Belly fat is not only unattractive but can also be worse for your health than overall obesity!
Many studies have found that abdominal fat is particularly damaging. It increases the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, certain cancers and even mortality.
A 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that normal-weight central obesity defined by the waist-to-hip ratio is associated with higher mortality than obesity defined by body mass index (BMI), particularly in the absence of central fat distribution.
Belly fat can be stubborn and hard to get rid of. Much like any overall weight loss plan, two factors are key to flattening your tummy – diet and exercise.
Diet is very important. Pay attention to portion size. Eat more lean protein. Stick to complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, instead of simple carbohydrates like white bread, refined-grain pasta and sugary drinks. Replace saturated and trans fats with polyunsaturated fats in your diet.
Exercise burns calories and boosts your metabolism to help you lose weight. Also, certain moderate-intensity and strength-training exercises are particularly effective at fighting abdominal fat.
Many of the exercises require lying on the floor. Using an exercise or yoga mat is a good idea. Doing them on a hard floor will take a toll on your back.
When it comes to the best exercise to lose belly fat, crunches top the list. They help tone your abdominal muscles and burn off excess fat from around your belly.
- Lie on your back and bend your knees slightly, forming a triangle on the floor.
- Plant your feet firmly on the floor, placing them apart at a distance roughly the width of your hips.
- Cross your arms over your chest or place them behind your head.
- Tighten your stomach muscles.
- Exhale as you use your abdomen muscles to raise your head and upper back off the floor.
- Hold your position for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Inhale as you return to your starting position.
- Repeat 10 to 12 times to form a complete set.
- Perform 3 sets, 4 times a week, to see a visible reduction in your belly fat within 2 months.
Other variations: Dumbbell crossover punch, shoulder press and side crunch, butterfly crunch, twist crunch, side crunch, vertical leg crunch and reverse crunch.
Note: Don’t jerk your head forward while doing crunches. It will put pressure on your neck and result in pain.
2. Bicycle Exercise
Cycling is a highly effective form of exercise. It helps build lean muscle mass and improve your strength, cardio capacity and endurance.
On top of that, cycling helps you easily shed excess fat from your belly area.
But for this, you don’t need a bicycle. You can do a lying down bicycle exercise.
- Lie flat on the floor or a mat and keep your hands on either side of your head or behind your head.
- Lift both your legs off the ground, bending them at your knees so they are at a 90-degree angle.
- Now, pull your right knee close to your chest, keeping your left leg out.
- Then, put your right leg out and bring your left knee close to your chest.
- Keep rotating your legs in a manner similar to riding a bicycle.
- Repeat this 10 to 12 times for both the legs and for 2 consecutive sets, or more as your endurance allows.
- Do this 3 or 4 times a week.
3. Leg Circles
This exercise stretches and contracts your abdominal muscles, alongside toning your hips and thighs, for a visibly fitter body within a month of regular practice.
- Lie down on your back, with your hands by your sides and your feet and toes pointing forward.
- Raise your right leg toward the ceiling until it forms a 90-degree angle with your body.
- Keep your toes pointed toward the ceiling and hold your position for 10 to 60 seconds.
- Rotate your right leg from your hips, as if drawing a circle on the ceiling.
- Repeat the above step, this time focusing on your breathing — inhale deeply as you begin your circle and exhale slowly as you finish it.
- After performing 6 circles, reverse the direction and draw another 6 circles counterclockwise.
- Slowly lower your right leg, and repeat the entire process with your left leg.
- Perform at least 10 sets daily for a flat belly and sculpted lower body.
As you become an expert at this simple exercise, you can try doing circles with both legs at the same time.
4. Hip Lifts
This is a form of Pilate exercise that works your core. It helps tone the muscles of your lower belly.
- Lie down on your back with your hands by your side and your palms facing down.
- Keep your legs together and raise them toward the ceiling, forming a 90-degree angle with your body. Make sure you keep your head and shoulders on the floor throughout this exercise.
- Inhale and tighten your gut muscles.
- Exhale while lifting and curling your hips toward your rib cage, making sure to keep your legs straight.
- Inhale as you slowly lower your hips.
- Repeat this process 10 times. Remember to exhale every time you raise your hips and inhale as you bring them down.
- Do this 3 or 4 times a week.
You can start by performing this exercise 10 times, taking breaks when needed, and gradually work your way up to 20 times in succession.
5. The Plank
The plank is a core strengthening exercise that works the abdominal muscles. It stretches and exercises your stomach muscles, along with increasing the strength of your arms and legs.
At the same time, planking actually gives your whole body a workout.
- Lie down on your belly on a full-length exercise mat.
- Raise your upper body, placing your weight on your forearms and knees.
- Lift your knees one at a time, shifting your weight to your toes.
- Make sure that your body forms a straight line.
- Inhale deeply and hold your position for at least 30 seconds.
- Exhale as you lower your knees and return to the starting position.
- Repeat once daily.
Work on your stamina until you can hold your plank position for 2 minutes at a time and you will have a visibly flatter belly within a month.
Other variations: Rolling plank and side plank, reverse plank, inching elbow plank and full plank passé twist.