Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a good muffin? Unless, of course, it’s wrapped around your waist. There’s a deluge of more or, usually, less accurate information about ab exercises with absurd promises, fad diets and all sorts of detox schemes out there. In this article, we will review why fat gets deposited on your waist, we will bust some belly fat myths and offer you an easily understandable, comprehensive plan to reduce belly fat and keep it off.

What are the causes of muffin top fat?

“Muffin top fat” is the fat around the waist, which tends to spill over the upper edge of the pants or skirt, and looks flabby. It appears when you pass a certain body mass index, when the extra fat cannot be contained by your usual body shape. There are four factors that can contribute to the growth of your muffin top:

#1. Genetics

Where your body starts storing fat and where it stores the most fat is, in part, up to your DNA, which you received from your parents. So, you tend to store fat just like your mother or grandmother.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

#2. Poor diet

If your normal diet consists of foods rich in refined sugars and empty calories (fast foods, sodas), you have the tendency to get bloated and add layer upon layer of fat.

READ MORE: The 28-Day Squat Challenge To Get A Bum You Desire

#3. Stress

Nervous eating and the constant cortisol flow in your body are the two main reasons why stress causes fat deposits to form faster.

#4. Hormones

If your estrogen levels are higher (in the perimenopausal or menopausal phase), they will contribute to storing more fat.

Now, let’s bust some belly fat-trimming myths.

If you were to believe all the information out there, flattening your belly in days or making your muffin top disappear should be as easy as saying “muffin”.

Myth no.1 – Removing fat from a single area is possible

Not even in the most daring dreams! Apart from liposuction (which is extremely painful), there is no natural way to reduce the fat in just one area of the body. The key is to reduce it overall and, eventually, also reach the target area.

Myth no.2 – Starvation diets are efficient

Nothing could be farther from the truth. When you start withholding calories, the body enters “extreme conservation” mode, because it considers (and righteously so) that the available food is scarce. It tries to hold on to as much food as possible. As a result, you will not lose weight, but you might lose your health. The secret is to eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods on a regular basis.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

Myth no.3 – Constant cardio is the secret

About 30 minutes of cardio exercise daily is helpful in maintaining good health by burning calories, opening up the oxygen pathways and increasing your overall energy. But it is not useful for weight loss. Overdoing cardio will not make you lose weight faster. In fact, it will not make you lose weight almost at all. The secret is to first eat better, then work out using a mix of cardio, high intensity intervals and strength exercises.

Exercise Guide

#1. Knee thrusts

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Credit: BetterMe

#2. Skaters

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Credit: BetterMe

READ MORE: 8 simple moves that help make your arms toned and sexy

#3. Lateral shuffle

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Credit: BetterMe

#4. Plank jacks

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Credit: BetterMe

#5. Sweeping scissors

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#6. Side plank (lift and lower)

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#7. In-in-out-out squat

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#8. Bend extend ab tuck

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#9. Split jumps

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#10. Burpees

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Credit: BetterMe

The Workout Plan

And here’s a high intensity interval workout to tone and tighten your tummy, while also burning calories. Perform each move as hard as you can, then rest for the specified interval.

First block

(20 seconds per move, 10 seconds rest in between, repeat twice then move to the next block)

- Knee thrusts (first on the right side, then on the left)

- Skaters

- Lateral shuffle

- Plank jacks

Second block

(20 seconds per move, 10 seconds rest in between, repeat twice then move to the next block)

- Sweeping scissors

- Side plank (lift and lower)

- In-in-out-out squat

- Bend extend ab tuck

Third block

(20 seconds per move, 10 seconds rest in between, repeat twice then move to the next block)

- Plank to chair squat

- Split jumps

- Burpees

- Upper cuts

Fourth block

(20 seconds per move, 10 seconds rest in between, repeat twice then move to the next block)

- Side plank crunch (first on the right side, then on the left)

- Bicycle

- Army crawl plank

- Oblique crunch with long legs (first on the right side, then on the left)

And, if you don’t have time for a long workout, here’s a three-minute muffin top melting workout:

- Reverse Crunches: go slow and controlled.

- Do the Can-Can: swing your knees to the side and extend your legs - keep alternating.

- Roll up/toe reach: do a full body roll-up, then reach for your opposite toe. Try to lift your butt off the ground while reaching.

Do each exercise for one minute.

READ MORE: Fitness trainer gives 10 best exercises for women weight loss

The BetterMe Team is by your side throughout your fitness journey! Stay motivated and you can achieve your goals. If you are struggling with your motivation have a look at one of our many articles for inspiration.

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