Low-calorie diets: It is harmful to reduce your daily calorie intake lower than 1400 calories per day, because your body adjusts to a semi-starvation state and looks for alternative sources of energy. In addition to burning fat, your body will eventually burn muscle tissue. Because your heart is a muscle, prolonged starvation will weaken it and interfere with its normal rhythms. Low-calorie diets don't meet the body's nutrition needs, and without nutrients your body cannot function normally.
If you want to lose weight safely, Stanford recommends working to improve your diet (making sure you’re eating lean protein, whole grains, veggies, and fruit) and working out at least 150 minutes each week. It's also important to regularly get a good night’s sleep, work to reduce your stress levels, and make sure none of the medication you’re currently taking can lead to weight gain.
A daily run or Spin class is great for your heart, but cardio workouts alone won't do much for your waist. "You need to do a combination of weights and cardiovascular training," says Sangeeta Kashyap, MD, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. Strength training increases muscle mass, which sets your body up to burn more fat. "Muscle burns more calories than fat, and therefore you naturally burn more calories throughout the day by having more muscle," says Kate Patton, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. Patton recommends 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 125 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week.
Physical activity helps burn abdominal fat. “One of the biggest benefits of exercise is that you get a lot of bang for your buck on body composition,” Stewart says. Exercise seems to work off belly fat in particular because it reduces circulating levels of insulin—which would otherwise signal the body to hang on to fat—and causes the liver to use up fatty acids, especially those nearby visceral fat deposits, he says.
Beans are an excellent source of slow-release carbohydrates, as well as a good source of protein and fiber, which slow the digestive process to help you stay fuller, longer. “Research finds that eating just three-quarters of a cup of beans a day for six weeks can help you lose close to six pounds. And if you’re trying to lower your cholesterol, it’s a double win as the soluble fiber in beans helps whisk cholesterol out of your body,” says Ansel. She also says you don’t necessarily need to cook dry beans from scratch. Canned beans are one of the most underrated convenience foods, so keep a rotation of all kinds - like black, pinto, chickpea and cannellini - in your pantry. Try adding beans to your soups and salads, add them minced to meat dishes, enjoy a bean dip like hummus, or toss them in a salad.