1. Understand how important sleep is for weight loss.
To turn sleep into prime weight loss time, realize how important a good night's sleep is for optimizing and regulating all your bodily functions, including how you use and store caloric energy. The hunger hormones at play here are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin helps to regulate your energy levels and keep your appetite low, while ghrelin stimulates hunger and often initiates the need to eat. People who get more sleep have reduced ghrelin and increased leptin levels, which helps to control their appetites throughout the day. That was the finding of research conducted at the University of Wisconsin. Another study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that overweight people, on average, got 16 minutes less sleep per day than people of regular weight. Although that might not sound like a big difference, those minutes—like your belly fat—accumulate over time.
2. Sip a cup of tea
Wind down with a cup of rooibos tea, and burn belly fat while you do it! Naturally decaffeinated, rooibos tea is made from the leaves of the "red bush" plant, grown exclusively in South Africa. What makes rooibos tea particularly good for your belly is a unique and powerful flavonoid called Aspalathin. Research shows this compound can reduce stress hormones that trigger hunger and fat storage, making rooibos one of the best fat-burning foods.
3. Observe strict kitchen hours.
Nighttime fasting—a.k.a. closing the kitchen early—may help you lose more weight, even if you eat more food throughout the day, according to a study in the journal Cell Metabolism. Researchers put groups of mice on a high-fat, high-calorie diet for 100 days. Half of them were allowed to nibble throughout the night and day on a healthy, controlled diet, while the others only had access to food for eight hours, but could eat whatever they wanted. The result of the 16-hour food ban? The fasting mice stayed lean, while the mice who noshed 'round the clock became obese—even though both groups consumed the same amount of calories!
4. Shake things up
Having a protein shake before hitting the sack may boost your metabolism, according to one Florida State University study. Researchers found that men who consumed good snacks in the evening that included 30 grams of either whey or casein protein had a higher resting metabolic rate the next morning than when eating nothing. Protein is more thermogenic than carbs or fat, meaning your body burns more calories digesting it.
5. Fit in late cardio
Examples of cardio include walking around the neighborhood, walking or running up and down the stairs, jogging and/or riding an exercise bike. Adding activities like these to your pre-bed routine can help you to burn belly fat. Bonus points if you can do a little resistance training immediately before your late cardio session. Studies show that cardio is more effective if you do it immediately after weightlifting or bodyweight exercises.
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