While it’s not possible to burn fat in one area of the body with exercise, there are a number of ways to reduce overall body fat, which will include the stomach area, and a variety of exercise that can tone your tummy. Changing the way you eat, what you eat and adding the right exercise can help you reduce the size of an unsightly belly.
Eat More Often
Don’t wait until you’re hungry to eat, or you’ll end up overeating. Eat five or six times a day (called “grazing”) at the same regular intervals, whether you are hungry or not. Eating when you are not hungry not only helps prevent overeating but also also keeps your metabolism up.
You should also know that your body stores excess calories it cannot metabolize during one meal as fat — so if you eat three 500-calorie meals instead of one 1,500-calorie meal, you will see a positive difference in your shape, even though you are eating the same amount. If your goal is to eat 2,000 calories per day, eating two 1,000-calorie meals will lead to more weight gain and fat storage than if you eat five 400-calorie meals.
Spice Things Up
Add spices or supplements to your diet to raise your metabolism by increasing thermogenesis, a bodily process that causes heat production. Foods considered thermogenic include brindleberry, cayenne peppers, ginger and hot peppers. While caffeine is a thermogenic food, it also is a diuretic and can lead to water loss. According to research by Klaas R. Westerterp at Maastricht University: “Protein plays a key role in body weight regulation through satiety related to diet-induced thermogenesis.”
Eat Less Fat (Duh)
Reducing your fat intake is easier said than done, considering how much flavor it adds to our favorite foods. You can still have fat, but focus on eliminating saturated and trans fats, and increase your intake of monounsaturated fats. A diet higher in monounsaturated fats, such as a Mediterranean diet, will distribute less fat to your stomach area than a diet that is higher in simple carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and sugar. A Mediterranean diet includes higher amounts of olive oil, nuts, avocado, whole grains and fish, with less meat and dairy products.
Choose “Fun” vs. “Best” Exercise
Burn fat through an aerobic workout you enjoy doing so you’ll exercise more often. Don’t focus on “fat-burning” exercise, which is a bit of a myth. Focus on burning total calories. For example, anaerobic exercise, such as tennis, volleyball or basketball, actually burns more calories from glycogen than fat, but burns more calories overall, including lots of fat calories. Low-intensity “fat-burning” exercise burns much more fat as a percentage of calories burned, but fewer total fat calories overall than a higher-intensity aerobic workout or high-intensity anaerobic workout. You can get an aerobic workout by dancing, roller blading, swimming or riding a bike if you’re aren’t into going to the gym.
Burning calories through exercise leads to a reduction in overall body fat, including in the belly area. Workout with minimum session of 20 minutes of vigorously intense activity or 30 minutes of moderately intense activity, three or more times each week. Combine aerobic activity with a diet plan that has you eating fewer calories than you burn each day.
Work the Core
Exercise your core area with a variety of stomach and abdominal exercises to improve your mid-section appearance. You can’t spot-burn fat, but you can build muscle and “tone” your belly area. Do crunches, a standard ab exercise, by lying on the floor with knees bent upward (feet toward your buttocks) and shoulders slightly off the floor. Place your hands behind your neck and move your head toward your knees, using your stomach muscles, not your back, arm or neck muscles, which can create back strain.
Vary this exercise by placing your hands in front of you, elbows on your stomach and fists under your chin. Add another variation by working your oblique muscles. Place one ankle on your knee and move forward by aiming your opposite shoulder toward the knee of the crossed leg. Do 10 to 15 repetitions (or until you feel a burning sensation), then cross the other leg and repeat.