If you cut calories and stick with a regular exercise routine, you can lose weight in two weeks. Depending on how many pounds you drop, you may see a change in waist circumference. But don’t set your goals too high -- spot reduction is a myth -- as you lose weight, fat disappears from the entire body. The good news is that sticking with a healthy weight-loss program -- even if it takes longer than two weeks -- is sure to make belly fat disappear.
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Targeted Belly Exercise and Spot Reduction
No matter what you’ve heard, you can’t lose fat in one specific area of your body, according to the American Council on Exercise. Consistently exercising muscles in your belly will strengthen your abdomen -- and keeping these core muscles strong supports your back and lets you safely bend, twist and stay active -- but it doesn’t burn belly fat. The Rehabilitation and Research Development Service of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs puts it bluntly for their rehab patients -- abdominal exercises do not spot-reduce fat from around the belly.
It may sound disheartening to say that you can’t spot reduce, but the point is to create realistic expectations about what you'll accomplish in 14 days. While you can drop pounds in two weeks, it’s not enough time to make a huge dent in stored fat, including belly fat. The bottom line is -- set an achievable goal and be prepared to stick with a diet and exercise program for as long as it takes.
Combine Strength Training With Aerobics
Following a regular exercise regimen helps you pare down overall body fat, including belly fat. While you maximize weight loss by boosting the amount of time spent exercising over an intensive two weeks, it’s better to develop a plan that’s sustainable in the long term to help keep weight off. You'll also strengthen bones and muscles and lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
If you don’t already exercise, check with your healthcare provider before you begin, start gradually and work up to getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and two or more days of muscle-strengthening resistance activities weekly. Plan to spend about 20 to 50 minutes in each strength training session, depending on the number and type of exercises in your regimen. Don't hesitate to consult a personal trainer or physical therapist if you're not familiar with strength training; it's essential to learn the proper form and get guidance for developing a program.
Resistance training strengthens and builds muscles by making them work against a force, whether the force comes from lifting weights, pushing against a wall, working with resistance bands or using your own weight, which happens with push-ups, squats and gymnastics. Aerobic exercises, also called endurance activities, move large groups of muscles in the body, which increases your heart rate. Choose aerobic exercise you enjoy, whether it's swimming, bicycling, dancing, soccer, running or walking.
Reduce Calories to Lose Fat
To lose belly fat, you’ll need to consume fewer calories than your body burns. You have the best chance of keeping the weight off when you lose at a gradual rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week. If you want to push further and lose more, you’ll need to figure out if you can eliminate enough calories to make it happen. Start by using the online calculator provided by the Baylor College of Medicine to learn the number of daily calories needed to maintain your current weight. Subtract 500 calories from daily maintenance calories to lose 2 pounds in two weeks, or 1,000 calories to drop 4 pounds. After you get a daily calorie goal, it’s time to make sure it provides sufficient calories.
To have enough energy to keep your heart, brains and organs working, women need at least 1,200 calories daily, while men should consume no fewer than 1,500 calories. If your weight-loss calorie goal falls close to the minimum recommended calories, then it’s a realistic goal. Just remember that it’s not healthy to consume 800 calories or less on a daily basis unless it’s under the supervision of a physician. While there’s some wiggle room between 800 and 1,200 or 1,500 calories, anyone consuming less than the minimum recommended calories should be monitored by health professionals, suggests the University of California, Los Angeles.
Diet Tips to Boost Nutrients While Lowering Calories
Begin by eliminating candy, baked goods, sweetened beverages and any other foods with added sugar. A 16-ounce can of generic cola has 207 calories, large-sized fast-food drinks are double that size, with 32 ounces and 413 calories, and if you go super-sized, you'll get 44 ounces of soda and an almost unbelievable 568 calories. If you have a big sweets habit, you could knock out 500 calories or more, plus you don’t lose nutrients since added sugar is nothing but empty calories. For other carbs in your diet, boost nutrients by replacing processed carbs -- white rice and products made from white four -- with whole-grain carbs.
Rush University Medical Center suggests front-loading your meal with vegetables, which are low in calories yet packed with nutrients, fiber and water. Their fiber and water contribute bulk that fills you up and makes it easier to eat less. Don’t skimp on protein when you diet, as it prevents the breakdown of muscle. The University of California, Los Angeles, recommends getting 0.8 grams of protein for every pound of body weight; just be sure to choose lean protein. Good choices include beans, fish, skinless poultry, and lean cuts of beef and pork, such as round steaks, top loin, top and bottom round roasts, and pork loin or tenderloin.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research Development: Abdominals
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight: What is Healthy Weight Loss?
- Baylor College of Medicine: Adult Energy Needs and BMI Calculator
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Healthy Eating Plan
- University of California, Los Angeles: Low Calorie Diet (LCD)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Beverages, Carbonated, Cola, Regular
- Rush University Medical Center: Is There One Trick to Losing Belly Fat?
- University of California, Los Angeles: Protein
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Choose My Plate: Tips to Help You Make Wise Choices From the Protein Foods Group
- American College of Sports Medicine: Exercise Prescription: Resistance Training