Go Without Your Gut
Belly too big? Think small. Choose from our list of easy expert-approved, research-backed waist reducers, and shrink your gut in no time flat
RIVERS CUT CANYONS. CONTINENTS DRIFT. The guy in seat 23F hogs the armrest. Before we even notice, subtle shifts can add up to big changes. Social scientists call this “creeping normalcy”. It’s bad news when it comes to climate change or boep development, but you can use it as a tool to sculpt a new, leaner you. A dramatic diet change – say, cutting hundreds of kilojoules a day – can slow your metabolism and thwart your efforts to lose lard. But with smaller adjustments, your body’s furnace won’t dial down and weight loss may be easier. That’s according to Dr Scott Kahan, director of the US National Centre for Weight and Wellness. He’s one of many experts we consulted for this compendium of simple baby steps that add up to giant leaps for mankind.
In fact, focusing on just one seemingly trivial change each week can result in about four times the weight loss over a four-month period that a standard diet-and-exercise plan would yield, a study in the Annals of Behavioural Medicine found. Another study published in the journal Eating Behaviours found that overambitious diet expectations can lead to big weight fluctuations. So focus on small steps and gradual weight loss for long-lasting results. Start by trying out the following tweaks over the coming weeks – but only a few at a time!
CUT YOUR CONSUMPTION
Before a big restaurant meal, eat an 835 kilojoule snack that contains at least 15 grams of protein – a shake with whey protein powder, for example. With a gut full of satiating protein and fewer hunger hormones circulating, you’ll eat less at the restaurant and cut your total kilojoule count as a result, says Kahan.
Don’t Top Off
Picture a petrol gauge in your gut; E means you’re ravenous and F represents full. Aim to stay between a half and three-quarters of a tank by eating before you feel famished and stopping when you’re satisfied, not stuffed, says Matt Lawson, a behaviour coach for the weight-loss company Retrofit.
Chew On It
Men in a Chinese study who chomped each bite 40 times ate 12% less than those who chewed 15 times. Chewing may kickstart the digestive process, speeding the release of gut hormones linked to satiety, the researchers say.
Think Like a Foodie
Take time to note the texture, smell and source of your food. Saying things like “This grass-fed rib-eye is juicy” can create a vivid “meal memory” that keeps you fuller for longer, a UK study found. Smell plays a huge part in the satisfaction of a meal, says Karlien Smit, registered dietician from Shelly Meltzer & Associates, so use fragrant ingredients like herbs and spices.
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Researchers in the Netherlands say this tactic, called priming, works on a subconscious level. Most recently they found that people who were handed recipes with diet-related keywords when entering a grocery store bought fewer chips, biscuits and cakes – even if they said they hadn’t really paid much attention to the handout.
Plan Shopping Trips
Starving shoppers really do load their trollies with more high-kilojoule options, a study in JAMA Internal Medicine reports. The best time to shop is after breakfast on a weekend, says Anita Mirchandani, a New York City dietician. If that’s not a good time for you, buy a medium-sized fruit or some fresh vegetables from the salad bar to nosh on as you shop. If the grocery shop is too tempting, make calculated choices online, says Smit. (Shop online at pnponline.co.za or woolworths.co.za).
9 Eat Flat-Belly Fare
When you subtract kilojoules from your diet, add back the right stuff: a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that certain nutrients can help keep you in shape. Grub high in the ones listed below tends to be lower in kilojoules and higher in filling fibre, says study author Christina Shay.
In a study in the journal Obesity, vitamin A helped regulate fat tissue in mice. Those fed A-deficient diets were the fatter rodents.
FIND IT IN Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach
Researchers from Australia say obese people experience disruptions as their bodies metabolise iron, although it’s not clear why. Most of the iron in your diet is nonheme, which means it comes from plant sources. Heme iron comes from animal sources such as beef.
FIND IT IN White beans, lentils, artichokes
Researchers from Spain found that obese rats on high-fat diets gained less fat if their chow was enriched with C. The vitamin’s antioxidant effects may cut fat formation.
FIND IT IN Red peppers, oranges, broccoli
One study found that the less magnesium people consumed, the more likely they had a cluster of conditions (including obesity) that raises heart disease and diabetes risk. Magnesium deficiency coupled with obesity may contribute to insulin resistance.
FIND IT IN Bulghur, chickpeas, Brazil nuts
Hit the Sand
Running on a shifting surface can force you to expend 30% more energy than running on grass does, according to a study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. The result is more kilojoules burned, because your muscles must work harder to stabilise your body. Nowhere near a beach? No problem. Just choose the least stable terrain you can find – soft grass or trail, say – instead of hard tar.
To crank your metabolism, rest just 30 to 60 seconds between your weightlifting sets, says certified strength and conditioning trainer Marc Perry.
Do Full-body Cardio
The more muscle groups you involve, the more kilojoules you torch. An 80kg guy burns about about 1 400kJ in 30 minutes of vigorous rowing – 580 more than in an elliptical workout.
Walk or Run a Kilometre-and-a-Half
C’mon, it’ll just take a few minutes. Doing this instead of driving that distance can result in a BMI decrease comparable to cutting 420 kilojoules a day, a study in Preventive Medicine suggests.
Race a Fitter Friend
Cyclists competing with an opponent who was slightly speedier pushed hard for 9 minutes longer than those who cycled alone, ay researchers at Michigan State University.
Wake Up Earlier
… and work out before breakfast. (Okay, not all of these are easy.) You’ll force your body to burn stored fat, a 2013 UK study found.
Move More Outside the Gym
An 80kg guy doing any of these can burn about 167 kilojoules in 10 minutes.
BATH THE DOG
MOP THE KITCHEN FLOOR
MAKE THE BEDS
WALTZ OR TANGO
Push to Excel
Few moves work faster than the push-up to broaden your upper body and make your waist look smaller. By moving your hands out and away from your torso, you “force your pecs to work harder,” says BJ Gaddour. Hold that position for 30 seconds and you will increase the amount of time your pecs are under tension, further accelerating their growth.
Listen to Your Past
Music that inspires you helps you work out harder and longer, research shows. You’ll be motivated most by songs that were playing when you had your first kiss or won something, says Lee Brown of California State University at Fullerton.
Make a Deal
Go to stickk.com and pledge to fork over cash if you miss a goal. In a Mayo Clinic study, some people in a weight-loss plan earned $20 a month if they shed kilos, and paid $20 if they didn’t. They lost three kilos more in a year than those with no cash at stake.
Track your Meals
Your smartphone app can help you lose more weight than a paper journal can, reveals British research. Keep it handy on the weekends, especially, when the binge risk looms largest, says Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre.
Break Out the Measuring Spoons and Cups
You don’t have to use them religiously, but haul them out every few weeks for a spot check. Serve yourself a typical portion, then measure to see how far you’ve strayed from the recommended serving size, says dietician Allison Stowell. By checking in with your measuring utensils, you will mitigate the natural tendency to oversize your portions, which will allow you to stay on track with weight loss. Out to dinner? Find an app that provides on-the-go portion size estimates to help you avoid overindulging.
WORK YOUR GUT OFF GRADUALLY, FOR GOOD, WITH THESE STELLAR WEIGHTLOSS TIPS