Although most of us want to lose belly fat as a matter of appearance, it’s also very important to your health. Extra belly fat contributes to your risk of developing heart disease or diabetes and to having a heart attack or stroke. You can’t spot-treat belly fat without resorting to surgery, but you can get rid of it.
Cardio exercise is the key to losing extra belly fat. Cardio elevates your heart rate for an extended period of time, which not only strengthens it and your lungs, but also helps burn fat. It can also help balance out the stress hormones that can contribute to weight gain.
For the most effective cardio, you need to find your target heart rate and try to maintain it while exercising. You can find your target heart rate with a simple formula:
Men: Subtract your age from 220. This is your maximum heart rate. Then, find 50-75% of this number.
Women: Subtract your age from 226, then find 50-75% of this number
If you aren’t in shape, start with 50% and increase gradually after a few weeks of regular exercise. So, if you are a 40-year-old man, your target heart rate would be:
220 – 40 = 180. 50% of 180 would be 90.
In general, cardio exercise should not leave you so exerted you can’t talk comfortably during it. If you are unable to talk, you’re most likely overexerting yourself, which will do more harm than good. Strive for a comfortable exertion that elevates your heart rate and keeps it there while you’re still exercising.
The most effective cardio is done at least 30 minutes a day five times a week. Power walking, gentle jogging, swimming laps, and aerobic dance are all good exercises. You can also try sports-type activities such as kickboxing, martial arts, or Pilates. Whatever you choose, stick to it even after you lose the belly fat or you will just gain it back eventually.
Besides cardio exercises, one of the best ways to lose belly fat is to make a few simple changes in your diet. Don’t think of it as dieting, and don’t drastically reduce your calorie intake. Instead, focus on making healthier choices in the long run. Snack on fruit instead of sweets, choose low fat dairy, and swap out one or two red meat meals a week for a low fat protein like fish. Add more vegetables to your diet and try to cut down on foods that contain trans fats or lots of sodium.
Dietary changes can also help you lose belly fat, but don’t try crash diets. Simple look for lowfat and low sugar alternatives to foods you eat frequently. Try fruit instead of sweets, baked fish instead of red meat, and skim milk. Eating more fiber, which you can find in vegetables and whole grains, is also beneficial and will help you change your eating habits gradually for the better. The best results come when you combine cardio with good eating habits. Making these two changes will help you lose extra belly fat.