But you need to exercise, too. In Slentz's study, walking or jogging miles a week kept visceral and subcutaneous fat at bay, and jogging miles melted them off. At 11 miles a week, it made no difference whether people in the study walked or jogged, and it's fairly safe to say that it wouldn't at miles either. "It's not the intensity of the exercise that matters," Slentz says. "It's the amount."
Ever since my divorce three years ago, I have felt as if someone was pumping up a spare tire around my middle. I used to wear size 6 pants, and now I can barely squeeze into size 10. I swear I'm not eating any more than I did five years ago. If anything, I eat less. Even though I go to the gym and walk on a treadmill at least five hours a week, this fat around my belly just won't budge.
Think of your ab muscles as the meat in the middle of a fat sandwich. On top of them is subcutaneous fat, the stuff you pinch as you look in the mirror. Below them is visceral fat, which is the type that takes up residence next to your internal organs — in excessive amounts if you continually overdo it on calories and experience too much pent-up stress. "When you fill up those subcutaneous areas, fat winds up getting stored where it shouldn't, in your deep abdomen or your liver," explains Arthur Weltman, PhD, exercise physiology professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Visceral fat has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, he notes.
Rather than scarfing down meals, make a point of chewing each bite at least 10 times before swallowing. "The body has to work overtime to break down food in the stomach and intestines, which can lead to major gas and indigestion," Dr. Reichman says. Plus, when you eat fast, you're more prone to swallowing air, which can ratchet up your risk of feeling a little puffy.
They also aren't the only culprit. Just sitting for long periods of time (at your desk job, during Netflix marathons) can wreck your waistline. "When you slouch, the front of your body is rounded, just as it would be in a crunch," says Sean Wells, a physical therapist, certified personal trainer, and exercise expert for the online weight-loss and wellness program BistroMD. "So you're still conditioning your rectus to be in this shortened state—but often, it's also weak."
You know all that soda we told you to throw out? Use all that money saved to re-stock your kitchen with tea. Tea is the closest thing we currently have to magic weight loss elixir. Rich in health-promoting compounds called catechins, tea can help fry stubborn belly fat and even fight off disease. Not sure which brew is best for you? Pick up a copy of the The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse!
I’m doing the ab challenge this month and am loving it. I was wondering if we couldn’t do a challenge next month as well, but maybe one for the back… I’m just worried that all this crunching will make me look like a banana :P Though actually, a lot of guys in my class look like bananas because of working only abs, really… Or maybe you could just suggest some good back moves, and I’ll do that for myself.
This easy a.m. ritual works on two levels. First, a recent study found that exposure to sunlight in between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon reduced your risk of weight gain regardless of activity level, caloric intake, or age. Researchers speculate that the morning light synchronizes your metabolism and undercuts your fat genes. And burning calories before you eat means you're exercising in a fasted state—the energy you burn comes right from your fat stores, instead of from the food you ate. But what really stunned Martha was the improvement in her heart health. Before starting Zero Belly Diet, Martha's heart rate would typically soar to 112 beats per minute (bpm) within moments of starting her exercise bike workout. "After the first week and a half I could not raise my heart rate over 96 bpm with the same workout. It was great to see change in the mirror, and even better to know good things were happening that I couldn't even see."
High-intensity interval training (or HIIT) is a great belly-blasting option for those who already feel comfortable in the gym because it helps you drop fatty tissue and build muscle simultaneously. “High-intensity interval training is when you perform an exercise at or close to your maximum ability for a short period of time and then take a brief respite and do it again. HIIT should usually be done on a 2:1 interval, meaning if you did an exercise for one minute, you rest for 30 seconds and then repeat,” explains Dr. Alex Tauberg, DC, CSCS, EMR. To use HIIT to shrink your belly, do workouts that engage your core such as abdominal crunches or bridges. “By performing core workouts using a HIIT plan, you can burn calories and build muscle at the same time,” Alex adds. “This can be a great way to flatten that stomach when you don’t have too much time to work out.”