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Proportionally, women store more fat around their middle compared to men.
For women, carrying extra weight around your middle isn't just a matter of aesthetics, it's also dangerous for your health. According to the Harvard Women's Health Watch, abdominal fat puts you at a greater risk for developing heart disease, type II diabetes and stroke, when compared to fat in other parts of your body. The reason is that belly fat -- also called visceral fat -- is more metabolically active and lies deeper in the body, surrounding the internal organs. Harvard Women's Health Watch warns further that belly fat can also cause hormonal imbalances and inflammation.
Cut back on your calorie intake. The first step in weight loss is taking a good look at your plate. Even cutting back on 500 calories per day can help you to lose up to one pound of fat per week. Trimming portion sizes is a good place to start as you transition to a healthier diet. Incorporate healthy, low-calorie foods into your diet, such as lean protein, fresh vegetables, complex carbohydrates, low-fat dairy and fruit. Cut out sugary soft drinks and juices, simple carbs like cakes, baked-goods, white bread and white pasta and overly-processed foods. Lastly, try to consume at least one fresh vegetable, in a variety of colors, at every meal.
Exercise regularly to burn calories and shave fat from your entire body. The American Council on Exercise cautions against falling for the spot-reduction myth. It's not possible to just reduce one part of your body, like your middle. How and where your weight loss occurs is dependent on factors like your genetics, hormones and age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend performing at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio exercise per week to stay in good shape. If you are trying to lose weight around your middle, consider increasing the time spent exercising or the intensity. The harder your body works, the more calories you'll burn, resulting in greater weight loss throughout your body. For an example exercise routine, try swimming, running, dancing or pedaling on the elliptical machine at a vigorous intensity for at least 30 minutes, five times per week.
Add strength training to your routine to boost your metabolism and tone up your abdominal muscles, although you might not see the muscles underneath until you shave some of the fat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend two days of strength training per week, with at least one day of rest in between each session. To tone up your abdominal muscles, incorporate abdominal-strengthening exercises into your strength-training routine. A study conducted by ACE found bicycle crunches, crunches on a medicine ball, reverse crunches and knee or leg lifts on the captain's chair to be the best abdominal exercises to target the main abdominal muscles, the rectus abdominis and the obliques.
Items you will need
Cross-trainers or running shoes
Comfortable exercising clothes
Dumbbells or resistance bands
Before starting every workout, be sure to spend at least five to 10 minutes warming up your muscles with light aerobic activity, like jumping jacks or jogging in place. After each exercise, cool down with five minutes of light activity and then stretch all of your major muscle groups.
Speak to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.