By Thomas Maranian

Whether you are attempting to lose weight, put on muscle, or simply trying to refine the way you look, you’ve come to the right place. With the epidemic of obesity rates rising by the day in the United States, we are far from a healthy nation. That being said, it is no surprise that one of the most common searches on the internet is ‘how to lose belly fat fast.’

There are dozens of different fitness programs and trainers on the internet that claim they have found the “best solution” to your problems. Close your browser right away. The only one who can make a change in your physique is yourself. Like with any other talent, it takes time and practice to hone your body and shape the way you want to look. So next time you decide to search this online, save yourself the twenty long minutes spent on YouTube from learning that you have to buy a program for $49 or $99. Go back to the old way of things and read this article.

Let’s begin with some science. No one can out-train a bad diet. No matter how many hours you put into the gym, if your diet is not in check, you might as well continue to eat fast food and drink soda for a living. To start off, there are simple changes you need to make throughout your day. You need to calculate how many calories your body needs per day. This all depends on body weight, how often you train, and how active you are throughout the day. Gas is to cars as food is to the body. You’re not going to repeatedly fill your car with gas because you have nothing else to do. Food is meant to be fuel for the body, not pleasure. If we disregard the idea of pleasure entirely, food has only one purpose; to energize our bodies. Without it, our bodily functions would shut down. That being said, if you turn to food to satisfy your anger or stress, you are ruining all hopes of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

To lose body fat, it really is quite simple when you take the time to think about it. You have to be in a hypocaloric state (where you are taking in less calories throughout each day than you burn).

Now this does not mean you have to starve yourselves. A great way to make this change is to start tracking everything you typically intake throughout the day. Everything must be tracked, even the Dorito’s you’re currently mowing down. There is not much else to it. Take in less than you burn and you have already begun the process of a nutritional lifestyle.

Now something needs to get abundantly clear into your mind. It is NOT okay to think that drinking soda and eating unhealthy foods less than you burn will work. Yes, you will lose some weight but you are still missing the point. This is about nutrition and being a healthy individual. It is NOT okay to drink Sprite, Coke, Pepsi, or any other type of soda. The amount of sugar in there is what is causing your fat to increase, particularly in the visceral region (abdominal). Sure, marketers might trip you up with the ‘zero’ calorie advertising, but this simply means they are adding excess amounts of carbohydrates and sugars! Water is the best and only source of fluid that should be on your shopping list. Water, when consumed in the proper quantity, actually aids in weight loss. Think of it like this: our bodies are made of 60% water. Nowhere in our bodies are we made of soda. You can’t put alcohol in a car and expect it to drive just like you can’t put sugar in your body and expect it to look good.

Stop eating out every day because your friends pressure you into it. Start cooking your own meals and choosing the right foods to eat. Some restaurants have meals that average over 1,500 calories. In some cases, that could be very close to a person’s full days’ worth of food, if not more. Stay well away from sugar. The daily allowance for a healthy lifestyle is around 36 grams for men and 25 for women. Regretting that Coke you just had with 39 grams?

Once your diet is in check, and only when it is, should you begin working out. Nutrition is honestly 75% what you eat and 25% how you train. There is a common misunderstanding that you can spot reduce fat. For instance, most people who are trying to lose weight will wonder how to lose stomach fat or lower back fat. Again, going back to the idea that you can’t out-train a poor diet, no matter how many crunches or planks you do, you are not going to lose stomach fat if you are eating junk. You cannot target which parts of your body you are going to lose fat from. To reduce your chest fat, for instance, you have to reduce your overall body fat. And to do that, you must lose weight. It really is a simple technique.

If you are reading this, you probably have tried supplements at some point or another. What are they? Dietary supplements are things such as whey protein, protein bars, and in some cases, vitamins, that aid in the addition of furthering the nutritional content of one’s diet. They are NOT for everyone. There are three times when you should even think to incorporate them in your diet; as meal replacers when you can’t get access to nutritional food, right after a workout to replenish the muscle’s you damaged, and when you need to meet your macronutrient requirements and simply can’t with what you typically eat throughout the day. At no point should you walk into Vitamin Shoppe or GNC to buy protein because everyone else is doing it. In all honesty, most people who use protein are just doing it because they think it’s a magical powder that will transform their body even if they continue to have a poor diet. Some people need to take in over 100 grams of protein per day to put on muscle and to do that, supplements are very useful. It’s a lot harder to eat 100 grams of protein from food per day than it is to eat maybe 60 grams and get

the last 40 from supplements. This furthers the idea of supplements being efficient and quick on-the-go meal replacers.

There is a method to the madness. If you understand how a nutritional diet works and what consists of healthy foods, you are one step closer to losing that belly fat. Enough of this idea of “you can eat everything, just in moderation.” Knowing what hurts your body will prevent you from regret later on. Eat less than you burn off. It does take will power to choose a home cooked grilled-chicken dinner over a buffalo chicken calzone or broccoli over French fries. A perfect diet is like a limit in calculus. Pretend a perfect diet is the x-axis on the graph. The plot will never reach the axis just like your diet will never reach perfection. The point is, we can continue to work our way towards perfection and figure out what does and doesn’t work for our body. Figure out your own proper diet and stop sneaking in foods throughout the day that you know are hindering your diet.

If you have trouble staying away from the cabinets between meals, set up a meal plan for yourself. A great technique to incorporate is eating six small meals periodically throughout the day, instead of the traditional three. Yes, breakfast is a must! Do not get the wrong idea that if you skip meals, it will benefit you. Maybe you’ll start losing a few pounds here or there but you want to set up a plan that will work in the long run of things. You cannot continuously skip meals forever because once you do start eating again, you’ll gain all the weight you just lost. You want to set up a plan that will allow you to lose weight and then maintain it with your preference.

If you begin to eat six small meals every two and a half to three hours throughout the day, you will feel less obligated to hunt for more food since you will always have something to fill you up. Three hours goes by a lot faster for you to eat than waiting from lunch to dinner. Grab something nutritious for a snack such as almonds, peanuts, protein bars, or yogurt. Whatever it is you are eating, make sure you read the nutrition labels and watch out for hidden ingredients.

Lastly, anyone who says “cheat meals are okay” is lying to you. This idea is made on the basis of giving yourself a reward for good nutrition. The only reward to nutrition is the end result (whatever you are working toward). By cheating yourself once or twice a week, you are only corrupting the process and giving in to your desires. Train your willpower and discipline your emotions next time you think about cheating.