It's not a secret that men are prone to storing fat in their bellies. Men with a waist circumference of greater than 40 inches are at an increased risk of health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. To reduce belly fat, you must lose total body fat, because spot reducing fat solely from your belly is a myth. A healthy, reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise is the only way to get to a slimmer waist.
It's All About the Calories
By burning more calories than you take in on a daily basis you can lose weight. You can't choose where fat stores in your body, though, and you also can't select a specific area that you want to lose it from. A daily deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories can result in the safe, expert-recommended rate of 1 to 2 pounds lost per week. This deficit can come from dietary changes, exercise or both. With weight loss, your overall amount of body fat will shrink, including that excess fat around your middle. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, men generally lose weight when consuming 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day.
Exercise to Burn Calories
Increasing your physical activity can help you burn calories and lose weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests doing 30 to 60 minutes of moderate cardio on five days of the week, and incorporating strength training on at least two days. Cardio can be anything from a brisk walk or jog to bicycling, swimming and jumping rope. Strength training requires you to work all major muscle groups including your chest, abs, back, shoulders, hips, arms and legs. During cardio, you should exercise at an intensity that allows you to talk, but not sing. During strength training you should use enough weight so you can't do another repetition at the end of each set.
Targeted Abdominal Exercises
Abdominal-strengthening exercises won't touch belly fat, they only strengthen the muscles underneath that layer of fat. A full-body, strength-training routine works best to reduce your waist. The muscle tissue you build stimulates your metabolism and uses up more calories than fat. If you solely do abdominal exercises and build your stomach muscles without reducing fat, the muscles can actually push your fat forward, making your belly appear bigger.
Watch What You Eat
Although exercise burns calories, adjusting your diet can also contribute to your daily caloric deficit. Calories from sugar, which are present in foods and beverages such as cookies, doughnuts, soda, candy and muffins, greatly contribute to belly fat. Reducing your intake of these can help slim your waist. Eating smaller portions and replacing high-calorie, diet-sabotaging foods with low-calorie, nutritious foods can also help. Nutrients should mainly come from whole grains, low-fat or non-fat dairy, lean protein, fruits and veggies. Read food labels and keep a food journal so you can track your caloric intake and detect pitfalls early on.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: How Are Overweight and Obesity Diagnosed?
- Rush University Medical Center: An Expert Opinion: Is There Really "One Trick" to Losing Belly Fat?
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: How Are Overweight and Obesity Treated?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Helpguide.org: Healthy Weight Loss & Dieting Tips
- Ask the Trainer: Oblique Exercises