Although you may be hoping to target fat loss at your stomach area, it's not possible to spot reduce. To lose your muffin top, you have to lower your overall body-fat percentage by creating a caloric deficit with cardio exercise and healthy eating. As your fat percentage decreases, you should see improvements throughout your entire body, including a reduction in your muffin top.
Tackling the Muffin Top
If you have a muffin top, it's because your body is carrying excess fat at your stomach. To lose that fat, you must lower your body-fat percentage by burning a greater number of calories than you consume. Each time you create a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories, you should see a pound of fat loss. Therefore, a comprehensive fat-loss effort -- that in turn will help you lose your muffin top -- consists of regular cardiovascular exercise to increase the calories you burn and a healthy eating plan which limits the number of calories you consume.
Regular cardio exercise can help you burn a high number of calories in a short amount of time. Exercises like running, rollerblading, swimming, riding a bike and working out on an elliptical machine force your body to use calories to fuel your working muscles. Always begin your cardio workouts with a 10-minute dynamic warm-up consisting of walking and dynamic stretches. Fit in 20-minute cardio workouts every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. As your fitness improves, aim to burn more calories by progressively increasing your workout time. For example, you may continue until you're exercising for 60 minutes at a time. The higher the intensity of your workout, the more calories you burn as well. High-intensity cardio also has the capability of keeping your metabolic rate elevated even after you’re done working out, which can further increase total calories burned and result in greater fat loss.
Your eating habits make a significant impact on your ability to create the needed caloric deficit for fat loss. You can quickly cancel out the calories burned from physical activity by taking in too many calories during meals. To have an idea of how many calories you should take in everyday, calculate your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. Your BMR is an estimation of the number of calories you burn during everyday activity and at rest.
Men can estimate their BMR with the equation, 66 + (6.23 X weight in pounds) + (12.7 X height in inches) - (6.8 X age in years). Women find their BMR with the equation, 655 + (4.35 X weight in pounds) + (4.7 X height in inches) - (4.7 X age in years). To account for the calories burned from physical activity, multiply your BMR by an activity factor. If you don't exercise, multiply your BMR by 1.2. If you exercise one to three days per week, multiply your BMR by 1.375. Multiply your BMR by 1.55 if you exercise three to five days per week and multiply it by 1.725 if you exercise six to seven days per week.
Monitoring and Decreasing Calorie Intake
Calculating your BMR allows you to then monitor your calorie intake and then make adjustments so you're taking in fewer calories than you burn. Keep track of the calories you consume at every meal. By eating mostly fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean protein and whole grains, you’ll get necessary nutrients and yet keep your calorie intake low. Also, try to cut down your portion size by 15 percent at each meal. This will help you significantly lower your calorie intake, and you're likely to find that you’re still full after a smaller meal.
Strength training helps lower body fat because it increases the amount of lean muscle tissue you have, which can speed up your metabolic rate. While side bends and crunches work the muscle tissue underneath your muffin top, they make no direct impact on the fat itself. Instead, follow a full-body strength-training program. Schedule your workouts on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Start with a 10-minute, dynamic warm-up and then do squats, leg curls, pushups, lat pulldowns, shoulder presses, crunches and back extensions, completing two to three sets of 6 to 12 reps of every exercise.