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5 Fat-Burning Strategies

Here's how to work out, eat right -- and lose fat.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

You work out zealously and eat healthy meals -- at least most of the time -- and the pounds are starting to drop off. You're looking and feeling more toned, too, just as you'd hoped.

But with all this effort, shouldn't you lose fat? Shouldn't the flab be dissolving faster? If you're of a certain age, you know the flab we're talking about.

If you're a woman, you may still have the dreaded muffin top, that slab of fat that spills stubbornly over the top of your best jeans, spoiling the look. Or if you're a man in that same bracket, you may have the unsightly pot belly that adds years to your otherwise youthful physique.

Shouldn't fat burning be faster? Not to mention easier?

WebMD consulted an exercise physiologist and an exercise physiologist/registered dietitian to find out how best to burn fat -- once and for all!

Here are their five best fat-burning strategies:

1. How to Burn Fat: Get Realistic

Get real tip No. 1: "You can't spot reduce," says Darlene Sedlock, PhD, an associate professor of kinesiology at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. "Nobody wants to hear that."

Translation: If you're hankering to get rid of the jeans spillover or the pot belly, you need to burn fat from head to toe. "Anything to reduce your overall body fat will help," she says.

Get real tip No. 2: You need to give it some time. "There's no easy fix to the flab," Sedlock says. "Over time, some of the flab will disappear," if you're diligent about the eating and exercise plans. Give it several months, she suggests. Your weight might not change, but you will notice a difference in the way your clothes fit, she says.

Get real tip No. 3: This is perhaps the cruelest. You probably can't expect to be as flab-free as when you were 20. "Skin loses elasticity as you age," Sedlock says. The sagging of the skin adds to the unsightly appearance of flab, she says.

Other factors also make flab a challenge, says Jim White, an exercise physiologist and registered dietitian in Virginia Beach, Va.  who is a national spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. "As we age, muscle mass declines, and metabolism slows, so we are definitely fighting an uphill battle."

So is some flab inevitable with age? "It seems to happen, but if you make a concentrated effort to avoid it, you can," Sedlock says. Too late if you're reading this article, of course, but preventing flab is a lot easier than banishing it, she says.

Even so, it's possible to reduce your fat and flab, White and Sedlock say. Besides being realistic, here are their best tips.

2. Fat-burning Workout: Pump Up the Cardio

A good overall cardiovascular conditioning exercise program is crucial to burn fat, say Sedlock and White. "Walking is excellent," White says, but most people have to pump it up a bit from their routine pace, especially if they've been exercising for a while and the flab isn't budging.

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