You can continue leaving the top button of your jeans unbuttoned and wearing baggy shirts, or you can take action against abdominal fat. If you're ready to fight the fat, commit to lowering your caloric intake and increasing your activity level. How long it takes you to whittle your waistline depends on a variety of factors, but if you stick with it over time, you'll be rewarded with a flatter belly.
Banishing Belly Fat
Your muffin top didn't appear overnight, so you shouldn't expect to lose it immediately. To gain that weight, you likely ate more calories than your body burned for a few months or a few years. To lose the belly, you'll have to create a caloric deficit, meaning you take in fewer calories than you burn each day. When you do this, your body will turn to your fat stores for energy and the weight will come off. How much you lose depends on how big a calorie deficit you create. Remember that you can't spot reduce belly fat; you will lose weight from all over your body, and eventually some of that fat will come off your midsection.
Safe Weight Loss
If you're thinking about going on a starvation diet and spending all day at the gym in the hopes of losing your muffin top by the end of next week, hold on a minute. It's important to lose weight slowly, because side effects can occur with rapid weight loss. Restricting your caloric intake too much can prevent you from taking in enough food to get the essential nutrients your body needs. If you take in too few calories, you may feel fatigued and depressed. Generally, you should not reduce your caloric intake below 1,200 per day.
How Much is Enough?
A general rule of thumb is that 1 pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. That means by creating a caloric deficit of 500 to 1,000 each day, you can expect to lose about 1 to 2 pounds a week. Keeping that 1,200-calorie minimum in mind, figure out how much you currently eat by tracking your intake for a week. Then figure out the most that you can reduce your intake by to lose weight safely. If your magic number is 800, you could expect to lose a pound of fat every four to five days.
Tips for Weight Loss
The first thing you should do to lose belly fat is to get active, with 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily. A study by Duke University researchers revealed that abundant exercise can quickly lead to a significant reduction in belly fat. Include strength training as part of your regimen. A University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine study found that resistance training significantly reduced abdominal fat gain in premenopausal women, compared with non-exercisers. Your diet is critical, too. Practice portion control, and focus on complex carbohydrates, including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean protein. Avoid simple carbs, such as white bread, pasta and rice, and sugary sweets and beverages.
- Waldo County General Hospital: How to Understand the Risks of Eating Too Few Calories
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Balancing Calories
- Harvard Health Publications: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- Duke Medicine: Physical Inactivity Rapidly Increases Visceral Fat; Exercise Can Reverse Accumulation
- Penn Medicine: Pump It Up: Women May Prevent or Delay “Middle-aged Spread” by Lifting Weights