Although no shortcut exists to shed fat from just your problem areas, a total weight-loss plan will help you slim your whole body -- chest and stomach included. This requires lifestyle changes that, when made permanent, will help you maintain a healthy weight for life. Diet and physical activity are the most important factors for fat loss, so calorie reduction and increased exercise are both musts.
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You lose weight by eating fewer calories than you eat each day. The University of Minnesota Medical Center reports that woman usually lose one to two pounds per week on a diet of 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day, while men typically lose that amount eating 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day. Ensure maximum nutrition on minimal calories by choosing whole, nutrient-rich foods such as leafy greens and other vegetables, fruits in an assortment of colors, low-fat dairy, beans and whole-grains such as brown rice.
Perform Cardiovascular Exercise
Not only does cardio torch calories faster than any other activity, but these exercises will help you lose visceral fat, which sits deep in your midsection. In fact, Kerry Stewart of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine told "U.S. News and World Report" that cardio will melt visceral belly fat even faster than the subcutaneous fat you can pinch. Run, walk briskly, ride a bicycle or use cardio machines 30 to 60 minutes per day, most days of the week for fat-loss success.
Tone Your Muscles
Getting fit requires more than just fat loss -- you need to build muscle for a toned shape and a strong, capable body. Sculpt your stomach with crunches or V-ups, which involve lying flat on your back and meeting your hands and feet to form a "V" with your core. For your chest, perform pushups at home, or chest presses at the gym. Also choose weighted or body-weight exercises to tone your legs, hips, back and arms. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends two to three toning sessions per week, involving two to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions for each exercise. Your muscles should feel fatigued by the last rep.
Minimize Visceral Fat
Visceral fat behaves differently than subcutaneous fat, and may shrink with some additional lifestyle changes. Harvard Medical School recommends reducing visceral fat by consuming adequate calcium and avoiding trans fats -- often called hydrogenated vegetable oils -- and foods with glucose in the ingredients list. They also recommend sleeping about eight hours per night, reducing any stress and quitting cigarettes if you smoke.
- University of Minnesota Medical Center: Weight Loss Recommendations
- U.S. News and World Report: You May Be Fat and Not Even Know It
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
- American Council on Exercise: V-Up
- Harvard Health Publications: Taking Aim at Belly Fat