Unfortunately, taking these steps rarely work long term and the stress on the body plus the nutritional deficit can actually lower metabolism, resulting in weight gain around the belly.
There is a better way. An hour of moderate exercise daily, paired with a sensible, controlled diet results in weight loss and helps keep the pounds off. If at least part of the daily exercise involves intense aerobic activity, belly fat will disappear.
Since belly fat is so responsive to metabolism, the key is to keep the metabolism high so the body keeps burning calories. This prevents calories from being stored as fat and creating that “spare tire” around the abdominal region.
Exercise is Required
Despite a common myth, counting calories will not, by itself, keep the body lean. It is true that if you take in more calories than your body can burn, you will add on the pounds in the form of fat.
Therefore, it makes sense that reducing calories is often a good choice. However, without lean muscle mass, which is created through exercise and burns calories around the clock, the body will continue to struggle with weight.
When dieting is used without exercise, part of the weight loss that is experienced is going to be lean muscle mass. This slows metabolism, which causes the body to store more fat and increases the chance that any break with the diet will cause the fat to pile on once again, and more quickly than before.
Building Muscle and Toning the Abdominals
Achievable, realistic goals are important for keeping the confidence and positive stance needed to stick to a weight loss program. The first step should be to determine the most important activities and lifestyle improvements to implement.
For developing leaner abs, specific exercises that engage the abdominals and strengthen the core create well-developed abdominal muscles. This results in a leaner look around the midsection.
Here are five of the top exercises for toning the belly:
1. The Bicycle exercise – this targets the six pack muscles and the oblique muscles. Lie down on the floor on your back and place your hands behind you to support your head. Slowly pull you knees to your chest while slightly lifting your shoulders off the floor. Bring your left elbow towards the right knee as you straighten your right leg. Reverse sides back and forth. The motion of the legs is as if you were pedaling a bicycle. Do as many sets as you are comfortable doing. Each set should consist of 12 repetitions.
2. Captain’s Chair – You will need to do this in a gym unless you have a captain’s chair at home. This is a vertical stand with a padded back, handholds and armrest. Place your back flat against the chair, gripping the handholds, and slowly raise your knees to the chest while contracting your abs. Slowly lower your legs and repeat at least 12 times to complete a set.
3. Crunches using an Exercise Ball – Use a standard size exercise ball for this exercise. Lie on the exercise ball with your lower back fully supported and feet firmly on the floor. Place your hands behind your head to support your neck. Next, contract your abs to curl up, keeping feet planted on the floor and the ball stable, and then slowly lower to the original position. Do sets of 12 reps. Work your way from 1 to 3 sets per day.
4. Leg Crunch – Vertical Style – Lie flat on the floor with your legs straight up with knees crossed and your hands behind your head. Contract your abs to lift your shoulders off the floor, not moving your legs. Do 12 repetitions per set.
5. Extended Long Arm Crunch – This is another version of crunches, which adds intensity. Lie on the floor with legs slightly bent and extend your arms behind you, clasping your hands. Contract the abs and lift your shoulders off the floor, taking care to keep the arms straight. Do at least 12 repetitions per set.
The best way to lose weight is to combine a healthy diet with an hour of exercise per day. There is no guaranteed way to get rid of abdominal fat, but activities that rev up the metabolism do help. One of the best strategies is to make sure you have fun and choose exercises you enjoy doing.
If you resist exercising because you have chosen boring or tedious exercises, then you are less likely to keep with the program. When you are having fun, you will burn calories without it feeling so much like work.
If the exercises mentioned here aren’t your cups of tea, find other activities that get you moving. Go hiking, biking, canoeing or swimming, for example. Just keep moving and developing that lean muscle and eventually you will see results.
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