Healthy lifestyle changes can reduce abdominal fat.
Belly fat can suddenly catch you by surprise, especially as you get older. During and after your 30s, those extra inches around your middle can be caused by everything from hormonal changes and an unhealthy diet, to genetics and loss of muscle tissue. Losing only belly fat isn't possible; you must reduce your total body fat to reduce your abdominal fat.1.
Create a daily deficit ranging from 500 to 1,000 calories through diet and exercise so you lose weight at a gradual rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that by losing weight at this rate you're more likely to keep it off over the long run.2.
Schedule 150 minutes of moderate cardio, or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio, into each week. The calories you burn will contribute to your deficit. During moderate cardio, like walking briskly, doubles tennis or water aerobics, you should still be able to talk. During vigorous cardio, like jogging, hiking uphill or swimming laps, you should only be able to say a few words before catching your breath.
Include high-intensity interval training in one or two of your cardio sessions. According to study findings reported in the "Journal of Obesity" in 2011, this type of training is most effective in reducing abdominal fat. To do intervals, consistently alternate between a challenging and less challenging exercise intensity. For instance, walk briskly for three minutes, and then speed up to a one-minute jog, or go from a jog into an all-out sprint.4.
Perform strength training on at least two days of the week. According to a 2007 study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," strength training can prevent increases in body fat and reduce belly fat. Target your large muscle groups with one set of 10 to 12 repetitions per exercise. As you get stronger, add one or two more sets. Exercise examples can include crunches, lunges, overhead presses, pushups and bent-over rows.5.
Consume a healthy diet that contains foods from the five food groups. Include whole grains and a variety of vegetables and fruits. Eat lean protein from foods such as turkey and skinless chicken. Read and compare food labels so you can make healthy, low-calorie choices, and even if you eat healthy, consider reducing your portions because the calories can add up.6.
Limit trans fats and opt for monounsaturated fats, or MUFAS. On Oprah.com, Dr. Mehmet Oz, a professor of surgery at Columbia University, notes that trans fats, which are found in foods such as packaged cookies and margarine, are linked to increases in belly fat. Oz suggests choosing MUFAS from foods such as seeds, olive oil and nuts. He also recommends including green tea and avocados in your diet.7.
Sleep between seven and a half to nine hours each night to control appetite-influencing hormones, such as cortisol and leptin. According to author and naturopathic doctor Natasha Turner, writing on the Dr. Oz Show website, a lack of sleep increases the production of cortisol in your body. Cortisol triggers cravings for foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates and is linked to increased belly fat. Getting enough sleep increases leptin in your body, which tells you to stop eating and that you're satiated.8.
Check your estrogen and testosterone levels by having your doctor perform a blood test. Men and menopausal women with high estrogen levels are prone to gain belly fat, as are aging men with low testosterone levels. Your doctor might recommend dietary changes or supplements to balance out your levels.
- Consult your doctor before beginning a weight-loss program, especially if you suffer from a health condition or injury.