If you’re one of the 32 percent of Americans who want to lose belly fat for good, but have no idea what actually works anymore, you’re not alone.
A recent survey found that 76 percent of people didn’t follow a diet or workout plan last year because, well, there seems to be a fad diet popping up every day and nobody knows what’s what.
So let’s cut through the clutter — these are the 16 out-of-the-box strategies that are guaranteed to give you results.
Pick the ones that work best for your lifestyle and say hello to your skinny jeans once more.
1. Meditate regularly
We know it’s not ideal nor realistic to be sitting with your eyes closed for three minutes or longer.
But researchers say the practice helps create mindfulness, which is key to breaking destructive habits like overeating.
When overweight women meditated for six weeks, they decreased their frequency of binge-eating episodes (like, meaning to eat just a handful of tortilla chips but devouring whole bag) by over 50 percent.
Meditation can help rewire how your brain responds to stress. And you don’t have to sit in a dark room and chant.
Just schedule a meditation appointment in your calendar; then find a comfortable position to sit in (not your bed — you’re way more likely to fall asleep).
Set a timer on your phone, close your eyes, and focus on nothing but your breath. Do it for as long as you can — starting with three to five minutes is totally fine, and it’s completely normal for your mind to wander — and gradually add more time.
2. Drink bone broth
Whether you fill up using the K-cup version or make a batch in your slow cooker, it’s important to drink up if you want to lose weight.
Doctors now know that inflammation is one of the biggest culprits of weight gain, so anything with as much gelatin (or collagen) as bone broth will help soothe your gut and get it rebalanced.
How? After a bone has melted into a broth, it’s loaded with powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Not to mention it’s in soup form, which studies show helps you cut down on portion sizes, and it’s filling, so you’re less likely to crave not-so-healthy snacks later.
3. Eat an avocado a day
Forget apples (okay, not really) — avocados reign supreme when it comes to weight loss.
They’re rich in monounsaturated heart-healthy fat, and studies show eating just half of one with lunch can curb your appetite.
Slice one in half, sprinkle a little sea salt, and eat the inside with a spoon. Or top off your salad with a few pieces.
Research found that doing so allows you to absorb three to five times more carotenoids, a disease-fighting compound associated with improved weight and fat loss.
4. Drink more water
A lot of it. Yes, you’ve heard this before and it’s worth mentioning it again.
And that’s because people confuse thirst for hunger.
Instead of automatically reaching for another snack, have a glass of water first.
Most of the time that’ll do the trick, but if not, then you’re in the clear to grab something more filling.
But not all waters are created equal. Mineral waters, while great for helping you hit your daily calcium and magnesium needs, are often high in sodium — a common culprit of bloat.
And coconut water gives you some potassium…but for 45 calories per cup (and there’s usually more than one cup in a container).
It’s a better bet to reach for standard purified water — and eat a banana if you want the nutrient boost — or grab alkaline water, which can help prevent your bones from getting weaker.
5. Stay away from crunches
You hate ’em anyway, so…you’re welcome. Experts say that isolated abdominal exercises, like crunches, are a waste of time (kind of like these moves).
It’s better to try ones that strengthen your core while burning more total calories.
Because if you’re only strengthening the muscles on the top layer of your stomach — which is all a crunch targets — your stomach may end up looking thicker.
Instead, try hanging from a tree branch the next time you take the kids to the park, and keep your stomach tight while you dangle.
Or play with the kids, daring them to roll like a log without using their arms or legs, and see who gets across the living room fastest.
Not only will you get in a mini workout, but you’ll also have fun bonding time with them, too.
6. Add a dash of salt
While it’s true that 75 percent of the salt most people eat comes from processed foods and restaurant meals, not all salts are created equal.
Pure, unrefined salts like Himalayan and Celtic sea salt have a much lower sodium count than its refined counterparts.
Use it when you cook, which not only brings out the natural flavors in your dish (making you more satisfied and less likely to overeat), but also ups your mineral intake.
Because unlike refined salt, which is 99 percent sodium and chloride, unrefined varieties also include elements like magnesium and calcium.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should go overboard, but it does give you the go-ahead to add a little something-something to your next meal.
7. Stay away from “low-anything”
America has been trying to follow a low-calorie, low-fat diet for 40 years, and where has that gotten us?
To being one of the heaviest countries in the world.
Think about it: The problem is when you cut back on calories like that, your body tries to fight back with increased hunger and a slower metabolism because it thinks it’s going into starvation mode.
Meanwhile, you eventually eat again to satiate the hunger pangs, and likely eat more because, well, you’re insanely hungry.
But your metabolism is still operating on that low level, so calories don’t get burned fast enough and they get stored as fat.
This cycle continues until you feed your body regularly (he suggests at least three meals and two snacks in between) with real food made from real ingredients.
That matters more than the calories it’s made up of, so repeat after us: I will always choose an all-natural version of something over food that’s labeled low-calorie or fat-free.
8. Get more sleep
Again, you’ve heard it before, and once more, it needs to be said again.
At least 70 percent of Americans aren’t listening: Staying up late may make you happy in the moment, but all that sleep you’re skipping catches up to you in the form of extra fat around your middle.
Yes, “me time” is important for your sanity, but”when you’re lacking sleep, your body overproduces the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin, and under-produces leptin, which tells you when you’re full.
Getting proper shut-eye — the National Sleep Foundation says seven to nine hours is best, though it varies per person — truly stops unnecessary snacking when you wake up the next day.
9. Plan your meals
You know that friend who casually chats about the healthy meals she whips up for her fam like it’s NBD?
She’s planning ahead, and you should be, too.
When you plan an entire week of dinner in advance, you’re way less likely to go off course and indulge in foods that aren’t good for you.
Science backs this up, as those who spend more time prepping food at home eat at least eight servings of fruit and 13 servings of veggies each week, while those who don’t tend to eat only six servings of fruit and just under 11 servings of vegetables.
So get into a routine and, after weekly grocery shopping, kick the kids out for playtime with Dad so you can knock out as much work ahead of time as possible — cleaning and slicing veggies, portioning out chicken breasts for each meal, etc.
Come dinnertime, there’ll be barely any work before food is on the table.
10. Pay extra attention to labels
By now you know to swap out regular yogurt for the Greek stuff and white bread for whole-wheat.
But if you don’t look closely, a product labeled “Greek” or “whole-wheat” may not be what it seems.
A typical one-cup serving of plain Greek yogurt (like Fage 0%) provides 23 grams of protein and 9 grams of sugar, making it a smart choice.
But another version of what looks like the same product can have over 18 grams of sugar.
Not good, as the American Heart Association suggests women only eat 30 grams in an entire day.
The same trickery goes for whole-wheat bread packages. Some companies are loading it with high-fructose corn syrup, an unnatural additive that’s 20 times sweeter than sugar and not recognized by the brain.
Studies show that eating the stuff confuses your body’s hormones so you don’t realize when you’re full, essentially forcing you to overeat when you thought you were making a healthy choice.
11. Skip the Netflix Binge
It’s tempting to hang out in front of the TV after a long day of work, but the longer you sit, the more you hurt your waistline.
In a recent study, researchers found that for every hour and a half you spend sitting watching a show — or doing anything sedentary, for that matter — your belly fat can increase by 3 cubic cm.
Individuals in our study who watched a lot of television had a greater amount of fat in their abdomen, including the fat in and around their organs, as compared to those who reported watching little or no television.
So being sedentary might feel good in the moment.
But it’s not doing anything positive for your body in the long run.
12. Eat your veggies
Yeah, yeah — it’s what you’ve been told since you were a kid.
Science has proven that if you eat veggies loaded with dietary fiber — like carrots, peas, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts — will keep you full, promote a healthy digestive system, and keep your metabolism in check.
13. Lay off the nuts
It’s easy to down a handful of nuts, but pump your brakes.
A common diet tip you hear all the time is to snack on nuts when you’re hungry.
They’re filling and packed with protein and fiber. But because they’re so tiny it’s easy to gobble down handful after handful.
Nuts should also be enjoyed in moderation. Its main macronutrient profile is fat, and eating them mindlessly is an easy way to go overboard on your calories.
To get your fix and avoid the belly fat, eat only a thumb-sized portion twice a day.
14. Cut back on meat
If you’re on a paleo diet, be careful: There’s a chance you might getting too much protein.
The average woman only needs around 46 grams per day.
A diet high in meat and meat products could cause excess protein to be stored as belly fat.
Plus, too much meat can cause problems with inflammation and digestion due to all the hormones and antibiotics it contains.
15. Spice things up
Spices don’t just flavor your food — they also help reduce inflammation and get rid of an unwanted belly.
They help crank your body’s thermostat, firing up your metabolism and burning extra calories and fat as a result.
Start with turmeric: It gives your digestion a boost and fights off cancer and heart attacks.
16. Eat chocolate for dessert
Who wouldn’t want an excuse to snack on some dark chocolate? Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate is full of inflammation-reducing flavonoids. And they have been found to help get rid of belly fat.
But don’t go overboard. Grab a bar that’s at least 70% cacao and only have a couple pieces a day.