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5 Best Health Habits to Get Rid of Visceral Fat, Say Physicians

Get lean and stay lean—no crazy diets required.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

There are few things more frustrating than working hard to lose weight, but then gaining all that weight back again, and then some. Experts say 80-95% of dieters will gain the weight back—but it's not inevitable. "Your body is fighting to keep your weight as it was before the dieting. Most of the time, weight gain is gradual, and that can raise your set point gradually, too," says endocrinologist and obesity specialist Marcio Griebeler, MD. "But certain lifestyle changes can lower it." Here are the five best ways to get a lean body, fast—and keep it that way over the long-term. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Intermittent Fasting


Studies show that intermittent fasting is an effective way to lose weight without counting calories or feeling deprived, although experts say more research is necessary. "A systematic review of 40 studies found that intermittent fasting was effective for weight loss, with a typical loss of 7-11 pounds over 10 weeks," says the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

"Caloric Reduction has been tried innumerable times over the past few decades, and failed the majority of times. Yet fasting is often effective where simple caloric reduction is not. Why?" says Dr. Jason Fung. "The short answer is that the beneficial hormonal changes that happen during fasting are prevented by the constant intake of food. It is the intermittency of the fasting that makes it more effective… The failed caloric reduction technique advises people practice portion control, or reduce daily caloric intake – for example simply reduce 500 calories a day and expect to lose 1 pound of fat per week. Success is as rare as humility in a grizzly bear, but that doesn't stop well-meaning health professionals from recommending it. After all, who hasn't tried the portion control strategy of weight loss? Who has been able to maintain long term weight loss? Practically nobody."


Make Movement Part of Your Lifestyle

woman jogging in the city by water

"To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume or eat fewer calories than your body uses each day," says exercise physiologist Katie Lawton, MEd. "If you don't have a caloric deficit, you will not lose weight. If you're having trouble getting motivated to exercise, try to focus on getting at least 10 minutes of consecutive exercise at a time. Don't worry about how fast you're moving. Just move and keep moving. If you're ready to start, just be sure you're healthy. Consult with your doctor and once you have a clean bill of health, go for it."


Manage Your Stress

stressed woman

Did you know chronic stress-related cortisol could be undermining your wellness regimen? 

"Cortisol stimulates your fat and carbohydrate metabolism, creating a surge of energy in your body," says Gabrielle Mancella, RD. "While this process is essential for survival situations, it also increases your appetite. Additionally, elevated cortisol levels can cause cravings for sweet, fatty and salty foods. This means you're more likely to indulge in french fries and a milkshake than you are a well-balanced meal. An excess of cortisol also can lead your body to produce less testosterone. This may cause a decrease in muscle mass, as well as slow down how many calories your body burns."

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No Crash Dieting


It's tempting to severely cut calories in an effort to lose weight quickly, but this can backfire. "A fad diet won't change your set point. It's just restricting calories," says Dr. Griebeler. "Your body is very efficient. You can successfully lose weight for a while, but at some point, your body simply adjusts to need fewer calories to function. Research tells us that yo-yo dieting can negatively affect your metabolism. It doesn't matter the diet: low-carb, low-fat, ketogenic, whatever. We see rebound weight gain almost every time." It's much better for your health (and waistline) to focus on nutritious, delicious whole foods and avoid sugar and over processed junk food.

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Prioritizing Sleep

woman sleeping peacefully in bed with her dog

Good quality sleep is incredibly important for weight loss, experts say. "There is no doubt that insufficient sleep promotes hunger and appetite, which can cause excessive food intake resulting in weight gain," says Eve Van Cauter, director of the Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center at the University of Chicago, who says lack of sleep can impact your hormones: "We are looking at endocannabinoids, which are increased in the afternoon in people who are sleep-deprived. These hormones promote eating for pleasure, which is called 'hedonic eating.'"

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan