If you feel like any extra calories you eat go straight to your belly or thighs, you're not imagining things. Those are usually the areas where you store fat because of your genes, hormones, age, lifestyle, and other factors. Your body tends to hoard calories as fat to keep you alive and safe. The challenge is learning how to get rid of that extra fat.
Still, it’s a worthy goal to lose belly fat because it’s “unfortunately the most dangerous location to store fat,” says Lawrence Cheskin, MD, chair of the department of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University and director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center. Because belly fat—also known as visceral fat, or the deep abdominal fat that surrounds your organs—is more temporary, it circulates throughout the bloodstream more regularly and is therefore likelier to raise the amount of fat in your blood, increasing your blood sugar levels and putting you at a greater risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
How to do burpees: Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart and send your hips back as you lower your body toward the ground in a low squat. Then, place your hands right outside of your feet and hop your feet back, allowing your chest to touch the floor. Push your hands against the floor to lift your body up into a plank and then jump your feet just outside of your hands. With your weight in your heels, jump explosively into the air with your arms overhead.
If your walking workout helps you unwind after a stressful day or work through emotions that might otherwise stress you out, there's a chance it'll help you lower cortisol levels, which in turn can keep belly fat in check, says Gonzalez. And brisk walking is an effective way to drop pounds—including the belly fat that's hiding your abdominal muscles. "One hour of rapid walking a day can lead to one pound of fat loss a week," says Gonzalez.
2. Go to sleep earlier: A study in BMC Public Health found that people who racked up insufficient sleep on the reg were more likely to have a higher BMI. Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Chicago found that sleep loss causes decreased glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity (those processes that cause your body to shuttle nutrients into fat cells instead of muscle cells) as well as elevated levels of ghrelin—the hunger hormone—and cortisol, the stress hormone that encourages your body to store fat. What’s more, the less you sleep, the less testosterone your body is able to produce. In short, skimping on sleep messes with all the hormones that help extra fat off your body—so hit the hay already. Shoot for at least 7 hours a night, more if you’re training hard because your body needs more time to repair and rest.
4. Eat more protein: Upping your protein is crucial for shedding fat. For starters, the macronutrient helps keep you full, preventing overeating and extraneous calories. And without adequate amounts of the macronutrient, muscle protein synthesis is diminished, your muscles can’t rebuild bigger and stronger, and your resting metabolism is lowered, says nutrition specialist and exercise physiologist, Marta Montenegro, CSCS, adjunct professor in Exercise & Sports Sciences at Florida International University. Plus, it gives your calorie burn a little boost since protein takes more energy for your body to process than carbs or fat.
Getting your Om on won’t burn as many calories as a hilly run or lifting weights, but it can help build muscle and improve your endurance, which are all crucial for boosting your metabolism. Some of the highest calorie-blasting yoga poses include plank, chair, Chaturanga, and wheel. New to yoga and aren't sure where to start? Learn more about the different types of yoga to help you find the best practice that fits your workout goals.