Toning a chubby stomach can do more than help you look and feel better. According to Duke Medicine, visceral belly fat surrounding the internal organs in your mid-section can increase your chances of suffering from medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease. Adopting better eating habits, making positive lifestyle changes and rethinking the way you exercise will work towards your goal of toning your chubby stomach, while reducing your visceral fat and its associated health risks.
Choose exercises designed to target your abdominal muscles. For example, the American Council on Exercise recommends the “bicycle maneuver” as the most effective exercise to flatten your stomach. To perform the bicycle maneuver lie on your back, lift your legs and rotate them as if you’re pedaling a bicycle. For the best results, the Council suggests completing abdominal exercises in 5-minute increments.
Add aerobic exercise to your workout routine. According to Duke Medicine, a cardio workout – such as jogging – can reduce visceral fat and burn 67 percent more calories than resistance exercises, such as strength training. To help flatten your belly, the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center suggests completing vigorous 30-minute aerobic exercise sessions, two to four times per week.
Get seven hours of sleep each night. Forbes notes that a lack of sleep can increase the amount of cortisol in your bloodstream, which may lead to an increase in belly fat. Fatigue can also boost the production of ghrelin – an appetite-stimulating hormone – which triggers you to crave more sugary, high-calorie foods.
Include more fiber, such as apples, oatmeal and brown rice in your diet. A study conducted by the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that increasing the amount of soluble fiber you consume by 10 grams each day can help you cut belly fat by nearly 4 percent over a period of five years.
Take supplements or eating vitamin C-rich foods, such as kale and kiwi fruit, to increase the amount of Vitamin C you consume daily. Vitamin C not only helps control stress-related increases in cortisol levels, but also increases the production of carnitine, a substance that helps your body convert fat into energy.
- DukeHealth.org: Aerobic Exercise Bests Resistance Training at Burning Belly Fat
- Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center: Soluble Fiber Strikes a Blow to Belly Fat
- American Council on Exercise: ACE-sponsored Study Reveals Best and Worst Abdominal Exercises
- Harvard Health Publications: Taking Aim at Belly Fat
- Forbes: 6 Ways to Burn Your Belly Fat
- Mayo Clinic: Exercise, When to Check with Your Doctor First
- If you’re a smoker, you may have a tough time flattening a chubby tummy. According to Harvard Health Publications, smoking can cause you to store more fat in your stomach than on your thighs and hips.
- Don’t start a workout program or diet until you’ve consulted a physician. The Mayo Clinic notes this is particularly important if you’re overweight or suffer from a medical condition, such as diabetes, heart disease or arthritis. A medical exam can also help you find underlying causes for your belly fat if you’ve made diet and lifestyle changes and still see no noticeable results.
Drea Christopher is a freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in English. She has more than 10 years of experience producing features and SEO articles for national consumer publications, trade magazines and industry leading Web content providers. She has a particular interest in craft, entertaining, education, home and garden and health-related topics.