If you have a desk job, you may understand the consequences of inactivity, especially as to how sitting all day relates to the size of your belly. But, while your job may impede some of your activity, you can take steps to lose your belly, such as following a healthier diet and moving more. Consult your doctor before making changes to your diet and exercise routine.
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Count Calories While Sitting at Your Desk
No matter where the extra weight is on your body, to lose it, you must create a negative calorie balance. Monitoring your calorie intake is a good place to start, especially when your activity is limited because of your job. Keep in mind that you must create a 3,500-calorie deficit to lose a pound of fat.
First, keep track of what you eat for a few days and average out your daily calorie intake; then, subtract 500 to 750 calories from that number to determine the amount you need to eat each day to lose 1 pound to 1 1/2 pounds a week. Continue to write down what you eat to help you stay within your weight-loss calorie needs. Consult your doctor or a dietitian if your estimated weight-loss calories fall below 1,200 calories a day. Eating too few calories may increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies.
Plan What You're Going To Eat
You can gain control over what you eat while sitting at your desk. Start by filling your diet with healthier foods that may help trim your belly, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins such as poultry, seafood and beans. Take a little time each week to plan ahead what you're going to eat at each meal to limit last-minute, high-calorie food choices.
Planning ahead is especially important for lunch, whether you're bringing from home or going out with your co-workers. If you're brown-bagging it, keep it simple, like a lean meat sandwich on whole-wheat bread or hummus with carrots and celery sticks. Add fruit and yogurt to balance the meal. When eating out, review the menu before you go and check nutrition information. When in doubt, focus on veggies and lean proteins. An entree salad with chicken or fish makes a good option. Ask for dressing on the side and omit the cheese and croutons to help save calories. Broth-based soups and sandwiches without cheese or mayo also make good out-to-lunch choices. Skip dessert and eat an apple on your way back to the office to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Make Healthier Choices While Sitting at Your Desk
Keep healthy snacks handy at work to limit the temptation of the vending machine or treats available in the break room. Good options include carrot and celery sticks, slices of cucumber, apples, bananas, small snack packs of nuts and whole-grain crackers. For example, you save 240 calories skipping the break room deli bagel and snacking on a medium banana you brought from home during the mid-morning munchies. Snacking on a 23 almonds in lieu of the vending machine Snickers bar in the mid-afternoon can save you another 118 calories.
Make a Plan to Get Up From Your Desk
In addition to making changes to your diet, another way to alter your calorie equation to lose the belly is by adding activity to your day. While the types of physical activity you can do may be limited due to your desk job, you're not glued to the chair. Make it a point to get up, stretch and take a short stroll around the office every hour. If you can, do some of your work standing, such as talking on the phone or working on your laptop. Pacing back and forth while you're on the phone, if you have the space, or even fidgeting at your desk, burn a few extra calories. During your lunch break, take 15 minutes and go for a brisk walk around the block or the office. Even better, make a trip or two up and down the stairs.
Planned Exercise to Lose the Belly
One of the key factors in losing belly fat is aerobic exercise. Harvard Health Publications says you should aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day. For the record, your walk during lunch counts. In addition, you can do another 15- to 45-minute walk after work or go for a bike ride. An aerobics class, a game of tennis or pushing a lawn mower also counts as aerobic exercise that burns belly fat.
Add strength-trainining exercises, such as weight-lifting or using a resistance band, twice a week to build muscle. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, which means you burn more calories at rest when you have more muscle.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Physical Activity: Exercise Can Help Control Weight
- Harvard Health Publications: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Healthy Eating Plan
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Planning Mealse
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool: Banana, Snickers Bar, Almonds
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool: Bagels
- Better Health Channel: Resistance Training - Health Benefits
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: 7 Tips for Healthy Dining Out