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.
Those trans fats on your menu are hiding out in plain sight and sabotaging your lean belly plans every time you eat them. If a food product says it contains partially hydrogenated oils, you’re eating trans fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and obesity with every bite. In fact, research conducted at Wake Forest University reveals that monkeys whose diets contained eight percent trans fat upped their body fat by 7.2 percent over a six-year study, while those who ate monounsaturated fat gained just a fraction of that amount. Instead of letting harmful trans fat take up space on your menu, fill up with these healthy fats.
Yes, there are a million other factors and components of your diet and workout that play important roles in successfully, permanently and efficiently getting you to lose fat (while also maintaining lean muscle mass and being healthy), and a million ways to go about creating that deficit in a way that is as easy, enjoyable and sustainable for you as possible.
That’s basically what I did. I counted calories for a while using good old spreadsheets. That made me realize that foods like pasta and rice where high calories, so I should watch with that. Now I haven’t counted calories and years, and watch out with carbs. That’s how I’ve been able to keep my weight stable and visible abs over the past 10 years or so.
Love your site and all your knowledge leads me to believe you may be able to help. I am STUCK. Can’t lose a pound. I am 5’6″, 126#, and have calculated my maintenance calories at 1850/day. I am eating this (or less) and working out as follows. Three times per week I do 55 minutes of cardio on the Arc Trainer (1050 calories, 4.2miles, according to the meter) followed by one hour of weights. Two times per week I take a Zumba or Pole class followed by a stretching and flexibilty class. By my calculation I should be burning a TON of fat but my scale hasn’t moved in months. Please help!
So, my issue is understanding the calories I need for lifting. I know there are a lot of variables involved and things I’m probably overlooking.. is there a formula for a rough estimate for my question? And is there a method you trust for determining overall caloric intake? I try to use ones with multiple variables and average out the recommended amounts.
The dietary focus on this diet also has some limitations. The idea of "good carbs" and "bad carbs" is controversial. While there is some truth to the role of glycemic index in hunger, it is not a guaranteed tool for weight management. Labeling foods as "good" and "bad" creates problems for people trying to develop healthy eating habits. A well-balanced diet requires whole wheat sources of starch, while allowing for some sugar.

What does a HIIT workout look like? You could jog for two minutes, sprint for one minute, jog for two minutes, sprint for one minute. Or you could do a HIIT workout on a bike, or by running up stairs and then jogging back down. The key is that you go relatively all out for a short period of time, then recover by maintaining a moderate level of intensity, then go again.


The Pritikin diet is a very low-fat, high-carbohydrate eating plan. The focus is to eat vegetables, fruits, and high-fiber grains. Fats should not exceed 10% of total daily calories. Nathan Pritikin's diet is based on the theory of eating low-fat, low-calorie, plant-based foods to promote weight loss and improve or prevent heart disease. The revised Pritikin diet includes a "Calorie Density Solution:" Consume low-calorie dense foods (for example, apples, brown rice) until full, six to seven times daily. Eating low-calorie foods throughout the day will reduce hunger and cause weight loss.
Taking this vitamin daily may help you drop pounds. A study at the University of Minnesota found that people who started a weight-loss program with higher levels of D lost more weight than those who weren't getting enough of the nutrient. Other research suggested that vitamin D appears to boost the effectiveness of leptin, a hormone that signals the brain that you're full. Because it's difficult to get D from food, Shalamar Sibley, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the university, says you may need to take a vitamin D3 supplement. (Being deficient in D affects your body in more ways than one.) Many experts now recommend 1,000 international units (IU) every day.

"Physically, I feel better than ever. I'm more confident than ever as well, because I know I'm stronger, faster, and more capable than I've ever been," he says. "It's like the brain fog I had for years has finally cleared." Better yet, he's back in school at the University of Central Arkansas, where he's pursuing a bachelors degree in nutrition, while working part-time as cook on the side.
This high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carb fad diet sends the body into a state of ketosis, in which the body uses stored fat for energy. Research published in Clinical Cardiology suggests the ketogenic, or “keto,” diet can be an effective weight loss method, but to be successful, you must follow the plan consistently with no cheat days — otherwise, you’re just eating a high-fat diet that may be high in unhealthy fats for no reason. (1) (A pro tip? If you're planning on doing the diet, consider perusing this complete keto food list and reading up on the healthiest fats for keto diet followers.)

“Starting slow and working your way up is better than overdoing it and giving up,” says Gagliardi. “I like the idea of attaching the new behavior of taking a walk to an existing behavior.” An easy way to approach it: Commit to going for a quick 10-minute walk after dinner, and slowly increase the time as you become more comfortable with daily movement.
Research has shown that the calorie density of our diets will impact our weight. The calorie density is the amount of calories in a given weight of food. Consuming foods that are considered low-calorie dense aids in weight loss. These foods will provide a high volume without a lot of calories. By replacing foods that are considered high-calorie dense, you save additional calories. Some find it more satisfying to focus on consuming low-calorie dense foods in large quantities versus counting calories. The Pritikin diet also encourages daily exercise and stress-reduction techniques.
Growing up, Brady Golden had always been a big kid—"chubby," as he puts it. Weight gain happened steadily for most of his life: By the fourth grade, he weighed 180 pounds, and by high school, he was tipping the scale at 350. "I just ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I barely moved at all. The most active thing I did was marching band," he says.
The Mayo Clinic Diet is generally safe for most adults. It does encourage unlimited amounts of vegetables and fruits. For most people, eating lots of fruits and vegetables is a good thing — these foods provide your body with important nutrients and fiber. However, if you aren't used to having fiber in your diet, you may experience minor, temporary changes in digestion, such as intestinal gas, as your body adjusts to this new way of eating.
Lack of long-term randomized scientific studies proving the diet works and is safe. A randomized study distributes participants in a deliberately random way into either the non-tested diet group or the special diet group. Some fad diets state there is research to support their claims, but the research is only done with a few people or does not exist.
Even though you are eating well and exercising, you may reach a plateau where your weight stays the same. Plateaus are mainly due to decreased resting energy expenditure (REE). When you consume fewer calories, your REE decreases, thus your body's need for energy decreases. Keep exercising and eating well to help you get through periods with no weight loss. Sometimes a plateau is the body's way of saying that you may not need to lose more weight. If you are meant to lose more weight, eventually weight loss will come as your body's metabolism catches up with your new lifestyle.
This study divided its subjects up into 2 groups, and had them both create the same sized caloric deficit. HOWEVER, the difference between them was the manner in which this deficit was created. One group did it by eating less total calories (diet alone), but the other group did it by eating less total calories AND burning more calories by doing cardio (a combination of diet AND exercise). But again, the total weekly caloric deficit was the same for both groups. Guess what happened? They all lost the same amount of weight and body fat. Why? Because a deficit of X calories is a deficit of X calories regardless of whether you burned those calories off via cardio or just didn’t eat them in the first place. Fat loss isn’t about how you create the deficit, it’s just about the deficit itself.
The Zone diet is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, fat-controlled eating plan. It is not as restrictive as other high-protein diets and it allows for a broad range of foods to be consumed. A small amount of protein is combined with twice the amount of "favorable" carbohydrates, including fruits and vegetables. If choosing "less desirable" carbohydrates, the portion size is smaller. Sears' Zone diet is based on the theory that the human body is genetically programmed to reach peak efficiency when all meals, including snacks, consist of a set caloric ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The diet recommends an intake of 40% of calories from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 30% from fats (40-30-30). When this ratio is achieved, the body is working within the "zone." The body will have maximum energy and weight loss.
The benefits above are the most common ones. But there are others that are potentially even more surprising and – at least for some people – life changing. Did you know that a keto diet can help treat high blood pressure,45 may result in less acne,46 may help control migraine,47 might help with certain mental health issues and could have a few other potential benefits?
The next time you want to grab a fattening snack, reach for some sugar-free gum instead. Chewing some types of gum gives you fresh breath and can also help manage hunger, control snack cravings, and aid in weight loss. (Keep in mind, however, that excess sorbitol, a sugar alcohol sometimes used in low calorie gums, can have an laxative effect in some people.) Although gum might make you eat less, it doesn't mean you can stop eating right. A good diet and exercise are still important.

People talk about “weight” loss because scale weight is a proxy measure for fat loss. Fat is the major source of excess body mass for most people who want to “lose weight.” Measuring fat (by DEXA scans or other body composition tools) is expensive and difficult; measuring weight is cheap and easy. So people just measure weight and assume that if they lose weight, it’s because they’re losing fat.
I am into day 2 of my 6th week of my calorie deficit. For weeks 1 through 3 I wasn’t exercising beyond my daily dog walks. I adjusted my BMR and calorie deficit to reflect the 6lbs I lost. Week 4 I started working out 3x’s a week – moderate weight lifting and moderate cardio. At beginning of week 5 had lost a total of 10 lbs, but wanted to wait until this weekend to make my adjustments based on whatever I lost in week 5. Well, I got on the scale, and the damn thing told me I gained a pound.
Love your site and all your knowledge leads me to believe you may be able to help. I am STUCK. Can’t lose a pound. I am 5’6″, 126#, and have calculated my maintenance calories at 1850/day. I am eating this (or less) and working out as follows. Three times per week I do 55 minutes of cardio on the Arc Trainer (1050 calories, 4.2miles, according to the meter) followed by one hour of weights. Two times per week I take a Zumba or Pole class followed by a stretching and flexibilty class. By my calculation I should be burning a TON of fat but my scale hasn’t moved in months. Please help!

In this study, eating more protein helped overweight men preserve more lean mass when they lost weight. The men were put on a diet that gave them either 15% or 25% of energy from protein. But here’s a huge difference that you won’t see in the abstract: the low-protein group was vegetarian; the high-protein group got meat. (The study authors never explain why on earth they would do it like that).


The plan is based on the theory that eating carbohydrates creates a production of insulin, a hormone secreted from the pancreas, leading to increased weight gain and hunger. When converting to this approach, the plan holds that dieters will experience a reduced appetite, and their bodies will use stored fat for energy versus burning glucose from carbohydrate digestion. Burning fat for energy will supposedly lead to weight loss.
The South Beach diet is the newest high-protein, low carbohydrate, and fat-controlled diet. This diet claims that the cause for obesity "is simple: The faster the sugars and the starches you eat are processed and absorbed into your bloodstream, the fatter you get." The goal is to "take out bad fats and bad carbohydrates." Like many of the fad diets, it is divided into different phases. The first phase claims to eliminate cravings and kick-start weight loss; the second phase is for long-term, steady weight loss; and the third phase is to be followed for 365 days a year once you have achieved your weight loss goal.
The two diet options that are currently available are the Flex Plan and the Core Plan. The Flex Plan is an updated version of the POINTS Food System in which the goal is to stay within your recommended amount of points each day. The POINTS value for foods is calculated based on the food's calories, fat, and fiber. Along with your weekly POINTS target you are also given a "Weekly Allowance" to use for indulging or special occasions.
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.
The NutriSystem Advanced diet is a low glycemic index, high-fiber, and high-protein diet. The prepackaged food is provided for you by ordering online or by calling the toll free number. The plans are: Women's, Men's, Women's Silver, Men's Silver, Women's Type II Diabetic, Men's Type II Diabetic, or Vegetarian. An exercise DVD is included along with a Mindset Makeover behavior modification guide.
The least intrusive weight loss methods, and those most often recommended, are adjustments to eating patterns and increased physical activity, generally in the form of exercise. The World Health Organization recommended that people combine a reduction of processed foods high in saturated fats, sugar and salt[10] and caloric content of the diet with an increase in physical activity.[11]
As far as the measurement, yeah, those scales are garbage – but since it spits the data out, I figure I might as well right it down. I did a caliper test when I started and it gave me pretty similar results, but who knows. I am taking photos every week for my main source of tracking. I can see the progress there – and can definitely tell I have a lot of cutting yet to do! I’ll keep on pushing, I don’t know if I can hit 10%, but I will try for 12%.
Well, weight training plays a huge (and required) role in maintaining muscle/strength while losing fat, but strictly in terms of causing fat loss, weight training doesn’t have much of an effect at all because it just doesn’t burn THAT many calories. Cardio generally burns more calories than weight training, but it’s still not THAT huge of an amount, especially for the amount of time it takes.
In addition, the healthy habits and kinds of foods recommended on the Mayo Clinic Diet — including lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, fish and healthy fats — can further reduce your risk of certain health conditions. The Mayo Clinic Diet is meant to be positive, practical, sustainable and enjoyable, so you can enjoy a happier, healthier life over the long term.
Social conditions such as poverty, social isolation and inability to get or prepare preferred foods can cause unintentional weight loss, and this may be particularly common in older people.[42] Nutrient intake can also be affected by culture, family and belief systems.[27] Ill-fitting dentures and other dental or oral health problems can also affect adequacy of nutrition.[27]

If you’ve got weight to lose and you want it gone fast, try swapping out your usual proteins in favor of fish. Not only is fish lower in calories than an equivalent amount of beef or chicken, a study published in Obesity reveals study subjects who added omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish, to their diets shed more weight and had an easier time keeping it off than those who skipped them.
Other diabetes medications. Insulin-releasing tablets (e.g. sulphonylureas) often lead to weight gain. These include: Minodiab, Euglucon, Daonil, and Glibenclamide. Tablets like Avandia, Actos, Starlix and NovoNorm also encourage weight gain. But not Metformin. The newer drugs Victoza and Byetta (injectable) often lead to weight loss, but possible long-term side effects are still unknown. More on diabetes
If you’re only getting a minimal amount of sleep each night, that leaves more time for you to snack and make otherwise unhealthy decisions that could affect your weight loss. Although it will vary from person to person on how much sleep you actually need to be most effective (and therefore make progress toward your weight loss goals), the ideal number is typically 7 or 8 hours, says Dr. Cheskin. (Struggling to get that shut-eye? This doctor-approved breathing exercise will help you fall asleep fast.)
Keeping a toothbrush handy can do more than polish up that smile (and counter the effects of all that belly-slimming garlic); brushing your teeth throughout the day can also help you ditch that belly fat fast. A study conducted a sample of over 14,000 participants found that brushing after every meal was linked to lower weight. That minty toothpaste flavor not only clashes with virtually every food, brushing may also trigger a Pavlovian response that tells your brain the kitchen’s closed.
Okay, you have helped me before in a few of your other posts, I just want to get an overall feel on my deficit/output/goals if you don’t mind. 6’1″, +/- 19% bf, total weight is around 187. I’m losing almost 1# exactly per week, so I think I have my deficit dialed in – I’m eating about 2,650. I’m assuming that to be (give or take) 15% under my maintenance (I’m weightlifting 60 minutes a day, five days a week and maintaining 2,650 on the weekends too).
Being in optimal ketosis for a prolonged period of time (say, a month) will ensure that you experience the maximal hormonal effect from eating a low-carb diet. If this doesn’t result in noticeable weight loss, you can be certain that too many carbs are NOT part of your weight issue and not the obstacle to your weight loss. There are, in fact, other causes of obesity and being overweight. The next three tips in this series might help you.
Love your site and all your knowledge leads me to believe you may be able to help. I am STUCK. Can’t lose a pound. I am 5’6″, 126#, and have calculated my maintenance calories at 1850/day. I am eating this (or less) and working out as follows. Three times per week I do 55 minutes of cardio on the Arc Trainer (1050 calories, 4.2miles, according to the meter) followed by one hour of weights. Two times per week I take a Zumba or Pole class followed by a stretching and flexibilty class. By my calculation I should be burning a TON of fat but my scale hasn’t moved in months. Please help!
"Chewing seems to stimulate the gut to make appetite-suppressing peptide hormones," says Dr. Cypess. Plus, the more you chew, the more thoroughly you break down food, which may release nutrients into your blood faster and give your brain time to register that you're full. From now on, focus on eating slowly at every meal. Put down your fork between bites and work your way up to 40 chews per mouthful of food.
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.
The Pritikin diet is a very low-fat, high-carbohydrate eating plan. The focus is to eat vegetables, fruits, and high-fiber grains. Fats should not exceed 10% of total daily calories. Nathan Pritikin's diet is based on the theory of eating low-fat, low-calorie, plant-based foods to promote weight loss and improve or prevent heart disease. The revised Pritikin diet includes a "Calorie Density Solution:" Consume low-calorie dense foods (for example, apples, brown rice) until full, six to seven times daily. Eating low-calorie foods throughout the day will reduce hunger and cause weight loss.
Some people feel better supplementing the already active T3 (sometimes prepared from pig thyroid glands), as it can give a stronger effect than the T4 hormone, but its effect is often harder to control. Swedish healthcare rarely prescribes or offers such T3 treatment, as it often lacks advantages and may pose a risk when doses are high for an extended period of time.
Your parents weren’t kidding about how important veggies are for a healthy body. What they probably didn’t tell you, however, was that snacking on veggies is also one of the easiest ways to shed unwanted belly fat, too. According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, opting for non-starchy veggies, like cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumber, as snacks helped overweight kids shed 17 percent of their visceral fat while improving their insulin sensitivity over a five-year period. Think snacking on veggies will leave you hungry? The 20 Most Filling Fruits and Veggies will have your belly satisfied in no time.

But just because belly fat comes off a bit more easily doesn’t make it less dangerous. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. “Belly fat is unfortunately the most dangerous location to store fat,” says Dr. Cheskin. Because belly fat—also known as visceral fat, or the deep abdominal fat that surrounds your organs—is more temporary, it’s more active in terms of circulating in the bloodstream. That means it’s likely to raise the amount of fat in your blood (known as blood lipid levels) and increase your blood sugar levels, which as a result raises your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The scale is not necessarily your friend. You may want to lose fat – but the scale measures muscles, bone and internal organs as well. Gaining muscle is a good thing. Thus weight or BMI are imperfect ways to measure your progress. This is especially true if you’re just coming off a long period of semi-starvation (calorie counting), as your body may want to restore lost muscles etc. Starting weight training and gaining muscle can also hide your fat loss.

If the diet is a quick fix rather than one that promotes lasting lifestyle changes, this could pose a problem. In particular, extreme diets that promise big weight loss up front aren’t always sustainable — and you may end up overeating or even binge eating if you feel deprived. “Consider if the diet’s habits are ones you can continue throughout your lifetime, not just 21 or 30 days,” says Angie Asche, RD, a sports dietitian in Lincoln, Nebraska.

"Healthy fats are totally underutilized by individuals trying to shed body fat," says Matarazzo. "You have to reduce calories to get rid of body fat, but you don't want to cut out healthy fats completely." Fats take longer to break down in your stomach and help control blood-sugar levels, leaving you more satisfied and reducing your cravings. Include avocados, fatty fish, olives, nuts and seeds, and oils such as olive, flaxseed, and canola in your diet.


One quick unrelated question – both of my AC joints are garbage (probably too many years of benching “bodybuilder” style). I have had some luck now sticking with dumbbell presses and staying away from the barbell – but overhead presses still kill me no matter what (dumbbell, barbell, Arnolds, etc.). Any thoughts on an alternate? I know I have read on here that you are no stranger to shoulder pain yourself…….
Very well said, love the article… I’ve tried to explain this to people before but a lot of them seem to get offensive about it. They usually come back, with a very sarcastic tone, with something like “So you’re saying I can eat cake all day and lose weight”. I tell them, “if you consume less calories then you burn, yes”, that’s when they usually say “whatever” and stop listening to me.

This study took 16 overweight men and women and split them into 2 groups. They then had each person in each group create the same sized caloric deficit and then consume that same calorie intake every day for 8 weeks. HOWEVER, they had one group eat 3 meals a day, and the other group eat 6 meals a day. Guess what happened? They all lost the same amount of weight. In fact, the study showed that there was no difference at all in fat loss, appetite control, or anything similar. Why? Because meal frequency doesn’t affect your ability to lose fat or gain fat. Calories do.

What does a HIIT workout look like? You could jog for two minutes, sprint for one minute, jog for two minutes, sprint for one minute. Or you could do a HIIT workout on a bike, or by running up stairs and then jogging back down. The key is that you go relatively all out for a short period of time, then recover by maintaining a moderate level of intensity, then go again.
We're so used to super-sizing when we eat out that it's easy to carry that mind-set home. To right-size your diet, use a kitchen scale and measuring cups to measure your meals for a week or two. Use smaller plates and glasses to downsize your portions. Split restaurant servings in half -- making two meals out of one big one. Portion out snack servings instead of eating them directly from the container.
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.
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