There are plenty of options available to help you shed excess fat and improve your health. Incorporating some healthy habits into your routine and switching up your diet can make a big difference. Even minor changes to your lifestyle can have powerful effects on fat burning.
Be sure to pair these simple tips with a nutritious, well-rounded diet and active lifestyle to simultaneously boost fat breakdown and improve your overall health.
Cut Down on Refined Carbs
Decreasing your intake of refined carbohydrates may help you lose extra fat.
During processing, refined grains are stripped of their bran and germ, resulting in a final product that’s low in fiber and nutrients.
Refined carbs also tend to have a higher glycemic index, which can cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, resulting in increased hunger.
Studies show that a diet high in refined carbs may be associated with increased belly fat.
Conversely, a diet high in whole grains has been associated with a lower body mass index and body weight, plus a smaller waist circumference.
One study in 2,834 people also showed that those with higher intakes of refined grains tended to have a higher amount of disease-promoting belly fat, while those who ate more whole grains tended to have a lower amount.
For the best results, reduce your intake of refined carbs from pastries, processed foods, pasta, white bread, and breakfast cereals. Replace them with whole grains such as whole wheat, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, and oats.
Refined carbs are low in fiber and nutrients. They may increase hunger and cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. Consuming refined carbs has also been associated with increased belly fat.
Increase Your Cardio
Cardio, also known as aerobic exercise, is one of the most common forms of exercise and is defined as any type of exercise that specifically trains the heart and lungs.
Adding cardio to your routine may be one of the most effective ways to enhance fat burning.
For example, one review of 16 studies found that the more aerobic exercise people got, the more belly fat they lost.
Other studies have found that aerobic exercise can increase muscle mass and decrease belly fat, waist circumference, and body fat.
Most research recommends between 150–300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise weekly, or roughly 20–40 minutes of cardio each day.
Running, walking, cycling and swimming are just a few examples of some cardio exercises that can help burn fat and kick-start weight loss.
Studies show that the more aerobic exercise people get, the more belly fat they tend to lose. Cardio may also help reduce waist circumference, lower body fat and increase muscle mass.
Caffeine is a primary ingredient in just about every fat-burning supplement, and for good reason.
The caffeine found in coffee acts as a central nervous system stimulant increases metabolism and boosts the breakdown of fatty acids.
In fact, studies show that caffeine intake can temporarily increase energy expenditure and enhance metabolism by 3–11%.
One large study with over 58,000 people found that increased caffeine intake was associated with less weight gain over a 12-year period.
Another study found that higher caffeine intake was linked to a higher rate of success with weight loss maintenance among 2,623 people.
To maximize the health benefits of coffee, skip the cream and sugar. Instead, enjoy it black or with a small amount of milk to prevent the extra calories from stacking up.
Coffee contains caffeine, which can increase the breakdown of fat and raise metabolism. Studies show that higher caffeine intake may be associated with greater weight loss.
Try High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is a form of exercise that pairs quick bursts of activity with short recovery periods to keep your heart rate elevated.
Studies show that HIIT can be incredibly effective at ramping up fat burning and promoting weight loss.
One study found that young men performing HIIT for 20 minutes three times weekly lost an average of 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of body fat over a 12-week period, even with no other changes to their diet or lifestyle.
They also experienced a 17% reduction in belly fat as well as a significant decrease in waist circumference.
HIIT may also help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than other forms of cardio.
According to one study, performing HIIT helped people burn up to 30% more calories than other types of exercise, such as cycling or jogging, in the same amount of time.
For an easy way to get started with HIIT, try alternating between walking and jogging or sprinting for 30 seconds at a time.
You can also cycle between exercises like burpees, push-ups or squats with a short rest period in between.
HIIT can help increase fat burning and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time than other forms of exercise.
Add Probiotics to Your Diet
Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria found in your digestive tract that have been shown to improve many aspects of health.
In fact, the bacteria in your gut have been shown to play a role in everything from immunity to mental health.
Increasing your intake of probiotics through either food or supplements may also help rev up fat burning and keep your weight under control.
One review of 15 studies showed that people who took probiotics experienced significantly larger reductions in body weight, fat percentage, and body mass index compared to those who took a placebo.
Another small study showed that taking probiotic supplements helped people following a high-fat, high-calorie diet prevent fat and weight gain.
Certain strains of probiotics in the genus Lactobacillus may be especially effective at aiding weight and fat loss.
One study in 28 people showed that eating yogurt containing either Lactobacillus fermentumor Lactobacillus amylovorus bacteria reduced body fat by 3–4%.
Taking supplements is a quick and easy way to get in a concentrated dose of probiotics every day.
Alternatively, you can try adding some probiotic-rich foods to your diets, such as kefir, tempeh, natto, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
Taking probiotic supplements or increasing your intake of probiotics through food sources may help reduce body weight and fat percentage.
Increase Your Iron Intake
Iron is an important mineral that has many vital functions in the body.
As with other nutrients such as iodine, a deficiency in iron may impact the health of your thyroid gland. This small gland in your neck secretes hormones that regulate your metabolism.
Multiple studies have found that low levels of iron in the body may be associated with impaired thyroid function and a disruption in the production of thyroid hormones.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism, or decreased thyroid function, include weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath and weight gain.
Similarly, a deficiency in iron can cause symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and shortness of breath.
Treating iron deficiency can allow your metabolism to work more efficiently and can fight off fatigue to help increase your activity level.
One study even found that when 21 women were treated for iron deficiency, they experienced reductions in body weight, waist circumference, and body mass index.
Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough iron in their diets.
Women, infants, children, vegans and vegetarians are all at a higher risk of iron deficiency.
Be sure to incorporate plenty of iron-rich foods in your diet to help meet your iron needs and maintain your metabolism and energy levels.
You can find iron in meat, poultry, seafood, fortified grains and cereals, leafy green vegetables, dried fruits, and beans.
A deficiency in iron may be associated with impaired thyroid function and can cause symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath. One study found that treating iron deficiency aided in weight loss.
Give Intermittent Fasting a Shot
Intermittent fasting is a diet pattern that involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting.
Research shows that intermittent fasting may help enhance both weight loss and fat loss.
One review looked at the effects of intermittent fasting, including alternate-day fasting a method that involves alternating between days of fasting and eating normally.
They found that alternate-day fasting over a period of 3–12 weeks reduced body weight by up to 7% and decreased body fat by up to 12 pounds (5.5 kg).
Another small study showed that eating only during an eight-hour window each day helped decrease fat mass and maintain muscle mass when combined with resistance training.
There are several different types of intermittent fasting, including some where you eat only on certain days of the week and others where eating is restricted to specific hours of the day.
Popular types of intermittent fasting include Eat Stop Eat, the Warrior Diet, the 16/8 method and the 5:2 diet.
Find a variation that fits in with your schedule and lifestyle and doesn’t be afraid to experiment to find what works best for you.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce body weight and body fat and may help preserve muscle mass when combined with resistance training.