Everyone has problem areas when it comes to body fat, but the key to eliminating them isn't targeted exercises such as leg lifts or squats. In fact, those types of exercises actually build muscle, making your legs look even bigger. Instead, to burn fat anywhere on your body, you need to perform aerobic exercise and reduce the amount of calories you consume. Burning fat is a matter of creating a caloric deficit, and the only way to create substantial deficits is through a healthy diet and consistent, vigorous exercise.
Perform an aerobic activity of moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes five days per week. For faster results, do it for 45 or 60 minutes every day. Aerobic activities include running, biking, martial arts, organized sports, boxing and swimming. Your heart rate should be elevated through the whole session.
Perform strength training, such as weight lifting or yoga, two days per week. With relatively light resistance, you can strengthen your muscles instead of building them, which boosts your resting metabolism.
Add your basal metabolic rate, which is the number of calories you burn on average per day, and the calories you burn through exercise per day. Subtract 500 to 1,000 from this number to determine the number of calories you should consume per day. A pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so, if you want to lose a healthy 1 to 2 lbs. per week, you need to burn an excess of 500 to 1,000 calories per day.
Consume more lean protein, fresh vegetables and whole grains instead of junk foods. Half of your plate should be fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal. These foods help your body burn fat by keeping your insulin levels low, plus they help you feel full faster and longer. Their low-calorie content also makes it easier for you to stick to your diet without feeling hungry.
Drink plenty of water -- about 2 to 3 liters per day or approximately eight 8-ounce glasses. Even being slightly dehydrated can slow your metabolism.
Increase your overall daily activity by working in more opportunities to move and stand. Walk or bike to work, park in the back of parking lots or play a video game that requires movement instead of watching TV.
Set yourself up for success by making both your workouts and diet an enjoyable part of your life. Vary your workouts and meals to prevent boredom. Eat and exercise with family or friends. Do activities that you enjoy, eat foods that you like and push yourself to an appropriate limit. Losing fat takes time and dedication. If you hate exercising and eating healthily, you are more apt to stop trying.
- USDA: MyPlate Home
- CNN: Can Drinking Lots of Water Help You Lose Weight?
- American Council on Exercise: So, You Want to Spot Reduce? Here's How
- American Council on Exercise: Weight Loss - Diet vs. Exercise
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Weight - It's Not A Diet, It's A Lifestyle!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity
- Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.