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3. Eat More Protein
Eating whole, healthy sources of protein is vital to building muscle and burning more fat, says Sean W. Meadows R.D., a nutrition and wellness coach with The N.E.W. Program, a weight-loss center in Newport Beach. While a pound of fat burns two calories per day, a pound of fat burns six–and takes up a whole lot less room on your frame. And in one 2014 Pennington Biomedical Research Center study, when people ate 40 percent more calories than they needed for eight weeks, the people on high-protein diets stored 25 percent of those extra calories as muscle. Those who ate low-protein diets stored 95 percent of them as fat. That’s not to say you should up your caloric intake (we’ll get to that next), but you should up your protein intake.
4. Cut Some Calories
Fat loss, whether it’s centered on your stomach or in your chins, requires achieving a calorie deficit–burning more calories than you’re taking in. Exercise can certainly help you achieve that, but a healthy diet is probably going to make the biggest dent in your caloric balance, Meadows says. After all, it might take you an hour to burn 400 calories in the gym, but so can swapping out a greasy burger with a baked chicken sandwich.
5. Chill Out
“While diet and exercise will get you damn close to your physique goals, living a healthier lifestyle is what may finally get you the body you want. Lifestyle factors, such as stress, sleep, and relaxation are so important because they affect your hormonal system, which controls nearly every process in your body,” Meadows says. For instance, too-high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, in response to work demands, a lack of sleep, or zero “me” time, can lead to storage of fat around the mid section. Your move: Learn to more effectively manage what stress you do have, and be willing to cut things out of your life that are constant unnecessary stressors.
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