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5 Science-Backed Ways To Lose Stubborn Body Fat

Incorporate these habits into your daily routine, and you'll see a big difference pretty quickly.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

There's no better investment you can make in life than spending time on your own self-care. Life is filled with constant rushing, which causes skipping out on many healthy things such as exercise, careful meal planning, de-stressing before bedtime, and more. If you take time to reflect on how you can improve your overall well-being, it will be much easier to make moves in the right direction. For example, you may realize it's time to melt that stubborn body fat that's been hanging around. Not only will you look and feel better on the outside, but you'll be doing great—and healthy!—things on the inside as well.

Science proves that the below steps are integral in getting rid of body fat. After all, according to Harvard Health Publishing, excess body fat—especially in the abdominal region—is linked to major health risks, including strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, fatty liver, cancer, and depression. Although change is not always easy, these tweaks will prove to be some of the healthiest habits you've ever incorporated into your week.

If you're ready and rearing to go, we're here with five science-backed ways to lose stubborn body fat that should be on your radar. If you incorporate all of these habits into your daily routine, you'll see a big difference pretty quickly. Keep reading to learn more about them, and for more, don't miss The 5 Best Plank Exercises To Lose 5 Inches of Belly Fat, Trainer Reveals.

Decrease your overall intake of unhealthy fats.

cooked spinach

The right mindset is everything when it comes to meal planning. There are many lifestyle changes you can make that will totally help you not only lose stubborn body fat, but also keep it off. For example, a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health revealed that decreasing the amount of dietary fat can help you trim stubborn body fat—even more so than cutting back on carbs! Lead author of the study and NIDDK senior investigator, Kevin Hall, Ph.D., explained of the research, "Study participants lost even more body fat during the fat-restricted diet, as it resulted in a greater imbalance between the fat eaten and fat burned."

Make it a habit to know exactly what you're buying so the food items you have on hand are healthy. For instance, many things contain unnecessary sugar and can be high in both fat and calories, such as French fries, fatty red meat, white bread, sodas, and refined cereals that are full of sugar. Consider opting for low-fat, low-calorie sources of protein, such as cooked spinach and peas, lentils, beans, chicken, and turkey.

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Head to the Mediterranean—for your diet, that is!

greek salad mediterranean diet

The king of all diets when it comes to reducing body fat seems to be the Mediterranean diet. After all, research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that sticking to this diet can help prevent gaining weight and becoming obese. Even more scientific evidence backs up the benefits.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, a review of trials found that individuals who ate foods within the Mediterranean diet for one year dropped anywhere from nine to 22 pounds. So be sure to shop for healthy, plant-based items like veggies, whole grains, nuts, fruits, legumes, olive oil, and seafood during your next trip to the grocery store.

Get the right amount of shuteye.

mature woman restfully sleeping

There's a direct correlation between unwanted body fat and not getting enough sleep. If you're not sleeping between seven to eight hours each night, listen up.

Research published in ​the journal Obesity found that individuals who got a solid amount of shuteye packed on less visceral fat when compared to people who didn't get enough sleep. Another study connected a lack of sleep to increased feelings of hunger. So the less amount of Z's you get, the more likely you'll be to reach for empty calories.

Make sure you have a nighttime routine on deck that promotes good sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), consistency is key. Try to maintain the same bedtime and wake-up time every day. In addition, stay away from big meals right before you tuck yourself in, and consider taking out any blue light devices from your sleep space.

Turn up the high-intensity intermittent exercise to burn fat.

exercise bike sprints to lose stubborn body fat

Okay, you knew this one was coming. There's no getting around the fact that consistent, effective exercise is key when it comes to burning fat. High-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) is really the best way to lose stubborn body fat for the time you spend working out, and science says so.

According to research published in the Journal of Obesity, HIIE could be a lot more efficient at decreasing abdominal and subcutaneous fat when compared to other kinds of exercise. Adding HIIE to your regular fitness regimen can substantially boost your anaerobic and aerobic fitness. In addition, this form of physical activity considerably reduces your body's insulin resistance.

If you're wondering how to tweak your workout routine, the research revealed some HIIE training methods that aren't challenging. Consider testing out an eight-second cycle sprint, then cycling at a low intensity for 12 seconds, performing this session for 20 minutes. Or, do your cycle sprint for 15 seconds, followed up by 15 seconds of cycling at a low intensity for 20 minutes total.

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Practice healthy habits with your friends and family.

middle-aged fitness group of runners

If your friend is obese, your chances of becoming obese shoot up to 57%, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Your close friend circle can have an enormous influence on your attempts to lose weight and even make healthy choices—in both good and bad ways, explained Walter Willett, Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

When speaking of his book, Thinfluence, on WGBH's Boston Public Radio, Willet pointed out that eating unhealthy foods and having sedentary habits can rub off on you and totally sabotage your dieting efforts. He explained in his book that many environmental factors, ads, friends, and even family members can have a bearing on how much you weigh.

We're not saying to cut ties with your friends. But Willet did suggest, "Invite friends to join you for a walk or for an evening of cooking healthy foods. Bring your friends along in a positive way. That is the ultimate goal." You can be a positive influence!

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa