The Best Strategies for Abdominal Weight Loss
Some people tend to gain weight on their abdomen easier than others, and for those same people, it can stick around longer than other areas when you’re losing weight. While this mostly comes down to genetics, there are some ways to help boost abdominal weight loss by adopting a lifestyle that allows all-over weight loss.
Exercise for Abdominal Weight Loss
It's important to note that spot training, which is the type of activity that tries to burn off fat in a specific area of your body, does not work. So you will not be able to do any particular exercises that can train away your abdominal fat.
Instead, by adopting a healthy lifestyle in which you burn off more calories than you consume, you can lose weight over your whole body, including your abdomen. Part of increasing your calorie burn should come from physical activity. Exercise provides many benefits Beyond losing weight, including preventing many types of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and more.
Another benefit of adding exercise to your calorie-burning and abdominal weight loss strategy is that you can still eat plenty of food as long as you're eating less than you burn. If you do not burn calories through exercise and instead create your calorie deficit with your diet only, it will be much more difficult, and it'll be less likely that you'll be able to get all of the nutrition you need.
How Much Exercise Do I Need?
To maintain their weight, most people will need to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise or the same amount of combined activity each week, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Examples of moderate activity include brisk walking or biking. More intense, vigorous exercises include sports like soccer or hockey, running, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
For weight loss purposes increasing your amount of exercise can help, depending on the calorie deficit you create with your diet. Each person's weight loss rate and how much activity they will need to do to lose weight, including abdominal weight, is unique to that person.
Studies show that participating in moderate or vigorous-intensity cardiovascular exercises for 30 minutes per day five days a week and strength training for three days a week targeting all of your major muscle groups can help you lose nearly 20% of your abdominal fat.
Which Exercises Help Abdominal Weight Loss?
The best exercise strategy for abdominal weight loss, which includes improving your body composition (how much lean mass you have compared to the amount of fat mass you have), combines cardiovascular activity and resistance training.
Research shows that combining cardiovascular exercise and resistance training in your exercise plan leads to better body composition and improves your metabolism while lowering inflammation better than only doing cardiovascular or resistance training alone.
You can choose to do high-intensity interval training or medium-intensity continuous training, also known as steady-state cardio, as both have been shown to help with fat loss. One benefit of HIIT training is that it requires 40% less time to complete than steady-state cardio. Either way, both types of cardiovascular exercise will help you reduce your abdominal weight and total fat as well as your waist circumference, according to research.
Nutrition Strategies for Abdominal Weight Loss
Like trying to reduce your calories with nutrition alone, it is difficult to lose abdominal weight or any weight off of your body by only exercising. Your diet and your exercise regimen work best when done together. The CDC says that if you do not change your diet, you will have to exercise at a level that will be very difficult to maintain for most people.
Foods that contribute the most to abdominal fat gain include refined grains, red meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages. Eating more carbohydrates or more fat in your diet will not cause you to gain more belly fat as long as you are eating within your caloric limits. But it is wise to avoid sugary foods and refined grains shown to impact the amount of abdominal fat you have significantly. Focus on getting the highest nutritional quality out of your food by avoiding foods that are low in nutrients and high in calories.
These foods include sugary drinks like sodas, sports and energy drinks, candy, pastries, sugary cereals, fast food burgers, and other highly processed foods. Remember to read labels to check for added sugar since many processed foods have a large amount of sugar added to them. The same is true for unhealthy amounts of saturated and trans fats.
Research shows that the best foods for abdominal weight loss include whole grains, fruit, nuts, legumes, fish, and other lean sources of protein like chicken breast.
Reducing Stress and Getting Enough Sleep
Some other areas of your lifestyle that you can tweak to help boost abdominal weight loss include reducing your stress and getting enough sleep.
Research shows that the amount of sleep you get contributes to increased abdominal fat I increasing subcutaneous adipose tissue and visceral adipose tissue on the abdomen. Those under 40 years old who sleep for less than five hours are more likely to have a higher level of visceral adipose tissue than people who sleep six to seven hours.
Stress can also contribute to high levels of abdominal fat. A stress hormone called cortisol can change how your body stores fat. If you are under a lot of stress for a prolonged amount of time, then you are more likely to have more abdominal fat. This effect is due to specific enzymes and receptors in your abdominal fat cells.
High levels of stress and cortisol can also increase your appetite and cravings for foods that cause weight gain. Research shows that people who have high cortisol levels end up seeking out higher sugar and fat foods. The stress hormone cortisol also changes how different chemicals and hormones work in your brain and cause an increase in appetite.
Practicing stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, walks outdoors, or a hot bath can help reduce your stress levels and increase your chance of losing abdominal weight.
How Fast Can I Lose Abdominal Weight?
It's essential to know that losing abdominal weight or any weight off of your body very quickly can come with consequences. The faster you lose the weight, the harder it might be to keep it off. This is because your body adjusts to the current activity level and calorie level that you have. If you ever reduce the amount of exercise you do or increase the number of calories you eat, weight regain will likely occur.
Most people who lose weight will regain it within the first year, and even more, will regain it within five years. This regain occurs because many people choose nutrition and exercise strategies that they can't maintain for the long term. Whatever type of exercise and nutrition plan you choose, it should be something that you can continue doing for a long time while still staying motivated.
If you take your time and lose weight at a reasonable rate of half a pound to a pound per month, depending on how much you weigh to start with, keeping off your weight will be much easier. It is wise to avoid choosing diets that cut out entire food groups because it is unlikely that you will maintain that strategy for the long term.
Instead, adopt practices that fit into your lifestyle easily and that you enjoy. Remember that weight loss is a marathon and not a sprint. There are many highs and lows in your journey where you might gain back a little bit of weight and then lose some more. Weight loss, including abdominal weight loss, is rarely a straight path for anyone. If you stay consistent and choose a lifestyle that motivates you, you will be much more likely to keep your abdominal weight off for good.
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