The one place everyone wants to lose weight first, is around the abdomen. Belly fat (medically known as visceral fat) is particularly dangerous because it suffocates organs. It is also closely linked with colorectal cancer, diabetes, high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol.

Aside from the life-threatening health risks, the worst thing about visceral fat is its effect on self-perception and self-confidence. Abdominal fat has the most dramatic impact on self-image and how healthy a person “feels.”

Luckily, it responds to the correct approach. Follow these guidelines to shrink your waist-line and get flatter abs in no time.

1. Crunches are a waste of your time:

While abdominal exercises will tighten and strengthen core muscles, they have no direct effect on the fat tissue at the waist specifically. If you lose inches off your waist and you’ve been doing 1000 crunches a day, it’s the cardio of doing so many crunches that is responsible for the fat loss, not the crunches specifically.

2. Load up on fiber:

Adding just 10 grams of fiber to your diet a day can slow or terminate belly-fat accrual and keep you from feeling bloated. Increasing fiber intake is one simple change you can make without making sweeping diet changes or starting an exercise program (although doing all three will greatly expedite belly-fat loss)

3. Intensify your cardio:

Abdominal fat responds to vigorous cardiovascular exercise. At minimum, doing 20-60minutes at least 3 times per week will yield a reduction in abdominal fat. The key here is really getting your heart-rate up. A 20 minute run that winds you will train your body to burn belly fat more effectively than a 90 min brisk walk. If you must walk, be sure to either add weight or an incline. Less intense workouts will keep abdominal fat at bay; vigorous workouts will torch it.

4. Lay off the carbs (but don’t starve yourself):

Generally speaking, carbs encourage your body to store fat. Replace your simple carbs with veggies, fruit, and protein. Do not cut out carbs or calories too radically. You could risk the opposite effect and your body will store fat for energy because it is deprived.

5. Lift heavy weights:

People that weight-train benefit from a higher rate of abdominal fat loss and better chances to keep it off. The body uses the energy from fat stores to build muscle, and once the muscle is on, it takes more energy to keep it than it does to keep fat.

In addition to these points, remember that it is always better to lose weight slowly than to crash-diet. Rapid weight-loss is NOT fat loss. Muscle and water loss are primarily responsible for weight-loss that occurs faster than 2 pounds per week. Losing weight slowly is losing fat, and it is the tried and true method to keep the weight off.

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The Truth About Belly Fat

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