Doing hundreds of sit-ups won't give you a six-pack, but making some changes to your diet and switching up your training routine will help you shift your belly flab for good.
1. Try HIIT
Exercising to your maximum effort for 30-second intervals is the fastest way to burn fat, according to researchers at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. So whether you're cycling, sprinting, doing burpees or lifting weights, dig deep and give it everything you've got. For most efficient results, don't let your session go over 30 minutes. If the gym isn't for you, invest in some fitness DVDs. Just 15 minutes of effort every day will get results. Try Insanity Fast and Furious Abs: Maximum Results in Less Than 15 Minutes Workout DVD (£14.95)
2. Eat after exercising
Try going for a quick run or hitting the gym before you eat breakfast. Men can burn up to 8% more fat if they exercise before eating, according to a survey by the BBC. Exercising on empty means your muscles won't have a reserve of carbohydrates to draw on for energy, so will have to use more fat. When you do have breakfast, make sure it's high in protein (think eggs, not cereal) to aid in muscle repair.
Stress leads to high cortisol levels, which results in fat gain - particularly around the middle. If your cortisol level is high you will struggle to shift belly fat, even if you exercise and eat well. Men are more prone to stress-related belly fat, so tackling your lifestyle is essential if you want to lose that spare tyre. Give yoga or meditation a try, such as Howard Napper's Chillout Yoga, £9.78.
4. Start weight training
Some men think strength training isn't worth doing until they've shifted the weight – arguing that no one's going to see the muscle under several layers of fat. But there's a good reason to start lifting weights now. Strength training burns calories while improving insulin sensitivity, and the more muscle mass you have, the more fat your body will burn. For maximum results, combine lifting with sprint training. Invest in some dumbbells and a kettle bell for doing fat-torching compound swings.
5. Eat healthy fats
Don't make the mistake of cutting healthy fats from your diet - you need them for good metabolism and energy production – but do cut unhealthy trans fat in things like processed meats and pastry products. Ideally, you should be eating both omega-3s found in things like flaxseed and oily fish and omega-6 fats found in commonly used vegetable oils. If you're unsure whether you're getting enough, take a supplement. There's another good reason to include healthy fats (things like avocado, nuts and seeds) in your overall calorie intake. Eating fat may actually keep you from overeating because it makes you feel full.
6. Cut back on sugar and carbohydrates
You don't need to eliminate them altogether, but make sure you're not eating bread, potatoes pasta and rice to excess. Try halving the amount of carbs on your plate and replacing it with more protein, healthy fats and veggies – all of which will help keep hunger at bay. It goes without saying to cut as much sugar (from fizzy drinks, cereals, biscuits etc) from your diet as possible. Sugar and refined carbs spike insulin levels, leading to weight gain around the middle.
7. Get your Zzzs
Many studies have linked lack of sleep to weight gain. After a bad night's sleep, the body produces more of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin, which triggers cravings for sugar and other calorie-dense foods. Not only that, skimping on sleep can change your hormone production, which affects your cortisol levels and can cause insulin sensitivity – one of the worst offenders when it comes to stubborn belly fat. Aim for eight hours of sleep a night.
8. Drink green tea
Antioxidant-rich green tea not only helps prevent cancer, it also contains a compound that speeds up your metabolism. According to a study in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, drinking four cups of green tea a day could help you shed around 2-3kg in eight weeks. Swap your latte for a cup of green tea and see the weight come off even faster.