If you don't carry an excess amount of fat throughout your body, but have a bigger belly than you'd like, you still have cause for concern. Even if you're not obese, a surplus of fat around your abdominal region can lead to serious health issues that can negatively affect your quality of life. You might be genetically predisposed to belly fat, but the development of a healthy lifestyle can get your health on track.
Don't Ignore Your Belly Fat
The excess fat around your belly is made up of two types of fat. Subcutaneous fat lies directly below your skin and is the fat that you can see when you look in the mirror. More serious, however, is visceral fat, which is found deeper in your abdomen. Visceral fat can lead to a variety of medical conditions, including cholesterol problems, insulin resistance and even cancer. You're at risk of the complications of excess belly fat even if you don't carry much fat throughout the rest of your body.
Lace Up Your Running Shoes
One of the first steps to take in your effort to lose the fat around your stomach is to get moving. Aerobic exercise is a major weapon in your battle against fat, and it's easy to find a type of activity that suits you. A single aerobic workout can burn several hundred calories and, provided you're also careful about your caloric intake, can be the key to losing fat. Choose one or more exercises such as swimming, dancing, jogging or even walking, and perform the activity for 150 to 300 minutes per week. If the exercise requires only moderate effort, 300 or more minutes is your goal; if the exercise has an elevated tempo, 150 or more minutes can suffice.
It's Crunch Time
Although your abdominal muscles aren't quite visible beneath your subcutaneous fat, you can still target them with resistance training. Once you lose enough fat, these muscles will appear. Exercises to perform include bicycle crunches and crunches on an exercise ball, which you can perform at home with minimal equipment. Work on using the proper technique for each repetition, and perform two sets of 10 reps at least twice a week. Don't exclusively work on your abs; these exercises should be part of a full-body resistance workout.
Veggies Are Your Friends
Cutting calories is an integral part of any effort to burn fat. Although counting the calories you consume is one approach, this method can feel overwhelming. Instead, it's possible to reduce your caloric intake through simple steps such as eating salad instead of fries, avoiding soft drinks, filling your lunch and dinner plates with raw or steamed vegetables, using skim milk instead of 2 percent milk, enjoying low-calorie snacks and fruit for dessert. Each of these simple changes can help you consume fewer calories each day, which can help you lose weight around your stomach.
- Harvard Health Publications: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- Cleveland Clinic: Aerobic Exercise
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- American Council on Exercise: American Council on Exercise (ACE)-Sponsored Study Reveals Best and Worst Abdominal Exercises
- American College of Sports Medicine: Resistance Training for Health and Fitness
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Cutting Calories
- Fitness: What You Need to Know to Lose Belly Fat