Although they call it a beer belly, the excess fat that men store around their midsections can't just be blamed on beer. Sure, alcohol contains a lot of calories, especially if you're into mixed drinks that are high in sugar. It also increases your appetite for weight-loss-sabotaging foods, and because your body processes alcohol before anything else, you're more likely to store fat from the foods you eat. Alcohol, in moderation, can be consumed if you're trying to lose belly fat, as long as you offset the calories by exercising and eating healthy.
Accumulate a deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories every day to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. According to experts, weight loss at this gradual rate is easier to maintain long-term, because it doesn't require drastic measures that trigger rapid weight loss and slow your metabolism, making you feel drained and sluggish.
Get your nutrients from all the basic food groups. Consume whole grains, such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread and oatmeal. Include a variety of fruits and veggies. Make your dairy fat-free or low-fat and eat protein from lean meats, nuts, beans, fish and poultry.
Limit your sugar intake because calories from sugar may make you gain belly fat. Some foods to avoid can include sugary soda, doughnuts, pastries, and candy.
Replace high-calorie foods with foods that contain fewer calories to contribute to your daily caloric deficit. For instance, instead of ice cream eat frozen yogurt; replace chips with air-popped popcorn; and choose broth-based soups over creamy soups.
Limit alcohol or drink water instead. If you must have alcohol, choose wisely; sip on a 5-ounce glass of dry wine, which contains little to no sugar and about 125 calories, or choose a light beer, which can contain about 55 calories. Keep track of your caloric intake. Avoid high-calorie mixers like sweet-and-sour mix, syrup or cola. If you must have a mixer, use calorie-free club soda, a dash of tonic water or a splash of lime juice to limit the calories.
Perform 30 to 60 minutes of cardio at a moderate intensity on most days of the week. Cardio burns calories that contribute to your caloric deficit. In 60 minutes, a 155-pound person can burn 440 calories by walking at a speed of 4.5 mph, 410 calories by bicycling at a speed of 12 mph and 400 calories by playing singles tennis.
Incorporate high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, into your cardio routine. HIIT is more effective in reducing belly fat than any other types of exercise, according to study findings published in the "Journal of Obesity." Speed up to a vigorous cardio pace for 20 to 60 seconds and recover for about two minutes at a lower intensity. Alternate between the intensities throughout your workout. For example, go back and forth between a jog and a sprint.
Perform strength training on two days of the week. In addition to stimulating muscle tissue, the American Heart Association states that strength training effectively helps to reduce abdominal fat. Work your major muscle groups -- the muscles of your hips, abdomen, arms, leg, chest, shoulders and back -- with exercises such as bench presses, lunges, pushups, lat pull-downs, crunches and squats.
Consult your physician prior to attempting to lose weight, especially if you're new to exercise or have a health condition or injury.
- Losing It!; Dhruv Gupta and Prachi Gupta
- Helpguide.org: Healthy Weight Loss & Dieting Tips
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Aim for a Healthy Weight
- Next Avenue: Fiftysomething Diet: What Alcohol Can You Drink While Dieting?
- American Heart Association: Losing Weight
- Journal of Obesity: High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss