Healthy food choices can help flatten your tummy.
Excess belly fat increases your risk of undesired conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and heart disease, says MayoClinic.com. A pudgy waistline also affects your appearance. To flatten your tummy, there's no need to resort to dangerous or extreme measures, such as surgery and fad diets. Healthy lifestyle changes can reduce your body fat and keep the weight off in the long run, though there's no guarantee it will come off from your belly. This should include a sensible diet, regular cardio and a full-body strength-training routine.1.
Plan to lose no more than a 1/2-pound to 2 pounds a week. Avoid losing weight faster than this -- the loss is often short-lived and can lead to nutritional deficiencies and gallstones, according to the Weight-Control Information Network. One pound of fat contains 3,500 calories, so to lose weight at the expert-recommended rate, you must create a deficit of 250 to 1,000 calories every day. Do this by increasing physical activity and adjusting your diet.
Adjust your diet and eating habits to reduce your caloric intake. Practice portion control and limit foods that contain a lot of added sugar, cholesterol, salt, and trans and saturated fats. Emphasize nutritionally rich foods low in calories, such as broth-based soups and salads. These are filling and won't ruin your diet. Prevent skipping meals to lose weight, as this might backfire and trigger binges later.3.
Eat from all five food groups to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs while you lose weight. Make vegetables and fruits the greater part of your meals, but also include reduced-fat dairy products, whole grains and protein from lean meats, eggs, nuts, fish, beans and poultry. Avoid cutting out entire food groups to lose weight; however, scaling back on carbohydrates -- particularly processed kinds -- slightly and replacing it with lean protein and fresh vegetables can help you achieve your goals faster.
Schedule moderate cardiovascular exercise on most days of the week. The Centers for Disease Control suggests doing at least a half hour of cardio, five days a week. If it's more convenient, split this up in three 10-minute workouts over the day. If you're new to exercise, start with 10 or 15 minutes of cardio on three days of the week, and gradually build this up. Forms of cardio to choose from can include riding a bike, water aerobics, climbing stairs, jumping rope, walking briskly or using an elliptical machine.5.
Incorporate high-intensity intervals into two non-consecutive cardio sessions as your physical fitness improves. The American Council on Exercise states that high-intensity intervals effectively reduce body fat including belly fat. While doing moderate cardio, burst into a short vigorous pace for one minute, and then return to your moderate pace for about two minutes. For instance, go from a brisk walk into a jog, or from a jog to a sprint. Repeat several times until you can't do any more intervals.6.
Integrate strength training into at least two nonconsecutive days of the week, as recommended by the CDC. Strength training preserves and increases lean muscle tissue. This reduces belly fat by making your body burn calories more efficiently even when you're resting. It also makes your body stronger so daily activities become easier. For optimal results, target your large muscles with compound exercises that engage multiple joints and work multiple muscles. Exercise examples include lunges, pushups, dead lifts, squats and chin-ups.7.
Perform abdominal exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles. Avoid solely doing these exercises to reduce belly fat, as spot reduction isn't possible. Make them part of your full-body strength training routine. When your belly fat reduces, these exercises can make sure that your tummy will have some definition. Include exercises such as lying toe touches, planks, crunches, bicycle crunches, reverse crunches and V-ups.
- Perform the talk test during cardiovascular exercise to gauge your intensity; during moderate cardio, you should be able to talk, but not sing; during vigorous cardio, you should only be able to say a few words before catching your breath.
- Consult your physician before modifying your diet and beginning a regular exercise routine, especially if you have an injury or medical condition or have been inactive.