If You Want to Burn Belly Fat, an Expert Said to Add These Cardio Workouts to Your Routine

There are three things you should do if you want to lose belly fat: focus on your nutrition, strength train, and do cardio. Cardio doesn't discriminate when it comes to body fat and will help you burn fat all over. If you're wondering what the best cardio is to lose belly fat, though, the answer is: it depends — here's why.

Does Cardio Burn Belly Fat?
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Does Cardio Burn Belly Fat?

When it comes to losing fat anywhere on your body, spot reduction just doesn't work. "Unfortunately, you can't say exactly where the fat is going to come from," Jason Machowsky, RD, CSCS, a board-certified sports dietitian and exercise physiologist at the Hospital For Special Surgery's Tisch Sports Performance Center, told POPSUGAR.

If your goal is to reduce the amount of belly fat you have, Machowsky recommends doing cardio-based activities because, on average, cardio tends to burn more calories than strength training. No, this doesn't mean you should cut out strength training and only do cardio. You should continue to strength train a couple of times a week because it tells your body to preserve your muscle mass, Machowsky explained.

When you lose weight and lower your body-fat percentage, there's a possibility that your body will pull from both your fat and lean muscle mass. To circumvent this, strength training "helps indicate that your body should spare your muscle as it's losing weight and pull from your fat stores," Machowsky said. You can't dictate where you'll lose fat from, but according to Machowsky, "If your body is pulling from fat stores, you'll have a better chance of losing belly fat." Plus, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body burns at rest.

What's the Best Cardio to Burn Belly Fat?
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What's the Best Cardio to Burn Belly Fat?

Cardio won't directly target belly fat, but it can definitely help. To figure out the best type of cardio that will help you lose belly fat, Machowsky said to take into account any conditions you may have. For example, if you have orthopedic issues like arthritis in your knees, you should probably avoid high-impact cardio like running.

As a general rule of thumb, when choosing a cardio workout "things that gas you within 10 to 15 minutes are a good option," he said. For example, he recommends rowing because you can do it at a moderate to intense pace and because it simultaneously works your upper and lower body.

It's important to note that you shouldn't feel 100-percent exhausted once you've finished a HIIT workout because you will have only trained for 10 minutes. Instead, find a happy medium that will challenge you and that you can sustain for 20 to 30 minutes each session, he said.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends doing up to 60 minutes of cardiovascular activity a day to promote weight loss, so you have a lot of flexibility, but 20 to 30 minutes should be your baseline, according to Machowsky. If you don't have a lot of time, doing HIIT for 20 minutes is a better option than a moderate jog, he said. "If you can put in more work in the same amount of time, you're going to burn more calories," he explained.

If you aren't in a time crunch, Machowsky recommends using the elliptical, cycling, jogging, or doing a combination of all three. For example, you can do 20 minutes on the elliptical, 20 minutes on the bike, and finish off with a 20-minute jog. According to Machowsky, the most effective cardio to lose belly fat is, "A: what doesn't hurt their joints, B: something they can do for a reasonable amount of time, and C: something they enjoy so they keep doing it."

How Long Does It Take to Lose Belly Fat With Cardio?
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How Long Does It Take to Lose Belly Fat With Cardio?

Now that you know cardio can help you burn belly fat and your options for cardio workouts, you may be wondering how long it will take to see results. According to Machowsky, it's going to come down to your nutrition.

To maximize fat loss, he said you should eat in a moderate caloric deficit, about 20 percent below your daily caloric needs. There are various ways to find out how many calories you need to consume in a day, such as doing a resting metabolic rate test or using a calculation like the Harris-Benedict formula.

"You should expect to see people lose anywhere from a 0.5 to a pound a week. Someone who is significantly overweight could initially lose 1.5 to two pounds a week," Machowsky said.

Remember, these are general recommendations, which means you may have to play around with what works best for you. Before making any changes to your nutrition, be sure to consult your doctor and a registered dietitian.