6 things to give up to get rid of your gut

Kick these bad habits you probably don't think twice about doing.
© 2013 Weider Publications // © 2013 Weider Publications

Drinking diet soda

It's calorie-free, but it still comes with a cost. New research published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that diet soda drinkers take in more total calories throughout the day than those who skip the fizzy beverage. More specifically, overweight and obese adults who drink diet soda take in 88-194 more calories, on average, each day in comparison to adults who do not drink diet or regular soda.

More: 7 easy ways to beat bloat

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Eating out too often

When eating out, zero in on certain words on a restaurant menu: Anything breaded, fried, crusted, smothered or creamed will likely be higher in fat than something that is grilled, broiled or sautéed. Cut down on the condiments and toppings as well—e.g., hold the mayo and don’t ask for extra cheese. Of course, these things are much easier to accomplish when eating at home.

More: 6 tips for eating healthy on the road

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Being lazy on weekends

Research from Northwestern University has linked staying up late—and then sleeping in the next morning—to weight gain. Study subjects who went to bed after midnight, woke up mid-morning and ate their first meal of the day around noon consumed more calories a day, ate more fast food and consumed fewer fruits and vegetables than those who routinely went to bed before midnight and woke up around 8 a.m. each morning. Bottom line: If your weekly routine has you going to bed relatively early each night and waking up early for work every morning, keep up with that routine on weekends.

More: 6 late-night habits ruining your sleep

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Fighting stress with sugar

Put down that late afternoon candy bar—your judgment's likely being clouded by your never-ending to-do list. A study from Harvard Medical School suggests that as stress increases cortisol levels in the body, it leads to cravings for sugary and fatty foods. Instead of hitting up the vending machine, reach for one of these smarter desk-side snacks.

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Sticking to steady-state cardio

A study published in the American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal shows that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) burns more fat—abdominal fat in particular—than steady-state cardio routines (e.g., zoning out on the treadmill). Combining cardio and strength training, and switching between upper- and lower-body exercises, is an ideal way to keep your heart rate up and boost your body's fat-burning potential.

More: 8 amazing fat-burning intervals

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Smoking

According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, smokers have larger waist circumferences than nonsmokers due to more abdominal fat and less muscle mass, which are direct effects of smoking. Do your lungs (and waist) a favor and drop the cancer sticks.

More: 5 best quit-smoking apps

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