The Best Way to Get Rid of Belly Fat

Belly fat
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Guys, is it time to get rid of your beer belly?  Is your waistline expanding beyond your control? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone.  Men often hold weight in their midsection and trying to find the best way to get rid of belly fat can be challenging because experts often disagree.As you might expect, the best program to slim down your belly involves diet and exercise.

But what you might not expect is that your program should start with a trip to your doctor.

Why Get Rid of Belly Fat?

If you are overweight, reducing your overall body size is probably a good idea.  But belly fat deserves special attention.  Research has shown that holding abdominal fat can be particularly problematic to your health.  Numerous research studies have shown an association between an increased waist circumference and an elevated risk for heart disease and other conditions, including metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. 

So how big is too big?  If you measure your belly just above your hipbones and your measurement is over 40 inches (35 inches for ladies) then you are at an increased risk for certain conditions, according to the National Institutes of Health. One study even showed that waist measurements as low as 33 inches in men and 28 inches in women can be used to help identify people who are at greater risk for heart disease.

Think you’re off the hook if you’re not overweight? Think again! Even if your BMI is normal, some studies still suggest that holding excess weight around your midsection can be problematic, especially as we age.  An evaluation of over 100,000 men and women aged 50 and over showed that regardless of BMI, an elevated waist circumference was associated with a higher risk of death in older adults.

Of course, your waist circumference is only one measurement that your doctor will use when evaluating your overall risk for different medical conditions. But if you and your physician determine that belly fat puts you at higher risk for heart disease or even death, then it may the motivation you need to get rid of your gut.

The Best Ways to Reduce Belly Fat: Diet vs. Exercise

So what’s the best way to reduce that beer belly?  Not surprisingly, the solution requires careful attention to both diet and exercise.  But which component matters more?

Several recent studies suggest that exercise plays a more important role in maintaining a lean belly.  One study identified aerobic activity as a key factor.  Researchers found that men who had higher levels of cardiovascular fitness (also called aerobic fitness) were more likely to have leaner midsections, even if those men were overweight.

But of course, that doesn’t mean you should use exercise as an excuse to ignore your diet.  You can’t eat whatever you want and ​still expect to get rid of your paunch.  Book author and fat-loss expert Tom Venuto says that one of the most common workout mistakes made by men is to ignore the important relationship between diet and exercise in reaching weight loss goals.

Coach Calorie’s Tony Schober agrees.  He says that a healthy diet is essential and that people who want to lose abdominal fat should eat more protein.  Tom Venuto’s book, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle, provides a helpful guide for creating a personalized diet plan that is higher in protein and full of healthy carbs and essential fats to reach a healthy weight.

The Best Exercise to Get Rid of Your Gut

New York fitness trainer Matt Griffin works at a gym where the clientele is mostly men.  He says that getting a lean body requires a combination of cardiovascular training and lifting weights.  “The mix of weight training and cardio keeps the body guessing and reacting to the stresses being put on it.”  Both Griffin and Schober say that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is particularly effective for burning fat and targeting the gut.

So does this mean you should ignore those popular abdominal curls?  Not exactly, says Griffin. “Getting great abs is about more than just doing a bunch of sit ups.”  He says that abdominal training should engage the whole body.  He recommends functional training to his clients.  “Core training that incorporates movement of the entire body is more relevant to everyday life,” he says.  He specifically prefers Pilates and Gyrotonic training for men who want to get flatter abs.

If you don't have access to the gym, there are other exercises that can help trim your tummy and many of them can be done at home. "Plank exercises are an effective way to strengthen all of the muscles in your core, "says football trainer Brian Martin, CSCS. Martin has trained numerous pro players and says that "the plank works dozens of muscles all at once. It is a much more complete exercise then abdominal crunches or sit up."

Currently, Martin uses a product called the Stealth Core Trainer with his clients. The plank-based ab trainer engages the user with smartphone games for a challenging ab workout. The unbalanced board puts your body into an unstable position that has be manipulated to reach targets and score. Not only does the game system take your mind off the workout, but the stabilization required to increase points in the game helps to sculpt a tight core.

With or without the Stealth trainer, anyone can start a plank program at home. "Planks can be done daily, says Martin, "because the core recovers quickly."  We recommend starting with up to 30 seconds for beginners and working your way up to three minutes per day. For best results, however, he says that people should still do full body workouts at least 30 minutes 3-5 days per week along with a balanced nutritional plan.” 

Griffin agrees, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive program for losing weight and getting rid of belly fat.  It’s not just about the diet or just about the gym. Trimming your waistline could impact your longevity. Take the time to talk to your doctor, and develop a lifelong plan of healthy eating and vigorous exercise to get lean and stay fit for life.

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