The Truth Is in the Tummy

Countless infomercials advertise trendy products and pills promising to transform your stomach from soft to svelte. But what’s the real cause of belly bulge… and the “secret” to slimming down?

Unfortunately, no magic concoction can trim tummy fat. Factors like diet, exercise, and genetics dictate the size and firmness of your midsection. Even targeted exercises can’t diminish love handles. What they can do is strengthen your abs, which tightens your torso and defines the muscles. But to actually deflate the spare tire that hides your 6-pack, you need aerobic exercise, proper nutrition, and an awareness of what to reasonably expect from your body type. Try these ideas:

Go whole grain. One study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a diet rich in whole grains and low in refined carbs actually helps shed weight specifically around the waistline.

Exercise. Burning more calories than you eat will make your body lose weight everywhere. The good news? Your gut contains mostly visceral fat (which is highly metabolic) so it’s more willing to melt away than the fat that lies just beneath the skin (subcutaneous).

Understand your natural starting point. You’re more prone to a certain inherited body shape. Balancing out your figure may have the greatest visual effect on the appearance of your mid-section. If you have an ectomorphic body (narrow hips and waist; high metabolism), you won’t have trouble dropping weight in problem areas, but packing on muscle might be difficult. Resistance exercises for your upper and lower body can add meat and firmness. If you have an endomorphic body (thick, stocky build; low metabolism), you probably boost brawn and blubber equally well. Concentrate on intense aerobic activity to melt the pounds, and light-weight resistance activities to define muscles. Finally, if you have a mesomorphic body (athletic physique; wide shoulders; small waist; fast metabolism)… you’re fortunate. Keep it that way with cardiovascular exercise like jogging or riding a bike, and varied repetitions of weight training.

With 2 months to go before your swim suit peeks at the pool deck, there’s plenty of time to give your stomach a makeover. Just be realistic and understand the personal variables that influence your shape.

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