To the disappointment of both men and women alike, spot reducing or selectively shedding fat on the body isn't possible. Fat is gained and lost all over, no matter where you may happen to carry a little extra.
However, with some straightforward changes to your exercise and eating patterns, you can reduce stomach size — and even ditch the most stubborn belly fat.
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Read more: The 3 Secrets to Losing Belly Fat
Up Your Exercise Routine
Weight training is your strongest ally against stubborn belly fat. The key to burning fat is strengthening or revving your metabolism, which is largely determined by your body composition (your proportion of body fat to muscle mass), according to the Mayo Clinic.
In order to improve your body composition, introduce strength training into your regular workout routine at least twice per week, the Mayo Clinic recommends. Building your muscle mass will help you burn more calories, even at rest, since muscle mass burns more than fat. Incorporate compound movements (like the deadlift or overhead press) for a total-body burn.
While the weight room is your best friend for burning belly fat, don't totally neglect cardio, either. Aerobic exercise — whether it's jogging, hiking or biking — will up your calorie expenditure and promote heart health. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
Adopt Healthy Eating Habits
There's some validity in the concept that "abs are built in the kitchen." Nutrition plays a big role in reducing stomach size, and eating habits are often where people struggle the most. Nevertheless, avoiding processed foods and adopting a healthier diet will bring you much closer to your goal.
When it comes to veggies, don't hold back! Vegetables are not only full of essential vitamins and minerals but also provide plenty of fiber in your diet, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Not only does fiber help keep digestion moving, it's a good tool for weight management, as it slows the speed at which food passes through your stomach, keeping you full for longer.
Increasing your daily protein intake will also help ward off hunger and promote muscle growth, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Introduce more lean protein options including chicken, turkey and fish. Aim for about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, roughly 56 grams per day for men (and 46 grams per day for women).
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