Some people struggle to lose belly fat more than others. Unfortunately, carrying weight around your midsection is partially a genetic factor. Too much weight can be dangerous to your health and can lead to heart disease and diabetes. If you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, there are a few diet and exercise tricks you can try to help you lose stubborn belly fat.
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Although you may be eating a healthy diet, you may not be aware of how many calories you are consuming. To successfully lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. If you track your calories, you may find you are actually eating more than you think. Incorrect serving sizes often result in higher calorie consumption. To lose about a pound a week, you need to cut 500 calories per day from your diet. However, don't consume fewer than 1,200 calories daily, as your body will shut down nonessential functions, such as your reproductive system, in an effort to conserve energy and stave off starvation.
Better Fats in Your Diet
In addition to reducing calories, you may want to incorporate monounsaturated fats into your diet. The goal is not to consume more monounsaturated fat, but rather to replace the unhealthy saturated and trans fats you currently eat. Your body needs some fat so it can absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A, D, E, and K, and fatty acids, essential for brain functions and controlling inflammation. Try adding avocado to your sandwich in place of mayonnaise. Use olive or canola oil instead of butter, margarine or shortening when cooking or baking. Nuts and seeds are also high in monounsaturated fats. A small amount of fat in your diet makes you feel full, or satisfied, and helps prevent overeating.
The reason aerobic exercise is so effective is because it elevates your heart rate. Doing hours of sit-ups won’t help you reduce fat; rather, it will help you tone your muscles. You need to incorporate aerobic activities into your exercise routine to burn calories and see results. Change up your routine by trying biking, running, swimming or another sport. Aim to complete at least 30 minutes of exercise a minimum of five days a week. To maintain your current weight, you should get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. To lose weight, you should participate in additional aerobic activities -- 300 minutes or more per week.
Strength training is equally as important as aerobic exercise in reducing belly fat. Strength training helps you tone, condition and build muscles. When you build up your muscles, you also increase your metabolism, so even at rest your body will burn more calories. Don't focus on spot reducing, but rather on overall strength training. If you don’t like lifting weights, try using resistance bands. Aim to strength train at least two days a week to see the best results.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Weight-It's Not a Diet, It's a Lifestyle!
- Harvard School of Public Health: Abdominal Fat and What to do About It
- Rush University Medical Center: An Expert Opinion: Is There Really "One Trick" to Losing Belly Fat?
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Dietary Fats Explained
- American Council on Exercise: So, You Want to Spot Reduce? Here's How