The human body is a complicated beast. When you find yourself with a lean body but protruding belly, for instance, you will know how strange the human form can be. The body stores fat in a handful of places, but fat loss in a single area, known as spot-reduction, is impossible. This means you must target fat throughout the body, not just in the stomach. You need an action plan that incorporates dietary changes and exercise to lose fat, both on the stomach and elsewhere.
1 Engage in resistance training two or three days per week. On each day, work a few areas of your body, performing each exercise in sets of eight. Aim for three sets per exercise. You will see the best results in terms of fat loss when you use compound exercises, which move multiple parts of your body at once, such as in the deadlift or squat. Rest at least one day between successive resistance training days.
2 Do cardio at least three times a week. Cardio is any activity, from basketball to swimming, that raises your heart rate to approximately 65 percent of your max heart rate. Your gym likely has machines built for cardio, and these machines can even keep track of your heart rate, allowing you to get a good idea of the intensity of proper cardio. Make your cardio sessions last at least 30 minutes, which is the point when your body begins recruiting more fat as energy, helping you burn away that swelling belly, according to "The Physician and Sportsmedicine."
3 Replace unhealthful foods in your diet, cutting foods high in calories and fat from your diet. Alcohol and sugar-heavy foods such as candy and desserts also can have a significant impact on your stomach’s size. In place of these foods, choose more healthful versions -- for example, replace processed, white bread with whole-wheat bread and fatty meats with lean meats such as turkey and chicken. Swap junk foods full of unhealthy fat with healthy fats, such as fatty fish and nuts.
4 Take time to relax and rest, including sleeping from six to eight hours a night. The “International Journal of Obesity” published a study in 2011 noted how your body reacts to stress and inadequate sleep: by storing fat in the belly -- so take time to sleep and relax.
5 Watch and track your results, using a method that is convenient for you. For example, use body weight as measured by a scale, stomach circumference as measured by a measuring tape or photos of your stomach. Take measurements frequently. By doing this, you not only prove to yourself that your routine is working but you also motivate yourself to keep it up.
- Be sure to confer with your doctor before making any big lifestyle, diet or exercise changes.
- International Journal of Obesity: Impact of Sleep, Screen Time, Depression and Stress on Weight Change in the Intensive Weight Loss Phase of the LIFE Study
- “Sports Nutrition: Energy Metabolism and Exercise”; Ira Wolinsky and Judy Driskell
- The Physician and Sportsmedicine: Fat Burning During Exercise
- Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images