How to Lose Belly Fat: Exercise Matters

You have done millions of stomach crunches and you cannot get rid of the large belly. Do not give up. Proper exercise does get rid of belly fat.

The previous article, Diet and More Diets, discussed the different diets that are popular today. A few of these diet books even say that exercise is optional. Maybe these diet authors really know what they are talking about, or maybe they are just great at marketing.

A healthy diet is only part of the answer to losing belly fat, exercise matters. You have to be able to lose the accumulated fat and more importantly you have to be able to keep it off. Most people say that they lose 10, 20, 50 and more pounds on a certain diet and then they almost always gain it back. For most people, gaining a large middle is far easier than losing the excess fat.

Exercise Matters

You’ve done millions of stomach crunches and still no loss in the size of your waist. Don’t stop doing the crunches; you will be happy you did them. You have built up your abdominal muscles (abs); you can’t see them because the belly fat that is still there hiding the muscles. Stomach crunches wont burn off the belly fat. But once you do get it off, you will be able to see the muscles that all those crunches built.

Belly fat is stored energy. We eat food for energy; calories are energy and are measured in kcals of energy. If you eat fewer calories than your daily energy requirements are, you will then start using the reserved or stored belly fat for that energy. Exercise is how you burn off belly fat.

You will read or hear that exercise doesn’t matter, that you cannot possibly exercise enough to burn off that Big Mac you had for lunch. That is true. A half-hour of walking at 3.5 mph (1 mile in 17 minutes) will burn off 154 calories, about one and a half slices of bread. So exercise alone isn’t going to get rid of the belly fat. You have to combine lower calories with exercise, every day. And the lower calories have to come from healthier foods, nutrient dense foods. There just aren’t magic diets that alone will automatically drop the excess fat from your middle. I’m not entirely sure some of these diets are even healthy, especially for a life long way of eating.

You have to become more active and lower the amount of calories, to a healthy amount. Do not starve yourself. Your body needs food, calories and nutrients. Calories are energy, so when you consume energy, you need to use that energy or it will be stored as fat. A woman shouldn’t eat less than 1200 calories per day and a man shouldn’t eat less than 1500 calories per day. You will lose weight the fewer calories you eat, but your body starts to think you are in a famine and will start to store fat.

Get active, even when watching TV or reading a book, use the exercise bike or treadmill. Walking is a great way to start working off the excess belly fat. Build up to more strenuous aerobics. Exercise studies showed that men and women walking on a treadmill for 11 miles a week, for 8 months were able to stop further accumulation of belly fat. The second group in this study walked for 17 miles on the treadmill for 8 months, prevented belly fat and also lost 8% of the belly fat. A third group who didn’t exercise saw body fat increase by 9% in the same time frame [1]. Even a simple type of exercise matters each day.

Strength training is as important as aerobic type exercising. As we age we start losing the muscles we had. Strength training will keep your muscle tone, which also burns fat.

Food Matters

There is an old saying that abs are made in the kitchen. All the exercise in the world will not help you if you continue to eat fast food, processed foods and so much sugar. The proper healthy food is what will fuel your body when you exercise. Make your food count. Eat foods that are high in all the nutrients we need for health. Eat from all food groups, lean meats like skinless chicken breasts, grass-fed beef, lentils and legumes. Carbs like quinoa, brown rice, whole-grains and all kinds and colors of vegetables and fruits.

Watch Your Progress

You wont see progress every day, but seeing the progress you make is important. Body fat calipers are not the most accurate way to gauge your overall amount of body fat, but they will tell you when you are losing the body fat. If you weigh yourself every day, realize weight can change with water weight and other factors. Get a scale that is accurate. A recent report by Consumer Reports says that most analog scales can be off by 7 to 11 pounds; getting a digital scale is best. Consumer Reports found one of the most accurate scales they tested was the Taylor Glass Electronic Scale model 7506 for $35.

Talk to Your Doctor First

Before you start an exercise program or a strict diet, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can recommend an exercise program for you. 

© 2010 Sam Montana

More Healthy Articles

Healthy Food And Nutrition: Guide to Healing Foods And How Food Affects Our Health

Resources

[1] Walking study

AARP Belly Workout

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