5 Tips to Lose Belly Fat
I’ve got good and bad news about belly fat. The bad news is, there isn’t just one move that will get rid of your belly fat. Spot reduction is not possible. Any strength training move for your abs (like crunches) will strengthen those ab muscles but does not necessarily remove the fat over those muscles. The good news is, anything you do to burn calories could contribute to weight loss around your waist.
To remove the excess around your middle, you need to take steps to lose weight, not just crunches or sit ups. This means watching your calorie intake, focusing on non bloating foods and drink, getting in cardio exercise to get your heart rate up and burn calories, strength training and get plenty of sleep. Let's break it down.
1. Watch Your Calories - Very simply, if you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. A 500 calorie deficient each day will result in a loss of a pound a week. Of course that is easier said than done and there are many variables (i.e. hormones, medications) that can affect this simplistic calculation. But bottom line, you won't lose weight if you are eating and drinking too much and that includes any belly fat. I recommend tracking your nutrition in an app like My Fitness Pal.
2. Non-Bloating Foods and Drink - Not only is it important to watch how much you are eating and drinking, it is also important to make sure your calories are healthier and not ones that will naturally make you bloated. Focus on foods with lots of fiber, little saturated fat, lean proteins and only whole grains instead of anything made with white flour. Watch your salt intake and stop or limit soda.
3. Cardio - Many studies show that aerobic exercise helps to get rid of excess weight. A recent study from Duke found that jogging the equivalent of 12 miles a week will help you lose belly fat. You don't have to jog to get this benefit. Anything you are doing to get your heart rate up will help, try to work to the point that you don't want to talk (but could if you needed to) at least 20 minutes a day. Walk fast, take a dance class or kickboxing class. Also, some strength training done in a circuit will elevate your heart rate just as much as steady state cardio. Find the type of aerobic exercise you like, and do that!
4. Strength Training - Adding in strength training at least two times a week is a good thing for everyone but also helps with reducing excess belly fat. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, which means the more calories you burn. Be sure to work all of your muscles with either body weight or weight resistance.
5. More Sleep, Less Stress - According to a 2010 Wake Forest University study, routinely getting 5 hours or less of sleep per night increases visceral fat levels. Aim to get 7-8 hours a night. Getting less increases levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which is linked to belly fat. Guess what else increases your cortisol levels? Yep, that's right, stress. Be sure to have strategies to reduce your stress like a hobby you enjoy, meditation or talking with a friend.
This is a quick overview of just a few things that may impact your waist line. Also, keep in mind everyone’s body is different. There are other factors that can contribute to weight loss or gain and specifically how your stomach looks. Be patient, work on the five things above and watch your middle shrink!
Looking for great exercises to help tone your body? Check out our exercise library for video instructions on great exercises to add to your routine.