Despite what those late-night infomercials tell you, you can't lose tummy fat with the latest situp gadget. In fact, you can't spot-reduce anywhere on your body, no matter how many situps or pushups you do. Whether your tummy flab is the result of having a baby or eating too much fast food, the old adage is true -- to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in. So put down the chips, lace up your sneakers and hit the gym (or the pavement) to lose the flab and get the toned tummy you want.
Change your diet. Replace high-fat, high-calorie foods with fiber-rich fruit, veggies, beans and nuts. According to Bodybuilding.com, specific foods that can help reduce your belly include walnuts, unsweetened oatmeal and foods high in protein, such as salmon and egg whites. Add a scoop of protein powder to your oatmeal for a meal that's also a fat-burning powerhouse.
Count your calories. To calculate how many calories you need to eat and how many you need to burn, try a simple online calculator. Enter your height, current weight and goal weight to get the number that's right for you.
Start a cardio exercise program. Exercises to try include walking, running and aerobics or dance classes. Anything that gets your heart pumping and keeps you moving and sweating for 30 minutes to an hour will do. Aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio a day, six days a week.
Add weight training to your exercise regimen, either by pumping iron or doing exercises such as Vinyasa yoga, in which you use your body weight for resistance. Not only does it help strengthen your bones, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that lean muscle boosts your metabolism even when you're at rest. Burning extra calories while sitting on the couch sounds pretty good.
Get enough sleep. That's right, you can actually burn belly fat while you're crashed out. Lack of sleep raises the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin, which can lead to cravings for sugary foods, and cortisol, a stress hormone that exacerbates insulin sensitivity and can therefore increase your belly fat. Aim for seven to eight hours a night, and try going to bed and waking up at the same times each day to keep your biorhythms in check.
- Always check with your doctor before beginning a new weight-loss or exercise routine.
S.R. Becker is a certified yoga teacher based in Queens, N.Y. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Becker often writes for "Yoga in Astoria," a newsletter about studios throughout New York City.