Jay is the science-based writer and researcher behind everything you've seen here. He has 15+ years of experience helping thousands of men and women lose fat, gain muscle, and build their "goal body." His work has been featured by the likes of Time, The Huffington Post, CNET, Business Week and more, referenced in studies, used in textbooks, quoted in publications, and adapted by coaches, trainers and diet professionals at every level.
I have one question though. I think I’ve read most of your site at this stage and I think I can find most of the answer to my question but I can’t seem to find the complete answer and it would be nice to see it pulled together in one place. Now I understand the whole calorie deficit thing & I understand that you can create the deficit through diet & exercise. I also saw your article saying that, although weight training does have *some* effect on weight loss, its actually very small. I’ve also seen you virtually dismiss (:-)) cardio. The thing is, I haven’t seen all these things drawn together in one place. So: are you saying that changes to diet has BY FAR the greatest effect on fat loss? And that weight training and cardio have such a small effect on fat loss that, relative to diet, they are almost insignificant? Because that is the impression I’m getting. Actually – and I know this is not really possible – could you quantify their relative effects as you see them? e.g. diet 70%, cardio 20% weight training 10%. Again, I know, that’s not possible, but just to give a “feel” for their relative impacts. You can see what I’m getting at here: I’d like to get an idea for where to concentrate my efforts.
I am 62, female, icky 217 pounds, 5 foot 6, on 130 mcg of levothyroxine for hypothyroid, and no other health issues. I have weighed between 117 and 125 all of my life until 10 years ago when the hypo began and was not recognized by me. I gained all of the weight as my thyroid slowed down. My doctor said I was close to a heart attack from metabolism slow-down. Wondered what was up! I run an internet business from a chair (ugh) but have always been someone who was physical. I play tennis several times a week for several hours each time. I do strength training every other day and have strong arms and legs. I walk and jog. I have been doing P90X three times a week for several months – alternating with strength training. I also stretch, do yoga. My heart is in excellent condition, per the doctor. And you can see muscles when I flex my arms. 🙂 But — aggggg — I now have a belly and want it gone, gone, gone.

He's also become a firm believer in structure: Eating at roughly the same time every day, and getting plenty of sleep to recover from workouts and to allow your body to keep its hormones in check. Finally, don't let small, inevitable setbacks get to your head, he says. "Hell, just this December I gained 15 pounds in one month. It's just a bump in the road. Nobody succeeds without failures."
Having ready-to-eat snacks and meals-in-minutes on hand sets you up for success. You'll be less likely to hit the drive-through or order a pizza if you can throw together a healthy meal in five or 10 minutes. Here are some essentials to keep on hand: frozen vegetables, whole-grain pasta, reduced-fat cheese, canned tomatoes, canned beans, pre-cooked grilled chicken breast, whole grain tortillas or pitas, and bags of salad greens.
"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL
You don't really want dessert, but your friends are having some, and they're urging you to join them. So you give in and order a piece of tiramisu. Sorry to say it, but you've just committed sociotropy, aka people pleasing-a behavior that can make you gain weight. In a recent study, women and men who regularly experienced negative emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger, and were impulsive and disorganized, tended to be heavier than those who were more even-keeled.
Flexibility. A flexible plan doesn't forbid certain foods or food groups, but instead includes a variety of foods from all the major food groups. A healthy diet includes vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean protein sources, and nuts and seeds. A flexible plan allows an occasional, reasonable indulgence if you like. It should feature foods you can find in your local grocery store and that you enjoy eating. However, the plan should limit alcohol, sugary drinks and high-sugar sweets because the calories in them don't provide enough nutrients.
Simply take a good hard look at your diet, make a few modifications you can stick with and get your body moving. Not sure where you stand on diet? Write down everything you eat this week, then compare it to the list above and see where you could have made better choices. Don’t beat yourself up though, learning how to lose stomach fat fast is a process. Simply find areas to improve and work on them next week.
In general, losing weight by following a healthy, nutritious diet — such as the Mayo Clinic Diet — can reduce your risk of weight-related health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. If you already have any of these conditions, they may be improved dramatically if you lose weight, regardless of the diet plan you follow.

Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit.60 Plus they might make it harder to stick to a keto diet, and resist temptations.61 So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.


Shaping is a behavioral technique in which you select a series of short-term goals that get closer and closer to the ultimate goal (e.g., an initial reduction of fat intake from 40 percent of calories to 35 percent of calories, and later to 30 percent). It is based on the concept that "nothing succeeds like success." Shaping uses two important behavioral principles: (1) consecutive goals that move you ahead in small steps are the best way to reach a distant point; and (2) consecutive rewards keep the overall effort invigorated.
Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit.60 Plus they might make it harder to stick to a keto diet, and resist temptations.61 So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.
Which leads us to point number two: If you want to lose belly fat, you'll need to lose weight. If you stick to the following plan, you won't have to lose as much weight as you might think because your body will burn more fat for energy, but still. Reducing your body fat percentage will require losing some weight. Don't go into this thinking you won't have to lose weight, because that's the surest way to fail.
Unsurprisingly, the results showed that nothing had happened to the weight of the women receiving calcium or the placebo. However, the group which took the multivitamin lost more weight – about 3 kg more – and improved their health markers. Among other things, their basal metabolic rate (the rate at which the body burns calories when at rest) increased.
I’ve been so frustrated for the past few years with my weight that and have worked out and there has been progress but not the amount that I wanted. Now I’ve been working out a lot and eating healthier and there has been progress, but finding all this information definitely makes it all much better and puts me in a position where I can decide for myself what works best for me and how I can go on about it.
Talk about a catch-22: Doing something healthy, like eating a low-cal meal, can make you less likely to exercise and more likely to gorge yourself with food later on. This is because of a phenomenon scientists call licensing, which happens when we feel that we've earned the right to be self-indulgent. Most people have a tendency to want to balance things out, says Kathleen Vohs, Ph.D., an associate professor of marketing at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. So when we do one thing that's good for our health, which often requires exerting plenty of discipline and self-control, we like to follow it up with something that lets us indulge ourselves.
To start off, aim to do ab work 3 or 4 times a week on non-consecutive days with at least 24 hours of rest in between sessions, says Gagliardi. During those sessions, you can start with simpler moves like crunches, bicycle crunches, and planks. Even though you may only be directly targeting your abs 3 or 4 times a week, you should still be activating your core (aka, tightening your ab muscles) in every workout you do, says Gagliardi.
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