You may be thinking sit-ups, but it takes a little more than a few crunches to get rid of belly fat. Making smarter food choices, adding cardio to your exercise routine and working out to build muscle all over, not just your stomach, is what you need to do trim down your spare tire.
Better Food for Slimmer Belly
To get rid of the belly fat, you need to eat less sugary and processed foods, and replace them with whole foods and high-fiber foods. You might also want to limit your intake of carbs. A moderately low-carb diet, about 40 percent of calories from carbs, has been shown to be effective at helping men trim belly fat, according to a 2015 study published in Metabolism.
What do you eat to lose belly fat? Start with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans to up your fiber intake. Eating enough high-quality protein, which means protein with all the essential amino acids, may also help you lose more of your belly fat, according to a 2012 study published in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Healthy sources of this type of protein include poultry, fish, lean red meat, eggs and soy foods such as tofu and edamame. Healthy fats are also a smart part of your belly fat diet, including vegetable oils such as olive or sunflower oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.
Cut out foods linked to belly fat such as cake, cookies, candy and soda. Fast food, TV dinners, fatty meats such as hot dogs and bacon and high-fat snack foods such as chips are also no good when you're trying to trim down because of their high-fat and calorie content and low nutritional value.
How Men Cut Calories to Lose the Belly
There's nothing wrong with eating meat and potatoes when you're trying to lose the belly, but to lose it, you need to trim calories. So instead of focusing your meals on high-calorie meats and starches, make non-starchy veggies the star of your plate. This helps you cut back on carb intake, too.
Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, such as carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus or green beans, and add a side salad of mixed greens to help you eat fewer calories without feeling deprived.
Split the other half of your plate between protein and grains. Mix up your options to vary your nutrient intake for better overall health. In place of prime rib, try sirloin or flank steak. Pork loin and pork chops also make healthier proteins. And, of course, you can't go wrong with chicken breast, salmon or tuna steak, or throw in a veggie burger every once in a while.
And for your starch, swap your usual french fries for a baked sweet potato or a small serving of peas or corn. Maybe even try other whole grains such as barley, bulgur or quinoa, which contain fiber to help you feel full. For a between-meal snack, instead of a bag of chips or bowl of ice cream, grab a piece of fresh fruit.
Eat slowly to allow yourself time to feel full on your first go-around. If you're still hungry, fill your plate with another helping of veggies. Also, try to eat at regular times throughout the day. Don't skip meals, or you might feel ravenous later and end up overeating. When snacking, measure a single portion into a bowl, then put away the bag or box.
Get Rid of Belly Fat With Exercise
One of the most important things you can do to lose the belly is cardio. Men lose belly fat faster — especially the unhealthy visceral fat that's linked to heart disease and diabetes — when they get moderate-intensity exercise.
A brisk walk, a game of doubles tennis or mowing the lawn with a push mower counts as moderate-intensity activities. To get the results you want, you should do 30 to 60 minutes of cardio exercise five days a week.
To help burn calories and fat, do more non-exercise activities, too, such as taking the stairs, getting up from your desk every hour to stretch and stroll, pacing when you're on the phone or parking at the far end of the lot.
Sit-Ups and Other Muscle-Building Exercise
Muscle tissue uses more calories than fat tissue. So developing muscles, even those underneath the belly fat, helps your body burn more calories at rest, which means more fat-burning throughout the day. And lucky for you, it's easier for you to build muscle than women because of testosterone.
But don't limit your muscle-building activities to sit-ups. Work out all your major muscles — arms, legs, back, shoulders and abs — at least twice a week using free weights, weight machines or body resistance exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups and squats. Lift as much as you can without compromising form, doing eight to 12 reps per set and two to three sets per exercise.
- Rush University Medical Center: Is There 'One Trick' to Losing Belly Fat?
- AARP: How to Lose Your Spare Tire
- Metabolism: Association of Decrease in Carbohydrate Intake With Reduction in Abdominal Fat During 3-Month Moderate Low-Carbohydrate Diet Among Non-Obese Japanese Patients With Type 2 Diabetes
- Nutrition and Metabolism: Quality Protein Intake Is Inversely Related With Abdominal Fat
- The Journal of Clinical Investigation: Consuming Fructose-Sweetened, Not Glucose-Sweetened, Beverages Increases Visceral Adiposity and Lipids and Decreases Insulin Sensitivity in Overweight/Obese Humans
- Harvard Health Publications: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- FamilyDoctor.org: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Just Enough For You: About Food Portions
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Center for Young Women's Health: Why Do Guys Seem to Get More Muscular Than Girls?