Fight Belly Flab

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1. Put a cap on the booze A glass of Chardonnay contains about 120 calories, a beer around 150 calories, 1.5 ounces of the hard stuff amounts to about 100 calories. Multiply that by the amount of alcohol you consume in a year, and your total weight gain can add up. In a study conducted at Washington University in St. Louis, one can actually gain 10 pounds in a year if one drinks 100 calories from alcohol per day! 

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2. Choose popcorn over chips A study in the U.S. Nutritional Journal last September compared the satiety levels of two groups of people: one group ate popcorn, the other ate chips. Both groups then were given as much macaroni and cheese they could eat after eating said snacks. Results showed that popcorn eaters felt more satiated, and therefore ate less mac and cheese after snacking than their chips-snacking counterparts did.

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3. Keep it to 30 minutes Most people think that in order for you to lose more weight, you need to spend more time working out. But not necessarily so, says a recent study conducted by the University of Copenhagen. The study compared the weight loss results of 60 overweight but healthy Danish men who were divided according to: those who exercised for 30 minutes, those who exercised for 60 minutes, and those who didn't exercise at all. Surprisingly dramatic weight loss occurred in the first group (30-minute exercisers) rather than the second (60-minute exercisers)!

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4. Start your day active If you intend to work out later in the day, then begin the morning with some physical activity, says a study in the Medical News Today published last September. This study showed how groups of normal-weight and obese women reacted to pictures of either flowers or food after a 45-minute treadmill walk or no walk. Although there was no difference in food intake (each participant had a food diary) after seeing pictures of the food, the women who walked in the morning showed significant signs of wanting to do even more activity after the walking session. 

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5. Get enough ZZZs Fighting the bulge isn't just about working out or not over-eating, it's about getting enough rest, too. The American Academy of Sleep reported three recent studies that showed how sleep deprivation may lead to poor food choices. One of the studies concluded that the inhibitory control of the brain was lessened when testers were sleep-deprived. This explains why we give in to food cravings when we're up late working over time or out partying all night!

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6. Know your cycle If you're like most women, you give in to food cravings when they strike. Giving in sometimes is fine, but when this becomes a pattern, you're bound to tip the scale. A recent study from the University of Montreal took note of women's consumer behavior according to their menstrual cycle. During their non-fertile period (day 15-28 of a 29-day cycle), women in the study reportedly had more cravings for high-calorie foods and bought more food. Knowing your period dates educates you as to whether it's natural for you to crave for such food (and give in, after all it's only once a month), or whether it's just a regular day and you should simply say no.

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7. Keep a food journal One of the tried and tested ways to lose weight, says the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is to keep a food journal. In a recent study of 123 postmenopausal women, participants shared their meal patterns and behaviors for a year. It was revealed that women who wrote down their food intake regularly lost about six pounds more than women who didn't keep a food diary. 

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8. Sign up for class Gone are the days of boring group exercise classes. There's a surge of fitness fusions to help motivate people to have fun while working out, says the IDEA Fitness Journal. Such exercises include the Mega Mix Workout (aerobics, kickboxing, rope-jumping, are just some examples in this cocktail), Muscle Confusion (strength intervals, bursts of power, core training, to name a few), and Gotta Body (Jazzercise coupled with yoga and pumped up workouts). While these may not be actual class names in the local fitness studios, check out the description of classes in gyms and fitness studios to find similarities in the mentioned exercises.

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