Whether you are shopping for a new bikini or a slim fit pair of jeans, a flat tummy can help you feel good about how you look, increasing your self-confidence on the beach, in the gym or on the dance floor. While spot reduction -- burning off fat from a specific portion of your body -- is a myth, there are still holistic diet plans and exercise routines that can help you keep the weight off and your tummy trim.
Eat a balanced and healthy diet composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and dairy products. Don't get pulled into quick-fix diet plans that encourage starvation. Instead, take measures to reduce the number of calories you take in each day. Replace sugary snacks with nutritious treats such as fruits and vegetables. If you are addicted to soda or sugary drinks, drink water instead to quench your thirst. A healthy diet can help you drop extra weight all over your body, including your stomach. According to Harvard Medical School, visceral fat, which is found around your stomach area, is easier to lose through diet and exercise than other types of fat.
Practice a form of cardiovascular exercise for 20 to 60 minutes, three to five times a week. Cardio, or aerobic, exercise increases your heart rate and exerts your lungs while working the major muscle groups in your body. Swimming, jogging and biking are all great forms of cardio that can help you burn calories to lose that extra stomach fat.
Supplement your cardio exercise with strength training two to three times a week. When practiced regularly, strength-training exercises can help increase your resting metabolism, so you can burn off calories even when not at work and lose that belly fat faster. Your muscles will gain a lean, sleek and toned look. Wall sits, lunges and squats will work the muscles of your lower body, while biceps curls, bench presses and pushups can train the muscles in your arms.
Perform abdominal exercises as part of your strength-training routine. While you can't spot reduce your stomach fat, working your muscles can help give your tummy that lean, flat look you want. Your stomach area is composed of muscles in your upper and lower abdominal area, as well as those on your side, called obliques. These muscles react to resistance training like other muscle groups. Include a variety of different exercises to make sure you are giving each abdominal muscle a workout. To work your lower stomach muscles, try leg raises and reverse crunches. Regular situps give your upper abs a workout. Do side twists to feel the burn in your obliques.
- Harvard Medical School: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- Ace: Ask the Expert: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- Web MD: Kick it Up with Cardio Exercise
- Mayo Clinic: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- Mayo Clinic.com: Nutrition and Healthy Eating
- Simple Fitness Solutions: Truth About Training the Abdominal Muscles
- Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images
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