Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
On daytime TV, you hear a lot about miracle fat-fighting herbs and belly-busting balms, but the truth is, there’s no single secret to fighting fat. That’s why we’ve consulted the experts and culled accurate information from the latest studies to assemble 18 top fat-fighting tips. Unlike many of the bogus claims out there, these methods are the real deal for a leaner, slimmer you.
1. Text Away
It’s OK to be a little attached to our smartphones, especially considering the hidden fat-fighting power they have: Women who used daily texting as part of a weight-loss program lost more pounds of fat than those who abstained from messaging, a recent Duke University study concluded. So go ahead and use texts to keep you driven — just don’t text while driving.
2. Stand Up And Stretch
First thing in the morning, or after a tough workout, it can be easy to settle into your office chair for hours, especially if you’re immersed in a task. Tsk, tsk. “When you sit, your body releases cortisol, which is your stress hormone that stores fat,” says Jenn Zerling, MS, the fitness and nutrition director at Cenegenics in Los Angeles and author of Breaking the Chains of Obesity: 107 Tools (CreateSpace 2012). “You also get aches and pains in the body, which reduces your desire.” When you’re at work, get up and stretch every 20 minutes.
3. Turn Down The Heat
Forget the notion that being warm and sweating can keep you trim. Exposure to cold can boost brown fat, which burns calories and boosts overall metabolism, according to a new study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. Better yet, make your next girls’ getaway a ski trip to the mountains — the research showed long-term exposure (10 days) generated the most benefits.
4. Try A Tabata
Warm up for five minutes, then do four rounds of a Tabata-style workout: eight reps of 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, with one minute rest between each round. Choose your four rounds from push-ups, box jumps, burpees, split squats, jump rope, jumping jacks and split squats. Cool down for 10 minutes. An American Council on Exercise study found this workout torched up to 360 calories, and taxed heart rates and oxygen consumption enough to blast off some serious body fat.
5. Fix The Three Most Common Exercise Errors
Plyometrics, kettlebell swings and high-intensity interval training are some of the best movements for boosting metabolism, but do them incorrectly and you might end up nursing an injury on the couch.
- For plyometrics, learn to land correctly. Focus on a midfoot landing and then rolling forward to push off the ball of the foot.
- For kettlebell swings, make sure to drive with the hips instead of swinging with the shoulders.
- For HIIT, build in active recovery time to remove metabolic waste from the muscles. Begin with one minute of speed work to every two to three minutes of active recovery.
6. Go With H2O
Green juice, blue juice, red juice? “Ditch all juices and stick to water,” Zerling advises. “Water will get the systems working and help your cells remain dynamic to burn fat.” Aim to drink at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water a day. If you weigh 130 pounds, that’s 65 ounces, or eight glasses.
7. Avoid Peer Pressure
Roasting rutabagas while your pals raid the Ruffles? Their poor eating habits could be causing you to carry extra body fat, according to a new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Because peer pressure can strongly influence what — and how much — you choose to eat, consider scheduling a gals’ pedicure instead of a dinner out.
8. Take 22
Twenty-two minutes, that is, to eat lunch. People who slowly enjoyed their meal (in small bites with deliberate chewing) in an average of 22 minutes consumed 88 fewer calories than fast eaters who devoured their food with large bites and quick chewing in about nine minutes, in a 2014 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The bonus: More chews means more calories burned.
9. Master These Protocols
The key to a successful fat-burning routine, says trainer Dave Quevedo of Dave Q Fitness, is to follow a protocol of exercises that create a higher metabolic demand, then alternating rest and recovery. Here, Protocol 1 is designed to burn fat through conditioning and endurance, while Protocol 2 focuses on fat loss, strength and power.
Protocol 1: After a warm-up, do 30 seconds on, 15 seconds off and then the next exercise. Rest 30 seconds after the last exercise (here, the jump rope). Complete the entire circuit three to five times and cool down.
- 1a) Stability Ball Push-Up with Knee Tuck
- 1b) Kettlebell Swing
- 1c) Mountain Climber
- 1d) Jump Rope
Protocol 2:After a warm-up, do 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off and then move to the next exercise. Rest 60 seconds after the last exercise (here, the sprints or sled pushes). Complete the entire circuit three to five times and cool down.
- 2a) Pull-Up
- 2b) Squat Jump with Dumbbell
- 2c) Medicine-Ball Rotational Toss Against the Wall
- 2d) Sprint or Sled Push
Want to design your own waistline-whittling workout? Quevedo advises following this basic sequence:
- Upper body (pushing or pulling)
- Lower body (focusing on the hips or quads)
- Core (with dynamic stability and instability to keep the heart rate up)
Adding dance moves to a class workout burns more calories per minute than kickboxing, step aerobics or power yoga, found a 2013 study at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
11. Balance Your Hormones
Foods rich in iodine, such as kelp, sea salt, shellfish and eggs, help to naturally boost metabolism, says Peggy Kotsopoulos, a registered holistic nutritionist and host of Peggy K’s Kitchen Cures on Veria Living TV network. “In order for your thyroid to function optimally, it needs to absorb iodine from your blood, which enables it to manufacture and distribute hormones throughout your body,” she says. “If adequate amounts of iodine aren’t absorbed, your thyroid and metabolism become sluggish, and you can kiss precious fat burning buh- bye.” Dried seaweed has up to 4,500 micrograms of iodine. Keep in that it’s OK to sprinkle some iodized salt on your meals, which will also raise iodine levels and may help you enjoy the healthier choices even more.
12. Go Primal After 6:00 p.m.
“If you eat carbs at night, your insulin will elevate, which interferes with your body’s ability to uptake growth hormone in your sleep, since insulin and growth hormone compete for the same cell receptor site,” Zerling says. “Insulin always wins, and insulin is a fat accumulator.” At breakfast and lunch, whole grains are fine for keeping you fueled. After work, stick with veggies and protein.
13. Test Your Hormones
“Balanced hormones will boost your metabolism in all sorts of ways,” explains New York City endocrinologist Florence Comite. “Thyroid and testosterone are the key players in metabolism.” Have your physician test TSH, Free T3 and Free T4 for thyroid, as well as total and free testosterone to ensure you’re in range. This is especially important if you take a birth control pill because it lowers testosterone, which can slow your metabolism dramatically.
14. Do A Downward Dog
The mind-body benefits of yoga are undeniable: Practitioners experience less anxiety, better sleep, lower heart rates and more happiness. And they also burn more fat, says New York City yoga therapist Bess Abrahams, because of the way yoga builds muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate.
15. Plan A Date Night
A planned night out can help motivate you to hit the gym for a hard, fat-burning workout. A happier relationship comes from a better body image, says a study among active women recently presented at the British Psychological Society.
16. Treat Your PTSD
One in nine women will have post-traumatic stress disorder in their life, and the hormones associated with the condition cause a slower metabolism and weight gain, according to a 2013 report in JAMA Psychology. If you suffer from PTSD, seek professional help.
17. Make Bedtime the Same Time
You’ve heard how important consistent sleep is for good health. But now, a new study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion
shows that going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning — ideally with eight to eight-and-a-half hours of sleep — is associated with lower body fat. The data from 330 college women revealed that varying your sleep patterns by more than 90 minutes can throw off your weight. If you doze off at 10 tonight and 10:30 tomorrow, don’t sweat it because sleep-pattern variations less than 60 minutes had little impact. But otherwise, establish a sleep routine that will get you the same amount of quality sleep every night — and yes, even on weekends.
18. Mix In Hula Hooping
Maybe not every day, but a weekly hula hoop session — set to some hip-hop on an early Friday evening, perhaps — can burn 210 calories in 30 minutes while also building the muscle you need to burn fat.