If you're counting down the days until bikini season, you might also be panicking over the fat you'd like to see melt away. A flat stomach is a must-have for the perfect bikini body, but stomach fat can be tough to get rid of. If you hate dieting, melting away the pounds can be even more difficult. You don't have to diet to lose stomach fat but exercise alone will typically mean that you lose weight less quickly -- because to lose fat, you have to burn more calories than you eat.
Change your eating habits without dieting. Cut out unnecessary calories that you won't miss, such as sugary drinks. Space your meals out throughout the day so that you're eating more frequently but consuming smaller portions. Eating small amounts regularly can help you feel less hungry and help you avoid the misery of a diet.
Increase your overall activity level. Heart-pounding workouts are great for burning calories, but an overall increase in activity can help you melt away the pounds more quickly. If you work at a desk, take a break every 30 minutes to an hour to walk around your office. Park far away from buildings and stores to get in a few extra minutes of walking.
Get at least 300 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week. Cardiovascular exercise is the fastest method for melting away fat, and you'll burn many more calories with regular cardio than you will doing crunches or lifting weights. Try cycling, walking, jumping rope or hula hooping. More intense exercise will burn more calories. Your workout is an intense one if you can't speak easily and are winded. Your workout is mild to moderate intensity if you can easily carry on a conversation.
Increase the fat-melting power of your cardio routine by doing interval training. According to "High Intensity Interval Training Explained," interval training burns more calories than traditional aerobic exercise and can even speed up your metabolism. Alternate between bursts of intense activity and periods of more moderate movement. For example, if you're walking, try walking at a brisk pace for two to three minutes, then sprinting for one to two minutes. Continue alternating your pace for your entire workout.
Tone your stomach muscles with strength-building exercises. You can't spot-reduce fat, but if you're doing cardio along with targeted exercises, the muscles in your stomach will begin to poke through as the fat melts away. Crunches are among the most effective stomach exercises, according to the American Council on Exercise. Ensure that your stomach muscles are engaged by pressing the small of your back into the floor and don't use your hands to lift your head. Bicycle crunches -- which require you to touch the elbow of one arm to the knee of the leg on the opposite side as you crunch up -- can help tone your stomach and waist.
- MayoClinic.com: Rev Up Your Workout With Interval Training
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss -- Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- High Intensity Interval Training Explained; James Driver
- You'll need to burn 3,500 calories for every pound of belly fat you want to lose. To lose a pound a week, you'll need to burn 500 more calories than you consume each day.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.