Diet trends come and go, but the age-old question still stands: how do you lose belly fat — and fast? Well, hate to break it to you, but there isn't a quick, safe solution to tightening up stubborn areas. However, it is possible to begin seeing small changes in your waist in as little as two weeks with the right workout and diet regimen, according to personal trainer and registered dietitian Jim White, RD, ACSM. You won't necessarily lose inches, but with a little more patience, you may be able to accelerate your timeline by doing the following.
- Maintain a calorie deficit: A calorie deficit basically means burning more calories than you consume. But if we really want to get down to the nitty-gritty, Jim said you'd have to eat at a 500-calorie deficit each day to lose a pound per week. But it's essential that you eat a minimum of 1,200 calories daily. Anything lower than that can impair proper physical and mental function.
- Incorporate HIIT workouts: Generally, the higher the intensity, the more calories your body will burn and continue to burn after your workout. HIIT can help you maximize the EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) effect or, as Orangetheory Fitness calls it, the "afterburn."
- Fiber it up: Increasing your fiber intake can help you lose more fat. The problem is that most people aren't getting enough each day. On top of moving things along in your digestive system, fiber can promote weight loss by making you feel satiated with fewer calories and can curb overeating by regulating blood sugar levels.
- Don't cut carbs: Seems counterintuitive, right? But good news: carbohydrates, particularly resistant starches and complex carbs, are very much necessary. Resistant starch, including items like beans and lentils and green bananas, can actually boost your metabolism because it requires more effort to convert into energy. Complex carbs, such as grains and veggies, are just as important as they provide nutritional value.
- Do cut processed foods: You can't beat whole foods that can be eaten as they are. According to Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, eating real foods (aka straight from nature, not out of a box) will zap unwanted fat and provide your body with vital nutrients.
- Keep your stress in check: When you're constantly stressed, your cortisol levels spike. The stress hormone stimulates appetite, which is why some people "stress eat" and find comfort in junk food.
- Get your eight hours in: Sleep and weight gain are more closely tied than you think. Lack of sleep intensifies cravings and prevents your muscles from repairing and recovering properly overnight. Additionally, your body will produce more cortisol, and we've already learned what that can do to our fat-burning efforts.