If your midsection comes equipped with a spare tire, it can cost you a step (or more) on the field, court or ice. And Sit-Ups or Crunches won't solve the problem.
In fact, if you want to lose stomach fat and get back up to speed, you don’t need to perform a single “ab” exercise. (Learn some Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat.) Instead, make the following seven changes to your game plan. Your belly fat will be a thing of the past before you know it.
Try to avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. Any movement—standing, walking, jogging—will produce a higher metabolic rate than sitting. So unless you’re seated in class or stuck inside a bus or car, get up out of that chair and move around. Try walking or jogging to nearby destinations, rather than driving to them. If you do have to drive somewhere, park in the farthest possible space so you take more steps on your way in. Just being on your feet more can help keep your stomach trim.
Ditch isolation exercises like Arm Curls in favor of multi-joint exercises, which not only build upper- and lower-body strength, but also burn off more stomach fat. Movements that require you to move many muscle groups or your whole body will burn more calories. By burning more fat throughout the body, you’ll torch that belly bulge too. The key: perform full-body exercises at high intensity with minimum rest between sets.
Lifting weights is great, but incorporating interval training workouts like sprints with your strength training will help you burn fat even faster.
Try this after your last set of weight-training exercises: perform five minutes of interval training while either running, biking or rowing. Work at a high intensity and high speed for 30 seconds, then slow down for 15 seconds. Alternate between the two until your five minutes are up. (See also Boost Sport-Specific Conditioning With Interval Training.)
Several fitness experts say abs start in the kitchen, and it’s true. You might have the biggest, most developed set of abs in the world, but if you keep 'em covered with post-donut stomach fat, no one will ever see them. Big meals mean big calories, which can mean big problems for your fat loss goals. Opt for smaller, more frequent nutrient-dense meals every two to three hours instead of piling food on your plate three times a day. (See Plating Proper Portions.)
Processed carbohydrates—like cookies, cakes, crackers, chips, soda, sugary cereals, pasta and breads—trigger an insulin response in your body, which, over time, leads to fat accumulation. So steer clear of anything white; opt instead for protein-packed meals with lean meat, fish, seeds or nuts; and get your carbs from fruits, whole-grains and leafy greens. When choosing a drink, stick with water. (Check out Iron Chef Michael Symon: Eat Natural Foods for Improved Performance.)
When you train outdoors in the sunlight, you get a bonus of taking in vitamin D from the sun. Studies have indicated that vitamin D helps promote the natural release of testosterone, which can be useful in the battle of the (stomach) bulge.
If you skimp on sleep, your body releases higher levels of a hormone called ghrelin, which can increase your hunger throughout the day and lead to overeating. You’ll also produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to the accumulation of fat around the waist. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep. A 2012 study at the University of Washington Sleep Center showed that sleeping nine hours per night can even help someone overcome a genetic disposition to weight gain. (Read The Power of Sleep to Improve Athletic Performance.)
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