How to Beat Belly Fat
Go Ahead, Bust a Gut
Diet, of course, is only part of the picture. Exercise, and the right type of it, is crucial to boosting your metabolism and shrinking both subcutaneous and visceral fat cells. If you're not working out regularly, now is the time to start, using these guidelines:
- Get off the couch. Going for a brisk 45-minute walk five times a week not only helps you lose flab but also has been shown to reduce the disease-causing inflammation in visceral fat. You should aim for a pace of three to four miles per hour. Don't have that much time available all at once? According to trainers and other fitness experts, bouts of exercise as short as one minute each can still benefit your belly -- as long as you log a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
- Raise your rate. Increasing your heart rate to 80 percent of its maximum for 40 minutes can speed up your metabolism for 19 hours. Subjects in a 2009 study who did this three or four times a week (through moderate exercise like biking, dancing, or climbing a StairMaster) were able to maintain previous weight loss without gaining visceral fat. (Those who ate a balanced diet but didn't exercise added visceral fat.) To calculate this target heart rate, subtract your age from 220, then multiply by .80.
- Up the ante. Want even quicker results? Try an interval workout that alternates high- and low-intensity exercise. The powerful bursts of energy use more fat as fuel and the rest periods in between allow your body to flush out waste products from muscles. Bonus: High-intensity interval training may suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin.
- Join the resistance. Why? Resistance training builds muscle, and more muscle means a faster metabolism. Aim to strength-train for at least 30 minutes two to three times a week and switch up lower- and upper-body exercises. Tip: Experts say that you burn more fat by lifting weights before your cardio workout.
- Cut to the core. To attack your fat even more effectively, target the deeper layers of muscle along your abdominal walls by doing Pilates, yoga, and mat exercises such as crunches and push-ups. Core training will help you develop well-defined muscles in your back, chest, and abdomen.