If you notice that your waist is gradually expanding, a lifestyle makeover might be in order. That jiggle around your middle doesn't just affect your appearance, it also endangers your health, because it's linked to serious conditions, such as heart disease, dementia, asthma and breast cancer. Adopting a healthy, stress-free lifestyle that includes a sensible diet and regular exercise can stop belly fat in its tracks; you can slim down your belly and keep the weight off.
Balance your caloric intake to prevent weight gain. Monitor how many calories you eat on a daily basis. If you're gaining weight, reduce your caloric intake; a deficit of 500 calories a day can make you lose one pound a week. If you're already at your ideal weight and just want to prevent a tubby tummy, maintain your current caloric intake.
Eat a nutritious diet that includes foods from all the food groups: veggies, fruits, whole grains, reduced-fat dairy and lean protein. Avoid sacrificing nutrients to lose weight or to prevent belly fat. Limit foods that might increase belly fat, including those high in saturated and trans fats, which are present in butter, lard, fatty meats, and processed, packaged and commercial fast foods. Also, limit foods that are high in cholesterol, sugar, and salt.
Include avocados, green tea, and monounsaturated fats, or MUFAS, that are present in seeds, olive oil and nuts, in your diet. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, the vice-chair and professor of surgery at Columbia University, these can help you burn belly fat.
Practice portion control to prevent eating too many calories and gaining weight. Compare your portions to the recommended serving sizes on the nutritional labels of the foods you eat. The portions you eat might be larger than the recommended nutritional servings mentioned on the packaging labels. In this case, reduce your portion sizes.
Engage in 150 to 300 minutes of moderate cardio a week. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests doing at least 150 minutes of cardio if you're already at your desired weight. If you're slowly gaining weight, they recommend gradually increasing your cardio to 300 minutes a week. Once you've reached your desired weight, you might have to continue with 300 minutes of cardio to maintain it. Ride a bike, go jogging, jump rope, swim laps, play tennis, climb stairs, or use a rowing or elliptical machine.
Incorporate high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, into two of your cardio sessions to optimize caloric and fat burn. According to the American Council on Exercise, HIIT can effectively reduce body and belly fat. During your workout, alternate between a one-minute vigorous pace and a two-minute moderate pace. For instance, go from jog into a sprint, or from an easy-to-maintain bicycling pace into a vigorous cycling pace.
Schedule strength training on two nonconsecutive days of the week. Target your major muscle groups including your back, chest, legs, arms, shoulders, hips, and abdomen. The muscle tissue you stimulate burns more calories and takes up less space compared to fat; you lose pounds and inches. Perform exercises, such as bench presses, lunges, squats, pushups, deadlifts, lat pull-downs, and bent-over rows.
Work your abdominals with targeted exercises during your strength-training sessions. Although these exercises don't burn fat, they tone and shape your muscles. When excess belly fat reduces, you'll have a tight, well-defined midsection. Include exercises, such as basic crunches, bicycle crunches, reverse crunches, and front and side planks.
Manage stress in your life to prevent stimulating the production of cortisol in your body. According to the University of New Mexico, this stress hormone awakens hard-to-combat cravings for fatty, diet-sabotaging foods, and it can also relocate fat to your midsection. Practice yoga or Tai Chi, meditate, take deep breaths, and get enough sleep at night so you're less likely to let stressors get the better of you.
- Harvard Health Publications: Taking Aim at Belly Fat
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Aim for a Healthy Weight
- Oprah.com: Get Rid of Belly Fat
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for American
- American Council on Exercise: High-Intensity Interval Training
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Lifting Your Way to Weight Loss
- University of New Mexico: Cortisol Connection: Tips on Managing Stress and Weight