Sleep on it
Your bed is a weight–loss tool. No, not like that, Casanova. We’re talking about sleep. Those who get four hours kip eat 263 more calories each day than those who sleep for the recommended eight. Lack of Zzzs spikes your hunger hormones, found a study by New York’s Obesity Nutrition Research Centre.
To specifically target belly fat, eat a high-protein, low–carb and calorie–light diet in which the majority of your proteins come from dairy, says the Journal of Nutrition. “Increasing calcium and protein in your diet encourages fat loss from the worst storage area in your body – your belly,” says study author Andrea Josse.
Pollution could be giving you a gut. Researchers at Ohio State University found exposure to dirty air leads to more abdominal fat than breathing fresh air. Pollutants may trigger an increase in fat cells, say the scientists, so wear a cycling mask when commuting in the city.
Block out burns
If you drink a strong coffee before training, you’ll be able to work harder and longer, found scientists at the University of Louisiana. “Caffeine blocks some of the pain receptors in your muscles,” says lead researcher Dr David Bellar. He suggests that caffeine is most effective when drunk 45 minutes before you hit the weights. Gingerbread latte is unlikely to have the same effects, however.
Flex your imagination
When the going gets tough, think of a previous sporting victory. In a new British study, men who recalled a previously energising activity while cycling had more fun and felt more revitalised than those who didn’t. “Imagining an action rouses the same areas of the brain as performing it,” says study author Dr Damian Stanley.
In the world of abs, resistance is not futile. In fact, it’s essential. “When doing abs exercises where you raise your legs, such as hanging leg raises, make sure you don’t let your legs return to 180 degrees,” says strength coach Mark Coles. “This keeps the tension on them, working your abs.”
Protein shakes can help you burn fat as well as build muscle. A new Swiss study found that casein is better than whey because you digest it slower. If you prefer whey, mix it with milk (80% of milk’s protein is casein).
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