Tired of seeing a pooch in the mirror that doesn't bark? If you're looking to get rid of lower belly fat, you may be tempted to incorporate endless abdominal exercises into your daily routine. Unfortunately you can't spot reduce body fat, so no need to go overboard on the crunches and planks — according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
Instead, take a peek into your fridge and set up a few weekly gym sessions to shed excess abdominal fat for good.
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What Is Visceral Fat?
If you're struggling with a little excess fat in the lower abdomen or general midsection, familiarize yourself with what visceral fat is and what it means for your health. Unlike subcutaneous fat (the type that gathers right under the skin that you can see and feel) visceral fat lies out of reach and surrounds the internal organs, according to Harvard Health Publishing. While visceral fat can become visible over time — depending on how much builds up — it is generally deep in the abdomen.
While too much of either fat is a bad thing, visceral fat can be especially problematic for your health. It's been linked with issues like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and breathing issues, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Luckily, visceral fat can be shed with a healthy diet and regular physical activity, according to the Mayo Clinic. Replacing processed foods with healthier options and incorporating a weekly workout routine into your lifestyle can help you get rid of lower belly fat for good.
Read more: Soft Belly Fat vs. Hard Belly Fat
Eating Clean to Lose Lower Belly Fat
When it comes to cleaning up your daily diet, processed foods are the simplest place to start. It can be hard to eliminate processed foods completely, but you can swap some of highly processed foods with healthier options, advises the American Heart Association. Instead of buying bottled salad dressing, make your own healthier drizzle. Or, add fruit to your cereal and oatmeal instead of buying the sweetened, flavored varieties — which are full of refined sugars.
A healthy diet is rich in a variety of vegetables from all five veggie subgroups: Dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dietary Guidelines 2015 to 2020. Similarly, prioritizing a variety of whole fruits will provide your body with the vitamins and nutrients necessary to maintain good health.
Despite the recent, trendy emphasis on low-carb eating patterns, a healthy diet includes healthy whole grains, which are full of fiber, iron, zing and B vitamins, according to the CDC. Opt for whole grain options like brown rice, quinoa and oats.
Eating a variety of healthy, nutrient-dense protein sources is also helpful in promoting fat loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. Go with lean protein options like seafood, chicken, low-fat beef and eggs.
Get Rid of Lower Belly Fat With Exercise
As you begin to lose fat, adding in some exercise can help increase the number of calories your body burns to promote further weight loss, according to the CDC. Alongside a decrease in lower stomach fat, increasing your exercise can help reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke among other benefits, according to the CDC.
A healthy exercise routine includes about 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity and 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio activity. Moderate activity can include anything from your daily chores like light yard work and snow shoveling to actively playing with kids. Vigorous activity raises your heart rate, leaving you a little breathless — like jogging, swimming laps, jumping rope or playing sports.
A strong exercise routine will also include at least two strength training sessions per week, according to the CDC. During these twice-weekly strength sessions, aim to train all of the major muscle groups of the body, including the legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms. When in doubt, maximize your time with compound exercises like deadlifts or pull-ups, which burn more calories and work multiple muscle groups at once.