If you have a muffin top then I bet you want to get rid of it! Or, you might be asking what on earth is a muffin top? I know I was bewildered the first time I heard the phrase. My friend explained that it is the fat on your back and sides that bulges over your waistband in the same way the top of a muffin overhangs the base.
On hearing of the muffin top phenomenon, my first reaction was ‘I have an instant muffin top remedy’. My friend listened closely, expecting me to share some profound fitness secret that could fix a muffin top in moments, but my answer disappointed her greatly. Apparently this wasn’t the response she had hoped for:
“A muffin top can be fixed instantly by wearing well-fitting clothes”
Unfortunately, my solution didn’t take into account the proliferation of low-waisted pants and tops that don’t quite sit low enough. Although my answer was funny, my friend really wanted to know which exercise would magically erase her muffin top from existence. That way she’d be free to wear what she pleased. After all, she explained, when she stood in front of a mirror at the start of the day she had no muffin top. It was only over the course of the day that her hated muffin top quietly appeared because her posture slowly slumped and she stopped holding her breath!
Now, thanks to plenty of cardio exercise I don’t have a muffin top so perhaps I’m not as sympathetic as my friend had hoped. To my mind she looks lovely but I know that feeling like she has a spare tire brings her down, so here is my muffin top fighting action plan.
Quick muffin top fix
The question “how do I get rid of my muffin top?” is in fact code for: help me get rid of the fat from my mid-section. This spare tire look is common in men and women and is more pronounced in some body shapes than others. Luckily, I have some fat fighting tactics to share with you (although sadly it doesn’t involve buying new clothes), but first we have to clear up the daddy of all fitness myths:
You cannot pick and choose which areas of your body shed fat first.
Fat spot reduction is impossible because, you can’t tell your body where to burn fat. Numerous tummy crunches simply do not encourage your body to burn fat from your tummy. However, crunches do help tone and build your abdominal muscles. That means: when your body eventually gets around to burning your tummy fat, you will reveal a perfectly toned mid-section as a result of all your abdominal work.
I can hear the gasps of horror as I write because busting the spot fat reduction myth was quite possibly the saddest fact that I learned in school. I really believed that the ‘rolling ab cruncher’ contraption sold on TV burned away spare tummy fat too! If you’re like me and thought you could choose where your body burns fat, I’m sorry to confirm that your body burns fat and stores fat without listening to our special requests.
My three step full-body muffin top attack
In order to get rid of your muffin top for good, you have to attack it with a full-body fat-burning plan.
1. Focus on good nutrition
Eating well and focusing on nutrition is the most important step in eliminating a muffin top. I believe that a toned mid-section is mainly made in the kitchen, so watch what you eat and pay attention to your calorie intake vs. your calorie use and you should find that you soon look the right shape all over.
2. Fat burning cardio exercise
There are so many exercise choices for burning fat and you need to choose a cardio routine that will help you shed weight and tone up all over. Follow my 10 minute cardio body blast or pick something simple and low-cost to start like walking, jogging or cycling. Try to go at a consistent pace that has you working at 60-80% of your maximum heart rate and aim to do 30 minutes a day of fat-burning cardio. Soon you’ll be toned all over and you’ll have whittled your waist beautifully!
3. Perfect muffin top exercises
While my first two steps will help you to decrease overall body fat, you can also start work on your waist so that, as any excess fat melts away, you reveal a toned tum. Try adding side bends, jackknives and standing twists to your routine to ensure your underlying oblique and abdominal muscles are strong, toned and ready to debut once the fat is gone.
I would love to tell you about a magic exercise that will get rid of a lurking muffin top but I want to be honest and explain the relationship between fat and exercise to bust apart fitness myths. Through balance and consistency, I believe you can get rid of your muffin top forever but you need to eat right, slim down and start exercising properly. I know it’s not a magic fix but I promise that, given time, my three-step solution will work.
Once you’ve given my solution a chance, you’ll be toned all over with a beautifully whittled waist. Now, let’s leave the term ‘muffin top’ where it belongs – in the bakery section of the grocery store!
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.