Help! I Have Man Boobs and a Belly!

How can I get six-pack abs and get rid of my chest flab?
By Martica Heaner, M.A., M.Ed., for MSN Health & Fitness

Q: I'm a guy who wants to lose weight and convert my fat into muscle. Is it possible to lose, or at least reduce, my "man boobs"? And which exercises are best for losing belly fat?

A: You can lose the man boobs and slim down your stomach with the right workout. In overweight people, both man boobs and big bellies are simply deposits of excess fat. (There is a hormonal condition called gynecomastia, in which males appear to have enlarged breasts, but it sounds as if what you're dealing with is excess weight.) But to choose the most effective workout routine, you need to review the basics of Physiology 101.

Fat and muscle are two different kinds of body tissues. Because of that, you can't convert one into another. Some people believe that if they are fit and stop exercising, their muscle will turn to fat. Not so. And likewise, exercise can't convert fat into muscle—that would be like trying to transform a piece of cheese into a piece of meat.

What you can do is decrease the amount of fat and increase the amount of muscle that you have. This is a shift in the composition of your body tissues to a more desirable combination of more muscle and less fat (as opposed to more fat and less muscle, which occurs when you become a couch potato and overeat).

Flab-zapping fitness routines

Generally, weightlifting—also known as resistance training—builds muscle. You'll need to follow a progressive training program, meaning that you work out harder as you become stronger. Chest exercises, especially, can help you build and firm up the man-boob area. Any upright strength moves from squats to a host of upper body exercises can help firm up your entire torso, known as your "core."

But to drop weight and body fat—and downsize your belly—you need to do more cardio, because weight and fat loss is about burning more calories than you take in. Any movement, from lifting weights to doing yoga to sprinting full speed, burns calories. But generally, muscle-specific workouts like resistance training and yoga alone don't tend to result in lots of inches lost because they do not burn a high number of calories. Cardio workouts are most effective to get your waist to whittle down because they tend to burn the most calories per minute. Cardio workouts include using cardio machines in the gym, walking, running or skating outside, and even dancing.

By the way, don't waste your time doing lots of ab exercises like crunches to try to slim down your midsection. More cardio and smarter eating habits will have a bigger impact. And you can strengthen your core in a variety of ways, including making sure you maintain proper posture during all cardio and weight lifting moves. Check out my columns on downsizing your middle and losing love handles.

Here is an MSN Fit Zone workout that I created that will help strengthen your pecs and shed fat with a routine that mixes strength moves and calorie-burning cardio intervals.

Flab-fighting foods

What you eat also plays a major role in both the amount of fat and muscle that you have. If you don't eat enough to fuel your energy needs, it's harder to build muscle, even if you are lifting weights. If you eat too many calories, even though you're lifting weights, you will be muscular but still too fat.

It's a good idea to reduce the amount of calories you eat to decrease your body fat. But be aware: If you diet without exercising, you will not only lose fat, but you can lose muscle too. Any kind of exercise can help reduce the amount of muscle lost from dieting-induced weight loss, but weight-training especially can help you maintain muscle while you lose weight from eating less.

You don't have to go on a crazy diet to reap the benefits of fat reduction. You just need to spot the high-calorie food culprits that are part of your regular menu.

Curb the booze: If you drink alcohol on several days a week, a simple fat fix is to simply reduce how much you drink, choose low-cal options like light beer, or even cut it out entirely. That's because alcohol is a sneaky fat source. Every beer or cocktail has about the same number of calories as a candy bar (and some super-sweet mixed drinks can even have double). So while having a few drinks may not feel like you're packing on the pounds, every drink is giving you a wallop of calories that are likely adding to your belly and your man boobs.

Stick to water: If you drink sodas and juice every day, chances are you're packing in more calories than you realize. For some people, switching to water is the only diet change they need to make to lose weight.

Eat more fruits and veggies: Not only is eating more produce great for your health, you will automatically cut portion size—and reduce calories—if you eat more fruit and vegetables with every meal or snack. Plant foods tend to be packed with lots of fiber and water, so they provide satiating bulk, but with few calories. For example, a stalk of broccoli is very filling but has only about 30 calories.

There are many other diet improvements you can make, but even a few simple strategies like these, coupled with smart workouts, have the power to transform flab into fab!

Source: MSN

Viewed:1412 | renu | 03/18/09

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