Feb. 13, 2013 at 6:10 PM ET
Belly Flab Fighter #1: Eat Good Fat
Believe it or not, following a low-fat diet is not the best way to reduce belly flab. “People who have a big middle do not respond well to a low-fat diet,” says Mehmet Oz, M.D., Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University and host of The Dr. Oz Show. To reduce belly flab, Dr. Oz advises avoiding refined carbohydrates that are low in fat (like white rice) and can have a yo-yo effect on blood sugar. Instead, add “good fat” foods, like olive oil, avocado and sea bass. Dr. Oz recommends toasting Ezekiel bread (or another sprouted 100-percent whole grain bread) and topping it with avocado, olive oil, lemon and chili flakes for a belly fat-fighting meal or snack.
Belly Flab Fighter #2: Eat Your Binge Food Every
Yes, you read that right, eating the food you crave the most, even if it’s high-fat, could help you finally beat your belly-busting cravings for good. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who were served their favorite mac-n-cheese meal every day for five days, five weeks in a row, ate less and less of it, and actually consumed about 100 calories less than those who only ate it twice, one week apart (those women actually ate more of it the second time it was served). Consuming formerly off-limits foods may help lessen their appeal, curb cravings (and major diet binges) to slim down your belly permanently. Try eating a small amount of your ‘trigger’ food daily. Knowing that you can eat it again the next day could help you eat less. Chocolate anyone?
Belly Flab Fighter #3: Diet Every Other Day
A recent study led by Krista Varady, Ph.D., an assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago, found that people eating 25 percent fewer calories every other day lost up to 30 pounds in only eight weeks. Make it work for you by taking in 1,200 to 1,500 calories one day, and then eating as you normally do the next. Don’t overdo it on your “off days” and sabotage yourself, though. And keep up your weekly exercise routine.
Belly Flab Fighter #4: Stop Doing Crunches
No matter how many crunches you do, it won’t help reduce the fat around your belly. That’s why Yegyan, a holistic health practitioner and physique conditioning specialist in Tualatin, Ore., recommends exercising only the large muscle groups of your body. “Your abs are a very small amount of muscle, while your legs, back, chest and shoulders are all larger muscle complexes and burn many times more calories in the same amount of time that you spend on an abs workout.” Instead of crunching, stand up and do multi-muscle group moves such as overhead presses, squats, planks and push-ups to burn more calories during your strength workouts to reduce belly fat more efficiently.
Belly Flab Fighter #5: Crank Up the Cardio
While strength training certainly has its benefits, when it comes to reducing belly fat, your best bet is aerobic exercise, say researchers from Duke University. A recent study found that resistance training alone had little effect on eliminating belly flab, while aerobic exercise burned 67 percent more calories for study participants and significantly reduced their abdominal fat. Study participants ran an equivalent of 12 miles per week to achieve these results. If your goal is to shed your muffin top quickly, first focus on adding aerobic exercise (four or five days a week) to burn more calories, and then add in resistance training on alternate days to help add definition and shape to your body.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.