How to Lose a Gut -- and Keep It Off!
BY: John Hanc
So you’ve put on a few pounds and gotten yourself a beer belly. Even worse, it’s making your heartburn worse! Forget fat-burning pills and belly-reducing gadgets. The real secret to losing that tummy lies not in a bottle or some magical exercise machine, but between your ears. Here’s how you really bust a gut:
Five Hundred a Day Keeps the Fat Boy Away
The arithmetic of weight loss is simple: Burn more calories than you’re taking in, and you’ll start to lose pounds. Exercise scientist Jeff Potteiger, Ph.D., of Miami University in Ohio recommends shooting for a deficit of 500 calories a day. Thirty minutes of aerobic activity will generally burn about 250 to 300 calories for the average male. About two beers or one-half cup of Haagen-Dazs has about the same caloric value. Simply add the exercise, subtract the beers or the bowl of ice cream, and presto! You’ll have a 500 calorie deficit. Do that consistently for a few weeks and weight loss will always follow.
Primal Screen: Turn It off When You Eat
“Food plus screens is a terrible combination, especially for men,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Janice Baker of San Diego. “When you’re eating in front of a TV or computer screen, your brain becomes disengaged from your satiety controls. You start to lose the sense of whether you’re full or not. So you’ll eat more food than you really need to.” Instead, turn off the tube and tune in to your family over the dinner table.
Real Men Eat Breakfast (and a Snack)
Channeling their inner caveman, guys think the way to lose weight is simply to starve themselves. So they skip breakfast or lunch, feel real macho, then they come home and grab anything, Baker says. By the time they sit down at dinner, they will have consumed more calories -- and probably more junk calories -- than if they had eaten a healthy breakfast and lunch. Instead of being Mr. He-Man, she says, “eat a healthy breakfast, a healthy lunch and have a planned, healthy snack before you leave work so your appetite isn’t out of control.”
It’s Not Just What You Eat But How Much
Even the healthiest foods can add extra pounds if you eat enough of them. So if you want to trim that waistline, start experimenting with portion control and cut back on the amount you eat. “This doesn’t have to be drastic,” says Robert Morea, a former bodybuilding champ who is now a certified strength coach in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Maybe it’s one piece of chicken, instead of two. One serving of potatoes, instead of helping yourself again and again.” Before taking another bite, stop and ask yourself: Do I really need this? Am I really still hungry? Often, the answer will be no.
Move It to Lose It!
In the latest physical activity guidelines, released last October, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all adults do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. However, if your goal is weight loss, the guidelines specifically state that you may need to do up to 300 minutes per week. In other words, if you’re serious about losing that belly, 45 minutes of activity, four to seven days a week, should be your ultimate goal.
Oh, and all those crunches you’ve been doing to “flatten” your stomach? Forget it. Having a strong midsection is a good thing, but all the sit-ups in the world are not going to magically melt away your tummy. “You can have great core strength,” says Dr. Potteiger, “but if you can’t get that percentage of body-fat down, you’re never going to see those abs.”
Clothes Make the (Thin) Man
Believe it or not, what you wear can make a difference in how you eat and whether you succeed in shedding extra pounds. Baker tells her clients not to wear sweat clothes or pants with elastic waistbands outside of the gym. “Wear comfortable, but unforgiving clothes,” she says. That means belts and pants that are going to cry uncle when you start filling up. Conversely, adds Dr. Potteiger, “if you’re consistent with your weight loss efforts, your pants will let you know -- they’ll start feeling looser.” And you won’t just be making a fashion statement. A new study conducted at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbrücke found that men with the largest waist circumference had more than double the risk of death compared to men of normal girth. So if having the profile of a pregnant woman is not enough to motivate you…dude, how about your mortality? Now go bust that gut!
John Hanc is a New York-based fitness writer who writes for Live Right Live Well, Runner’s World, The New York Times, Family Circle, AARP Bulletin, Newsday and others. He is the author of eight books, including The Coolest Race on Earth: Mud, Madmen, Glaciers and Grannies at the Antarctica Marathon (Chicago Review Press 2009).
Recipe of the Week
- Greek yogurt has twice the protein of regular yogurt because it takes 3 to 4 times more milk to make it. Celebrate June Dairy Month with Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries.
- Bok Choy, also known as Chinese cabbage or pak choi, has been grown in China for over 6,000 years. Choose firm stalks, avoiding brown spots and wilted leaves, and add to stir-fry.
- Apple skin is full of fiber & Alzheimer’s-disease-fighting antioxidants -- so eat it! Refrigerate in a plastic bag away from foods with strong odors; they absorb odors easily.
- Collards, mustard greens and kale are available in bags, pre-washed & chopped -- so they’re easy to steam or saute! Eat your greens as a side dish or in quesadillas, soups & stews.
- Avocados are rich in 20 nutrients and great beyond guacamole. Chop for a ham, egg and cheese wrap; slice for a deli roast beef sandwich; cube and toss into linguini and shrimp.
- Black-eyed Peas: Fresh, canned and frozen varieties are all nutrient-rich options -- making it easier to eat your daily veggies. Rinse and drain canned peas to cut down on salt.
- Ugli Fruit, beautiful benefits! Peel & eat for fiber & vitamin C. Choose fruit heavy for size; dents normal and color not important. Store on counter 5 days or refrigerate 2 weeks.
- Radicchio, also known as Italian chicory, is high in vitamin K for bone health. Great in salads: Choose bright, tender leaves; avoid brown or limp ones. Refrigerate up to 3 days.
- Cherimoya, a high-fiber tropical fruit, tastes like a mix of strawberry and mango. Choose firm, unblemished fruit, cut in wedges and spoon out creamy flesh.
- Kale in lentil soup is a double dose of New Year’s luck! Round-shaped lentils symbolize coins; kale, paper money. Both are packed with antioxidants for a year of healthy fortune.
- Tea is native to China, but Americans invented tea bags and first drank iced tea at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Enjoy hot and reap health benefits from both black & green tea.
- Dried Plums (formerly prunes) may help prevent cancer and decrease inflammation. Slice fruit, stuff with cheese and walnuts, and wrap in prosciutto to make quick party appetizers.
- Oatmeal month is officially January. Cook breakfast oatmeal with 1% milk for extra protein, calcium and vitamin D -- or enjoy whole-grain oatmeal raisin cookies as a smart snack.
- Spices and herbs add antioxidants to every dish. One tsp. ground cinnamon contains as many antioxidants as 1/2 cup blueberries; 1 tsp. yellow curry as many as 1/2 cup red grapes.
- Fish, the best source of omega-3 fats for heart and brain health, may even help ward off depression. Mix canned white tuna, salmon and sardines for an omega-rich seafood salad.
- Orange juice is filled with immune-boosting nutrients that fight colds and the flu: vitamins C and B6, folate, potassium and magnesium. Choose 100% juice with no added sugar.
- Walnuts are a significant source of plant-based omega-3 fats. These fats -- also in ground flaxseed, canola oil and edamame -- provide many heart-healthy benefits.
- Pear, apple and Asian pear slices + yogurt-based dips = winning strategy for game-day parties. Combine Greek vanilla yogurt with chocolate-hazelnut spread for a fast, healthy dip.
- Pumpkin and sweet potato -- fresh, mashed or canned -- adds disease-fighting antioxidants to waffles and pancakes. Use whole-wheat flour to double your fiber and nutrient intake.
- Snack smart to achieve weight loss goals. Choose fast and fully edible fruits like grapes, apples, persimmon and kiwi. Yes, fuzzy kiwi skin is edible! Simply wash and rub dry.
What kind of water do you usually drink?