A protruding and flabby belly is much more than just unattractive -- it can lead to chronic back pain and -- even worse -- diabetes. Abdominal weight gain is usually caused by a greater number of calories entering the body than there are calories being burned. Reshaping your belly can prove challenging because your body won't respond to simply performing exercises that target that area. However, there are steps that you can take to not only increase weight loss in the abdominal region but also improve your quality of life.
Be conscious of what you're putting in your mouth. Cutting back on calories is more than just trying to stay below your daily goal. For example, many canned soups have a decent amount of calories and are full of veggies, but they are extremely high in sodium, which can cause bloating now and high blood pressure later. Consult with your dietitian or simply follow the food pyramid to ensure you're getting the right amount of nutrients from each food group.
Limit your sugar intake and increase your fiber. The body converts foods high in sugar to energy and expects you to use it immediately. When you don't, these calories are converted into fat and stored, usually in the one place you wish it wouldn't go -- the abdominal region. Fiber not only helps you to feel full, it eliminates toxins and improves blood-sugar regulation. The American Dietetics Association recommends that women consume 25 g and men get 38 g.
Perform both aerobic and non-aerobic exercises for a minimum of 45 minutes, at least five days a week. If you're tight on time, a good idea would be to perform your aerobic exercises one day for at least 30 minutes and perform your non-aerobic exercises the next. Either way, try to keep your heart rate in your target heart rate zone for at least 10 minutes at a time to ensure you're burning as many calories as possible.
Take a Pilates class once or twice a week. Pilates is a total body workout that develops core strength, overall flexibility and coordination, and increases body control and awareness. If you have a protruding belly, chances are high that you also suffer from back pain as well. Adding a few classes to your fitness routine will not only help to strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, it will strengthen your back and lower your chances for further back pain or injury.
Get six to eight hours of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation lowers leptin, a protein that is responsible for suppressing your appetite and telling your brain when your stomach is full. To add salt to the wound, it can can also cause you to think you're hungry when you aren't -- so not only are you eating when you're not actually hungry, you're overeating.
- ACE Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise
- Stronger Abs and Back; Dean Brittenham
- Pilates; Rael Isacowitz
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Back to Basics for Healthy Weight Loss
- President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition: Physical Activity Guidelines For Americans