The 41 Hardest Ab Exercises

What did the study find?

The Best Ways to Lose 20 Pounds
She started the program on February 16, Once you reach your shoulder, swing the hammer down and slam the tire. If you've resolved to lose weight in , you might be considering signing up for a commercial diet plan, such as Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, or Jenny Craig. Holding a plank -- especially on your forearms -- is probably a piece of cake by now. Stick to that approach to get the pounds off and keep them off. She has already dropped three pounds.

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The fat-burning zone occurs at the lower end of the cardio zone—between 55 and 70 percent of maximum heart rate. When working at this intensity, a greater percentage of calories burned comes from stored fat. Working anywhere within the cardio zone will improve cardio fitness and burn calories. The benefit of working in the fat-burning zone is that you target stored fat and thus encourage weight loss. But, keep in mind, that if you work in a higher zone, you burn a greater amount of calories overall—which is important to weight loss.

Although a lower percentage of these calories will come from fat sources, the total number of fat calories burned will likely be the same or greater. Take, for example, a person who burns calories in a minute walk at a heart rate of 55 percent of maximum.

Seventy-five percent of those calories, or 75 calories, may come from fat. However, a person who runs those same 15 minutes and burns calories may burn only 50 percent of those calories from fat, but will burn a total of fat calories in the same amount of time. A study based on 36 relatively fit runners published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" in October demonstrated that determination of a person's exact fat-burning zone may only be performed in a laboratory.

In this study, significant overlap between the fat burning and cardio zones existed, indicating that a person working within 60 and 80 percent of maximal heart rate is likely to be maximizing fat oxidation.

Unless you are training for a figure or body building competition where working in the fat-burning zone exclusively helps you preserve every bit of lean body mass, it is best to focus on improving fitness and calorie burn with varying levels of intensity. If you choose to work in the lower range of the cardio zone—the fat-burning zone—be prepared to work out longer to burn enough calories to affect weight loss. A doctor should supervise you while on this diet. Some people use a calorie diet as part of the recently popularized 5: Under this plan, you eat a balanced Mediterranean-style diet of about calories for five days of the week and then limit yourself to low-carbohydrate calories per day for the other two days.

There is very little evidence to support the benefits of 5: You can get an idea of how much or how little calories is when you consider the calorie count of popular foods. The USDA calculates that two handfuls of peanuts or a slice of pepperoni pizza contains about calories. An apple contains fewer than 80 calories, while two pieces of fried chicken contain about calories. You might also want to consider how many calories you burn in a day.

According to the Harvard Medical School , a pound person burns 72 calories by just sitting in a one-hour meeting. One of the problems with a calorie diet is that it places no limits on the fats and carbohydrates you consume. A serving of chocolate pound cake and a glass of milk adds up to about calories. Regardless of calorie count, a well-rounded diet includes fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Being healthy is about a lot more than just a number. The greatest dangers associated with a calorie diet relate to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to many health problems. In fact, most people cannot meet their vitamin and mineral requirements if they eat less than calories per day.

For example, according to the Mayo Clinic , if your diet lacks the mineral zinc , which is in pumpkin seeds and beef, you can suffer hair loss. Low iron intake can lead to anemia , while chronic low intake of calcium and vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis later in life.

Always consider the full nutritional makeup of the foods you eat, not just their calories. A calorie diet can also put you at danger for muscle loss. At first, muscle loss may seem like you are losing more weight, but keep in mind that not all weight is bad.

To keep your body healthy, you need to be able to build muscles. A healthy diet burns fat, not muscle. Another health risk to keep in mind when considering a calorie diet is that your metabolism will change when you reduce the amount of calories you eat for a long enough period of time.

Severe calorie restriction for prolonged periods of time will lead to a slower metabolism. This can lead you to burn fewer calories. Also, when you lose weight, you then need fewer calories to maintain your new weight than you needed for your original weight. But if they do so, they will regain weight until they reach their original weight.

Though you may lose weight, you are at risk of malnutrition , which can cause many health problems. Healthy weight loss includes getting a variety of nutrients from varied food sources, limiting food portions, and burning more calories than you eat. Stick to that approach to get the pounds off and keep them off.

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