Spot targeting your abs with sit-ups may seem like the most obvious way to reduce your beer belly. But other than strengthening your stomach muscles, the exercise actually doesn't address the fat that is covering those muscles and actually causing your beer belly. Here are 7 more effective ways to fight that stubborn fat.
1. Ditch the Alcohol
To shrink your beer belly within weeks, you have to abstain from beer altogether – including the so-called light beers. These have two-thirds the calories of ordinary beer which has about 150. Continue drinking and your body will continue to be loaded with excess calories which will continue to be converted to fat and deposited in your stomach, liver and other body parts. Your liver can’t efficiently process and dispose of the unwanted fat, so it remains in your gut.
2. Up Your Water Intake
Don’t swap alcohol for other high sugar and calorie drinks like soda. Drink water instead. It has no calories and helps to break down and burn the fat. But while certain health experts recommend 8 or more glasses of water per day, some people feel this water-logs their systems. And studies have suggested that too much water impedes the flow of blood to your brain and messes up your nervous system. So other experts advise just drinking as much water as you can comfortably take. You’ll know you’re having enough water if your urine is a light instead of dark yellow.
3. Have an Exercise Plan
There's no one move that will do the trick. You need an exercise program that shapes and tones your entire body without specifically targeting your abs. But your abs will benefit along with all your other body parts. Cardio and weight training in combination are the fastest way to burn calories.
Regular cardio exercises done at medium intensity such as running, swimming, cycling and aerobic dancing will burn lots of fat by increasing your heart and metabolic rate. Aim for 45 minutes of cardio, three days a week. If you up the intensity, you’ll burn more body and belly fat. Do this by injecting short bursts of energetic cardio into your moderate cardio workout. You might jog for two minutes, then sprint for one minute. Keep alternating the two in this way.
Have three 20-minute weight training sessions on your cardio off-days. You’ll increase your muscle mass allowing your body to use more energy and burn more fat. Aim at a program that targets both your lower and upper body. You might do lunges, squats, bench presses and pushups, for example, or you could lift hand weights and barbells. Short bursts of high intensity weight training interspersed with short rest periods will also burn more fat.
4. Live an Active Life
Don’t be a couch potato. Stay on your feet. Pace around when talking on your mobile phone. Push the lawn mower around, wash the car, pull weeds in the garden and take the stairs instead of the lift. A study by Mayo Clinic revealed that individuals who mostly sit around put on eight times more weight than those who are constantly in motion. Walk every day for about 20 minutes – over and above your usual fitness program. This will add to your overall weight loss. Also, the way you walk also makes a different. Be tall and brisk and keep your stomach pulled in for greater effect.
5. Eat Correctly
Add a healthy, balanced diet to your fitness program for effective belly weight loss. Ease up on starchy foods such as pasta, white rice and potatoes but eat plenty of fiber and protein. Soluble fiber has vitamins and fewer calories. It also reduces your insulin levels, making you stay full for long periods and speeds up the belly fat-burning process. Foods rich in soluble fiber are: barley, oats, seeds, nuts, beans and most fruits and veggies. Leave on the skin of your fruits and veggies because the skin contains most of the fiber. Protein helps to build muscle which is important for weight loss. Foods highest in protein are eggs, fish, lean meat and low-fat dairy products. Avoid refined food or grains such as white rice, flour and white bread. Their fiber and nutrient content is removed during processing. Avoid processed sugary, fatty and salty products. They raise blood insulin levels and cause your body to store fat instead of burning it.
6. Take Many Small Meals
Eat five small meals a day, at two or three hour intervals, starting with breakfast. You’ll end up slimmer, studies have shown, than if you skip breakfast and eat fewer meals a day. When you don’t eat for long periods, you can’t keep the cravings away. Have your usual breakfast, lunch and supper but slot snacking sessions in between. Snacking stops you from becoming so hungry that you end up overeating during the big meals.
Suggested Meal Breakdown
Breakfast – Boiled egg with whole grain bread
Midmorning Snack – fruit and nuts
Lunch – fish salad
Mid-afternoon Snack – veggies and chicken
Dinner – lean meat, veggies and a fistful of starch (pasta, rice, potatoes)
7. Learn to Relax
Research has shown that stress releases the hormone cortisol which triggers uncontrollable food and alcohol cravings. But you can manage your stress and ultimately reduce your beer belly through deep breathing. Suck you gut in as far as you can. Hold about 12 seconds, then relax. Repeat five or six times a day.
Your beer belly is an unpleasant reminder of your former addiction. This unwanted baggage will keep you chained to the past. Ridding yourself of it will be one of the biggest steps in your recovery program. It will then inspire you to overcome many more hurdles.