Having excess belly fat hang over your belt is an embarrassing and difficult issue that can lead to you spend hours concocting creative ways to look slimmer. But throw your elastic underwear aside -- it's time to get exercising to send your love handles on their merry way. Losing your fat won't happen overnight, but through dedication to fitness and a healthy diet, results won't be too far away.
Belly Fat Dangers
It's easy to brush off carrying a few extra pounds as insignificant, but the health risks of belly fat are serious. Forbes.com warns that belly fat is associated with an increased risk of getting diabetes and even developing heart disease. Visceral fat, which is the type of fat that appears around your midsection, carries such other health risks as increased blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Losing Belly Fat
Although you can lose belly fat through exercise or a healthy diet, combining regular workouts with smart food choices can help you get results. You can't specifically target the fat around your belly; contrary to the spot-reduction belief, no exercise allows you to burn fat in any given area. To get results, set a goal of burning more calories than you consume each day. MayoClinic.com notes that 1 pound of fat is the same as 3,500 calories. As such, you can burn 500 extra calories every day of the week to lose 1 pound per week.
Although any type of exercise will help you burn calories, focus on exercises that burn calories rapidly if you want to see progress concerning your amount of belly fat. If you have a gym membership, machines such as the stationary bike, treadmill and elliptical trainer will help you burn calories quickly. If you prefer working out around home, try running, cycling, in-line skating and jumping rope. Many other activities, including martial arts and swimming, are also effective calorie burners. For example, a 155-pound person who rides an exercise bike vigorously for 30 minutes will burn 391 calories.
Paying careful attention to what you consume helps you successfully complement your dedication to exercising. If you consume more calories than you burn each day, you won't see your belly fat disappear -- but it will continue to grow. The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion recommends that women should consume roughly 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day, but this number varies according to how active you are and your age. If you're unsure exactly how many calories you should aim to consume, speak to your doctor.
- Forbes: Why Love Handles and Belly Fat Are So Dangerous to Your Health
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Women: Taking -- and Keeping -- it Off
- American Council on Exercise: Q: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: Balancing Calories to Manage Weight
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.