If belly pooch is your biggest enemy when it comes to weight loss, you’re certainly not alone. While it would be great to just wave a magic wand and make the flab disappear, there’s actually something that comes pretty close: exercise. One exercise in particular is scientifically proven to whittle your waistline—and make your belly fat practically vanish into thin air. (This is the absolute best way to build muscle, according to science.)
A study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness has recently revealed the best way to flatten your stomach. Over the course of eight weeks, 39 volunteers exercised four times per week. While one group performed four regular cardio and strength workouts, the other group did two regular workouts and two high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. Then, researchers used a series of tests to assess the participants’ progress.
The final results couldn’t have been more clear: Not only did the HIIT group lose more weight overall, but they also lost more inches to their waistline when compared to the conventional exercise group. The HIIT participants also significantly reduced their levels of visceral fat, which is found in your abdomen and associated with health problems such as type 2 diabetes. What’s more, the HIIT group also showed an increase in their cardio respiratory fitness, while their counterparts did not. (Your home is filled with free fitness equipment, like these household items.)
Thanks to the short, intense bursts of energy required for HIIT workouts, your body gets pushed to its absolute limit, causing it to burn fat for the rest of the day, researcher say. Four of these training sessions per week could be the secret to getting the six-pack you’ve always dreamed of. (Ready to get started? These simple exercises can flatten your belly without a single crunch.)
If you don’t have a gym membership yet, you can still banish your belly fat for good. Just focus on your plate, instead. These six foods fight belly fat; incorporate them into your diet, and you’ll be on your way to a slimmer waistline in no time.
Fitness blogger Katie Dunlop melted off 45 extra pounds in a sustainable, healthy and fun way. Here’s how you can too.
Originally published as This Is the Best Exercise to Flatten Your Belly, According to Science on ReadersDigest.com.