According to a story published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, those who have excessive abdominal fat are at a higher risk of cancer and heart disease than those who might have the same BMI but carry extra weight in other parts of the body. Relax, here’s how to counter it with these exercises for weight loss and burning body fat:

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workouts:

HIIT training gives you a complete workout when you are short on time, helping you burn fat and build muscle at the same time. All you need is 15 to 20 minutes doing a range of exercises like push-ups, lunges, squats, pull ups and sit ups. The goal is to do 15 repetitions of one exercise, and then move on to the next with little or no rest in between sets. To make it more challenging, do 1 minute of skipping after every exercise and then move to the next set. You will end up burning around 500-600 calories in just 15 minutes. As this involves many muscles and joints, you should only try this every alternate day.It would take five times the amount of typical cardio exercise to shed the same amount of calories you can count in a four-minuteTabata, which is a form of HIIT that originated in Japan”, says Michele Olson, a professor at Auburn University in Alabama in an interview with ABC.

Work those Muscles:

Now while HIIT will help you burn calories, you tone your abdominal muscles need to to get a sleek midriff. For that, work on your abs 3 times per week with exercises that target these specific muscles, like – crunches, sit ups, leg raises and planks. Do 20 reps and 3 sets for each at a time. You should also look at doing core workout with an emphasis on variation, alignment, execution and form, because if you aren’t doing it probably you won’t see the benefits.

Also remember that this will help with losing weight everywhere, not just your stomach (as you can’t really just spot reduce fat in one area).

Eat Right:

Without tweaking your diet plan for weight loss, you can exercise yourself into a coma and still see no results. The right diet for flat abs is one that is high in fibre to prevent bloating, high in antioxidants to boost your energy levels, and also high in quality protein to keep your metabolism revved up. Choose natural foods like whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, lean cuts of meats like turkey and chicken, oily fish, eggs and low fat dairy products. “It is very important to cut back on sodium intake to prevent bloating when you want flat abs. Rather, use herbs like parsley and basil to flavour your food; these also are great for banishing bloat”, says Niti Bhatnagar, a dietitian.

Say Hello to Mini-meals:

To keep your metabolism moving and your blood sugar stabilized, you need to eat mini-meals. Rather than having 3 large meals in a day, break up your diet plan for a caloric intake into 6 to 8 mini-meals, eaten every 2 to 3 hours. The plus point is that you stay full and temptation-free, while also keeping bloating and acidity at bay.

Stay Stress-Free:

Cortisol, otherwise known as the ‘stress hormone’, can undo all your hard work and add bulk to your waistline. It can also encourage weight gain. A Yale study published in the September/October issue ofPsychosomatic Medicine showed that stress can cause abdominal weight gain in otherwise slender women, simply because of the increase in cortisol levels. And the story remains the same for men, who are even more prone to accumulating fat on their belly. So, when you feel a panic attack coming, try deep breathing exercises to calm yourself down and think more rationally.

The Verdict:

Since a busy schedule puts you under extra stress, it makes more sense to take measures right away to get flatter abs. And while you might think that you can get away with those loose t-shirts you favour because they hide your belly, remember they will not fight diseases that accompany excess abdominal weight. Now get that tummy to work!

Read next: 7 ways to up your ab game

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