Other than looking good, a smaller waistline also brings a host of health benefits
Many women (and men) spend hours at the gym trying to bust belly flab in order to look good. More recently, more and more people have expanded this goal to include a health angle. A smaller waist helps reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. According to WebMD, the ideal waist size for a man should be less than 40 inches (101.6 cm) and for women, less than 35 inches (88.9 cm).
Belly fat can also be a sign of metabolic syndrome which is a collection of worrying health problems such as excessive fat around the waist, elevated blood pressure, triglycerides (blood fat), low HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) or good cholesterol.
Keep in mind that there is no sure fire way to target your belly, so overall weight and fat loss is the only way to get your belly to shrink. Here are a few recommendations to help you bust ab flab.
Move it to bust it
Go into a push up position with your arms perpendicular to your shoulders and your body in a straight line from your head to your ankles. Raise your right knee toward your chest without arching your lower back. Pause and then return to the starting position and repeat with your other leg. Mountain climbers engage your upper arm muscles, ab (abdominal) muscles and legs. Your abs work with your back muscles to control your hips and keep your posture straight.
All you need is a pair of shoes and a lot of determination! ‘Running’ here does not mean sprinting like Usain Bolt. A slow jog is perfectly fine if you feel like it’s better for your body. If you enjoy music during your runs, by all means, plug in your headphones. The most important thing is to make running as enjoyable as you can because this will motivate you to run more often and regularly.
Speaking of which, you should also create a regular schedule for running. Don’t run ‘only when the weather’s right’ or when you ‘feel like it’. If it starts to rain, hit the gym and get on the treadmill. Tell yourself that you’ll run five times a week and also specify which five days it is so you’ll be less likely to skip a session.
Aim to run for at least 20 minutes each time. To burn more belly fat, try interval training, which involves alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. It burns more calories due to increased intensity and improves cardiovascular fitness. So try to add 10 to 60 second bursts of fast sprints every 10 minutes of your run, as a form of interval training.
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, hip-width apart with your feet flat on the floor. Contract your ab muscles to flatten your lower back into the floor. Exhale and lift your hips off the floor along with your toes but keep your heels on the floor. Inhale as you slowly return to start. Do not push your hips up too high to avoid over extending your lower back.
This exercise can help you perk up your glutes (butt muscles), tone your thighs, strengthen your back and help sculpt your abs.
Jumping rope is not just for kids. It is actually a very effective exercise for improving agility, endurance, cardiovascular fitness and of course, to burn calories. The American Council on Exercise recommends jumping rope to maximise your workouts for belly fat loss by jumping on most days in conjunction with ab exercises such as crunches, two to three days a week.
According to Livestrong, a 160 lb (72.7 kg) person can burn 730 calories in an hour of jumping rope.
Eat right to fight flab
Eating a well-balanced diet is the key to keeping your belly in check. Avoid fast food and deep fried food. Incorporate plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet. If you’re serious about losing weight to fight the bulge, there’s no harm in counting calories. Gone are the days of squinting at a carton of cereal to learn about the calorie content. There are plenty of calorie counting apps which can be downloaded and used to help you cut your calories (please refer to sidebar: Bye-bye ab flab).
Other than fats, that tummy pooch could be the result of excess gas. To combat this, avoid drinking out of straws because doing this could cause an intake of excess air that leads to bloating. Carbonated drinks should be avoided too.
Vegetables have been lauded for their nutrition and fibre content. However, offenders from the vegetable world that emit gas and cause bloating are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Broccoli contains raffinose, which is an indigestible carbohydrate that could cause gas and lead to bloating. That being said, it’s still important to have enough fibre in your diet as constipation caused by inadequate amounts of fibre will also cause bloating.
If you’re still unsure of how get rid of belly fat, speak to your doctor. You can also see a dietician who will be able to advise you on proper nutrition and tailor a diet that suits your lifestyle to help you lose that ab flab.
Bye-bye ab flab
These flab fighting apps are free and available for both iOS and Android:
My Fitness Pal
SparkPeople Calorie Counter & Weight Loss