, water.
31. Have breakfast every day
Research from Harvard and Bostonâ€™s Childrenâ€™s Hospital shows that obesity rates are 35 to 50 percentÂ lower in people who eat breakfast regularly, compared with folks who donâ€™t. Nutritionists believe a.m. meals help regulate insulin levels and hunger, so youâ€™re less likely to overeat throughout the remainder of the day.
32. Avoid foods that come in a bag or box
Typically, these are highly processed carbsâ€”foods that quickly raise blood-sugar levels and shut down your bodyâ€™s ability to burn fat.
33. Snack between meals
This not only keeps you from being ravenousâ€”and overeatingâ€”at lunch and dinner, it forces your body to process food all day long, which keeps your metabolism stoked to help weight loss.
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34. Record shows
And only watch the shows you record. By fast-forwarding through the commercials, and watching only the shows you care enough to set a season pass for, you can cut your TV viewingâ€”and the amount of time you spend on the couchâ€”by more than a third.
35. Donâ€™t shy from plain Greek yogurt
When researchers at the University of Tennessee put a group of volunteers on one of two dietsâ€”one high in calcium and one notâ€”and cut each groupâ€™s calorie intake by 500 calories, they found the people getting calcium lost twice as much weight (an average of 13 pounds) compared with people on the standard diet. Study author Michael Zemel, Ph.D., believes extra calcium helps the body burn moreâ€”and store lessâ€”fat.
36. Skip the appetizers
And avoid the bread bowl at all costs. If youâ€™re ravenous when you sit down to eat at a restaurant, immediately order a side salad, or a meat- or vegetable-only appetizer, rather than be tempted by these bottomlessâ€”and fatteningâ€”freebies.
37. Pop peanuts
Nuts have a very high satiety powerâ€”meaning they make you feel fuller after eating than many other foods. And even though theyâ€™re high in calories, those calories appear to be processed differently in the body. University of Michigan researchers found that men who added 500 calories worth of peanuts a day to their diet gained no excess weight at all.
38. Donâ€™t starve yourself
â€śUnder normal conditions, humans absorb only about 80 percentÂ of the nutrients from the food they eat,â€ť says A. Roberto Frisancho, Ph.D., a weight-loss researcher at the University of Michigan. But, he says, when the body is deprived of nourishment, it becomes a super-efficient machine, pulling what nutrients it can from whatever food is consumed. Start eating again normally and your body may not catch up; instead it will continue to store food as fat.
39. Do sprint intervals
Interspersing short, all-out sprints with brief periods of rest is the most effective form of cardio for weight loss, says Stankowski. Try a 2-to-1 â€śwork-to-restâ€ť ratio. That is, sprint two times longer than you rest. So if you run a 150-yard sprintâ€”a good distance to start withâ€”in 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, then repeat 3-7 times.
40. Check your mood
The desire to snack may not be due to hunger at all, but rather the result of loneliness, depression, or anxiety. â€śEmotional eating is at the core of bad eating choices,â€ť says N.Y.C. psychotherapist Elizabeth Fagan, C.S.W. If you often find yourself eating when you feel down, or if you feel happier after a meal, that may signify a problem.
41. Shop for one
If you have to buy cookies, chips, or other processed junk foods, buy the single-serving packageâ€”rather than the large, family-style bag. That way, when you eat the whole packageâ€”and letâ€™s be honest, you know you willâ€”youâ€™ll at last have done a lot less damage to your waistline.
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42. Eat slowly
â€śIt can take 12 minutes or longer for the signal that youâ€™ve started to eat to make its way to your brain,â€ť says Mark S. Gold, M.D., of the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida. Quick tips: Sip some water between every bite of food you eat, or at least eat more meals with friends or family members. Youâ€™ll be more likely to talk and therefore to eat more slowly.
43. Go the distance
Perform intervals for a designated distance rather than a designated time. Otherwise, youâ€™ll be running shorter sprints as you get tired, reducing the number of calories you burn, says McGarr.
44. Cheat once a week
Use the meal as a reward for a weekâ€™s worth of hard work, or the completion of a project youâ€™ve been dreading. â€śItâ€™s OK for people to blow one meal a week without feeling guilty,â€ť says James W. Anderson, M.D., director of the Metabolic Research Group at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. â€śIf you follow a healthy diet 95 percent of the time, you can relax and enjoy yourself the other 5 percent of the time without gaining weight.â€ť
45. Row to the sky
Every time you complete 10 reps on the rowing machine, lift the handles straight up over your headâ€”without bending your elbowsâ€”for two consecutive repetitions before returning to normal rowing form. This works your shoulders and back harder, as well as your legs, since they have to produce more power to give you the momentum to perform the move, says McGarr.
46. Avoid white bread
When Tufts University researchers studied the waistlines and diets of 459 people, they found that even in men of similar age and activity level, those who ate white bread frequently weighed more than those who didnâ€™t. â€śThe calories from white bread and refined grains just seem to settle at the waistline more than calories from other foods,â€ť says Katherine Tucker, Ph.D., the study author.
47. Keep an eye on portion sizes
â€śMost people who have been lean their whole lives have a much better understanding of proper portion size than people who are overweight,â€ť says Deborah Riebe, Ph.D., a professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Rhode Island. â€śIf they go out to eat, theyâ€™re much more likely to ask for a doggie bag right away or to leave food on their plate rather than cleaning it up.â€ť
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48. Never forbid yourself a favorite food
Hereâ€™s a shocker: When a group of U.K. researchers told 30 women to avoid chocolate, then packed them into a room filled with the stuff, the women were much more likely to sneak a bite than individuals who hadnâ€™t been given the order. Blame the allure of the forbidden: The more you tell yourself you canâ€™t eat something you love, the more youâ€™re going to want it.
49. Outdo yourself
When you exercise on the rowing machine, try this interval workout: Row for 60 seconds, note the distance on the machine, then rest 60 seconds. Repeatâ€”only this time, row for 55 seconds and try to match or better your distance from the first time. Rest 55 seconds, then repeat, reducing the time to 50 seconds. Continue until you canâ€™t beat your original distance.
50. Step on the scale at least once a day
â€śIf thereâ€™s one thing that comes up over and over with the thousands of patients enrolled in the National Weight Control Registry, itâ€™s weighing yourself every day on a scale,â€ť says Rena Wing, Ph.D., founder of the registry, which tracks more than 4,500 men and women who have lost an average of 20 poundsÂ or more and kept it off for at least six years. â€śDonâ€™t obsess over the number, but at least keep track of the general range of what you weigh so you can catch small changes as they occur and take corrective measures immediately.â€ť