If you're carrying a little excess weight in your midsection, you're far from alone; 54 percent of Americans suffer from abdominal obesity, according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. When you sit down, that abdominal fat can cause your skin to roll and crease, creating horizontal lines in your skin that might be visible even when you stand. Lowering your body fat can help reduce the appearance of fat lines on your stomach and so can improving your posture.
Reduce Your Calorie Intake to Burn Fat
Burning more calories than you eat is essential for losing body fat, which will help get rid of the fat lines on your stomach. While you can't just lose weight from your stomach, you'll reduce your overall body fat and slim down everywhere -- your face, neck, arms, stomach, hips and legs.
Resist the urge to go for fast weight loss by cutting every calorie possible, and instead go for manageable weight loss -- generally 1 to 2 pounds per week -- which you'll get by cutting 500 to 1,000 calories each day. Most people will be able to manage that calorie deficit without feeling deprived or going below 1,400 calories daily -- the minimum you need to avoid "starvation mode," according to the University of Michigan. An online calculator can help you estimate how many calories you burn daily, so you can subtract the 500 to 1,000 calories for weight loss, or a nutrition professional can recommend a calorie intake to help you lose weight.
Make Healthy Food Choices
Your diet to reduce fat lines on your stomach should emphasize healthy complex carbohydrates, according to Harvard Medical School. Think whole grains like quinoa and brown rice, along with 100 percent whole-wheat bread and pasta, as well as lean proteins. Opt for healthy fish, like salmon, along with skinless poultry breast meat, as sources of lean protein. Vegetarians can get plenty of lean protein, too; go for nuts, beans, nonfat dairy and eggs. Focus on including plenty of fresh or frozen produce at each meal and load up on non-starchy vegetables to help you feel full on fewer calories.
Cut out processed meats and sources of trans fats -- the artery-clogging fat found in many processed foods. Instead, get your fat from heart-healthy sources like fish, avocado and olive oil.
For breakfast, try a piece of whole-grain toast topped with steamed spinach and a poached egg, or a bowl of oatmeal flavored with fresh blueberries and roughly chopped almonds. Snack on a small vegetable-based smoothie, an ounce of nuts, a cup of berries or a hard-boiled egg. Serve a large kale salad for lunch, topped with red kidney beans or chopped chicken breast, and an olive oil vinaigrette for healthy protein and fat. Try a chicken, ginger and broccoli stir-fry served over brown rice for dinner, or make a hearty vegetarian bean and quinoa chili and serve it on a bed of greens for a fat-loss-friendly dinner.
Burn Off Stomach Lines With Cardio
Aerobic exercise allows you to burn calories and trim stomach fat, so you'll reduce the appearance of fat lines. You should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily, and consider upping it to 60 minutes for better results, recommends Harvard Medical School.
Choose aerobic activities that you enjoy, and which suit your fitness level. If you're a beginner, or you suffer from joint pain, for example, try adding a brisk walk or a water aerobics class to your daily routine. If you're already performing some physical activity, try upping the intensity; for example, try alternating jogging and walking, increase the incline on the treadmill on your next run or up the resistance on the elliptical machine to burn more calories. Avoid boredom by mixing in different types of aerobic workouts; try a dance class instead of your usual treadmill workout or opt for cross-country skiing instead of working out inside.
Improve Your Posture With Strength Training
Poor posture might worsen stomach lines, even if you're not significantly overweight. When you slouch and slump, you shorten your abdominals, pushing the fat on your stomach to create rolls and creases. Improving your posture helps you sit up straight, which avoids stomach rolling and makes you look thinner.
Sitting up straight requires abdominal strength, so do a variety of planks, side planks, and wood chops to strengthen the muscles around your midsection. Back and posterior shoulder exercises -- like reverse flys, inverted rows and wide-grip rows -- also help pull your shoulders back and your shoulder blades together to minimize slumping. Follow your strength workouts with stretches that focus on your hamstrings, hip flexors and pectoral muscles -- muscle groups that are often tight in people who sit during the day, which contribute to poor posture.
If you prefer working out in a group setting, try a Pilates or yoga class. Both strengthen your abdomen and core, emphasize the postural muscles and improve flexibility so you look taller and leaner.
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Trends in Mean Waist Circumference and Abdominal Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2012
- Harvard Medical School: Abdominal Fat and What To Do About It
- Baylor College of Medicine: Adult Energy Needs Calculator
- Palm Beach State University: http://www.palmbeachstate.edu/wellnesscenter/Documents/lake_worth/bestworstfoods.pdf
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- University of Michigan: Weight Reduction