I think I’ve mentioned before that the majority of my clients come to me to “lose weight and tone up “- but if we boil it down a bit further, I’d say 90% of those weight-loss clients would more specifically say this:
I want to lose my belly fat.
Whether it’s from pregnancy, poor diet, aging, alcohol, or a combination of factors, lamentations about the midsection top the list of complaints I get from even my fittest clients.
So what is there to do?
There’s an old saying in the fitness community that “great abs are made in the kitchen,” and I’ll agree with that 99% (the other bit I’ll address in a moment). Diet is the single most important factor in beating the bulge, not only in the torso but all over the body. That said, especially as we age, more of our body fat tends to “settle” in the middle (hey, blame gravity), meaning that any excess glycogen (read: carbohydrate, you know, sugar and starch) calories tend to team up and gather there as well. Bummer, huh?
But all is not lost.
Besides cutting down on carbohydrates (read here for a comprehensive belly-fat-beating list of foods you can eliminate from your daily diet), there are actually some really simple ways to target android fat that don’t even involve exercise. First, get enough rest – the hormone cortisol (aka the “stress hormone”) kicks belly fat storage into high gear when you’re getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night – and is even worse when you spend your waking hours stressed out as well.
Second, consider eliminating dairy – a topic I wrote about in a prior Ask Amanda and a belly-bloating culprit many of us don’t even realize we’re encouraging. For some, wheat can also contribute to gas retention and discomfort – so it’s worth trying an elimination period from each to see if your body reacts to either type of food.
Third, make sure you’re drinking enough water – about 3 liters daily – since sodium retention is a major cause of bloating, and dehydration only makes those effects worse – something those of us who have woken up to a puffy, rounded face after a hard night of drinking and late-night eats can definitely attest to (cough, cough).
And finally – this is a fitness blog, after all – the exercise piece of the puzzle. Truth be told, most of us have decent abs, they’re just hidden under a nice warm layer of fat. In order to give your middle the best chance of looking lean, you must combine a clean diet, consistent hydration, proper sleep habits, destressing techniques, and lengthening and strengthening exercises for the core. Some examples of what I mean are:
Once you’ve got all these pieces of the puzzle in order, you’ll be amazed at how quickly the central fat starts to disappear – and how toned the rest of your body will appear, as well.
What are your favorite midsection-melting moves? How do you like to tone your tummy?