"Muffin top," "belly pouch" and "spare tire" -- these are the last words you want used to describe your midsection. If excess belly jiggle has you hiding under tentlike tops, work toward a flat belly with a combination of effective tips. The old-fashioned tip that prescribes exercise, healthy eating and changes in lifestyle habits is still valid when it comes to obtaining a flat belly.
The fact of the matter is, you've got to move it to lose it. Spot reduction is a myth, but you can get rid of excess weight on your midsection by losing weight all over. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise per week. If a hectic schedule makes it challenging to find 30 minutes to work out most days, break up your exercise into 10- or 15-minute segments. Choose cardio workouts you enjoy so you'll be more likely to stick with them for the long haul. Take brisk walks, jog, swim, use an aerobics DVD at home or take a class at the gym.
Include ab-toning exercises in your flat-belly fitness routine. Performing strength-training exercises for 20 minutes, two to three times per week, builds muscle mass and helps your body burn calories more efficiently even when you're not exercising. As you strengthen your abs, the muscles of your midsection will tighten, so that when you lose the belly pouch, your toned ab muscles will be there to show off. Do trunk rotations, planks and hay bailers to get sexy, toned abs.
You are what you eat, and a diet containing trans fat and sugar-laden foods will contribute toward excess weight gain, including around your midsection. Cut these foods in favor of healthier options such as lean protein, whole grains, fresh produce and low-fat dairy. Eat a calorie-reduced diet, but don't dip below 1,200 calories per day, recommends the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can lose 1/2 to 1 pound per week by cutting 250 to 500 calories, respectively, from your daily intake. Choose foods containing healthy monounsaturated fats instead of trans or saturated fats. Stick with flat-belly foods such as guacamole, chocolate and peanut butter, while avoiding foods known to contribute to belly fat, such as margarine, red wine and cheese.
Your lifestyle habits also have an impact on your waistline. Changing some of your fat-belly habits to flat-belly habits can make a difference in conjunction with eating healthier and exercising. Quit smoking and drink alcohol in moderation. Try to reduce your stress, and aim for six to eight hours of sleep. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Carry a water bottle with you to make it easier to get your eight glasses each day.
Keep in Mind
A waist measurement of 35 inches or more, when measuring at belly button level, is considered a red flag for women. Carrying excess weight around your middle can lead to health conditions such as high cholesterol, asthma, heart disease and cancer. The good news is that changing your exercise, eating and lifestyle habits can improve your health by helping you lose that belly fat. Before you incorporate any new flat-belly tips into your life, see your doctor to get the green light.
- Harvard Medical School: Taking Aim at Belly Fat
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training -- Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- American Council on Exercise: Ab Exercises
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Common-Sense Strategies to Long-Term Weight Loss
- DoctorOz.com: Foods that Make Your Belly Flat vs Fat
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.