Discover the facts on shedding belly fat

Discover the facts on shedding belly fat

They’ve tried them all in their quest for flat abs: crunches, reverse crunches, boards, bikes, and even the ab roller. After all, it seems logical. To increase muscle definition and lose fat, you need to continue training your abdominal muscles. But does this really lead to a tummy tuck?

“You can do 50,000 crunches a day, but it will still be just toned muscles under your belly fat,” says Lauren Harris-PINCUS, MS, RDN and owner of Nutrition Starring You. “The truth is that if the weight does not come off, you will not get a six-pack.”

How can you get rid of the stubborn pillow around your midsection? Read More to get the real scoop on how to lose belly fat.

IN the RELATIONSHIP: 5 Pilates exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles, Depth

Stomach Fat 101

First, everyone has fat, both the subcutaneous fat layer just under our skin, which helps to isolate the body and the deeper visceral fat that surrounds and protects the organs. That’s right: you should have belly fat. But the amount of fat you have and how it is distributed have more to do with genetics than your core training.

Men and women eliminate fat differently, according to Harris-pincus. On average, women have six to 11% more body fat than men. This extra fat usually accumulates deeper on the body (especially before menopause) around the hips and thighs, creating a pear-shaped shape. Men, on the contrary, tend to accumulate fat around the abdomen (hence beer intestines).

Thanks to the hormone estrogen, the female body also loves to cling to the fat. A study in Obesity Reviews shows that women store fat more efficiently than men to prepare the body for pregnancy. But although it seems that women may have drawn the short tip of the stick, the stereotypical pear shape is actually considered healthier than bragging about a beer gut, since belly fat is a red flag when it comes to your health. “Visceral fat is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension and metabolic syndrome,” says Harris-PINCUS.

How to Lose Belly Fat and Keep it Away

Doing ab workouts might strengthen your heart, but that won’t really decrease fat or won’t reduce those love handles — and that’s why you need to eat healthy. “You train for 30 minutes compared to the 23.5 hours you don’t train. You need to eat the right things,” says Harris-Pincus.

Repeat after us: it’s time to eat clean. She recommends a combination of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins such as poultry, eggs, and fish for a dose of omega-3 fatty acids. And drop the added sugar while you’re at it. “Studies show that if you have a diet high in whole grains — and calorie-controlled – you can reduce belly fat,” she says. But remember to watch your portions. “Many people eat very healthy and do not eat waste, but their portions are too large.”

If you are smart about the foods you choose and limit your intake, you will eventually begin to lose body fat and lower the waist of your pants. But sorry: there is no way to make it disappear from the abdomen — you will probably reduce your total body fat percentage, and also lose it to the face, hips, buttocks and chest.

Fortunately, exercise can help boost things in terms of that annoying stomach fat. “Visceral fat responds well when you start exercising and monitoring your calories and what you eat,” says Harris-PINCUS. And while endless crunches aren’t your ticket to a flat stomach, it’s still important to work out your ab muscles. “Everything radiates from the center of your body – your balance, your posture, your functional movements,” says Joe Ardito, founder of Fit Crush NYC. “You can do better if you have a strong core.”

Research also shows that workouts with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can help reduce excess fat around your middle. In addition to the work of your heart, try to incorporate a day or two more vigorous exercises into your weekly schedule. (You can start with these three beginner routines.) Remember that you can also reduce your total body fat percentage by further exercise at work, according to another study.

end result

There is no magic trick or quick fix that will melt the fat around your midsection and give you the coveted abs that we all see in the newsstands. Losing belly fat – and all body fat for that matter-involves long-term changes.

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