Tweet“Belly Fat can be very responsive with the right strategies,” says Michele Olson, PhD, an exercise researcher at Auburn University. Here, science-proven ways to fine-tune your current healthy routine for quick results. It’s very frustrating when you fill your grocery cart with healthy foods, stay away from the ice cream while under stress, wear out your walking shoes and still the belly fat remains. Even though those healthy habits are a great start, as you get older, you need to eat smarter and workout to maintain a flatter stomach.
1. Walk with A Faster Pace
When you walk faster you will on average burn 25% more calories and target belly fat. A recent study from the University of Arkansas found that when exercisers burned the exact same amount of calories a week, those who did shorter, high-intensity workouts had a twenty percent decrease in visceral fat after three months, while those who did longer workouts at a medium pace did not change. Your goal should be two or three weekly speed sessions for about thirty minutes each. If you are not able to maintain that pace for the entire workout, practice intervals, alternating short bursts of speed followed by slower segments.
Aerobic exercises such as speed walking or jogging is excellent for blasting belly fat, but a total-body weight training routine improves results and tightens your abdominals even more. A twelve week Skidmore College study found that exercisers who performed a high-intensity total-body resistance workout combined with cardio lost more than twice as much body fat in particular, more than four times as much belly fat (compared to cardio-only exercisers). The resistance training group also ate a high protein diet, while the other group followed a traditional, moderate protein diet plan. Researchers speculate that the extra belly fat loss could be due to the increase calorie burn you receive from weight lifting and extra protein.
Extra: You will be less likely to regain lost pounds. “Whenever you lose weight, it typically comes from both fat tissue and muscle,” explains Olson. “Resistance training helps maintain or even add muscle mass, which slows down your metabolism.”
3. Use the Exercise Ball
To get hardcore abdominals from traditional crunches, use an exercise ball. Research from San Diego State University shows you will activate 40% more of your topmost abdominals (the rectus abdominis) and 47% more of your side abs (obliques). Next add some moves that target your deeper belly muscles, “Crunches are just one piece of the puzzle,” says trainer Jonathan Ross, owner of Aion Fitness in Bowie, MD. “The key to a firm midsection is to strengthen everything under your top muscles.”
Planks are a great way to target this area: Lie face down with upper body propped up by elbows and forearms. Tuck your toes and raise hips and legs off floor so body is in line from head to heels. Hold that position for 30 to 60 seconds. Try a set of side planks next: Balance on one elbow, forearm, and side of foot, with hips and legs stacked and opposite arm raised toward ceiling.
4. Get More Sleep
Eating smart and exercising on a regular basis help eliminate both stress and belly fat, but only if you are getting enough sleep. Holding back on sleep causes levels of the stress hormone cortisol to increase, along with levels of deep abdominal fat. “There’s a definite association between lack of sleep, increased stress hormones, and weight gain,” says Olson. In a six year study, Canadian researchers discovered that adults who averaged just five to six hours of sleep a night were 35% more likely to gain 10-plus pounds and were nearly 60% heavier around the midsection compared to those who slept 7 to 8 hours.
5. Balance On One Leg
If you are already strength training on a regular basis, then you are ahead of the nearly 80% who don’t. Research shows that even basic lower body moves such as squats and dead lifts are a good way to strengthen core muscles and help flatten your abs. Adding a balance challenge, such as standing on one leg, using an inflatable disk or wobble board, helps tone and target every little muscle. “When you narrow your base of support (like standing on one foot) you have less stability so your body engages all of its core muscles to stop you from falling,” says Olson. You should try adding a knee lift to lunges, do single leg squats or just Balance on one leg while you perform upper body moves such as biceps curls and overhead presses.
6. The Ultimate Belly Fat Workout
For quicker benefits, here are all the exercise-related healthy habits and flat belly-boosting tips combined into a weekly routine. If you find yourself short on time, begin with the cardio sessions. Then add total body strength training and finally some abdominal exercises.
Monday: Steady paced cardio workout (about 30 minutes)
Tuesday: Cardio speed/interval workout (at least 30 minutes); total body strength training, including at least 2 standing balance exercises (20 to 30 minutes).
Thursday: Cardio speed/interval exercises (at least 30 minutes); abdominal exercises (about 20 minutes)
Friday: Total body strength training, including at least 2 standing body balance exercises (20 to 30 minutes)
Saturday: Repeat Monday
Sunday: Repeat Tuesday
7. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is good for your skin and helps fight cancer and now researchers say it will help you lose belly fat. A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition discovered that exercisers who drink about 4 cups of green tea a day for twelve weeks lost over 8 times more belly fat than those who drank an ordinary caffeinated beverage (nearly 8% versus less than 1%). Researchers speculate that catechins (phytonutrients in green tea) may help increase the breakdown of fat.
8. Eat Proven Belly Fat Foods
Watching portions, counting calories and minimizing junk food are all flat belly essentials, but some foods can make it easier to achieve your goal. Foods such as whole grains, nuts, dairy products and fish all help speed up your metabolism and reduce belly fat.
Follow these simple belly fat shortcuts today and get those hardcore abs you always dreamed of.
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