Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a magic exercise we could do to melt away our lingering belly fat? The reality is that in order to make those stubborn fat cells shrink, we need to do the work in and out of the kitchen. The nutrition part is fundamental as we need to fuel our bodies for work while encouraging them to seek energy sources from what we already have in stock, i.e. our fat cells. We do that by eating clean, whole foods in the right amount. Then we turn on the fat burners through exercise. What kind works? You've heard it before, and it won't go away: HIIT training is your belly's best friend.
The winning aspect that high-intensity interval training has that other cardio doesn't is the increased strength element. You could run every single day and burn calories, but you aren't developing the overall lean muscle mass that is responsible for higher calorie consumption. And you are leaving out the upper half of your body. Doing combination, full-body, high-intensity moves builds the kind of muscle that continues to burn calories even after you stop working out. It's the EPOC principle at work (excess postexercise oxygen consumption — also known as afterburn) and is responsible for the success stories we love to read about from places like Orangetheory Fitness.
How do you make HIIT work for you? If you aren't familiar with this kind of training, start simple and limit the time. In order to get the full value from the workout, you have to be working at a higher-than-normal level. You should be out of breath. You should have a higher-than-regular cardio heart rate. You should feel fatigue hit quickly. If all those things are happening, you've hit the right exertion level. Start with a 10-minute workout with intervals of no more than 60 seconds in duration (you may feel more successful starting out with 20 seconds of work, like in a Tabata workout). Work as hard as you can — I like to say just shy of puking — and then take the full rest period. This type of training revs up your metabolism while you are in it and, depending on duration and effort, for between 12-48 hours later. And that is the key to getting rid of belly fat.
So remember, losing the weight you want is a combination of these two factors: First you have to push your body beyond its comfort zone for it to utilize that store of fat that it keeps for emergencies. You are literally overcoming a biological safety net. Then you have to provide your body with the right nutrition to allow it to loosen its grip on fat. If you deprive yourself of vital energy through food, survival instincts are triggered and your body will not allow for the burning of that backup. You have to eat to lose weight. True story.
And give it time. Belly fat didn't come overnight, and it won't leave that fast either. You can accelerate the process, but pushing too much too fast will backfire: your body won't like it and will refuse to cooperate, and you'll be too tired to want to keep up a punishing pace. You CAN succeed. But look in terms of weeks and months instead of days. Focus on the immediate gains of fitness and strength; the rest will come.