5 Doctor-Approved Tips to Keep the Belly Fat off This Year

Woman Checking Waistline

Maybe you haven’t been logging as many miles as you’d like. Perhaps changing in the dressing room has become its own kind of torture. Or maybe you just instinctively know that you’re not feeling as good as you could. So you resolve to get up early and run 5 miles every morning, stop blowing off spin class and eat salads for lunch every week. And it works ­— until it doesn’t and you think you’ll cry if you see one more spinach leaf.

A woman checking herself in the mirror

Here’s what I recommend: Instead of making massive, sweeping changes that are unsustainable, I suggest bite-sized chunks. And if one of your current health goals is to get in shape and (finally) whittle your midsection, these slow and steady lifestyle changes will get you there without the stress of fad diets and unreasonable workout plans.

Here are five tips that I recommend to help you lose belly fat once and for all so that you’re one step closer to living a life you love.

1. Practice intermittent fasting

Despite the proven benefits of fasting, some people are nervous about trying it, assuming that they’ll starve themselves. But intermittent fasting is a great way to reap the benefits without going a whole day (or longer) without eating because, instead of focusing on what you eat, intermittent fasting places the emphasis on when you eat.

One of the most popular ways to practice intermittent fasting is to restrict eating time to 6-8 hours a day, which typically means not eating after dinner and then skipping breakfast. And even with this relatively easy approach, intermittent fasting helps your body use glucose (sugar) more efficiently, which helps reduce body fat, keeps your blood sugar in check and raises good cholesterol levels.

2. Start the day with apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has numerous benefits and is a staple in my home. Not only is it useful for personal and home care (try my apple cider vinegar toner or homemade bug spray), but it’s also a fantastic tool when you’re trying to fight belly fat. That’s because ACV helps reduce and stabilize blood sugar levels, and having unbalanced blood sugar levels creates unnecessary stress on the body, which can lead to weight gain.

Ein bottle of apple cider vinegar on a wooden table

The acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar has also been shown to improve metabolism, which can speed up weight loss overall. And if you have any gut or digestive issues, like acid reflux or even bloating, apple cider vinegar can help with that as well. I recommend drinking a serving of my secret detox drink first thing in the morning, and up to twice more during the day if preferred.

3. Try burst training

Thinking you have to spend hours at the gym is what discourages many people from working out at all. But in reality, one of the most effective ways to exercise is to engage in burst training, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). With burst training, you work at about 90-100 percent of your heart rate for short periods, and then follow those bursts of high-intensity activity with shorter periods of recovery.

This practice has been proven to be one of the best ways to burn overall fat and improve your athletic performance and endurance. Best of all, you don’t need equipment or much space to do burst training. You can incorporate burst training at home, or anywhere, using the Workout Creator feature in the Runtastic Results app.

 

4. Supplement with prebiotics/probiotics

When your gut isn’t happy, the rest of your health suffers, and it’s easy to pack on the pounds (or struggle to lose the ones that are already there). Our guts are made up of bacteria, and in order to function properly, we want the right ratio—about 85 percent “good/neutral” bacteria to 15 percent “bad.” And when this balance is out of whack, it can lead to increased inflammation, stomach aches, bad skin and more.

Different milk products on a wooden table

Getting enough probiotics is essential for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome because they are the good guys that help us digest our food, keep bloating at bay, support the immune system, and generally keep our guts running smoothly. And you can find probiotics in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir and kombucha. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are the foods that feed the probiotics and ensure that they thrive and keep the bad bacteria in check. Some sources of prebiotics include raw, local honey; raw asparagus and onions. So be sure to incorporate both prebiotics and probiotics into your diet no matter your goal!

5. Focus on stress reduction

One of the worst things for your weight-loss efforts is stress. Some stress is good, of course, like when you need to hit a deadline or you’re running from a bear in the wild. But chronic stress ­can wreak havoc on your weight-loss efforts and overall health.

Stress raises the level of cortisol in your body, and this hormone literally stores fat in your belly. If you’re always stressed, you might find yourself bloating more often than usual, or you may notice that digestive issues, like IBS, are starting to flare up. Reducing stress through activities like yoga, meditating, talking with a professional or journaling can really help, and you’ll notice the effects both mentally and physically—and hopefully in time for bathing suit season. Additionally, there are some foods that cause stress that you might want to consider eliminating as well.

I wish you a healthy and happy 2018! With these 5 doctor-approved tips, I hope you’ll enjoy significant progress towards your weight-loss goals.

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Dr. Josh Axe Dr. Josh Axe is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion for helping people get well using food as medicine. View all posts by Dr. Josh Axe »

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