Excess belly fat has been deemed the most dangerous fat of all as it is linked to many different chronic diseases. But sometimes even the healthiest of people find it difficult to shift the fat around their midsection.

“As someone who is now 40, belly fat is the hardest area for me to lose. It is also the hardest area to the keep the belly fat off as it takes consistency,” told Whitney Berger, a certified personal trainer.

Personal trainer
A headshot of personal trainer Whitney Berger and a photo of Berger practicing yoga.
Whitney Berger/Provided/Whitney Berger

A 2017 study published in Front Public Health, 91 percent of adults and 69 percent of children are estimated to be overfat, according to The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). The study explains the term “overfat” is relatively new “and refers to an accumulation of excess body fat that becomes sufficient to impair health.”

An expanding waistline can significantly increase the risk factor for metabolic health complications of obesity such as type 2 diabetes, fatty liver and heart disease.

Newsweek reached out to Berger, the founder of WhitFit, a Pilates studio New York City, to find out what she does to burn belly fat.

Three Ways To Lose Belly Fat

In the United States, 39 percent of Americans hold gym memberships, according to study of the fitness industry from career site Zippia. The website says the average American spends less than $30 per month on these memberships. But these days, there are numerous virtual fitness trainers and online programs to follow. But Berger explained it wasn’t all about exercising.

1. Consistency

A stock image of someone preparing a workout plan. A consistent gym routine will help individuals achieve their dream body.
AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images Plus

“Without consistency you won’t see changes and after your hard work you can gain the weight back,” Berger told Newsweek. “Be consistent with your schedule, habits and routine. Yes, you need a routine. Figuring one out and making it is the first step.”

A 2019 study published in Obesity revealed that those who worked out regularly at the same time of day were more likely to stick to their exercise regime.

The survey of 375 people who managed 30 pounds of weight loss over the course of a year found that 68 percent worked out regularly at the same time of day. Nearly half of these people (47.8 percent) worked out in the morning, so the timing itself is less important than the consistency.

2. Weight Training, HIIT and Yoga

Working out
A stock image of a woman struggling to plank at the gym. Berger advises a mixture of exercises to reduce belly fat.
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The American College of Cardiology released a study that proved high-intensity interval training (HIIT) was a great way to lose fat. Researchers had 120 patients do moderate-intensity training for one week, then 90 of them switched to 20-minute HIIT workouts for the remainder of the 12-week study. The results found those who switched to HIIT lost around 4 pounds more than those who didn’t. The patients with an average age of 67 gained over a pound of muscle mass too.

Berger extolled the benefits of weight training, HIIT and yoga.

“I consider this my trifecta for losing belly fat and it is really important for me,” she told Newsweek. “Each works the body differently ,which is a must because our muscles have memory and you can reach a plateau if you do the same things all the time.

“HIIT is a great because it is ever changing and a super calorie buster. It offers so many different options to elevate or add in your workout in Pilates, barre etc. It is the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect that makes HIIT so effective. People who want to go easy on their joints don’t need to worry as there are countless low-impact options.”

3. Rest

Relaxing on sofa
A stock image of a woman relaxing on the sofa. Berger advises people against excessive workouts as the body needs to recuperate.
Daniel de la Hoz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

You may be keen to get rid off excess fat but training too much can do more harm than good. According to research published in the American College of Sports Medicine‘s Health and Fitness Journal, “too much overload and/or not enough recovery can result in both physiological and psychological symptoms that limit performance and may cause one to cease participation in a previously enjoyable activity. In many noncompetitive exercisers, the condition is often the result of inadequate rest/recovery because of busy work lives, family, work and health stressors, meal skipping, and poor sleep.”

Berger works out four times per week with three days of rest. She urges other people to give themselves time to recuperate too.

She told Newsweek: “I work out four times a week, with three days of rest. You must rest your body and let it recover.

“Making sure I get enough sleep is critical. I take a 45-minute nap almost every day. Without proper sleep our body’s hormones get all funky and Ghrelin hormones rise—this is the hormone that makes us feel hungry. This leads to excess snacking and eating for me.”

Is there a health issue that’s worrying you? Let us know via [email protected]. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

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