It’s a common misconception that sit ups will help you get rid of that muffin top or excess belly fat. Unfortunately, you can do sit ups every day and still not see results. The way to lasting results when you need to wave goodbye to this extra girth is with a sensible, low-calorie diet and a good exercise regimen.
While most people think that this extra weight around the middle just affects their wardrobe choices and their self-esteem, carrying weight around your middle can actually be quite dangerous. If you are ready to increase your self-esteem, see improvement in your health, and feel better in your own body, it is time to get rid of that muffin top… for good.
Two Types of Fat
There are two different types of fat that are found in the belly: visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. Each affects your middle in different ways. Visceral fat is what makes your belly wider and subcutaneous fat pushes your belly outward while also surrounding internal organs. Together, they are contributing to your larger waistband and your muffin top.
Visceral fat is the fat you want to try to get rid of. Because it is metabolically active, it can contribute to your risk for diseases such as diabetes and even cancer. It does this by releasing compounds into the body through the metabolism.
The subcutaneous fat refers to most fat found around the body. If you pinch an area of your belly and can feel fat just under the skin, you are feeling subcutaneous fat. This is the stubborn fat that is harder to lose than visceral fat.
Creating a Calorie Deficit
If you were to only cut calories to try to lose the weight around your middle, you would probably be creating an unsustainable and unhealthy diet that would result in you losing muscle mass as well as the fat. To lose one pound, you need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories. You can spread this deficit out over several days or even a week so that the weight loss is slow but still noticeable and still sustainable.
By both cutting calories and participating in an exercise regimen, you can create the deficit needed to lose weight, especially around your belly where fat can be stubborn. When cutting calories, a male should not go below 1,800 daily calories and a female should not go below 1,200. Anything lower than that and you would also be cutting out vital nutrients that your body needs.
When you also add in exercise to reduce the number of calories that will “stick” for the day, you are helping to create that deficit you need to lose the weight. For example, if you reduce your caloric intake by 250 and then burn off an addition 250 calories through exercise, you have created a 500 calorie per day deficit that adds up to one pound lost per week.
Remember that losing the weight fast usually results in gaining it back again over time. Quick fixes for weight loss usually don’t work very well. The slower you lose the weight, the more likely it is to stay off.
Targeting Stubborn Belly Fat
When you create a calorie deficit, through both diet and exercise, your body usually responds by getting rid of fat all over the body. This makes it hard to target one specific area. However, because visceral fat is a threat to the health of your body, you will find that this fat disappears first when trying to lose weight. This means that the first place you will see a noticeable difference is around your belly.
However, even though you may look a bit leaner as you start to lose weight, the excess fat around the thighs, upper arms, and even the muffin top you are trying so hard to get rid of, will hold on for a bit longer. This is because the body sees subcutaneous fat as a guard against starvation and these fat stores are home to a lot of nutrients that the body can use in time of need.
Creating Your Eating Strategy
While the actual calorie intake that you will need to see weight loss results, most people find that something in the range of 1,200 to 1,800 works for them. The exact daily amount you need will mostly be based on your activity level, your current weight, and your weight loss goal as well as your gender and age.
While dieting, it is important to still incorporate fruits and vegetables plus lean meats. This ensures that you are getting all the nutrients you need even while cutting calories. Making smart choices about what to cut out and what new foods to bring in that will still spice up your diet is crucial.
Whole grains and not refined grains can help round out your meals. They are filling and contain a lot of vitamins and minerals you will need while trying to lose that belly fat. Refined grains like white rice and white bread can help feed the fat instead of the fat loss.
Processed foods should be avoided as much as possible. They can be very convenient, especially with the fast-paced lives we all seem to lead these days. However, they are usually full of sugar, refined grains, and especially salt. If you prepare healthy snacks ahead of time to bring with you on the go, you can have all the convenience with none of the unhealthy side effects.
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Drinks don’t contribute much to our nutrient intake and many of them, such as fancy coffee or energy drinks, will only add calories to your daily intake. Instead of consuming something that will only hurt your goals of losing that belly fat, you can substitute high-calorie drinks with water or even unsweetened tea.
Some drinks, such as those sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or sugar, have been found through extensive study to add visceral fat to the body as well as increase stores of liver fat. Water not only helps to rid the body of toxins but it keeps you from drinking other things that can contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Toning Your Belly
Muscle burns fat so if you are strength training to help build the muscles that are under the fat, you can boost your fat burning. While fat loss can’t be targeted to a specific area of the body, you can target muscle growth in specific areas through strength training and it is important to tone your midsection. A complete training program that focuses on both cardiovascular exercise to increase the calorie deficit as well as targeted strength training to build muscle is ideal.
Targeted strength training should be done at least twice a week and should focus on each muscle group, including: arms, shoulders, chest, back, abdominals, thighs, legs, etc. There are exercises such as squats that work more than one muscle group and can help shorten your exercise routine. Each exercise you do should be done between 8 to 12 repetitions, starting with 1 set and working up to 2 or 3. The weight you use should feel heavy by the last couple of repetitions on each set.
Burning Calories is Essential
It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that adults participate in 150 minutes of activity each week to promote a healthy lifestyle. If you actually want to lose weight on top of maintaining that healthy lifestyle, that should be increased to 250 minutes and include cardio to help speed up the metabolism.
Ideas for moderate cardio exercises include: cycling, water aerobics, dance classes, or even a brisk walk. There are many things you can do to keep yourself moving and increase your heart rate.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is ideal for losing both visceral and subcutaneous fat. HIIT is composed of short bursts of high intensity training with periods of slower exercise to rest. You can participate in HIIT by doing a quick warm up exercise and then sprinting for a couple of minutes and then walking comfortably for a couple of minutes to let your heart rate come back down, then repeating the sprint and walk several times again.
It is easy to add in a little bit of exercise wherever you go as well. You can bike to work or take the stairs instead of the elevator. You might even park farther away from the entrance at the grocery store so you have to walk further. Whatever you can do to add in more movement throughout your day is essential when trying to burn excess calories.
Losing stubborn belly fat and that muffin top is achievable if you follow a good exercise routine and diet. If you aren’t sure about dieting, you can make an appointment with a dietician or nutritionist to see what would work best for you. If you need help creating a workout routine, many gyms have personal trainers on staff to help you.
Losing your muffin top might take some time but going about it in a slow and methodical way with tried and true methods will ensure that once it is gone it won’t come back.
Proudly serving the Katy, Fulshear and Richmond Texas area, Beat Strong Fitness and Nutrition offers nutrition and group interval training classes based on high intensity interval training, or HIIT.