Had a little too much comfort and joy this past holiday season? Maybe you’ve put on a few pounds around the middle? The summer bathing suit season is just around the corner, so now is the time to do what it takes to get rid of that holiday pooch once and for all!
Why do some of us gain weight around the middle and others not?
Where you tend to store body fat is related primarily to your genetic disposition. If you have an excessive amount of body fat, and heredity dictates storage around the middle, then unfortunately you will gain fat in the abdominal area. That said, many women notice abdominal weight gain when they go through menopause. This is because hormonal shifts can change the way the body breaks down and stores fat—hence a redistribution of body fat and the tendency for it to accumulate in the belly as women grow older. This tendency is particularly unhealthy, as excessive abdominal fat, especially the deep abdominal fat—called visceral fat—increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
What really works to get rid of stubborn belly fat?
The good news in the battle of belly bulge is that there are three scientifically proven lifestyle changes you CAN make that when combined together are the best way to attack that fat around the middle and flatten your belly.
Three Tips for a Flat Stomach:
- Eat a nutritious, calorie-controlled diet. Excess body fat, whether it’s in the stomach or the thighs, is the result of routinely consuming more calories than you expend. Now is the time to change those unhealthy eating habits. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and good fats. Eat breakfast, don’t skip meals, drink lots of calorie-free liquid, and eat small, frequent, lighter meals at home. Watch your portion sizes and calculate your daily calorie intake to ensure you’re eating the right amount to lose body fat at a safe rate.
- Daily cardio exercise. Calorie-burning cardio exercise is one of the best ways to target stubborn belly fat. This is because stomach fat is more metabolically active and when you exercise, you target that area for fuel. What’s more, when you burn those calories up, you reduce your percentage of body fat, thereby shrinking those belly fat cells. This will allow you to see those abdominal muscles you’ve worked so hard in the gym to define.
- Strength training. While you can’t “spot reduce” belly fat, you CAN strengthen and tone the abdominal muscles. That way, once you lose that extra fat around the tummy, you’ll be able to clearly see that toned flat stomach. Keep in mind that a single abdominal exercise won’t make a flabby stomach into washboard abs! Plus, there are certain abdominal exercises that are much more effective in strengthening and tightening the middle than others. Your flat tummy workout should incorporate exercises that target both the deeper and the lower abdominal muscles. For example, the rectus abdominus muscle is the most common target of abdominal exercises such as crunches. This is a postural muscle; it’s also a paired muscle that runs vertically and has distinct segments on each side. The rectus is responsible for the “six-pack” visible in toned athletes. Another important “core” muscle is the transverse abdominus, buried deep beneath the rectus. This muscle, though often neglected, also helps flatten the stomach. It runs horizontally and acts like a girdle, strengthening the core and decreasing risk of back injury.
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