Ask Mary Answers Your Burning Questions About Belly Fat

Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, is the director of nutrition for Calorie Count, providing domain expertise on issues related to nutrition, weight loss and health. She creates original content for weekly blogs and newsletters, for the Calorie Count library, and for her popular daily Question-and-Answer section, Ask Mary. Ms. Hartley also furnishes direction for the site features and for product development.

Calorie Count members are more concerned with belly fat than with any other weight issue. Here are two of the readers’ favorite “Ask Mary Q+As” about weight around the middle.

Ask Mary: What is the quickest way to tone my midsection?

For most people, the lower abdomen is covered by a layer of fat, and so it will not look toned until that storage fat is burned. Use cardio-type exercise and a low-calorie diet to burn belly fat. Do strength–training exercises that target the core muscles of the mid-section that will show when some of the fat is gone. Work all the muscles of the core – the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and internal and external obliques – for 2 to 3 (non-consecutive) days a week, and don’t be surprised if it takes up to six months to see a difference. Check out this Total Core Workout Program at Calorie Count.

Ask Mary: How can I lose belly fat without losing weight?

Be sure your diet contains lots of vegetables, whole grains, olives and nuts because research shows that, as long as you stay within your calorie budget, a diet high in fiber and monounsaturated fats can selectively reduce abdominal fat. Fat-free dairy products and the calcium they provide might reduce more belly fat, too. Exercises that build the core muscles can make your midline appear smaller. Pilates is a great core training system but it does take time and consistency to work. Some folks opt for abdominal liposuction, which can remove the fat under the skin but not from deep within the viscera.

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