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Crunches are great for strengthening your core.
A whole industry exists around selling workout equipment and exercise routines that claim to target certain areas of fat on the body. Many of these tools are designed to aid in repetitive abdominal contraction exercises like sit-ups and crunches, promising to leave you with six-pack abs; while this type of exercise will give you a stronger stomach, it won't erase your belly fat.
Repetitive Abdominal Contractions
Repetitive abdominal contraction exercises are great for toning and strengthening the abdominal muscles, but they won't specifically target and burn stomach fat. Strengthening and toning exercises in general, however, can help the body to better metabolize fat, and have a place in an overall fat-burning fitness routine. Crunches and other abdominal exercises are also beneficial for strengthening the core and reducing back injuries, according to SportsMD.com.
The Spot-Reduction Myth
It simply isn't possible to choose the location from which fat is metabolized, according to SportsMD.com. Each individual person stores fat systematically throughout the body in a unique pattern. Although it can generally be said that men commonly store most of their excess fat in the stomach and women store it in the hips and thighs, this too has exceptions. As stored fat is metabolized, the body burns it in the same order in which it was stored to begin with; this is something over which you have no control.
What Does Burn Fat
The best type of exercise for burning fat is daily low-intensity exercise, such as walking, which converts fat stored in the body into the energy needed to fuel the workout. Higher-intensity cardio exercises like running or aerobics pull fuel from a different source, although they can still help to raise the metabolism and aid in turning stored fat into energy. Walking just 30 minutes a day is one of the best exercises for burning fat, as long as you don't increase your daily caloric intake, notes SportsMD.com.
Remember Your Diet
In addition to watching calories and portion size, the types of food you eat are also an important factor in burning fat, according to Harvard Medical School. Focus on complex carbohydrates such as those found in fruits, vegetable and whole grains, and avoid simple refined carbs like sugar and pasta. Although common wisdom is to avoid eating fat if you're trying to lose fat, it's actually more effective to eat healthy fats like the poly- and monounsaturated fats found in fish and nuts, while avoiding saturated fat and trans fats.