You’ve tried it all: ab machines, celebrity detox diets, laxatives, even skipping meals, yet none of these methods seem to help you slim down.
Here’s the real skinny on how to get rid of belly fat.
Some ways to help you burn stubborn fat around your midsection involves:
Avoiding sugars and starches as much as possible
Getting enough essential fatty acids in the diet, which can help metabolize body fat
Tweaking your exercise routine
Managing stress levels
Correcting hormonal imbalances
And by extension, it’s impossible to do what’s called ‘spot reduction’ fat burning. Running on a treadmill for 45-minutes at a high intensity may indeed help you burn fat, but there’s no telling where on your body Mother Nature plans on burning up your fat stores.
It could be in your saddlebags, buttocks, back or chest; there’s just no telling.
The Aerobic vs. Anaerobic debate
So what’s the best method of exercise to burn belly fat (and fat circulating in the bloodstream)?
For decades, exercise gurus and scientists recommended sustained (at least 30 minutes) aerobic exercise in the so-called ‘fat-burning zone,’ which is often regarded as approximately 50-70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
There are still plenty of aerobic advocates who claim that aerobic exercise is king, but recent research and new fitness training schools of thought have a different opinion.
Several repetitions of high-intensity, short-burst exercise of 30-60 seconds, followed by a recovery period will burn significantly more calories than a steady-tempo jog on the treadmill.
Really want to burn belly fat? Then train like an Olympian
It’s no wonder that Olympic athletes like track and field sprinters are chiseled Adonis’s with virtually no abdominal fat. You don’t have to be a world-class athlete but you can train like one (if you’re physically fit) if you want to burn belly fat.
Try raising the treadmill to the highest incline and sprinting at the highest speed (on most machines, this will be 10 m.p.h.) for 30 seconds, then lower the treadmill all the way down and reduce the speed to 3 m.p.h. until your heart rate recovers. Repeat several times.
If you’re not into high-intensity training, you’ll still want to implement cross-training into your routine, whereby you mix weight and resistance exercises with cardio exercises. Pick exercises that involve virtually every muscle. For example, do any variation of squats or deadlifts, followed immediately by a round of jump roping or jumping jacks. Doing 10 sets of this will boost your metabolism and hopefully burn fat around your midsection.
Mix it up
Another vital tenet of belly-fat burning exercise is to frequently alter your training routine. Ever notice that people who walk on the treadmill for 2 hours at the gym rarely make any improvements to their physique? Though long walks can help stave off disease, they most likely will do little to burn body fat.
You must train at a higher intensity and constantly trick your body to prevent routine adaptation. Keep doing the same thing and your body won’t burn fat as effectively.
Got stress? It may show on your belly.
Some adults who exercise regularly and claim to eat healthy still have trouble getting rid of that extra 5-10 pounds of love handles and belly fat. Stress is the likely culprit.
Stress of any kind—including exercising too hard and failing to refuel the body properly and getting enough rest—leads to adrenal fatigue and floods the body with the hormone cortisol. When excess cortisol courses through the body, it can have a negative effect on DHEA production, a hormone that is one of the precursors to the sex hormones like testosterone.
If you’re testosterone levels are low, you’ll have a harder time burning belly fat and gaining lean muscle. Consult your physician or wellness practitioner to test your hormone levels.
Judd Handler is a health writer in Encinitas, California. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.