Belly fat is made up of two types of fat: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Immediately beneath the skin lies subcutaneous fat, while visceral fat sits deeper inside the body, surrounding the vital organs. If you really want to trim your belly fat and improve your health, you need to target both types of fat by adopt a two-pronged attack. Overhauling your diet and reducing your calorie intake will reduce visceral fat, while regular exercise is required to tackle subcutaneous fat. It takes hard work and dedication, but the good news is that it's possible to make a noticeable difference to your waistline in 12 weeks.
Reduce your calorie intake. Use the Super Skinny Me calorie calculator to work out your recommended daily calorie intake for weight loss (see Resources). Enter your age, gender, current weight and height. Select your level of physical activity from the drop down box and click "Calculate."
Eat small, regular meals. Cut out all processed foods and include plenty of high quality protein and complex carbohydrates. Protein is vital to maintain and repair the body's cells and fight infection and illness. Complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, wholemeal bread, wholegrain pasta and vegetables, are high in fibre and make you feel fuller for longer. Avoid sugary foods, which are high in calories but low in nutrients. Natural sugars, such as those in honey and fruit are fine, but try to consume these in moderation and preferably immediately before or after exercising.
Drink eight glasses of water per day. Water is essential to flush out toxins, keep bodily fluids balanced, avoid dehydration and energise the muscles. By replacing fizzy drinks and fruit juices with water, you'll be cutting out calories and doing wonders for your general health.
Devise a weekly workout routine. Include aerobic exercise such as cycling, jogging, skipping and swimming. Take up interval training like sprints and circuit training. Try cross-training, which is a combination of various exercises to work different body parts; and resistance training, which uses weights to reshape and tone your body. How much you do depends on your current level of fitness. If you have not exercised for a long time, start slowly with three 30 minute sessions per week. If you already exercise regularly, increase your sessions by 15 minutes and change your workouts. Changing the type, duration and frequency of exercise will boost your metabolism and help to burn extra calories.
Work out your abs every day. The plank, abdominal hold, side crunch and squat thrust with twist are extremely effective in toning the belly area. Start with two sets of eight reps of each exercise, and gradually increase the amount of sets and reps as your strength and stamina increase. Join a class or enlist the services of a personal trainer if you lack motivation to do it alone.
A quick way of working out if you need to reduce your belly fat is to measure your waistline while you're standing up. Waist measurement should be less than 35 inches for women and less than 40 inches for men. If yours is higher than this, you need to take action.