REASON FOR ALARM
Peter Paul Rubens lived in the 16th century, at a time when a fleshy body was considered desirable. It indicated sufficient means to purchase lots of food. I was in Asia in the mid to late 1960s and noticed that, even then, a bulging stomach was somewhat a status symbol. See below a Rubenesque woman, though many of Rubens’ models were nudes. I will spare readers the vision of one of the nude Rubens models, though his art has been admired for centuries. It is difficult to imagine today, but many women in the time of Rubens were quite dissatisfied with their trim waistlines.
Men with large waistlines were admired for their apparent prosperity. Note, even recently, the man on Monopoly boards – the one with top hat, moustache and portly physique. We still talk about “fat cats” who are loaded with money.
Even successful sport figures in the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s were often stout. Such as the great Babe Ruth, golfer Ed “Porky” Oliver and boxer “Two Ton” Tony Galento.
Fat, and particularly belly fat, is considered today to be a major and quite prevalent medical problem, because it is a risk factor for the following;
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary artery disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Early death
The Center of Disease Control tells us that:
- 30.4 % of American adults report that they are severely overweight
- This is a double digit increase since 1997
- About 13% of the world’s population is obese
- This includes 11% of men and 15% of women
- This is based on a BMI of over 30
- The highest rates of obesity are within the ages of 40 to 59
- In the 40 – 59 age range, 36.3 % of men and 33% of women are obese
One of my recent posts spoke of “THE MYTH OF SPOT REDUCTION”. See it here.
This was to dispel any notion that one may pick out an exercise movement for a particular body part and reduce that specific body part by that exercise alone. It will not happen. The answer is cardio exercise and calorie control, along with those specific exercises (for the sole purpose of building muscularity or “tone”) in that area.
Body fat is released throughout one’s body. Fat cells can not be summoned for release at a particular spot.
The man below has vastly reduced his waist and improved his posture. Also, note the smaller arms, neck and facial features. His fat and weight reduction were of a general nature.
OKAY THEN, WHAT WILL WORK?
I like to think of a three – pronged attack on belly fat, or a 3 legged stool. The 3 legs are:
- Calorie Control
- Cardio exercise
- Resistance exercise
CALORIE CONTROL – I have found that I can maintain my weight or lose weight with 2000 calories per day. I am also quite active, but not nearly so much as in my younger years. At around 185 pounds and a height of 5’10” and after much experimentation, I have arrived at those numbers.
If a healthy man wishes to weigh 175 pounds, he may be well advised to consume 1750 calories per day, with moderate exercise. A woman who wants to weigh 130 pounds should eat about 1300 calories per day. So…simply multiply your desired weight by 10 for an effective calorie / day target.
That man, if he is very active physically, will need 3100 calories to maintain a weight of 175 pounds. The very active woman may maintain the 130 pound weight with 2340 calories per day.
It has been shown that many who live in the Mediterranean area (Greece, Italy and Spain) tend to be healthier and to live longer than the rest of us. The Mediterranean diet features lots of fresh fruit, olive oil and vegetables. Also, seafood, nuts, seeds, herbs and whole grains.
Ketogenic diets have become very popular in recent years. An associate of mine has lost 189 pounds by eating a keto diet and working out consistently. The keto diet proposes that we eat only about 5% of our diet in the form of carbohydrates, replacing the carbs with fat, as an alternative source of energy.
Here are a few packaged sources of ketones:
- Keto powder supplement
- Keto pills
- Keto diet drops
- Apple cider vinegar keto pills
- World’s strongest ketone ester drink
CARDIO EXERCISE – Most of us are aware that cardio exercises are generally weight – bearing movements that raise our heart rates, burn fat and release unwanted weight. Walking, jogging, running, swimming, cycling and dancing are examples. If we are indoors, we might consider:
- Jumping jacks
- Jogging in place
- Burpees (begin in a standing position, move to a squat position with hands on the floor, move feet back into a plank position, move back into a squat position, then stand up)
- Treadmill exercise
- Elliptical trainer exercise
My preferences are outdoor walks, as lengthy as possible, and treadmill walks. I raise the treadmill speed after every minute and listen to music as I work. My treadmill is shown below. Here is the updated model, by Nordic Track
Here are a couple of other indoor cardio options:
Another form of cardio exercise is to do the following:
- Pick out about 6 resistance exercises – maybe squats, rows, presses, curls, calf raises and triceps extensions
- Use light dumbbells
- Move quickly from one exercise to the next, with very little rest, if any
- Complete a couple of cycles, if not three
With fast movements and little rest between sets, you will have a great heart workout, with the added benefit of muscle toning
Here is a set of very light dumbbells
RESISTANCE EXERCISE (FOR ABDOMINALS) – the purpose of abdominal exercise in a program to reduce belly fat is to build muscle in the upper and lower abdominals and external obliques. This is to avoid loose skin and cellulite as we release fat in the area. This is not an attempt to reduce the fat in the first place. Without calorie control and cardio exercise, this would not be possible.
My favorite abdominal exercise is the “butterfly crunch”, shown below. On the floor or on a bench, raise your bent legs and shoulders toward each other and repeat quickly, while maintaining the tension. I do two sets of 50 reps every day.
Another favorite is the plank, shown below. Supported by your forearms and toes, hold your body in straight alignment for 30 seconds, then build to a minute or to several sets of a minute. From what I have gleaned, planking for 2-5 minutes is not really worthwhile. The plank is a great isometric exercise for the abdominals and back.
The external oblique muscles may be engaged by twisting movements. Sit in a comfortable chair and twist side to side for 30 – 40 reps and then build to 100. Or stand and hold a dumbbell at arms length (downward) on one side and lean side to side for about 30 reps, then hold the dumbbell at the other side and do the same for another 30 reps.
There are many forms of abdominal exercise, though the once popular sit – up has fallen into disfavor by many. I have only listed my personal favorites
Belly fat may be discarded with the process that I reference as a 3 legged stool – calorie control, cardio exercise and resistance exercise. To reiterate, we do the abdominal exercises to avoid loose skin and to build more muscle in the abdominal area – not because we expect to effectuate the fat loss in this manner alone.
On a lighter note –
Releasing belly fat is not a quick process, notwithstanding the “miracle remedies” that are abundant. It takes dedication and a willingness to buy a brand new wardrobe. You will be proud to make that purchase!
Please leave any questions or comments in the “Comments” box below, or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, tell me what other fitness topics you might deem important. That information is essential!