Belly fat -- your No. 1 nemesis. Sometimes it seems that no matter what you do, it just doesn't budge. You've probably heard that spot-reducing fat from certain areas of the body is impossible, and unfortunately, this is true. But don't despair. A few simple, yet highly effective, diet and exercise tricks can blast that belly fat into oblivion.
It's all about the calories when it comes to losing fat. You need to consume fewer calories than you burn to get rid of that pesky muffin top. However, consuming too few can be detrimental and lead to muscle loss and a lack of energy. A deficit of 3,500 calories is required to lose one pound of fat, according to MayoClinic.com, and a healthy rate of weight loss is one to two pounds a week. Cut 500 calories per day to lose a pound a week, and let exercise take care of the rest.
There's a tiny bit more to it than calories alone, though. In theory, you could lose belly fat eating candy, chips, bagels and ice cream, provided you were in a calorie deficit -- and who wouldn't want that? However, diets like this -- high in sugar and low in nutrients -- can spike blood sugar levels, which can prevent fat loss and make you feel tired, lethargic and generally pretty awful. For best results, nutrition coach and figure competitor Jen Comas Keck recommends eating lean protein such as chicken, lean beef, fish or low-fat dairy at every meal and always choosing natural foods, especially vegetables and fruits. Once you've filled up on these, you'll be so full you won't have room for junk.
Hit the Weights
Weights? For losing fat? Sounds mad, doesn't it? Contrary to popular belief, however, weight training is the best way to elevate your metabolism, burn a lot of calories and build strength and muscle definition while stripping fat. Stick to a full body routine, where you work each major muscle group each session, advises Rachel Cosgrove, author of "The Female Body Breakthrough." These are far more effective than body-part splits where you train each muscle individually. Don't get too hung up on working your abs, either -- doing hundreds of crunches isn't going to get you to that six-pack any sooner.
Crank Up the Intensity
Forget plodding aimlessly on a treadmill for half an hour or staring blankly at the wall as you while away time on the elliptical. Steady state cardio is dead, and it's time for the high intensity interval revolution. High intensity interval training, or HIIT, works your body much harder than standard cardio, claims Cosgrove. It burns more calories, gives a bigger metabolism boost and gets results far quicker. Jump on any cardio machine and warm up for five minutes, then work at maximum intensity for 20 to 30 seconds. Lower the speed for two to four minutes, then go again. Repeat this protocol of 20 to 30 minutes, then cool down for the last five.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.