Best Way to Lose Belly Fat: Sleep More

Best Way to Lose Belly Fat: Sleep More

Nobody diets to look more like Homer Simpson (d'oh!). So to be sure the weight you're losing is mostly squishy fat—not lean, sexy, calorie-torching muscle—take out this nighttime insurance policy: Say goodnight to Jimmy Kimmel and the Weather Channel, and spend more time under the covers.

In a provocative 2010 study, dieters who slept 8.5 hours a night lost twice as much fat and held on to nearly twice as much muscle as those who scraped by on 5.5 hours of slumber. While everybody lost the same amount of weight, the well-rested group hit the jackpot. Plus, the more muscle you've got on board, the better, since muscle is a metabolic engine that burns more calories 'round the clock. And that makes it easier for you to keep the weight off. Fact: By the end of the study, the long sleepers were burning an extra 114 calories per day (that's about 10 pounds a year)!

When you're on a diet, a good night's sleep seems to convince your body to burn fat as its preferred fuel. It works with, not against, the muscle-strengthening exercises we hope you're doing two to three times a week. Getting enough sleep also keeps the hunger hormone ghrelin in check, so you're less tempted to steal the doughnuts hidden in back of the pantry. Homer might, but a well-rested you won't.

P.S. Throw those doughnuts out. If they aren't in your home, you're less likely to eat them.

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