A diet that’s low in fat and carbohydrates can improve artery function, according to a 2012 study by Johns Hopkins researchers. After six months, those on the low-carb diet had lost more weight, and at a faster pace. But in both groups, when weight was lost—and especially when belly fat shrank—the arteries were able to expand better, allowing blood to travel more freely. The study shows that you don’t have to cut out all dietary fat to shrink belly fat. For heart health, simply losing weight and exercising seems to be key. 
If you're specifically looking to target your belly, we have some bad news: you can't spot-target fat loss. That means you can do crunches or planks all day long, but you won't specifically burn belly fat. Instead, you can lose body fat overall, including from your belly. And by avoiding certain belly-bloating foods and with some strategic exercise, you will inevitably see results in your belly.
“To lose weight you should primarily eat whole foods, but don’t eliminate your favorites. Consistently eating nutrient-dense food on a day-to-day basis will improve the chances of upregulating metabolism and of eliminating nutritional deficiencies. That may mean tracking what you eat in some way at first, but it doesn’t mean ruling out entire food groups or foods you love. Consistent quality nutrition while learning to enjoy treats in moderation will set you up for long-term sustainable success. — Victoria Viola, PN Certified Nutrition Coach, NSCA CPT, Co-Founder, Excelerate Wellness, LLC
Hi Amanda! I promise you, you are NOT hopeless. You can do this! One small change at a time. Every decision matters and those small things add up so quickly. Feel free to send me an email and we can talk more and I may be able to give you more specific guidance, but for now, just know that you can do this. If God can take a junk food-loving, couch potato like me and turn me into a veggie-loving runner, I promise He can transform your life (and your heart), too!
However, if you’re already on medication and think it could be hampering weight loss efforts, speak with your doctor about your options. It may be possible to transition to a more natural option, like a natural form of birth control, coming up with a plan to transition off medication or simply trying an alternative that’s not known to cause weight gain.
If you're mostly sedentary (and let's face it—with 9-to-5 desk jobs being the norm, it's hard to avoid), you'll start to see noticeable results with just a slight increase in your activity level. Break up the hours in front of the computer by using your lunch break to move around. "I started walking for 45 minutes during my lunch break," says Melissa Leon, who ultimately dropped 53 pounds. "The area was super hilly, but feeling the burn in my butt and quads as I powered up those hills let me know I was making progress."
Spanx are maybe no one’s idea of a good time, but sometimes you just need a little extra (firm) help to flatten your tummy to wear your favorite dress or for a special evening out. And there’s nothing wrong with turning to technology to help you get there. Body shaping undergarments have come a long way in the past few years with more breathable fabrics and styles for both men and women.
About: On March 1, 2014, a visit to the doctor’s office really brought things home for Bobby. At 6 feet tall, Bobby weighed in at 345 pounds. To be at a healthy weight, his doctor said he needed to weigh 177 pounds, 168 pounds less than the weight he was at. In essence, Bobby realized he was essentially carrying around another person. The moment was the catalyst he needed to change. Rather than set any unrealistic expectations, Bobby decided to set the small, attainable goal of losing 2 pounds a week. So began his blog. And, guess what? It worked. Two years later, Bobby weighs in at 214 pounds (he looks great, by the way), and continues to take those small baby steps that are helping him achieve a healthy body. Bravo.
"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL
Chronic migraines were what first inspired Amanda Tagge to start exercising. “I was hoping to find some relief from my headaches and working out did help but I realized that if I really wanted to feel better I needed to revamp my health habits overall and lose weight,” she says. The more she changed, the better her headaches got and she lost 70 pounds in the process which helped her feel even better. Focusing on all the ways her health was improving kept her going even when the scale wasn’t moving.

This wasn’t a huge issue for me. I haven’t drank much milk since junior high, and although I do enjoy cheese on almost everything it was easy enough to give up. Luckily, I could still use butter to cook with, and if you are like the many people that love cream in their coffee – this is okay as well as long as it’s heavy cream and not milk. Cheese is a big part of my cheat days as I explain below.


About: Bonnie’s been sharing her life — and family of 7 — with readers for years. But the reason she found her way onto our list is because of what she started Jan. 2 — a full-on commitment to cut out the junk food, soda and other unhealthy habits and lose weight. More than three months later, and she’s more than succeeded. Her daily struggle is the kind of thing anyone who’s stopped and started and stopped and then started again can attest to. But what really makes it special is that this time, she not stopping.
Gabel, K., Hoddy, K. K., Haggerty, N., Song, J., Kroeger, C. M., Trepanowski, J. F., … Varady, K. A. (2018, June 15). Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study. Nutrition and Healthy Aging, 4(4), 345–353. Retrieved from https://content.iospress.com/articles/nutrition-and-healthy-aging/nha170036
The popular "flat belly diets"embrace much of the wisdom found in eating a Mediterranean diet, which helps everything from brain health to hearth health. The basic premise for both diets is eat foods rich in monosaturated fatty acids (MUFA) that may help reduce your belly fat storage. MUFA-rich foods include olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocodos, and fish. Eating yogurt regularly has also been found to be helpful in reducing belly fat.
7. Egert S, Baxheinrich A, Lee-Barkey YH, Tschoepe D, Wahrburg U, Stratmann B. Effects of an energy-restricted diet rich in plant-derived alpha-linolenic acid on systemic inflammation and endothelial function in overweight-to-obese patients with metabolic syndrome traits. Br J Nutr. 2014;112(8):1315–22. doi: 10.1017/S0007114514002001. [PubMed] [CrossRef]
This means that the more fat you have, the more estrogen you’ll have, and it also seems to work the other way around. For example, estrogen overload can exacerbate hypothyroid issues, slowing metabolism and causing weight gain. If that “estrogen overload” comes from obesity in the first place, this can very quickly become a vicious cycle (you’re overweight because you have thyroid problems, and you have thyroid problems because you’re overweight).
About: My Fat Friend Blog mixes two total opposites: Alex, the “fat friend” who is trying to lose weight and get fit. Sarah is the “not-fat friend,” the one who is really into fitness and healthy eating and who is on a mission to help Alex learn to love it the way she does. The blog is very, very new (just started in March), but so far, so good. The posts are entertaining, have fun photos and will have you laughing out loud.
Dieting to lose weight, it would appear, is about empowering yourself, being honest with yourself and listening to your body. I’m not a believer in dieting as such but in finding a way of eating for life that is a sensible ‘diet’. There’s a difference. My present lifestyle shows I need adjustments to what I did before. So I have to ask myself if I am really hungry or just bored and if that’s why I am looking longingly in the fridge. I need to tell myself to have a drink water and get back to what I was working on, reading, etc. (Not easy when working from home).

Also, while your menstrual cycle may not affect weight gain or loss, losing or gaining weight can affect your menstrual cycle. Women who lose too much weight or lose weight too quickly may stop having a period, or have irregular periods. Women who have obesity may also have irregular periods. A regular period is a sign of good health. Reaching a healthy weight can help women who have irregular periods to have cycles that are more regular. Learn more in our Menstrual Cycle section.

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