It’s impossible to target belly fat specifically when you diet. But losing weight overall will help shrink your waistline; more importantly, it will help reduce the dangerous layer of visceral fat, a type of fat within the abdominal cavity that you can’t see but that heightens health risks, says Kerry Stewart, Ed.D. , director of Clinical and Research Physiology at Johns Hopkins.
The key to losing weight is to burn more calories than you eat and drink. A diet can help you to do this through portion control. There are many different types of diets. Some, like the Mediterranean diet, describe a traditional way of eating from a specific region. Others, like the DASH eating plan or a diet to lower cholesterol, were designed for people who have certain health problems. But they may also help you to lose weight. There are also fad or crash diets that severely restrict calories or the types of food you are allowed to eat. They may sound promising, but they rarely lead to permanent weight loss. They also may not provide all of the nutrients your body needs.
The claims made about the health implications of carbohydrates and protein are controversial. As with other fad diets, one nutrient is being made to look like the enemy (carbohydrates), while protein is made to look like the key to weight loss and health. Most diets that are against carbohydrates use the arguments that we consume less fat and more carbohydrates than we did 10 years ago, and obesity is on the rise. This is half true. We consume more carbohydrates, which means we consume more calories. Our fat intake remains above the recommendations, but the percent of our total calories from fat has come down because we are now consuming more calories. Again, research clearly shows that a balance of each of these nutrients is needed and that an excess or deficiency in any of them will cause problems. This diet can be difficult to stick with long-term, so weight regain can be an issue.
When Johns Hopkins researchers compared the effects on the heart of losing weight through a low-carbohydrate diet versus a low-fat diet for six months—each containing the same amount of calories—those on a low-carb diet lost an average of 10 pounds more than those on a low-fat diet—28.9 pounds versus 18.7 pounds. An extra benefit of the low-carb diet is that it produced a higher quality of weight loss, Stewart says. With weight loss, fat is reduced, but there is also often a loss of lean tissue (muscle), which is not desirable. On both diets, there was a loss of about 2 to 3 pounds of good lean tissue along with the fat, which means that the fat loss percentage was much higher on the low-carb diet.
That sour cherry is pretty sweet when it comes to your health. The results of a study conducted at the University of Michigan found that rats given high-fat foods along with tart cherries ditched nine percent more body fat than those in a control group over just 12 weeks. Cherries are also a good source of antioxidant pigment resveratrol, which has been linked to reductions in belly fat, dementia risk, and lower rates of macular degeneration among the elderly.
The Atkins diet has gone through numerous revisions over the years, though there was never any acknowledgement of flaws in any of the diet plans. Until recently, there have not been any studies on the safety or efficacy of the Atkins diet. Short-term studies have shown improvements in blood cholesterol and blood sugar and an increased weight loss over the first three to six months in comparison to control diets. Unfortunately, the weight loss is not sustained at one year, and the improvements that were seen were due to weight loss and not the actual diet. The long-term safety of low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets is unknown at this time. In a 2007 rating of diet books done by Consumer Reports, the Atkins diet was ranked at the bottom.
I mean, people lose fat on low carb diets, low fat diets, paleo diets, vegan diets, raw food diets, diets that involve eating “clean” instead of “dirty” or not eating after a certain time at night, and countless other types of diets that involve every gimmick, fad and method you can think of except the specific task of creating a caloric deficit. But yet, they have all caused people to successfully lose fat.
Stop treating your kitchen like an all-night diner and you’ll stop seeing those unwanted pounds piling onto your frame, too. The results of a study published in Cell Metabolism found that mice who only had access to food during an eight-hour period stayed slim over the course of the study, while those who ate the same number of calories over a 16-hour period gained significantly more weight, particularly around their middle. When you’re finished with dinner at night, shut the fridge and don’t look back until morning — your belly will thank you. When you do head back to the kitchen in the A.M., make sure the best healthy kitchen staples for cooking are there waiting for you.
"Self-monitoring" refers to observing and recording some aspect of your behavior, such as calorie intake, servings of fruits and vegetables, amount of physical activity, etc., or an outcome of these behaviors, such as weight. Self-monitoring of a behavior can be used at times when you're not sure how you're doing, and at times when you want the behavior to improve. Self-monitoring of a behavior usually moves you closer to the desired direction and can produce "real-time" records for review by you and your health care provider. For example, keeping a record of your physical activity can let you and your provider know quickly how you're doing. When the record shows that your activity is increasing, you'll be encouraged to keep it up. Some patients find that specific self-monitoring forms make it easier, while others prefer to use their own recording system.
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.
The most controversial part of this diet is the severe fat restriction. The American Heart Association recommends a diet with 25% to 35% of your calories from fat. The Pritikin Principle requires you consume less than 10% of your calories from fat. Besides providing taste to your diet, dietary fat has other functions, and 10% may be too low to meet your needs. There has been a considerable amount of research showing the health benefits of omega-3 fats, including protecting your heart. The American Heart Association now recommends that people without coronary heart disease eat a variety of omega-3 fat-containing fish at least twice a week and that those with coronary heart disease consume one gram of omega-3 fats per day. Dietary fat is also needed to transport the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Without fat to transport them, they will not be able to serve their functions in your body.
Food and nutrition play a crucial role in health promotion and chronic disease prevention. Every 5 years, HHS and USDA publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Nation’s go-to source for nutrition advice. The latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines reflects the current body of nutrition science, helps health professionals and policymakers guide Americans to make healthy food and beverage choices, and serves as the science-based foundation for vital nutrition policies and programs across the United States.