The battle of the bulge is one which most of us have fought at some point in our lives. In fact, at any given time, almost half of all Americans are actively trying to lose weight. And it’s a battle that many of us struggle to win.

There are a number of reasons why we can start to pack on a little extra fluff around the midsection. Stress eating, insufficient exercise, or the metabolic and hormonal changes that come with age are all common culprits. This is why successfully getting rid of body fat, and keeping it off, requires a multi-pronged approach.

To help you on your weight-loss journey, we’ve compiled these five techniques to help you shed those stubborn extra pounds.

1. De-Stress

Stress is an evolutionary response that helps us to avoid danger and survive. But enduring too much stress over too long of a length of time can contribute to us carrying around extra weight. This is because of how cortisol, the stress hormone, affects how your body functions.

When you experience stress, your body is functioning as if you are experiencing a legitimate threat. Even if you just need to deliver an important presentation at work, your body can’t differentiate between that situation and a life-or-death scenario. So it responds by going into full-on survival mode.

One part of this response is the release of cortisol basically shutting down your digestive system to better deal with the stressful-inducing situation. At the same time, your system is also being flooded with adrenaline.

Once the adrenalin wears off, your blood sugar levels plummet. Combine that with your body seeking to replace all the calories that it burned thanks to the adrenaline rush, and you wind up with the cravings that we associate with stress eating. Specifically, expect to find yourself reaching for a lot of sugary sweets instead of a healthy snack.

This why learning how to manage stress is a great skill to master.

What stress management looks like can vary from one person to the next. Meditation or breathing exercises are popular and effective strategies, but it could be as simple as making the time for a quick workout or taking a walk around the block to settle your nerves. All that matters is whatever strategy you choose works for you.

2. Refine Your Diet

Most people understand that their diet is one of the biggest factors in how successful their weight-loss efforts are. However, where many fail is in just trying to reduce calories across the board.

In the simplest terms, this makes sense. If you’re burning more calories than you’re taking in, your body should start burning through your fat stores to compensate. But the reality is a bit more complicated.

The first thing to take note of is the types of foods that you want to be eating. In general, you want to up the amount of lean protein you eat in proportion to fats and carbs.

This is because these foods go a long way in filling you up while adding a relatively small number to your calorie total. For example, one study found that starting the day with a high-protein breakfast (containing 35 grams of protein or more) both reduced cravings throughout the day but also helped to stabilize blood glucose levels in overweight teens. Not to mention that higher protein intake will allow you to maintain and build muscle, which will help you to burn even more calories in the long run.

You also want to eat a diet that will help you cultivate healthy gut bacteria. This means cutting out trans fats wherever possible and eating foods rich in probiotics. And avoid “crash diets”, as they tend to slow the metabolism way down and increase fat retention in the long term.

3. Workout Smarter

Along with diet, the other major component of most weight-loss strategies is exercise. But as with diet, how you exercise is as important as how much you exercise. In terms of sheer calories burned, spending hours on the treadmill will do the trick, but there are more efficient ways to accomplish your goals.

An efficient weight-loss training regimen has two components: high-intensity cardio and muscle-building resistance training.

You specifically want cardio that will get your heart pumping, like boxing or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) against low-intensity exercises like jogging or moderate cycling. This is because the research shows that these high-intensity exercises are far better at ratcheting up the metabolism, allowing you to burn fat at a higher rate even after your workout is over.

You’ll then want to balance your cardio with resistance training. Whether that means calisthenics, kettlebell exercises, or free weights depends on the equipment you have access to and your fitness priorities.

In any case, you want to focus more on compound exercises like squats, push-ups and chest presses, or kettlebell swings. Since these exercises engage multiple large muscle groups at once, they are your biggest calorie burners.

4. Explore Clinical Options

Sometimes it’s possible to do everything right and still not see the results that you want. Whether due to genetics, hormonal issues, or any other factor outside of your control, it can sometimes become preferable to seek clinical help.

If you’ve tried everything and nothing has worked, or if you just need to melt belly fat fast, cool sculpting is probably the best option available.

As the name implies, cool sculpting technology applies cold to areas where stubborn fat deposits are found. because fat cells have a relatively low tolerance to cold, the technique freezes the cells and permanently destroys them. It’s a quick, safe, non-invasive procedure that offers the best chance of removing stubborn fat when healthy lifestyle choices come up short.

Getting Rid of Body Fat Is a Challenge You Can Overcome

One last word of advice is to pay less attention to the bathroom scale or the tape measure. Getting rid of body fat is a process, and as the old saying goes, a watched pot never boils.

By tracking your progress too rigorously, you’re much more likely to become impatient, frustrated, or give up altogether. Instead, try to be mindful of the fact that by implementing these lifestyle changes, you’re improving your health and overall quality of life. And then once you reach your target, it will almost come as a pleasant surprise.

And for more health and fitness tips on how to live as the best version of yourself, be sure to keep up with all the latest from Biid.

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