The average man’s body houses 43.2 pounds of fat. And at any one moment, that number is either increasing or decreasing—it’s never stagnant. Spend more of each day burning fat than you do storing it, and, over time, you’ll bury your belly forever. Sound simple? It is. You see, there’s no single secret formula for losing fat. In fact, find 100 successful losers and they’ll give you 100 different ways to accelerate weight loss and win the battle of the bulge.
1. Eat more protein
About 25 to 30 percent of the calories in each gram of protein are burned in digestion, compared to only 6 to 8 percent of the calories in carbs. Do the math: You save 41 calories every time you substitute 50g of protein for an equal amount of carbs.
2. Read labels
Avoid foods with “high-fructose corn syrup” in the ingredients list. Since 1971, consumption of this sugar substitute—which is used to sweeten soda, commercial baked goods, and even condiments—has increased more than 350 percent in the U.S., paralleling the rise in obesity.
3. Get off your ass
Do every exercise standing instead of sitting. “You’ll expend up to 30 percent more calories,” says Joe Stankowski, C.P.T. The solution for the bench press? Dips.
4. Mix up your movements
When you lift, perform supersets in which you alternate between sets of lower-body exercises and upper-body exercises. That way, your lower body rests while your upper body is working. “This allows you to work your muscles maximally with very little downtime between sets for a faster, more effective workout,” says Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S.
5. Exercise blind
When you’re using the elliptical trainer, try letting go of the handles and closing your eyes. (Be careful!) Without the visual feedback, your core muscles will have to work harder to keep you balanced, burning more calories to supercharge weight loss.
6. Embrace yardwork
View any type of physical activity—even those you try to avoid, such as mowing the lawn—as a chance to burn fat and condition your body. (Just make sure you use a push mower.)
7. Snack on dill pickles
They have one calorie per slice.
8. Take larger steps
When using the stair climber, skip one out of every five steps. Then take one large step to get back to your normal walking pattern. This step recruits additional muscle, accelerating weight loss, says Cameron McGarr, C.S.C.S.
9. Rent motivation
Once a week, watch a movie that inspires you to exercise. Examples: Rocky (for the gym), American Flyers (for cycling), Hoosiers (for team sports), and Chariots of Fire and Without Limits (both for running).
10. Break a record
Challenge yourself to run farther in the same amount of time—even if it’s just one-tenth of a mile—every single workout. This ensures you’re always burning more calories (key for weight loss) from one workout to the next.
11. Smash your dinner plates
And buy smaller ones. That way, even if you fill your plate to capacity, you’re ultimately eating less than what you would likely pile on your existing platters.
12. Cut carbs
Yes, you’ve heard it a zillion times. The reason: It works. In just one of many recent studies, a Journal of Nutrition report found that men who reduced their carb intake to just 8 percent of their daily calories lost 7 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of muscle in six weeks.
14. Change directions
Try this interval-training trick on the elliptical trainer: Ride for 30 seconds as fast as you can, then immediately reverse your direction and ride for 30 additional seconds just as fast in the opposite direction. Rest 60 seconds, and repeat. The force of stopping your momentum, as well as going from a dead stop to full speed twice in the same interval, will give your fat-burning efforts a massive boost, says Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S.
15. Fill up on high-fiber foods
Consider them “good carbs”. Their bulk takes up space in your stomach, helping you feel full and eat less. The top fiber food: beans, which contain 8g per 1/2 cup. Research shows that guys who added 12g of fiber a day to their diet lost a quarter of an inch from their love handles, without otherwise modifying their diet.
16. Top your salad with vinaigrette dressing
Studies show that acidic foods such as vinegar and lemon juice work like lighter fluid in your body’s fat incinerator, increasing carb combustion 20 to 40 percent. Researchers believe the acids blunt insulin spikes and slow the rate at which food empties from your stomach. Fermented foods like pickles and yogurt are also good sour options.
17. Don’t skip meals
Not eating for long periods of time puts your body into a catabolic state, meaning it starts to break down muscle tissue for energy—and conserves fat. Intermittent fasting might be good for weight loss, but skip meals and you run intro trouble.
18. Try the VersaClimber
The more vertical you are when doing cardio, the more calories you burn.
19. Don’t be a couch potato
If you’re a TV junkie, add up the number of hours you watch right now, and cut out all reruns—even if there’s an episode of Seinfeld on you’ve never seen. Spend the time you save on your feet: outdoors or in the gym.
20. Hit the weights
If you’re lazy, it’s not as bad as you think—just 10 minutes a day of lifting, three days a week, will help. Harvard research shows that 30 minutes of weight training per week has a greater reduction on waist size than almost any other variable.
21. Pass on the potatoes
In any form—mashed and baked, as well as French fries and potato chips. They raise levels of insulin in the blood, triggering your body to stop burning—and start storing—fat. (Sweet potatoes are acceptable; they have more nutrients and fiber.)
22. Eat your biggest meal of the day after you lift
It takes calories to digest food. And researchers at the University of Nevada found it takes 73 percent more calories to process that food after a weight-training session than if you hadn’t worked out at all.
23. Chug H2O before a meal
The water will take up room in your stomach, making you feel fuller and reducing your appetite, says Christopher Mohr, M.S., R.D.
24. Request substitutions
Any time your restaurant entree comes with a side of pasta, potatoes, or rice, ask for vegetables instead, says Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D. (Your server will be more than happy to accommodate you.)
25. Join a league
That is, sign up for a sport such as softball, soccer, or even kickball. It’ll automatically schedule exercise sessions into your week, and because you’re part of a team, you’ll have peer pressure that’ll ensure you keep showing up.