Belly Fat. This word mocks me like a jelly donuts in a bakery case. If you are like me, you hate sit-ups and crunches. But midriff tautness, the 6pack abs seen on countless models in magazines and on billboards frequently lures me back to the gym, only to find myself splayed like a beached whale wondering why it’s not working and if I will ever start to look like celebrity A, B, and/or C.
I’m forever curious if the road to successful belly fat reduction is through the purchase of costly supplements and super foods; those that claim “easy” and “fast” weight loss surely must be the cure, and yet I have watched many friends seek quick remedies only to find their midsection contract then expand well beyond their original size. Or, is my best bet exercise, should I continue paying for my gym membership, the one I hardly use because it hardly feels like it is hardly working.
So I decided to do some research to find out if there really is a quick and easy remedy and here is what I found out: you have to exercise. But more specifically, you have to sweat.
The surest way to burn belly fat is to burn calories and the quickest way to burn calories is aerobic exercise. Hands down. You may be suffering through countless crunches and sit-ups, and yes, these are beneficial for overall toning, especially if you want six-pack abs, but heart pumping cardio exercise is the best way to promote overall weight loss. Aerobic exercise is better for losing belly fat than weight lifting or toning because it simply burns more calories and to effectively lose belly fat you will need to consistently burn more calories than you consume.
In a recent study at Duke University researchers compared groups of adults between the ages of 18 and 70. 196 traditionally sedentary adults were divided into three exercise groups: aerobic activity, resistance training, and a combination of both. The results were astounding. Those who performed aerobic activity for eight months lost 20 times more belly fat than the weight lifting group. And this is interesting: those who combined resistance training with aerobic activity experienced no additional health benefits.
Aerobic activity raises your heart rate; it gets your blood pumping and burns more calories. Resistance training is great for building strength and increasing lean body mass but if you really want to lose those inches around our waist then cardio exercise is your best bet for boosting your fat burning potential.
A pound of body fat is the equivalent to approximately 3500 calories. So, if you burn 500 calories more than you eat each day you will lose approximately one pound per week. You can double that daily caloric burn to 1000 calories and work towards losing two pounds per week, the maximum rate of healthy weight loss. Either way, you’re moving in the right direction towards losing that unwanted belly fat.
What really counts is how many calories you burn and although burning 500 calories per day may sound like a lot, it is really only 30 minutes to an hour of exercise per day, depending on the intensity at with you work out.
Aerobic exercise is any activity that last for a period of 15-20 minutes or longer while maintaining 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. You can work on decreasing belly fat through low-intensity aerobic activity or through high intensity aerobic activity, or a combination of both; ideally selecting a workout regimen that best fits your health needs and physical condition and will allow improvement in a safe and non-injury inducing way.
According to the HealthStatus website, an hour of crunches and sit-ups burns only about 325 calories for a 160-lb. person, but an hour of running burns nearly 600 calories, according to MayoClinic.com. Here’s a list of the top 10 exercises that burn the most calories, with both maximum and moderate intensity calorie burning benefits so that you can determine where you fall at your personal exercise level.
If you choose to work out at a lower intensity level, choosing exercises like walking or swimming, you will still see results but it will simply take a bit longer. And remember, both low and high intensity levels benefit you in many ways. You’ll be burning fat, increasing your metabolic rate, which increases the amount of energy you use at a given time, but you will also have tons more energy, and you’ll feel better. Much better!
An important thing to remember, your goal it to burn 500 calories more than you eat. There is no doubt the increased exercise regimen will also increase your appetite, so make sure to make smart healthy choices. That bag of chips or pint of ice cream may taste good but it’s not going to help you reach your goal, and it will be adding empty calories to your daily intake. We have all heard this before but fresh vegetables, fruit, and lean proteins are really the best way to go when considering establishing healthy diet habits.
There are also tremendous health benefits to raising your heart rate and working aerobically. When we look at Belly Fat as that layer of what many people call a “Muffin top” that’s not really where your greatest risk factor lies. Visceral and liver fat, the “real” belly or abdominal fat, is located deep within the abdominal cavity. Filling the spaces between your internal organs, this fat is associated with increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It’s not how much fat you have but rather, where that fat is located and aerobic activity has proven time and time again as the most effective way to reduce this type of unhealthy fat.
Remember, there is no one particular aerobic exercise that targets a specific area of your body but incorporating a regular exercise plan will decrease overall body fat, drop inches in your midsection, and improve your health. And if you incorporate toning exercises you will see those much desired six-pack abs develop. So drop that donut, head outside or to the gym, you’ll be glad you did!
Pavlos of weightlosstriumph is a fitness and physical exercise enthusiast. He practices a healthy and energetic lifestyle and he focuses day-in and day-out on maintaining a fit, ripped and muscular appearance. He loves researching topics that relate to improving our health and developing a lean, toned and strong look. He contributes to weight loss, health and fitness blogs.