A muffin top or jelly belly can make you feel self-conscious about your body. It can also place you at-risk for health conditions you don't want to mess with, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Whether you've got baby weight to lose or excess flab from too much late-night snacking, you can lose your belly by following five fat-blasting rules.
Move Your Body
Heart-pumping aerobic exercise is essential to losing belly flab as it helps you lose weight all over. Participate in favorite aerobic activities for at least 300 minutes per week if you want to lose weight and that excess belly fat. Choosing activities you enjoy will help you stick with exercise, instead of making you feel like it's another chore. To double your benefits, perform aerobic exercises that engage the ab muscles while you burn calories, such as swimming, jogging or rowing.
Avoid Belly Bloat
A bloated belly can make you feel as if you look like you're three months pregnant. Get a flatter stomach by avoiding belly bloat from certain foods or alcoholic beverages. Salty foods can cause you to retain water weight around your middle, and beans, broccoli and cabbage can make your stomach blow up like a balloon. Drink eight to 10 cups of water each day to stay hydrated, and opt for flat-belly foods, such as avocado, dark chocolate and lean proteins like fish and nuts.
Nix the Sugary Beverages
Sugars, found in sweetened cereal, sugary sodas and baked goods, taste good and are notorious for putting more jiggle in your middle. Even fruit juice can contribute to a buddha belly, if you drink it regularly. Say goodbye to the belly by trading in your sweetened cola or fruit juice for water, herbal tea or diet soda. A reduction of 325 calories per day can lead to a loss of 1 pound every 10 or 11 days just by nixing the sugar-laden drinks.
Eat Your Veggies First
Rush University Medical Center recommends starting each meal with veggies or a broth-based veggie soup. Since many of them are water-based, a small plateful of colorful veggies helps fill you up so you don't overeat at mealtime. If the idea of eating peas and carrots makes you want to push away from the table, experiment with other vegetables and enjoy them raw, steamed or grilled for variety.
Do Ab-Toning Exercises
Toning your ab muscles can help you get a flatter stomach as you trim off the belly fat. In addition to doing the traditional situp to tone your lower and upper abs, you can also perform planks to tighten and tone your muscles for a flatter stomach. Lie on your stomach with your toes on the floor. Raise up on your forearms, while keeping your body in a straight line. Hold the plank position for 20 to 45 seconds, keeping your stomach muscles pulled in the entire time.
Work the oblique muscles for a cinched waist and flatter abs by lying on your side with your arm bent at a 45-degree angle. Lift your body up, balancing on your forearm and the side of your foot as you keep your body in a straight line. Hold the side plank position for 20 to 45 second. Lower to the floor, and then roll over and repeat on the other side.
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.