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If you're sick and tired of the fat around your middle, fight the flab aggressively with a multipronged approach that includes diet, exercise and stress management. By trimming your waistline, you could help your health as well as your self-image. A waist circumference of 35 inches or larger for women, or 40 inches or larger for men, increases your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute.
Reduce calories. To lose belly fat, you must shed weight all over and your stomach will shrink proportionately. A pound of fat is about 3,500 calories; so if your weight is currently stable, cut 500 to 1,000 calories a day from your normal diet to lose 1 or 2 pounds of fat per week. However, don't eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day if you're female, or 1,500 calories per day if you're male -- you may not get adequate energy and nutrition.
Remove trans fats and fructose-sweetened foods from your diet. These products may encourage visceral fat buildup, according to Harvard Medical School. Visceral fat lies deep in your belly, whereas subcutaneous fat sits just beneath your skin. Visceral fat is particularly unhealthy and is linked to heart disease, asthma, breast cancer and colorectal cancer, states Harvard.
Perform cardiovascular exercises. Cardio activities burn calories quickly to fight fat more aggressively than dieting alone. For optimal weight loss, spend 300 minutes per week performing moderate aerobic exercises such as power walking, recreational swimming or bicycling on flat ground. Alternatively, perform intense cardio 150 minutes per week. Options include jogging, swimming laps or playing racquetball.
Perform resistance exercises three days per week. Targeted stomach moves won't trim your belly fat, but they will sculpt your abdominal muscles. Try situps, crunches and supermans. To perform supermans, lie on your stomach with your arms and legs straight out. Then lift your arms and legs a foot or so from the ground, keeping your head aligned with your spine. Pause for a few seconds, then lower back down. Weight machines at the gym, such as the seated torso machine and crunch machine, are other resistance-training options. Perform 12 repetitions for each exercise, pause and repeat for two or three total sets.
Reduce stress. When you feel anxious, your body produces a substance called cortisol that can shift fat distribution to your midsection, according to the University of New Mexico. Fight stress with meditation, deep breathing, visualization techniques, tai chi and yoga.
- For proper balance and posture, perform resistance exercises for every major muscle group: stomach, back, chest, arms, legs and hips.