Regardless of whether it’s to improve your general well-being, to reduce the danger of diabetes, or because you want your clothes to fit better – getting rid of that layer of fat around the waist commonly referred to as a ‘muffin-top’ is a common fitness goal for lots of people.
Doing so can be extremely difficult though. To start with just sorting through the conflicting information out there about detoxes, fad diets, and belly exercises that promise to give you a flat stomach in five days time is exhausting all on its own and that’s before you even begin any exercise routine.
We’re here to break through the clutter and give you real proven tips to get rid of that muffin top for good.
What Causes a “Muffin Top”?
There are many factors that can affect how and where your body keeps and stores fat, knowing these different causes can help us understand what can be done to get rid of the muffin top and have the nice flat fit tummy that we desire.
If you carry some additional fat on your body, some of it will no doubt be around your waistline. But everyone is different when it comes to where your body prefers to store fat, this is why some people can end up with a “muffin-top” even when at a relatively low weight.
For instance, if your grandma and mother were more “pear-shaped” then you can generally expect that you will have a similar body-type, in fact one way to get a good idea of how your body shape will change as you age is to look at your parents. But don’t let that make you feel defeated, it’s not the end of the world if both your parents carry extra weight and with the rest lifestyle changes you can still achieve your fitness goals.
If you have excess belly fat, you can start with fat loss throughout and then toning your abs. But in a bit we’re going to get to that.
Ever hear the saying “you are what you eat”, there’s more truth to that that you may think at first glance. Consuming a lot of sugary sodas, high-sodium foods and artificial ingredients will naturally result in bloating of the stomach.
Different foods also cause different people to bloat; keep a food log for a week to write down what you ate for each meal and how your stomach looks and feels. Take note of any bloating or discomfort, these could be signs that you’re having trouble digesting certain foods and may want to eliminate them from your diet.
If you’re looking for a simpler step; consider focusing on heavily cutting down on the amount of sugar in your diet. Start by cutting down on drinks that have sugar in them, then begin to swap out foods for options that have less sugar than the one’s you’re used to having.
Some studies demonstrate that chronic stress can lead to increased visceral fat due to the fact that when your body is flooded with cortisol (the stress hormone), it sends a kind of survival signal to your body to hold on to visceral fat (visceral fat is deposited in your abdominal cavity, which means it appears to be abdominal fat).
Not only does chronic stress lead to abdominal fat by storing surplus visceral fat, but being stressed out can naturally lead to more salty and sugar drinks being eaten as part of a common coping mechanism.
Stress management is just as essential as anything else in order to enhance your health (and slim down your waistline).
It could be a shift in hormones that is causing you to carry extra weight. For example if you recently entered menopause it is common to find that you have more fat around your waist. If you are dominant in estrogen (even if you have low estrogen and low progesterone), your body will likely store more fat in your stomach than you would like.
HOW TO GET RID OF YOUR MUFFIN TOP
We know what a “muffin top” is, we know what causes it, now lets get down to business of how to get rid of the thing. Having a tight flat tummy is just a few steps away.
The only way you will ultimately lose the surplus belly fat and maintain it off is to put your body in a fat loss mode and then adjust your daily/weekly food intake to meet your new ‘maintenance level’ so that you don’t start putting the weight back on.
A mild, constant calorie deficit is best for sustained weight loss. You must calculate how many calories you burn (your total daily energy expenditure or TDEE) and how much you eat to make sure you are in a mild deficit. Target below your TDEE by about 300-500 calories.
You can use the calculator here to get started!
Replace Sugary-Snacks with Protein Snacks
Processed and added sugar is nothing but empty calories. These cheap processed snacks may be convenient when you’re in a hurry but they are packed with sugar and refined grains that have lost a lot of the nutrition that grains naturally have in the refining process. Swap out sugary candies for high protein snacks like almonds or beef jerky.
Protein is your body’s construction blocks and it becomes particularly essential when you try to alter the structure of your body. Not only when it comes to muscle building but also when attempting to lose fat, protein is also highly essential. Make sure you don’t lose muscle mass by eating enough protein.
Moreover, protein makes you feel full for a longer period of time, whereas sugary snacks usually leave you feeling hungry just a couple hours later.
Burn Calories Through Exercise
To accelerate the loss of fat, make two or three of your weekly cardio sessions consist of high-intensity interval training. This form of workout, which includes alternating brief bouts of high-intensity exercise, increases endurance while reducing insulin resistance and causing better fat burning.
A sample HIIT session comprises of a five-minute warm-up and then two-minute sprinting sections alternating five times with two minutes of walking.
TOP THREE EXERCISES TO TARGET MUFFIN TOP
Magazine advertisements and fitness gadgets promise to eradicate your muffin top with their specialty exercise programs. Unfortunately exercising a specific part of the body can not melt or burn fat specific to that body-part; it can only strengthen the muscles under the fat.
These exercises will help you lose weight by burning calories but also strengthen muscle groups that will help shape your stomach area.
This exercise targets your lower abs and obliques, strengthening these muscles can help the overall appearance of your waist line.
1. Lie bent on your knees and feet flat on the ground on your back.
2. Make sure that your neck is relaxed and that your bottom back is pushed into the ground.
3. Without lifting your feet or shoulders off the ground, lift your hips to the roof as high as you can.
4. Squeeze your butt cheeks together while you push your hips up the the ceiling.
5. Lower your hips.
Bicycle crunches are one of the best exercises for your abs.
1. Lie flat on the floor, pressing your lower back to the ground (pull in your navel to target your profound abs as well).
2. Put your hands behind your head, take your knees in to your chest and lift your shoulder blades off the ground, but don’t pull your neck.
3. Straighten your right leg to the ground at an angle of approximately 45 degrees and turn your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow to the left knee. Make sure that your rib cage moves, not just your thumbs.
4. Now switch sides to finish one rep and do the same movement on the other hand.
The Plank is a great exercise to strengthen your abs, burn calories, and improve stamina.
1. You’ll need to get into a push-up position but rest on your forearms instead of your palms.
2. Contract your abdominal muscles and hold for 15 to 30 seconds and aim to do this in intervals for 3 to 4 minutes.
The dreaded “muffin top” can be one of the most annoying things, and something a lot of people feel self-conscious about. If it’s something you want to get rid of fear-not, follow these helpful diet, fitness, and lifestyle tips and that pesky muffin-top will be gone in no time.
If you’re looking for a complete diet and exercise routine, in a convenient package check out Good Fun Health’s 6-Week Fat Loss Bootcamp!