When you make the commitment to lose weight, you want to see the results of your hard work in a relatively short period. You can't specifically target your belly, arms and legs for fat loss, though -- you lose weight proportionally all over your body. The only way to lose belly, arm and leg fat in two months is to reduce your calorie intake and move more. No exercises or specific foods help you slim down these areas. How much your two months of effort affects the appearance of these specific areas depends on your starting size and your particular body shape.
Belly Fat Reduction
Belly fat is different than the pinchable, subcutaneous fat found on your arms and legs. Subcutaneous fat lies just under the skin and isn't linked to serious health risks like belly fat -- also called visceral fat -- that sits deep in your abdominal cavity and surrounds internal organs.
Too much belly fat raises your risk of developing metabolic disturbances, cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. You can burn belly fat through traditional weight-loss tactics, especially increased cardiovascular and total-body strength exercise and a diet that eliminates sugar and refined grains. Abdominal exercises will strengthen the muscles of the area but won't burn the fat that covers them. Belly fat reacts relatively quickly to these traditional measures, so you might notice a drop or two in your pant size in two months.
Arm and Leg Fat
Arm and leg fat will respond to the same weight-loss plan you use to lose belly fat, but it may take longer than two months for you to see a significant difference. You can bicep-curl and lunge at every workout, but no exercise directly burns off the fat from these areas. A study published in a 2013 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research had participants exercise a nondominant leg for more than 1,000 repetitions three times per week for 12 weeks. The participants lost weight in their upper bodies and dropped their body fat percentages, but they experienced absolutely no change in the amount of muscle or fat in their worked leg.
Whether two months of trimming calories and exercising will help you drop significant amounts of leg and arm fat depends on your genes and hormones. Rest assured that even if the weight you lose isn't noticeable in your perceived problem areas, losing 5 to 10 percent of your weight can improve health markers, such as blood pressure and cholesterol. The more weight you have to lose, the less others may notice a reduction over two months. But, for example, if you lose 1 pound a week over that time and drop from 140 to 132 pounds -- about 5 percent of your total body weight -- you're more likely to see a dramatic physical change in your arms and legs. But if you weigh 250 pounds and lose the same 8 pounds, you'll see less of a physical difference in your arms and legs.
A Menu Plan for Weight Loss Over Two Months
To lose just 1 pound of fat, burn 3,500 more calories than you take in. Most people can create a deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week without eating too little and risking their nutritional intake, energy and quality of life. In two months, this will result in between 8 and 16 pounds lost.
How many calories you should consume every day to create this deficit depends on how many you burn daily, which is a matter of your size, age, gender and activity level. Larger, active young men tend to burn more calories than small, sedentary older women. Anyone trying to lose weight should focus on a meal plan that eliminates high-calorie foods with little nutritional value. These include refined grains -- specifically white bread, white pasta and baked treats -- and sugars, which are prevalent in soft drinks and desserts.
Instead, a weight-loss plan contains a lot of fiber-rich watery, vegetables to help you feel full on few calories. Use healthy fats such as olive oil to make your own salad dressing. Choose proteins that are low in saturated fat, such as white fish, skinless poultry, lean cuts of beef and tofu. Moderate servings of whole grains, including wild or brown rice and barley, replace refined grains. At snack time, stay away from processed energy bars, snack crackers and chips. Enjoy snacks of plain low-fat yogurt, small servings of plain nuts or seeds and fresh fruit. This type of plan will yield a healthy rate of weight loss and teach you positive eating habits so you can keep dropping weight after your two-month deadline, if you still have more to lose.
Exercise Helps Fat Loss
Targeting specific body parts for exercise doesn't yield fat loss in that area, but a program that engages your whole body will lead to overall fat reduction. Strength-training all the major muscle groups twice per week helps you build muscle, which burns calories efficiently at rest and helps raise your metabolism to promote weight loss.
The more you move with cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging, brisk walking or dancing, the more calories you burn. Aim for greater than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations of 150 minutes total for the week. Go for an hour or more per day to reap the most weight-loss benefits. A session or two of interval training each week can also help you burn more fat than always doing a moderate workout at a steady pace. A paper published in the journal Obesity in 2011 noted that high-intensity interval training, which involves alternating short bouts -- such as a minute -- of extremely intense exercise with an equal or slightly longer amount of recovery, stimulates fat loss best. No matter what type of exercise plan you undertake, get clearance from your doctor first.
Moving more all day long also helps give you a metabolic boost to lose pounds. Take the stairs, pace while you're on the phone or walk, instead of drive, to the nearby deli at lunch.
- American Council on Exercise: Why Is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- CNN: Can You Really Control Where You Lose Fat?
- Harvard Health Publications: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- Rush University Medical Center: Is There 'One Trick' to Losing Belly Fat?
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Regional Fat Changes Induced by Localized Muscle Endurance Resistance Training
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Obesity: High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss