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10 Ways to Reduce Body Fat Percentage Fast

by
author image Susy Sedano
Susy joined LIVESTRONG.COM at its inception in 2008. Focused on all things food, fitness and health related, her daily contributions as the LIVESTRONG.COM community manager is an asset to the site and the millions of community members. She has a M. A. in Clinical Psychology.

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10 Ways to Reduce Body Fat Percentage Fast
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The reasons to rid your belly of that "inch (or more) to pinch" aren't just about looking svelte and sexy. Having a high body-fat percentage sets the stage for serious health complications that come with being overweight or obese, like chronic diseases, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than one billion overweight adults globally, and at least 300 million of them are obese. So check yourself! Body-fat percentages greater than 20 percent for men and 30 percent for women are considered high, says the Mayo Clinic. But there are no shortcuts or gimmicks to losing body fat quickly. Follow these eight steps for real, long-lasting fat loss and health.

1. Clean Up Your Diet
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1 CLEAN UP YOUR DIET

It's true what they say, you can't out-exercise a bad diet. And abs are made in the kitchen. So the first step to any fat-loss plan starts with improving your diet. First, cut out processed foods, fake sugars and refined carbs. That means cutting out the cakes, cookies, ice cream, deep-fried foods and candy. Next, add more foods to your diet with low-energy density. Said more simply, include fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, lean meats and fish in your diet. To help make grocery shopping easier, try primarily shopping the perimeter of the store where they keep the fresh produce and meat counter.

Related: 10 Surprising Flat-Belly Foods

2. Drink More Water
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2 DRINK MORE WATER

Skip high-calorie beverages with little to no nutritional value and grab a glass (or two) of water instead. This means forgoing flavored lattes, dessert coffees, artificially sweetened juices, sweet tea, alcohol and soda. Water not only helps keep your body hydrated and functioning optimally, but it also helps continually flush your system and can help boost your metabolism. Drink a full glass of water about 30 minutes before a meal to help prevent overeating and continue to drink water throughout the day. Many times, the hunger and thirst signals to your brain can feel similar. So when you feel like snacking, drink a glass of water before noshing.

Related: Everything You Need to Know to Stay Properly Hydrated

3. Pace Your Meals
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3 PACE YOUR MEALS

The research behind how many meals to eat and how often is a little contradictory at times. Some studies suggest grazing on small meals spaced two to three hours apart can help prevent you from pigging out come dinner time. Others point to intermittent fasting (which basically means eating all your daily meals in a shorter timeframe) being a good way to jump-start fat loss and prevent overeating. The trick is finding what works best for your body. Whatever strategy you decide on, make sure that the calories you eat don't exceed the calories you burn each day (this is called caloric deficit). It takes a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat, which is why you should aim to lose one to two pounds per week max.

Related: Will Eating 6 Times a Day Rev Up Your Metabolism?

4. Indulge Smarter
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4 INDULGE SMARTER

Yep, here's your permission to drink red wine and eat dark chocolate (in moderation, of course). You've likely heard that antioxidants are good for your overall health, thanks to their ability to fight inflammation. But a certain kind of antioxidant -- catechins -- can help burn fat. As it turns out, you can find these antioxidants in red wine and dark chocolate. But you can also get them from green teas, berries and apples. So try a dessert of fresh raspberries with a drizzle of chocolate.

Related: The 12 Best "Clean" Dark Chocolate Bars

5. Become a Menu Master
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5 BECOME A MENU MASTER

Eating at a restaurant can spell disaster for healthy eating habits. But it doesn't have to! You might be giving up some control by not cooking the meal yourself, but you can still make smart choices. Scan the menu carefully and ask your waiter questions if you're unsure how something is prepared. Stick with foods that are boiled, broiled, baked or steamed. And choose entrees that come with veggies or a salad instead of fries. Avoid excess dressing (ask for it on the side), cheese, cream sauces, butter and anything fried.

Related: The 5 Worst Chain Restaurant Options and 5 Better-for-You Picks

6. Take Your Time During Meals
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6 TAKE YOUR TIME DURING MEALS

It's not a race to the clean-plate club! So take your time and chew your food slowly. (It'll help if you're following the above advice and eating smaller, more frequent meals and drinking a glass of water before meals.) Avoid sitting in front of the TV or computer, as you're more likely to mindlessly eat more than you intended. Place your fork or spoon down between bites, chew completely and swallow before taking another bite. This will prevent you from overeating, as it takes your brain at least 20 minutes to realize your stomach is full. Plus, you'll enjoy the taste of your food so much more!

Related: 28 Eating Secrets to Help You Lose Weight

7. Spice Up Your Life
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7 SPICE UP YOUR LIFE

If you're battling belly fat, try adding a little cinnamon to your morning cup of joe. A 2012 Japanese study involving mice indicates that the combination might be effective in getting rid of fat around your midsection. And while you're at it, try adding a little more spice to everything you cook. Spicy foods contain capsaicin, which can give your metabolism a little boost as well as curbing appetite.

Related: 10 Herbs and Spices to Help You Lose Weight

8. HIIT It!
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8 HIIT IT!

Getting your diet in check is just one part of the fat-loss equation. Spend two or three days a week doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Apply this to any form of cardio you enjoy the most -- running, cycling, stair-climbing, jumping rope, elliptical training or rowing. Start your workouts with a light five-minute warm-up, and then alternate back and forth from high to low intensity. For example, you can sprint for 30 seconds, and then jog or walk for one to two minutes, repeating for 15 to 20 minutes. Finish with an easy five-minute cool-down.

Related: A Quick HIIT Workout to Fire Up Your Metabolism

9. Build Muscle to Burn More Fat
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9 BUILD MUSCLE TO BURN MORE FAT

Cardio isn't the only way to help your body burn fat. Adding muscle to your body gives you the potential to burn extra calories. In your strength training sessions (aim for two or three a week), do multi-joint exercises, such as bench presses, upright rows, bent-over rows, squats and deadlifts. Multi-joint exercises work more than one muscle at a time and promote fast muscle gain. Plus, they more closely mimic everyday activities (as opposed to isolation exercises like biceps curls), helping prevent injury and building stamina. Start with three to five sets of 10 to 12 reps of each exercise.

Related: The "Burn Fat Faster" Workout

10. Add More Activity to Your Day
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10 ADD MORE ACTIVITY TO YOUR DAY

Workouts can only do so much to burn calories and fat. To maximize your efforts, get out and move more! Join a recreational sports league in your area to squeeze more activity into your day while having fun and meeting new people. Or start a hiking or running club with friends and coworkers. Find other creative ways to move your body more often, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking around a building before entering, tapping your feet at your desk, walking in place while on the telephone and doing body-weight exercises while watching television.

Related: 6 Ways to Burn More Calories by Walking

What Do YOU Think?
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Are you trying to lose body fat? Or have you ever successfully lost body fat? What worked for you? Did you use any of the above tips? Are there any other things that helped you? What do you think of the tips on this list? Share your thoughts, suggestions and questions in the comments section below!

Related: The 7 Principles of Fat Loss

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