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Banish Your Belly

Why it's so important to tame tummy flab­ and how to get started
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Less Food, More Activity continued...

Nonas agrees: "When you lose weight overall, you'll lose the belly fat as well."

That means following a sensible eating regimen. A good place to start is by eliminating junk food, which is high in sugars and fats.

And think about giving up non-diet soda, which is sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. In a 2004 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers reported that the body digests, absorbs, and metabolizes fructose differently from glucose (sugar), suggesting that fructose may encourage weight gain. The researchers also found that high-fructose corn syrup alters the body's ability to sense that it is full.

For quick gratification while you're losing weight, you can temporarily combat some of that pooch with foods that act as diuretics -- cabbage, cucumbers, and watermelon, for example. Eating more lean protein and reducing your intake of simple carbs (such as white rice, pasta, and bread) may also take care of some water weight, says Amidor.

But she cautions against drinking too many caffeinated beverages, which also have a diuretic effect: "You'll get rid of fluids but you'll also be losing iron and calcium."

Exercising is an important part of losing weight, but you don't have to become a gym rat, says fitness expert Mare Petras, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Swimsuit Shoppers. In fact, she urges that you think "physical activity" rather than "exercise."

"Look for activities which burn excess fat and increase muscle mass," says Petras. That could mean walking your dog, riding your bike, putting on your favorite CD and dancing around the house -- or just doing chair squats whenever you think about it. "Try 10 every two hours and before you know it, you've logged in 50 squats," Petras says.

"The key to banishing your belly is consistent, moderate aerobic activity," says Petras. "It doesn't have to be all-or-nothing ... just do something."

Cardiovascular (aerobic) activity will burn more calories per session than weight training, says Comana. But he adds that the body expends extra calories after a weight training session, so it's good to combine both types of activity.

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