While many people spend years fighting stubborn belly fat, some people want to gain weight for health or appearance reasons. Healthy weight gain in the abdomen and waist should proceed at a slow and steady pace, and will result in weight gain throughout your body not just your abs and waist. The most effective and safest way to gain weight in this area is to gain muscle rather than add fat.
Too much belly fat poses serious health risks, even if you're at a healthy weight.
Eat high-protein foods. Protein is the building block of muscle and can help you gain weight in your waist and abdominal muscles safely. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that 10 to 35 percent of the calories you eat everyday be from protein. Adult women need 46 grams of protein per day, while adult men need 56 grams.
Do regular moderate-intensity cardio. Cardiovascular exercise -- running, jumping, cycling and walking -- helps to keep your heart and lungs healthy, but it also burns more calories than other types of exercise. By scaling back to a lower-intensity cardio, you'll avoid losing excess weight but still keep extra belly fat at bay. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of cardio per week if you're doing moderate-intensity cardio. Activities such as walking, jumping rope at a low speed or cycling at a low speed are all ideal ways to get moderate-intensity cardio.
Perform core-strengthening exercises. These are exercises that help you build muscle in your waist and abdomen. The American Council on Exercise found that properly performed crunches are among the most effective core exercises. Ensure your abdominal muscles are engaged by pushing the small of your back into the ground, and use your hands for support, not to pull your head up. To work your waist, try a bicycle crunch. To do this exercise, lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Lift your torso up and twist to the left side as you draw your left knee toward your right elbow. Repeat on the other side and do 10 to 20 reps on each side.
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat
- MyFox9.com: Mayo Clinic: Normal Weight with Belly Fat Deadlier Than Obesity
- American Council on Exercise: New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do You Need?
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
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