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5 Fat-Burning Strategies

Here's how to work out, eat right -- and lose fat.

4. Fat-Burning Workout: Crunch Your Flab

Although a lot of people think a thousand sit-ups or crunches a day will get rid of the flab, that's not entirely true, Sedlock says. "Sit-ups aren't going to get rid of your abdominal fat, per se," she says. "Sit-ups strengthen the abdominal musculature." So that means with enough sit-ups your tummy should have a better appearance, she says.

"If part of the muffin top is due to those muscles not being exercised for a long time, toning up those muscles may help," she adds.

Pot bellies can be toned up with crunches and reverse crunches (lie flat and raise your hips and legs to work the lower abdominals).

5. How to Lose Fat: Overhaul Your Diet

Every other week, it seems, there's some new "fat-burning" food or supplement. On the list: chili peppers, low-fat dairy, and numerous dietary supplements.

There's some truth to the fat-burning food claims. "Some studies show certain foods can speed metabolism," White says.

For instance, capsinoids -- compounds derived from chili peppers -- increased fat burning slightly, and more so in subjects who had a body mass index (BMI) over 25, the beginning of overweight, according to Japanese researchers who published the study in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry.

Researchers have debated the role of dairy foods in weight management. Diets with at least three daily servings of [low-fat] dairy products speed weight loss and body fat loss in obese people compared to a diet with little dairy, according to Michael Zemel, PhD, of the University of Tennessee, who has published his results of the value of dairy in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition and other journals.

But White says don't rely on the so-called fat-busting foods to banish flab while you eat whatever you want the rest of the day. Instead, White suggests, incorporate the fat-burning foods into a sound diet.

What's sound and flab-unfriendly? Whole grains, lean protein, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and eight glasses of water daily, White says.

Small frequent meals also help you lose weight, White says, although not all experts agree that many mini-meals are better than three square meals.

"I have a client who came in eating one [huge] meal a day, and he weighed 300 pounds," White says. He put the man on five small, healthy meals a day. He lost weight, White says, and was amazed. Eating often also helps keep your energy levels up, White says.

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Reviewed on February 06, 2009

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