Belly fat — that lovable lipid layer obscuring your undoubtedly sculpted six-pack abs — can be some of the most frustrating fat to shed. Even if you’re eating well and working out, your belly will often be the last area to show all of that hard work.
Save surgery, there’s no magic bullet that can shrink your waistline without a little work. But make these thoughtful dietary and fitness modifications, and you’ll begin to see a reduction of stubborn belly fat.
1. PORTION CONTROL IS KING.
If you were raised to clean your plate, you’ll have a hard time avoiding overeating. Try mindful eating: Pay attention to when you’re full and stop as soon as you’re satisfied. Or, simply use smaller plates and bowls to automatically limit serving size.
2. DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHEN YOU EAT.
Though we’ve all heard that eating after a certain time at night can result in weight gain, that idea has been exposed as a myth. “It doesn’t matter what time of day you eat,” says Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor for NBC News. “It is what and how much you eat, and how much physical activity you do during the whole day, that determines whether you gain, lose or maintain your weight.” So, instead of focusing on not eating before bed, just pay attention to how many calories you consume each day.
3. BE A BEER SNOB.
It’s called a “beer belly” for a reason: All of those ice-cold, refreshing brews add up to a lot of empty calories that can go straight to your waistline. By paying attention to the “alcohol by volume” (or ABV) number on your beer of choice, you can choose less-potent (meaning lower-calorie) beers.
4. FIND A WORKOUT YOU LIKE.
If you’re not one of those lucky people who naturally loves to exercise, that’s okay. You don’t have to drag yourself to the gym — instead, find a workout you like, such as dancing, swimming or biking.
5. MAKE FAST FOOD SMARTER.
We all want a cheeseburger every once in a while, and, sometimes, we don’t have time to pick up anything else for lunch. A 2012 Temple University study found that by ordering individual fast food items instead of meal combinations, calorie-conscious eaters are more likely to stay within their desired limits. Save a few cents and a few hundred calories by skipping soda and side items.
6. EXERCISE MODERATELY.
Attempting to massively overhaul your diet and exercise regimen won’t result in lasting change, says Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating. Start by making small, viable adjustments, and go from there. Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are strong, healthy bodies.