You might be able to get through most days without thinking of your bulging belly fat, but when a stranger asks when your pregnancy due date is, it's a rude awakening. And, more important, it's a reminder to drop everything and start exercising. Belly fat can not only hurt your self-image, but it carries a number of health risks for women. The speed it takes you to bid a not-so-fond farewell to this fatty area depends on your exercise and diet.
1. Belly Fat Risks
You might think the biggest issue associated with belly fat is strictly visual, but MayoClinic.com notes fat deposits in this area carry sobering health risks. Belly fat is made up of two kinds of fat. One is subcutaneous fat, which is found directly beneath your skin. While this fat is the fat that's visible, it's not nearly as dangerous as visceral fat, which sits deeper in your abdomen and fills the area around your organs. The health risks of excess visceral fat include an increased chance of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even colorectal cancer.
2. Burning Belly Fat
It's not possible to burn fat in a desired area through any type of exercise, so your belly fat will only begin to dwindle as you start to lose overall body fat. The recipe for fat-loss success is putting your body in a caloric deficit by burning more calories than you consume. MayoClinic.com suggests keeping your fat-loss goal to a maximum of 2 pounds per week -- but if you lose 2 pounds per week, you'll lose this weight from several parts of your body, not just your belly.
You'll have trouble drastically reducing your belly fat without regular exercise, and while any amount of exercise helps you work toward a caloric deficit, plan to break a sweat daily. If possible, develop a fitness plan that includes at least 300 minutes of cardio exercise and two strength-training sessions. Cardio exercises burn calories rapidly and include such activities as running, swimming laps and riding a stationary bike. Strength training can include weight machine exercises, free-weight workouts or body-weight exercises such as pushups and situps.
You'll increase your rate of burning fat if you commit to consuming a health diet -- after all, an unhealthy diet could be part of the reason for your stomach fat. The key to making dietary changes is to reduce your caloric intake, and the methods of doing so are many. If you're overwhelmed with the ordeal of counting calories, make basic changes such as avoiding alcohol and soda, eating fresh fruit for dessert instead of ice cream and shrinking the portion size of your meals.
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Women: Taking -- and Keeping -- it Off
- Hussman Fitness: Caloric Deficits and Fat Loss
- MayoClinic.com: Weight Loss: 6 Strategies for Success
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- American Council on Exercise: Weight Loss: Diet vs. Exercise
- American Council on Exercise: Trimming Off the Fat
- Health: 25 Ways to Cut 500 Calories a Day
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