If you're like many, you may hope to achieve a sexy, flat stomach with your diet and exercise program. Unfortunately, misinformation about how to accomplish this goal leads some women astray. From long-held exercise myths to devices and potions promising to give you a tight, lean midsection, it can be hard to distinguish what actually works. The reality, however, may be a lot simpler than you think.
Many people believe that spot reduction will help them create a flat stomach. The myth of spot reduction is that you can burn fat from specific parts of your body by exercising those areas. In this case, someone may do 200 crunches with the hope of melting away belly fat. Unfortunately, the areas from which you lose body fat and the order in which that occurs is genetically predetermined -- meaning you have no control over it. Unfortunately, if your abdomen is one of the first places you gain fat, it will be one of the last areas from which you lose fat.
Check the shelves of any health or grocery store and you are likely to find rows of various diet pills containing ingredients that will allegedly help you burn belly fat. Sometimes these ingredients are unknown and simply labeled as a "proprietary blend" on bottles. When they are listed, they often include caffeine, green tea, hoodia gordoni, yohimbe and other thermogenic components that claim to help you burn more calories by raising your body temperature or lowering your appetite. While these pills may increase your calorie burn slightly, the affect is usually nominal. Further, there is no way a pill can target fat on certain body parts. Dietary supplements aren't subject to the same tough standards that prescription drugs are, so it's up to you to be aware of what you're purchasing.
Fat Burning Foods
Some believe that eating certain foods can burn fat by either raising the body temperature or requiring more calories to digest than the number of calories that are actually in the food. Cayenne pepper, chili pepper and celery are some of the foods that are supposed to melt fat. While some foods may have a slight thermogenic affect, it's not enough to do much for overall fat burning. It doesn't matter what types of food you're eating if your total caloric intake exceeds your output. Unless you have a calorie deficit, your body will not tap into fat stores for energy and you won't lose your belly fat.
The simple truth to losing belly fat is exercise and a calorie-deficit diet. Cardio exercise will help you burn more calories, and building your abdominal muscles will help your midsection look great once you shed the layer of fat. You can lose 2 pounds per week with a daily deficit of 1,000 calories. Save your money and your sanity and steer clear of the flat stomach myths. Be sure to talk with your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.
- Lose the Belly Fat; Marcy S. Gregory
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Belly Fat Weight Loss; Claire Wheeler and Diane Welland
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.