Losing weight isn’t about fasting or denying yourself that which you most crave. To the contrary, sustainable weight loss is normally a product of careful planning and even more careful execution. Culled from the ‘Men’s Journal’ archives, here are seven tips for taking off the belly fat, keeping off the belly fat, and not going crazy in the process.
1) Eat early.
A Spanish study found that noshers who ate their biggest meal earlier in the day were able to lose 25 percent more weight than those who delayed gratification. In Spain, the largest meal tends to be lunch, but study author Frank Scheer says he thinks Americans who eat dinner earlier would also see better diet results.
2) Try smaller portions.
Forget what your mother told you: You do not have to finish your meal. An Australian study found that most people will eat more when offered a larger portion. Not an astonishing result, but definitely telling in light of the fact that every participant in the study had just been instructed on how to eat only until they were full.
3) Exercise moderation.
Extreme diet and lifestyle overhauls don’t work, according to Brian Wansink, the author of ‘Mindless Eating.’ Wansink says that rather than resulting in drastic weight loss, extreme measures generally result in extreme frustration followed by a huge helping of apathy (or ice cream).
4) Avoid fast food “meals.”
Fast food is a quick way to pack on the pounds, but expediency sometimes dictates that you have to walk into a McDonald’s. According to a Temple University study, dieters can order responsibly so long as they avoid the “meals” and opt instead for individual dishes and sides. Also, they found every dessert option in every fast food joint to be hugely caloric. Nothing to do there but abstain.
5) Smoke weed.
Weed isn’t exactly known for helping guys get to the gym, but it just might improve the results of a diet. The compounds THCV and cannabidiol boost smokers’ and brownie eaters’ metabolisms, speeding fat loss and lowering cholesterol, according to research from the British company GW Pharmaceuticals. A 2011 study found that people who smoke pot three days a week are less likely to be obese than nonsmokers. For better or worse, jump-starting your diet might be a bit harder if you live outside of Colorado or Washington.
6) Don’t pretend to enjoy exercise.
Writer Dennis Dennehy, who lost a third of his body weight through a combination of diet and exercise, says that an important part of his process was learning to be okay with hating workouts. “If you told me two years ago that I’d be waking up to do yoga twice a week and actually looking forward to it, I’d have slapped you with a Burrito Supreme,” he says. He advocates embracing your hatred of the gym and just going anyway rather than pretending to enjoy it. You’re doing it for your health, not for pleasure.
7) Choose beer wisely.
There is a reason they call it a beer belly, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking delicious, cooling brews. According to Theresa DiMasi, editor in chief of WeightWatchers.com, choosing bottled beer and checking the information for alcohol by volume (ABV) stats can help drinkers avoid more caloric (and potent) beers. Staying sober and staying thin run hand in hand.