Developing a lean, flat stomach takes time and patience, especially when it comes to losing those last few pounds. The lower abdominal fat and "love handles" can be two of the most stubborn and exercise-resistant areas.
There is only one way to lose fat in these so-called "stubborn areas," and that is with the correct combination of proper diet, aerobic exercise, abdominal training, and weight training. Abdominal fat loss is combination of 50% exercise and 50% nutrition.
Remember to keep the following 5 things in mind:
It is impossible to "spot reduce" fat from one specific part of the body. Fat loss occurs systemically, meaning that you can’t control where the fat is lost. In women, the stubborn areas tend to be hips, thighs, and waist. In men, the troublesome areas are usually the lower abs and the "love handles." Training the abdominals every day with crunches and sit-ups will certainly tighten and tone the abdominal muscles, but it won’t do anything to remove the fat obscuring the muscles.
The most effective way to burn this layer of flab from your midsection is not to do more abdominal exercise but to do more cardiovascular exercise. Aerobic exercise is the real secret to burning fat. Walking, jogging, bicycling, elliptical exercise and stair climbing are all great fat burners. The key to maximum fat loss is to work out for 30-60 minutes continuously every session.
Even if you do cardio every day, without a balanced diet, you still won’t see results. A fat loss diet must also be low in calories. Regardless of how much you workout, if the number of calories you take in is greater than the amount you burn, you’ll still have abdominal fat. Ideally, you should spread your calories out into five small meals a day instead of two or three big ones so that you don’t overeat. Eat a variety of foods that are all natural, low in fat and low in sugar, with about 55% of the total calories coming from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 15% from fat.
Sit-ups and leg raises do not isolate the abs but recruit the hip flexor muscles. The hip flexors attach the thigh to the spinal column, so working them with exercises such as straight leg raises creates a strong pull on the lumbar area, which is one of the most common causes of lower back pain. Safer, more effective alternatives are crunches, crunch machines, hip lifts, and reverse crunches.
The final component of your abdominal fat-reducing program is to incorporate resistance training. Many people are under the impression that they should only do cardiovascular activities until the weight comes off and then add weight training later on. Working out with weights will increase your lean body mass, which in turn raises your resting metabolic rate. The faster your metabolism is, the more fat you will burn!
This article was provided courtesy of Tom Venuto and Weighing Foods for Energy Content. Tom is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, personal trainer, freelance writer and author of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle" (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models.