How to Reduce Waist Circumference

To reduce your waist size, it's essential to adopt healthy eating habits and incorporate regular exercise into your routine. Although targeted abdominal exercises such as sit-ups might tighten the muscles around your midsection, they won't eliminate belly fat. Instead of attempting to spot-reduce fat around your waistline, aim for overall fat loss through a healthy diet and both aerobic exercise and strength training.

Lifestyle changes will remove inches from your waist. (Image: GlobalStock/E+/GettyImages)

Tip

You can exercise to reduce your waist and tummy, but keep your focus on overall body fat reduction through both exercise and a healthy diet.

The Importance of Fat Loss

It's to your benefit to your reduce your waist size, given the health dangers associated with a larger midsection. Belly fat is classified as either subcutaneous, meaning the fatty tissue just beneath the skin, or visceral, meaning the deep abdominal fat that lies beneath the abdominal wall. Visceral fat is the more dangerous of the two, as it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, osteoarthritis and other health conditions.

In contrast, even a modest weight loss can improve your health and lower the risk factors. By combining exercise and a healthy diet, you can reduce your waist size and achieve your health goals.

In a study of overweight and obese adults who enrolled in a behavioral weight loss program, published in November 2015 in Translational Behavioral Medicine, researchers analyzed the effects of a 5 to 10 percent weight loss. The 15-week program included a calorie-restricted diet, plus roughly 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity per week.

Patients who lost 5 to 10 percent showed reductions in triglycerides, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, as well as improvements in cardiovascular risk factors. Those patients with a weight loss greater than 10 percent showed even greater improvements.

Exercise to Reduce Waist Size

You can exercise to reduce your waist and tummy while trimming overall body fat by combining aerobic and strength training. You'll need to burn about 500 calories a day to drop 1 pound of fat per week.

Aim to complete at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, such as brisk walking or cycling. You can also perform 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity weekly, such as running or high-intensity intervals, or combine moderate and vigorous activity throughout the week.

In addition to cardiovascular exercise, incorporate strength training at least two days a week to reduce your waist size. Strength training will help you build muscle, which burns more calories at rest than fat. You can strength train with dumbbells, weight machines, resistance bands or even your own body weight. Body-weight exercises include lunges, squats, abdominal crunches, push-ups and planks. When using weights, perform about eight to 12 repetitions of the exercise for three to five sets, gradually increasing the weight each set.

Adopt a Healthy Diet

Although you can exercise to reduce your waist and tummy, a healthy diet is critical to your long-term weight-loss success. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020, recommends a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, lean proteins, and minimal saturated and trans fats and added sugars.

You need not eliminate your favorite foods entirely, but eat them only infrequently and reduce your portion size. For example, if you enjoy eating chocolate, eat only a small square rather than the entire chocolate bar.

As you work to reduce your waist size, it might be helpful to reduce your carbohydrate intake. Sugar, white flour and starchy foods such as white potatoes are particularly likely to spike your blood sugar levels and encourage fat storage in your body.

You can also try intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating to help improve your body's insulin response and trim visceral fat. Either limit your food intake to specific hours — say, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. — or fast for at least 14 hours following your final meal of the day.

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