Last updated on April 23, 2015
Turning flab into fabulous is not easy. Just ask anyone who has spent time performing ab crunches in an attempt to tighten and tone those muscles.
No matter how long you do belly crunches, you cannot lose belly fat with crunches alone. Since it’s not possible to control where your body reduces its fat storage, the best way to reduce belly fat is to combine cardiovascular and muscle-training exercises with a healthy eating plan.
If your goal is to get rid of belly fat the first thing you should do is stop performing crunches. While doing stomach crunches will certainly strengthen your muscles, they will not burn away abdominal fat. You are no more likely to burn fat on a targeted area — the abdominal area — than from any other place on your body.
Again, this is because we have no control where the body reduces its fat storage. It’s also important to understand that performing hundreds of abdominal exercises will not only increase the strength of the muscles, but can also increase their size. This means it is possible to increase your ab muscles to the point they simply push your belly fat forward.
The basic principal to body fat is the amount of calories in versus the amount of calories out. Body fat is gained when there are more calories being eaten than burned. It is important to understand, however, that eating less is not necessarily the answer either.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, you will experience better fat loss results if you continue eating the same amount of calories while making a point to burn 500 calories more than you eat every day. Cutting out too many calories can lead to loss of that all-important calorie-burning muscle mass. This method should help you lose about one pound of fat per week.
Tackle the tough spots
While it’s true that crunches are an effective way to strengthen abdominal muscles, they are one of the least effective ways to burn fat. To burn up excess body fat you need to increase your cardiovascular training. Think swimming, biking or jogging for your added cardiovascular exercise.
Related: Swimming workouts equivalent to aerobic exercise
The American College of Sports Medicine says people looking to reduce body fat should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day. Moderate-intensity exercises are the level at which people burn fat most efficiently.
Examples of common daily moderately-intense exercises include brisk walking, bicycling, tennis, badminton, mowing the lawn and heavy house cleaning such as mopping floors and washing windows.
Add resistance training
Weight training is an excellent way to gain and maintain muscle mass while losing body fat. While weight training uses carbohydrates rather than fat for fuel, adding weight training to your workout often increases the body’s need for calories afterward. Muscle & Fitness says doing this can help your body use its fat reserves for the energy it needs for muscle repair from your resistance training.