While spot reduction is impossible, walking and watching what you eat can help you lose weight and tone up all over, including your stomach. If you are looking to lose weight, then you need to burn more calories than you consume. By modifying your diet and walking most days of the week, you’ll quickly be on your way to a flat stomach.
The fat on your belly is different from the fat on the rest of your body. Your abdomen has two kinds of fat: subcutaneous and visceral. When you pinch your belly, the soft fat that you feel is subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat lies out of reach, filling up spaces surrounding abdominal organs. Adding exercise and watching your diet is the most effective way to lose excess abdominal fat, according to the Harvard Medical School.
If you are looking to shed belly fat, aim to walk 20 miles per week, according to “Diabetes Care.” In a 2009 study, researchers at the Duke University Medical Center compared individuals who did no exercise and those who walked or jogged at different intensities. Those who walked 20 miles or more per week were the only ones who lost both visceral and subcutaneous fat. To make all of this walking manageable, break it into four-mile walks five times per week. If you don't have enough time to do four miles all at once, separate it into chunks. Going for several walks throughout the day provides comparable, and in some cases greater, health and fitness benefits than continuous exercise, according to the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” in 2006.
To lose a pound of fat, you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume. If you cut or burn 500 to 1,000 calories per day, you can anticipate losing 1 to 2 pounds per week, a healthy goal, according to the Mayo Clinic. Start small by paying attention to your portion sizes, checking food labels and swapping high-calorie foods for lower-calorie alternatives.
If you want a smaller waist, then steer clear of white bread, processed meat, soft drinks and margarine, according to “PLoS One” in 2011. A study of nearly 50,000 men and women found that a diet that is high in fruit and dairy products helps to prevent abdominal fat accumulation. Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet because they are low in calories and rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Aim for five portions of fruits and vegetables every day. Another switch is to select healthy carbs, such as whole grains and beans, over unhealthy carbs, which digest easily and cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
- Harvard Medical School: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- Diabetes Care: Effects of Exercise Training Intensity on Pancreatic β-Cell Function
- Journal Strength and Conditioning Research: Two Short, Daily Activity Bouts Vs. One Long Bout: Are Health And Fitness Improvements Similar Over Twelve And Twenty-Four Weeks?
- PLoS One: Food Composition of the Diet in Relation to Changes in Waist Circumference Adjusted for Body Mass Index
- Mayo Clinic: Counting Calories: Get Back To Weight-Loss Basics
- HelpGuide.org: Healthy Eating