The author of the Zero Belly Diet shares his tried-and-true tips for losing belly fat and feeling leaner
I’m impatient. If I buy something online, I want it delivered immediately. If I order at the drive through, I don’t want to idle while it’s being whipped up. And if I take some steps to flatten my belly, I want to see results—fast.
While researching my new book, I stumbled upon a fascinating study showing rapid weight loss is the key to permanent weight loss. Slow and steady may win the race, but most of us drop out long before the race is run. That’s why, compliments of my new book, Zero Belly Diet, I developed these nine things you can do today to wake up slimmer tomorrow. Are you going to lose 10 pounds in the next 24 hours? Of course not. But you can take these easy steps today that will give you visible results tomorrow.
1. Ditch Your Yogurt Diet
I cut yogurt out of my diet for several reasons. First, while yogurt has a reputation for fostering healthy belly bacteria, the reality is quite different. Most yogurts are so high in added sugar that they actually feed the bad bacteria in your gut. They’re also high in lactose, a natural sugar found in dairy that many of us have trouble breaking down. The combination of the two can cause bloating and inflammation that can make you look and feel fatter than you are. Don’t eat yogurt today, wake up thinner tomorrow. Or if you must eat yogurt, look for one with 8g of sugar or less, such as Chobani Simply 100’s blueberry flavor, one of my favorites, which won't impede your weight loss goals. (And check out 10 Daily Habits That Blast Belly Fat.)
2. Do This Total-Body Exercise
The 'Thruster' workout move is a simple, full-body exercise you need to do for just eight minutes. But once you do it, you’ll discover a tightening around your core that proves to you it’s working. You’ll look and feel leaner the next day, but over time you’ll really begin to see the weight loss. Here's how to do it:
A: Standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a pair of dumbbells by your shoulders, your palms facing each other.
B: Lower your hips into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. In one motion, extend your legs to stand up tall while driving the dumbbells overhead. Pause, then lower the dumbbells to the starting position. Do as many as you can until you start to get tired—then pause, and then keep going until you hit the 8-minute mark.
Be sure to take it slowly at first. Over time, try to improve your number of total reps—or use slightly heavier dumbbells—with this full-body workout that gets your heart pumping too!
3. Take a Shower Before Bed
Sleep is induced in part by the process of your body cooling down; that’s why we don’t sleep too well when the weather’s hot and muggy. When you take a shower before bed, you activate your body’s thermostat, causing you to fall asleep faster. Better sleep means lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol—which also happens to be a fat-storage hormone. (Cooling down also helps stimulate brown fat, a kind of fat found at the back of the neck that helps your body burn more calories—up to 275 in three hours, in fact!) For added belly-blasting benefits before bed, brew yourself a pot of green tea (try one of these 5 best teas for weight loss).
4. Make This Healthy Breakfast
Cook up some quick oats, the toss in some dark chocolate shavings, some berries, some nuts, and a dash of cinnamon. Together, these ingredients work with the happy bacteria in your colon to produce butyrate, a fatty acid your body needs. Higher levels of butyrate reduce inflammation in your body, and help reduce insulin resistance as well. Less inflammation means less bloating and more weight loss.
Related: 9 Flat-Belly Superfoods
5. Eliminate Salt-Heavy Foods
I love a handful of salty popcorn or the occasional chicken wing blowout, but some of the foods out there are so laden with salt, you can’t help but wake up bloated and feeling fat tomorrow. At P.F. Chang’s, an order of Dan Dan Noodles and some Hot & Sour Soup will cost you—gird your arteries—14,170 milligrams of sodium. That’s seven days’ worth, assuming you ate absolutely nothing else the rest of the week. Chinese and Mexican food are the worst offenders. If you have a big day tomorrow, use the Zero Belly book to cook at home—or master P.F.’s menu. (Swap the hot & sour for P.F. Chang’s Egg Drop Soup and you’ll save 7,390 milligrams of sodium alone!)
6. Ditch Your Sugary Gum Habit
Your sugarless gum may be contributing to your belly fat. Studies show that sorbitol, a sugar alcohol used in most sugarless gums, takes a relatively long time to digest, and undigested sorbitol in your small intestine acts as a hothouse for the fermentation of bacteria, causing bloating and flatulence. Additionally, each chomp sends a signal to your brain, triggering hunger hormones. Stick to just a few pieces a day, or try a product like Simply Gum, which is made with only six ingredients, none of them artificial. Or cut out gum entirely, along with these 8 foods that beat the bloat.
7. Stop with the “Energy Bars”!
Why don’t they just call them what they really are—calorie bars? Energy bars cause you to gain weight fast in four ways. First, they often contain lots of whey, which can cause bloating in those with lactose issues. Second, many are packed with soybeans, which some folks find just as gas-inducing as the other magical fruits. Third, a lot of chemicals go into many brands, and studies show that people who eat processed foods gain more weight than people who eat whole foods, even when calories are equal. And of course, they carry the health halo when most of them are just glorified candy bars. Cut these 300 or more calories and you’ll look leaner and have less belly fat tomorrow.
8. Eat These Berries
Nature’s candy, dried fruit can be a great source of nutrients and fiber. But it can also be a source of gas for those who suffer from fructose malabsorption, which occurs when the body has difficulty absorbing the natural sugar. Dried fruits are particularly high in fructose; fresh stone fruits, citrus fruits, and berries are safer options for those with sensitivity. If you’re looking for a bigger slim-belly effect, pick the berries. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are just a couple of the 10 best fruits for fat loss.
9. Blend Up a Plant-Protein Smoothie
Protein drinks are great ways to get a monster dose of belly-busting nutrition into a delicious, simple snack. But most commercial drinks are filled with unpronounceable chemicals that can upset our gut health and cause inflammation and bloat. And the high doses of whey used to boost protein levels can amplify the belly-bloating effect. The Zero Belly solution to lose belly fat fast: Try vegan protein, which will give you the same fat-burning, hunger-squelching, muscle-building benefits, without the bloat.