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How to lose your belly fat

Updated on May 9, 2011

Get rid of your fat stomach

How to lose your belly fat

Belly Fat and How to Lose It

Both men and women alike - want to know how to lose stubborn belly fat.

Love handles... a spare tire... or a pot belly... you can call it what you want, but it seems to be the part of your body that you'd really like to do something about.

Why is belly fat so bad, and what you can do to get rid of it.

Researchers have found that losing abdominal fat is one of the most important steps you can take to stay healthy for life, but apart from that a firm, flat stomach is the ultimate sex appeal symbol.

Most people know that having excess fat is an unhealthy way to be, but the key is in which part of the body the fat is distributed. People who have apple-shaped bodies (that is fattest in the abdomen) have a greater risk of diabetes and heart disease than those who have pear shapes (that is fattest in the hips, thighs and buttocks).

Mainly there are two types of fat in the stomach area. Visceral (pronounced viss-er-al) fat. This is stored deep inside the body, and surrounds and protects your internal organs. Subcutaneous (pronounced sub-cue-tain-ee-us) fat. This is stored just under your skin and is the stuff that wobbles about when you run or jump up and down.

So what is the best way to lose belly fat?

It won't surprise you to hear that there is no magic. The best way to lose fat from your abdominal area is to eat properly and exercise regularly. There is a growing body of research that shows that the fastest way to burn off the fat from your abdominals is with a combination of aerobic exercise and weight training.

An example of this comes from research published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

In this study, researchers compared the effectiveness of two diet and exercise programs. The Subjects taking part in the study were assigned to either one of two groups.

  • The first group followed a diet based on the traditional food calorie guide (50-55% carbohydrate; 15-20% protein; less than 30% fat). They also did cardiovascular workouts which lasted 30-60 minutes a time, for 4-6 days per week and at 50-75% of their maximal heart rate.

  • The second group followed a diet that was lower in carbohydrate and fat but higher in protein. Group two's exercise program consisted of alternating days of cardiovascular and resistance interval training six days per week.

Their body composition was assessed by dual x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) before and again after the 12-week training program.

DEXA is an extremely accurate way to measure changes in body fat. It’s far more reliable than body fat scales or the the skin fold calipers often used at home or in health clubs.

And what was the result?

Subjects in the second group (these were the people who did more intense cardio, lifted weights, and ate more protein) lost a lot more fat overall (-20.6%) than group one, the normal group (-10.1%). The second group also gained 2 pounds of muscle (0.9 kilograms) while group one, the cardio-only group, not surprisingly, lost muscle.

And even more interestingly, abdominal fat dropped by 26% in group two, but in group one only by 13.5% . So as you can see, subjects in group two lost almost twice as much abdominal fat as those in group one.

It should be pointed out that this wasn't a perfect study. Although the subjects were told to record everything they ate, there is no way of knowing just how accurate their records were. This wasn't a study where the subjects diet was under tight control of the researchers.

Food intake recorded by the subject is notoriously inaccurate when measuring calorie intake. Some studies do show that people can underestimate their calorie intake by up to 50%. This means that when someone says that they are eating 1000 calories per day, they could actually be consuming around 2000 calories.

It is also worth noting that subjects taking part in this study exercised for up to six days per week. If you do not have the time for this amount of exercise do not worry. Four days a week is plenty if you have the right program.

So, if you want to lose belly fat, what should you do?

Doing dozens or hundreds of sit-ups, crunches, or any other of the "pulling in the belly button" exercises. These are usually useless for most people when it comes to losing belly fat and gettiing a six pack.

Mike Geary, author of The Truth about Six Pack Abs, points out: "Let's get this straight right now. Abdominal exercises do NOT burn fat away from your abs! This can only be accomplished through a much more effective full-body training routine that maximizes both your metabolic response and your hormonal response to your workouts."

Remember, belly fat is stored energy. To burn off this fat, you need to use more calories (energy) than you eat. These abdominal exercises don't burn up enough calories to make much of a difference to the appearance of your stomach and waist.

"The truth is, getting six-pack 'killer' abs has almost nothing to do with training," adds Tom Venuto, author of Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle. "It has everything to do with low body fat."

If you have ever seen pictures of Tom Venuto you will know that he has some of the best abs in the business. "Some people might argue that I was just blessed with good genetics in the ab department, which may be true," says Tom. "But based on my experience with others who have less favorable genetics, I still believe that developing the abdominal muscles is easy. The hardest part is getting your body fat low enough for your abs to show."

You will also need to eat the right kind of foods.

To recite the old cliche, a flat stomach is not made in the gym it's made in the kitchen. Trying to decide what is best to eat can be very difficult, and the mass of conflicting and confusing information there is doesn't help. When it comes to good nutrition, most people only have half the story, and usually they have been given the wrong half!

While there are a few basic principals to keep in mind when it comes to weight loss and nutrition, losing your belly fat requires that you take in fewer calories than you burn off. Do not get involved in these complicated diets that claim to be a "new and revolutionary" method of weight loss.

Finally, you will need to be consistent.

To lose your belly fat, regular exercise and eating correctly need to become a habit. Just doing it when you can be bothered or when you "have the time" is no use. If your present daily schedule makes it difficult to fit in the time for exercise then change it. Get up out of your bed earlier than normal. Stop watching TV, switch it off. Stop wasting so much time on Youtube or Facebook.

If you are seriously looking for a really effective fat-burning exercise routine that will get rid of your love handles burn off your belly fat, then I recommend one of the above two programs. Based on some of the latest exercise and nutrition research, these two are designed to help you quickly burn off your belly fat whilst still keeping valuable muscle tissue.


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