Excess padding around your stomach and rib cage can include subcutaneous and visceral fat. The latter increases your risk of health conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Reducing belly fat can improve your health and is done by losing weight from your entire body, as spot reduction doesn't work. You'll need to create a caloric deficit through diet and exercise to reduce the fat from your ribs and stomach.
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Creating a Caloric Deficit
Helpguide.org favors gradual weight loss that doesn't require drastic, hard-to-maintain tactics. Fast weight loss is often that of water weight and muscle tissue, and they recommend losing weight at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week. To achieve this, burn calories through regular exercise and reduce calories from food. Since 1 pound of fat has 3,500 calories, aim for a deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories a day.
Burning Calories with Cardio
Cardiovascular exercise raises your heart rate, speeds up your breathing, burns calories and promotes weight loss. Experts recommend doing up to 300 minutes of moderate cardio a week to lose weight. This can include jogging, bicycling, swimming, jumping rope and climbing stairs. By incorporating short, vigorous sprints into your cardio routine, you can turn your workout into high-intensity interval training. For instance, alternate between a jog and a sprint. According to study results published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, high-intensity intervals can effectively reduce belly fat.
Strengthening Muscles with Resistance Training
Resistance exercises stimulate and preserve muscle tissue. This is essential if you want to lose the flab around your ribs. Because muscle is metabolically active, it uses up many more calories than fat to maintain itself, and you'll burn calories even when you're resting. The American Heart Association suggests doing full-body resistance training at least two days a week. Work the muscles in your arms, legs, abdomen, hips, chest, shoulders and back, with eight to 12 repetitions and two to three sets of each exercise. Include exercises that target multiple muscles simultaneously, such as pushups, lat pull-downs, bench presses, squats, dead lifts and lunges.
Targeting Your Abdominals
Part of your resistance-training routine should include abdominal exercises that work your abs in all planes of motion. These exercises won't reduce fat but will strengthen and tone your muscles so that when the excess fat reduces, muscle definition will show. In addition to basic crunches, front planks, reverse crunches and V-ups, which mainly work your rectus abdominis at the front of your waistline, also perform bicycle crunches, side planks, torso twists while lying face up on a stability ball and wood chops with a dumbbell, medicine ball or high-pulley cable. These exercises target your obliques at the sides of your waist in the area where rib fat tends to settle.
Making Dietary Changes
Small dietary changes can reduce your caloric intake and contribute to weight loss. Consuming smaller portions, limiting saturated and trans fats, and emphasizing vegetables, whole grains, fruits, reduced-fat dairy and lean protein can make a big difference. Choose low-calorie foods over foods that have a lot of calories. For instance, eat fruit instead of dessert, snack on air-popped popcorn instead of chips and drink water instead of soda.
- Harvard Health Publications: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- Weight Training for Life; James Hesson
- Helpguide.org: Healthy Weight Loss & Dieting Tips
- American Heart Association: Losing Weight
- Medicine in Science in Sports and Exercise: Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition
- Your Personal Trainer; Douglas Brooks
- Ask the Trainer: Best Ab Exercises
- Ask the Trainer: Best Oblique Exercises