Guys, is it time to get rid of your gut? Is your waistline expanding beyond your control? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Men often hold weight in their midsection. But trying to find the best way to lose belly fat for men can get confusing because experts often disagree.
As you might expect, the best program to get rid of your gut involves diet and exercise. But what you might not expect is that your program should start with a trip to your doctor.
Why Lose Belly Fat?
If you are overweight, reducing your overall body size is probably a good idea. But belly fat deserves special attention. Research has shown that holding abdominal fat can be particularly problematic for your health.
Numerous research studies have shown an association between an increased waist circumference and an elevated risk for heart disease and other conditions, including metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
So how big is too big? If you measure your belly just above your hip bones and your measurement is over 40 inches (35 inches for ladies) then you are at an increased risk for certain conditions, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Impact on Health
Even if your BMI is normal, some studies still suggest that holding excess weight around your midsection can be problematic, especially as we age. An evaluation of over 100,000 men and women aged 50 and over showed that regardless of BMI, an elevated waist circumference was associated with a higher risk of death in older adults.
Of course, your waist circumference is only one measurement that your doctor will use when evaluating your overall risk for different medical conditions. But if you and your physician determine that belly fat puts you at higher risk for heart disease or even death, then it may be the motivation you need to get rid of your gut.
Diet vs. Exercise
So what’s the best way to reduce that belly? Not surprisingly, the solution requires careful attention to both diet and exercise. But which component matters more?
If you have to pick just one, diet interventions tend to be more effective for losing weight. In the short term (3-6 months), the calories you consume are more important than the calories you burn.
Book author and fat-loss expert Tom Venuto says that one of the most common workout mistakes made by men is to ignore the important relationship between diet and exercise in reaching weight loss goals.
But of course, that doesn’t mean you should use diet as an excuse to ditch your workout routine. If you want long-term success on your weight loss journey, a proper exercise regimen is absolutely necessary.
Getting Rid of Belly Fat
New York fitness trainer Matt Griffin works at a gym where the clientele is mostly men. He says that getting a lean body requires a combination of cardiovascular training and lifting weights.
“The mix of weight training and cardio keeps the body guessing and reacting to the stresses being put on it.” Griffin says that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is particularly effective for burning fat and targeting the gut.
So, does this mean you should ignore those popular abdominal curls? Not exactly, says Griffin. “Getting great abs is about more than just doing a bunch of situps.” He says that abdominal training should engage the whole body. He recommends functional training to his clients. “Core training that incorporates movement of the entire body is more relevant to everyday life,” he says. He specifically prefers Pilates and Gyrotonic training for men who want to get flatter abs.
If you don’t have access to the gym, there are other exercises that can help trim your tummy, and many of them can be done at home.
“Plank exercises are an effective way to strengthen all of the muscles in your core,” says football trainer Brian Martin, CSCS. Martin has trained numerous pro players and says that “the plank works dozens of muscles all at once. It is a much more complete exercise than abdominal crunches or situp.”
Currently, Martin uses a product called the Stealth Core Trainer with his clients. The plank-based ab trainer engages the user with smartphone games for a challenging ab workout. Don’t Waste Your Time With Ab Crunches—Try These Core Burners
The unbalanced board puts your body into an unstable position that has to be manipulated to reach targets and score. Not only does the game system take your mind off the workout, but the stabilization required for you to win points in the game also helps to sculpt a tight core.
With or without the Stealth trainer, anyone can start a plank program at home. “Planks can be done daily,” says Martin, “because the core recovers quickly.” We recommend starting with up to 30 seconds for beginners and working your way up to three minutes per day.
For best results, however, he says that people should still do full-body workouts at least 30 minutes 3–5 days per week along with a balanced nutritional plan.
Griffin agrees, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive program for losing weight and getting rid of belly fat. It’s not just about the diet or just about the gym. Trimming your waistline could impact your longevity. Take the time to talk to your doctor and develop a lifelong plan of healthy eating and vigorous exercise to get lean and stay fit for life.