While the term muffin top may sound appealing to your taste buds, in reality, it’s the stubborn belly fat that doesn’t seem to want to disappear. It’s the lower-belly fat that hangs over your waistband and is often only invisible in a pair of high-waisted jeans.
Trying to lose this fat can leave one frustrated and depleted but it’s important to know that losing a muffin top will require both time and consistency.
What exactly is a muffin top?
Your belly consists of both visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is found deep within your belly and, as it surrounds your internal organs, it pushes your belly outward. Unfortunately, if it pushes your belly too fat, and you end up with a waist reading of more than 345 inches, then your health may be at risk. In fact, visceral fat can increase your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes (1).
Subcutaneous fat, on the other hand, is the vast majority of fat found on your body and it lies right under the skin. As such, it is responsible for giving you a muffin top. Visceral fat is more metabolically active, therefore it’s easier to lose. Unfortunately, subcutaneous fat is ridiculously stubborn to lose which is why when you adopt an active lifestyle, you may notice that you’re losing weight and gaining muscle in other parts of your body that are not your lower belly. So why is subcutaneous fat so hard to lose? Simple – your body needs it.
Your body needs subcutaneous fat as it not only uses it to store energy but also as a form of insurance. The body uses subcutaneous fat to protect you against starvation. Now with that said, you may be wondering what your body will use once it gets rid of your muffin top. In that case, there’s no need to worry. As mentioned, subcutaneous fat is found in various parts of your body so you won’t need to worry about that.
What causes a muffin top?
Here are four factors that can be blamed for your muffin top:
- A poor diet
- Stress (2)
- Hormones (particularly in menopausal women)
Muffin top no-no’s
Before we delve into how you can get rid of your muffin top, it’s important to first highlight two things that people do that do not work. They are:
1. Spot reduction
We’ve all tried spot reduction when it comes to toneing up our favorite part of the body. Often then not, we’ll spend the better part of the afternoon performing hundreds of crunches all in hopes of getting bikini-ready.
Spot reductions will not work. Why not? Well, as mentioned, the body mobilizes fat from all over your body and not just from one place. As such, it’s important to burn fat all over your body and not just expect it to burn in one spot.
2. Restrictive diets
Yes, your diet plays a pivotal role when it comes to your muffin top, but that doesn’t mean you should go on a restrictive diet just to lose it. The fact of the matter is, yes, you will lose weight if you adopt a restrictive diet. However, once you’ve reached your goal weight, and you come off the diet, you will gain back that lost weight twice as fast. A restrictive diet can put your body into starvation mode and this can make losing the muffin top even more of a task.
7 ways to lose your muffin top
Here are 7 effective ways you can lose your dreaded muffin top.
1. Cut back on added sugars
According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a diet rich in added sugar is more responsible for the obesity epidemic, as opposed to lack of exercise. Essentially, you can’t outrun a bad diet. Therefore, it’s important to examine your diet and ensure that it’s low in added sugars.
Added sugars can be found in a number of processed foods such as cookies, candies, sports drinks, and sodas. It’s not only responsible for belly fat, but added sugars can also increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes.
2. Eat more fiber
One of the best things about fiber, aside from its nutritional benefits, is the fact that it can keep you feeling full for a longer period of time, thus decreasing your hunger and preventing you from nibbling on sweet treats.
In fact, a study published in the journal Obesity found that people who increased their fiber intake by just 10 grams per day over a period of five years lost around 3.7% of their visceral fat.
Fiber-rich foods include nuts, seeds, peas, beans, wholegrain bread, and oats as well as broccoli.
3. Move around even in the office
Most of us have desk jobs, but that doesn’t mean that we should spend our entire days slouched over, in front of a computer. Aside from the serious health complications that it can bring, researchers have found that every 15-minute increase in sedentary behavior (be it reclining or sitting) was linked with a 0.05-inch (0.13-cm) increase in waist size (3).
If you’re guilty of sitting for too long in front of your computer, set a timer on your phone, and every half hour get up and walk to the water cooler or your colleague’s desk and have a quick chat.
4. Manage your stress levels
Cortisol is referred to as the stress hormone because the adrenal glands produce it as a response to stressful situations. While this is completely normal, high levels of stress can trigger high levels of cortisol, which then results in anxiety, headaches, and abdominal weight gain.
If you want to reduce your muffin top, as well as monitor your stress levels, you can take up yoga and meditation (the Headspace app is perfect for this). Other ways to reduce your stress levels include listening to music and even taking a walk around the office block.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Similar to stress, lack of sleep can also increase cortisol levels. In fact, research published in the Sleep journal found that participants who slept fewer than five hours per night had more belly fat than those who slept for seven to eight hours per night.
If you’re battling with getting enough sleep, you can try essential oils, or even reorganizing your bedroom.
6. Eat more protein
If you really want to lose that lower belly fat, then it’s important to include more protein in your diet. Aside from helping to reduce cravings, protein can also help speed up your metabolism, resulting in even more calories burned.
Protein-rich food sources include eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, as well as seafood and poultry.
7. Cut back on liquor
The term “beer belly” has never been truer.
Alcohol not only stimulates hunger, but a lot of alcoholic beverages are laden with calories and added sugar, which can contribute to abdominal fat. Additionally, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a strong link between moderate and excessive alcohol consumption and a higher risk of overall and central obesity.
Yes, drinking a glass of red wine a day does have its benefits, it’s important not to overdo it as doing so may jeopardize your health.
What are the best workouts for a muffin top?
HIIT refers to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, which involve short bursts of intense aerobic exercise, each followed by a recovery period. They’re one of the most effective, and quick, workouts that one can do.
In fact, research published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that, over a period of 8 weeks, HIIT workouts were more effective at reducing belly fat than traditional training alone.
2. Side Plank with Leg Raise
This workout targets your muffin top, but it can also tone your legs and booties.
To do this exercise, lie on your side, and be sure to place your feet, knees, hips, and shoulders in a straight line. Once done, prop yourself up on your elbow, and maintaining a tight rigid posture. Then, stretch out your opposite arm straight up toward the ceiling. Take a deep breath and then lift your top leg and hold. Try to hold this position for 10–15 seconds for a set.
3. Spiderman Crunch
Starting in a full plank position (with your hands under your shoulders and your head, hips, and heels in a straight line), lift your right leg and bring your right knee to your right elbow. As you come up, bring your right leg back to the starting position and repeat the process on the left side.
4. Single-Leg Toe Touches
Hold your feet in the air with your lower back firmly against the mat, making sure that your lower back does not lift off the mat. With your feet in the air, slowly reach up and try to touch your toes (or as high as you can), and come back down for one.
5. Twisting Mountain Climbers
Twisting exercises help give you a great workout as they target your entire core – both the front and back.
To do this workout, place yourself in a plank position. Once there, raise your right knee toward your left elbow, place it back, and then raise your left knee toward your right elbow.
6. High Knees
A low-impact exercise, high knees can also help you get rid of that muffin top, as well as tone your legs.
Stand up straight, keep your chest tall and bring your right leg up as high as you can and hold for one second, all while flexing the right glute. Do the same with the left leg.
When it comes to getting rid of that stubborn belly fat, it’s important to be patient and remember that it’s going to take some time. At the end of the day, all you need is dedication, patience, a healthy diet, and an active lifestyle. before long, you’ll notice your muffin top disappear and realize that your summer body is ready all year round.
Here the most effective Waist Slimming Exercise With Waist Trainer
For the Lower Body exercise, Try the Pilates circuits with Squats, Effective heel kicks and the bridges, butt Lifts.
This exercise is especially for the lower belly fat area to reduce the extra fat, But If you try these exercises with wearing waist trainer belt for lower belly fat it will fastly reduce your fat and gives you unbelievable results.
Giannaki CD, Aphamis G, Sakkis P, Hadjicharalambous M. (2016). Eight weeks of a combination of high-intensity interval training and conventional training reduces visceral adiposity and improves physical fitness: a group-based intervention. J Sports Med Phys Fitness;56(4):483-90
Hairston, K.G., Vitolins, M.Z., Norris, J.M., Anderson, A.M., Hanley, A.J. and Wagenknecht, L.E. (2012), Lifestyle Factors and 5‐Year Abdominal Fat Accumulation in a Minority Cohort: The IRAS Family Study. Obesity, 20: 421-427. doi:10.1038/oby.2011.171
Hairston, K. G., Bryer-Ash, M., Norris, J. M., Haffner, S., Bowden, D. W., & Wagenknecht, L. E. (2010). Sleep duration and five-year abdominal fat accumulation in a minority cohort: the IRAS family study. Sleep, 33(3), 289–295. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/33.3.289
Malhotra A, Noakes T, Phinney S. (2015)It is time to bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity: you cannot outrun a bad diet. British Journal of Sports Medicine49:967-968.
Saunders TJ, Tremblay MS, Després JP, Bouchard C, Tremblay A, et al. (2013) Sedentary Behaviour, Visceral Fat Accumulation and Cardiometabolic Risk in Adults: A 6-Year Longitudinal Study from the Quebec Family Study. PLOS ONE 8(1): e54225. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0054225