If your belly fat spills over the waistline of your pants, it’s often referred to as a muffin top. Although this might sound funny at first, there’s nothing funny about excess belly flab. It negatively affects your appearance and is linked to health conditions, such as stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes.
A reduced-calorie diet combined with regular exercise can help reduce a muffin top, and by revving up your workout from time to time you can expedite the process.
Perform calorie-burning activities on most days of the week. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests doing 150 to 300 minutes of moderate cardio per week. Engage in cardio that you enjoy doing, such as bicycling, jogging, swimming or exercising on an elliptical machine or stair climber. Maintain a pace that allows you to talk but not sing.
Incorporate high-intense interval training, also known as HIIT, into two or three of your cardiovascular workout sessions. HIIT boosts your metabolism for hours after finishing your workout, resulting in more calories burned. For example, jog at a moderate pace for two minutes, then speed up to a one-minute, vigorous sprint during which you can’t talk anymore. Then go back to the moderately paced jog for a two-minute recovery. Do this initially for 10 minutes and work your way up to 30 minutes.
Schedule strength training on at least two days of the week. Strength training maintains and increases muscle tissue, which uses up more energy than fat to sustain itself. You burn more calories, even after finishing your workout. Target all your major muscle groups with two to three sets of each exercise and eight to 12 repetitions per set.
Add variety to your exercise routine by doing circuit training, which increases your caloric burn. During circuit training you’re doing a series of strength-training exercises without resting in between sets. You can do the same with different cardiovascular exercises, or you can combine both cardio and strength training. For example, jump rope for one minute or do one minute of jumping jacks between each strength-training exercise.
Lose weight at a gradual rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, this is safe and easy to incorporate into your lifestyle. Limit unhealthy foods that are high in salt, sugar, cholesterol, trans fat and saturated fat. Focus on eating vegetables, whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Cut calories by eating smaller portions and by eating low-calorie foods instead of high-calorie foods. Doing abdominal exercises, such as situps and crunches, only strengthens the muscles under your belly fat. They don’t reduce your belly fat.