Fat loss takes time, and the best results come slowly -- 1 to 2 pounds a week. Burning off a significant amount of belly fat in 10 days is practically impossible. Instead of following a crash diet, use the 10 days to jump-start a healthier diet and exercise program to help you trim belly fat, a dangerous kind that puts you at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, dementia, breast cancer in women and type 2 diabetes. If the dietary changes and exercise strategies are dramatic for you, you may shed a couple of pounds of fat as well as some excess water weight in 10 days.
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The Problems With Belly Fat
Belly fat is different from the subcutaneous, or below-the-skin, fat found largely on the hips, thighs and arms. It's deep, visceral fat that surrounds internal organs and acts almost like an endocrine organ, secreting harmful compounds that increase body inflammation. Men tend to accumulate belly fat more than women, but around the time of menopause, hormones cause women to gain belly fat too. A belly that measures 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women creates a higher risk of potential health complications; 47 inches for men and 44 inches for women equals a very high risk.
Given these issues, it's understandable that you want to lose the fat in a fast 10 days. But, be realistic: It took you a few years to accumulate the excess weight, so it's going to take at least several months of hard work to lose it.
Use Traditional Weight-Loss Strategies
Lose weight by creating a calorie deficit, which means you consume fewer calories than you use daily. A 500- to 1,000-calorie deficit is usually recommended because it leads to a manageable, sustainable 1- to 2-pound loss per week. You don't have to resort to extreme or dangerous methods to create this size of a deficit, and it's more likely to lead to lasting body changes.
A combination of eating healthful foods in moderate portions and moving more helps you create this deficit. No matter how quickly you want to lose weight, resorting to quick-loss schemes such as fasts, juice cleanses or weight-loss supplements is not a sound approach. When you lose weight this quickly, the fat often returns just as quickly. They can leave you without important nutrients, cause nausea and make you feel weak. If you're a woman, aim to consume at least 1,200 calories per day. A 1,400-calorie limit is even more manageable and can still lead to gradual weight loss. Men may need more calories to meet basal metabolic needs and allow for exercise. A dietitian can help determine the best calorie level for you.
Diet Away Your Belly
To revise your diet for a slimmer belly, focus on what you can eat. Fill your plate with plenty of fresh, fibrous vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, lettuce and asparagus. Have a 2- to 4-ounce serving of lean protein with them; options include flank steak, pork tenderloin, eggs, chicken breast or tofu. To finish your plate, add about 1/2 cup of whole grains or starchy vegetables, such as sweet potato. Always choose whole grains, such as brown rice, 100 percent whole-wheat bread or barley, instead of white bread, white rice or pasta.
Limit your overall intake of refined grains in other forms, too -- especially baked treats and processed snack foods. Sugar, particularly in the form of sweetened drinks, should also be eliminated. Keep your saturated fat intake from full-fat dairy and fatty cuts of meat to 5 to 6 percent of your daily calorie intake, as recommended by the American Heart Association. A study published in a 2014 issue of Diabetes reported that overeating saturated fats can cause your body to store excess fat in the belly.
All of these changes, especially eating more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, can help you reduce belly fat. But, substantial fat loss will still take more than 10 days.
Get Your Body Moving
Exercise helps you reduce your waist size, but you're unlikely to see the dramatic results you seek in 10 days. Adopt a physically-active lifestyle, not just a 10-day fitness binge. Moving more, through at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity most days and extra movement like taking the stairs and pacing while taking phone calls, helps you burn a greater number of calories daily. To see faster results, exercise for a longer duration and at a higher intensity. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you're new to working out, have a preexisting medical condition or are coming back after a long hiatus.
Sit-ups aren't going to slim your tummy in 10 days; they'll just strengthen the muscles that lie underneath it. A comprehensive strength-training program that targets all your major muscle groups won't bring about results in 10 days either. But, when done consistently for several months, strength training will start to change the ratio of fat to lean mass within your body. The more lean mass you have, the healthier and stronger your body. A leaner body also burns a greater number of calories at rest, which helps you keep visceral fat at bay.
- Harvard Health Publications: Taking Aim at Belly Fat
- American Council on Exercise: 6 Strategies for Losing the Spare Tire
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- Go Ask Alice: Ideal Caloric Intake
- American Heart Association: Saturated Fat
- Diabetes: Overfeeding Polyunsaturated and Saturated Fat Causes Distinct Effects on Liver and Visceral Fat Accumulation in Humans