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How to Lose Belly Fat and Keep It Off

So that spare tire around your waist keeps inflating on you? Here’s help.

It finally happened. You’ve reached the last notch on your favorite belt. The sneaky expansion has been going on for months—maybe years—with its roots deeply entrenched in all those extra helpings you were enjoying with your wife, back when she was eating for two. Except now she’s no longer pregnant (and, well, you never were). Her midsection is more or less back to normal. The time has come to face your own belly fat (even if fat guys are seen as attractive to women). Fortunately, we have the ultimately guide for men on how to lose belly fat.

Exercise alone cannot solve your belly fat crisis. On one hand that’s good, because it means you don’t have to sign up for an ultramarathon to get your body where you want it to be. On the other hand, this means shedding belly fat is going to require a meal plan makeover—or at least an end to late-night snacking. And it’s not going to happen overnight. But these five steps will steadily guide you towards your goal:

Calories In Versus Calories Out

If you’re pounding the Whopper with cheese at lunch, it’s virtually impossible to burn off the calories by jogging around the neighborhood after work. Your BK special has about 760 calories. You’re not going to burn that off unless you push your kid around the block for 4+ hours. Right. So let’s start with what you eat.

If you are six feet tall, you should figure it takes about 2400 calories of food each day to maintain healthy weight. Don’t know how much that is? Educate yourself. Read nutrition labels. You’ll find that 2400 calories is by no means a starvation diet. For instance, you can stay in the green with cereal, milk, fresh fruit, and one egg for breakfast, a turkey and veggie sandwich (hold the mayo) for lunch, a handful of nuts or crackers for a snack, and then four ounces lean meat, half a cup of rice, and a light beer for dinner.

To lose weight, try cutting 500 calories from that menu. Your choice whether it’s the egg or the beer.

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Do Breakfast

Skipping breakfast should be an easy way to lose weight, but numerous studies suggest that eating breakfast actually helps prevent weight gain. One reason may be that keeping yourself evenly-fueled all day long prevents that crazy end-of-day urge to eat everything in sight. Another reason may be that eating protein in the morning stokes your metabolism, the mechanism by which energy is burned and weight is lost. Breakfast doesn’t have to be a sit-down affair: Smear a little peanut butter on toast and eat your sandwich during your commute, or pour a handful of nuts and cereal in a ziplock bag for a desk snack once you get to the office.

Turn Up the Burn

You’re a father now. You don’t have time to work out for hours each day. What you do have time for is HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. In this type of workout, you basically sprint, jump rope, do jumping jacks, or whatever type of cardio you can for 30 to 60 seconds, all-out followed by an equivalent amount of rest to recover. Repeat this sweat/rest cycle 6-8 times. It’s a short, compact workout that gets your heart rate way up, which increases calorie burn—and strengthens your heart and lungs, to boot. 

Build a Better Belly

You can’t spot-pick the geographic location of weight loss on your body any more than you can choose which parts of your head go bald first. In order to lose the tire, you’ll need to shed from all over. But you can work on strengthening the muscles in the abdominal area, which will give your stomach a more toned appearance as the pounds start coming off (and help you avoid that excess skin situation you’ve seen with buddies who lose a significant amount of weight). Sit-ups and crunches should form the core of your gut-busting workout, but also consider planks, which many fitness pros believe are the best all-around workout for your midsection.

To perform a plank, start on all fours and then drop down until you are propped on your elbows. Extend your legs behind you, putting your weight on your toes, until your back is flat and your body forms one long line. (Be careful not to stick your butt in the air or arch your back). Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.

Get to Know Your Burpee

It sounds like what you spent the first 18 months doing for your baby, but burpees are actual exercises for adults, which combine aerobic activity with abdominal toning, so you get the biggest bang for your buck.

Here’s how to do it: Get into your plank, but keep your arms straight. With your hands remaining on the floor, jump your feet towards them so you are in a squat position. Spring straight up into the air, then return to the squat position. Jump your feet back so that you are once more in an extended plank. Do this 10 times.