Muffin tops are a cute breakfast treat, but there's nothing cute about the excess fat that you gain from eating too many. Getting rid of your own personal muffin top -- that ring of fat that pours over your waistband -- requires dietary focus and, of course, physical activity.
No magic moves target your middle fat. You can't twist or extend it away. Only a total-body fat-loss approach will succeed. As your body loses fat, your low back pudge and muffin top will shrink. You may want these areas to go first, but your body is ultimately in charge.
How Fat Loss Happens
Before you can lose the back fat and muffin top, you must understand how you lose fat. This will keep you from wasting time with alleged spot-training quick fixes and fad diets, so you can get on with your strategy and see results.
Fat loss happens when you consume fewer calories than you burn. Of course, some cases of extreme insulin resistance or metabolic conditions can mess with this fact, but for most people, it's a simple equation of calories in versus calories out. Consume 3,500 fewer calories than you use up, and you lose a pound.
Create that deficit by combining a healthy, portion-controlled diet with physical activity. A 500-calorie-per-day deficit yields a healthy rate of loss of about 1 pound per week.
Now, it becomes a question of where you lose that fat. Unfortunately, you can't choose. Your body stores fat in sites predetermined by genetics and hormones -- it's in control. As you lose fat, these fat storage sites shrink; eventually, it'll be the turn of the lower back and muffin top to yield. How lean you'll have to get for that to happen is impossible to say -- some people may lose this area first, others may find it the most stubborn of fat storage sites.
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Monitor Your Diet
High-fat, low-carb, low-calorie or low-fat? Pick your dietary preference, but ultimately it comes down to keeping your calorie intake in check. A study in a 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine compared diets with different macronutrient contents and found that as long as participants could stick with eating fewer calories, they lost weight regardless of the diet's composition.
If you like to obsess over every bite, go for it -- but eating sensibly and passing on the foods that are most likely to lead to fat storage -- excessive sugar, alcohol, refined grains and saturated fats -- also works. Track your intake with an online diary, such as the one found here on Livestrong. Focus your eating efforts on lean proteins -- chicken and fish, for example -- fresh green vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats from nuts and avocados.
You've got to make an effort to burn calories, and one of the most expedient ways to do so is through cardio exercise. If you already get moving a few times per week, congratulations. Work up to at least 250 minutes per week at a moderate intensity to lose pounds, says the American College of Sports Medicine.
Ideas for moderate-intensity exercise include brisk walking, jogging, cycling, dancing and swimming. The point is to move the large muscle groups and get your heart beating and your breath rate increasing.
Once you've gotten to this level of work, kick up the intensity at two or three of your workouts per week. High-intensity exercise expedites your fat loss. Perform intervals, by alternating short bursts of all-out effort -- such as sprinting -- with lower-intensity effort -- such as walking -- for 20 to 45 minutes at a time. A study published in the Journal of Obesity in 2008 showed that this type of workout, performed three times per week for 15 weeks, lead to superior fat loss and trunk fat loss than steady-state workouts.
Face the Resistance
Resistance training is another major step in your muffin-top and lower-back fat elimination strategy. Specific exercises can't squeeze out the fat from your trunk, but strength-training contributes to an overall leaner body. You'll gain lean mass, which makes you burn more calories all day long because muscle is more metabolically active than fat. Muscle is also tighter and tauter, so you look fit and less jiggly.
Aim for a total-body approach, working all the major muscle groups at least twice per week. That means moves such as rows for your back, presses for your chest, lat raises for your shoulders, curls for your biceps, extensions for your triceps, squats for your hips and thighs, leg curls for your hamstrings and step-ups for your glutes. Start with light or no weights and progress to heavier ones overtime.