Greenfield column: Tips for losing the muffin top

As I sit in Miami preparing for my Fitness Universe competition this weekend, I couldn't help but think about how people are so obsessed with having the perfect abs. That's not just for events like this, but it's also one of the most frequently asked questions I get as a trainer.

The answer is not a simple one, nor is it always easy to achieve. Attaining the coveted midsection depends on several factors including genetics, body composition, muscle development, nutrition, and dedication to maintaining all of those over time.

In case you don't know what a muffin top is, it's the fat on your back and sides that bulges over your waistband in the same way the top of a muffin hangs over the base. Anything from genetics to too much stress, caffeine, sugar, toxins and alcohol consumption can lead you to being bloated and retaining fluid in these areas.

Today's styles of low-waisted jeans and tops that don't go quite low enough don't help matters.

First I should make sure to clear up a couple of myths.


1.You cannot spot reduce, nor can you choose where your body will store fat.

2. Doing 500 crunches everyday will NOT take it away.

The good news is that you don't have to do 500 crunches every day, take tons of supplements, starve yourself, or undergo drastic medical procedures to tone and tighten that waistline. Here are some ideas to incorporate into your routine if you strive to have a tighter midsection and less fluff over the top of your jeans.

• Lift weights to build muscle and boost overall calorie burn and fat loss.By performing multi-joint exercises and working large muscle groups, you increase your calorie burn at the same time. Include core work to tighten and build abdominal muscles, so when you lose the fluff and de-puff, the definition will be there. Training is half the battle.

• Eat right. Stop eating processed foods and start eating whole foods! This includes leans meats and other sources of proteins such as steak, chicken and fish. Include tons of green veggies such as broccoli, asparagus, spinach and kale, and fresh fruits such as bananas, apples, and berries.

Healthy fats are a must as well, so include fish oils, nuts, flax seed and olive oil. My favorite is called Udo's oil, which is a blend of several oils such as grape seed oil, olive oil, flax oil, and a few others. This can be used as a salad dressing with balsamic vinegar, or put in oatmeal or a protein shake.

If you think cutting fats altogether will help you lose fat, you are wrong. Healthy fats are an important part of your diet.

Whole-grain starches such as brown rice, quinoa and unprocessed oats will provide you with energy and fullness in your muscles. This all sounds pretty easy, but many people lack foods from some of these categories every day. Keeping track of your daily intake ensures you are not forgetting something!


Increase your cardio intensity and/or duration. Depending on what you already do, 15 to 45 minutes of intense cardio three times per week can help you burn more fat! Easy breezy cardio may allow a relaxed chat with a friend, but get that heart rate pumping to really see the changes happen.

Watch your alcohol consumption.A glass of wine on occasion may be fine, but if you continue to drink daily, you can forget about losing belly fat. Summer is the season when we all want to look our best, but it is also accompanied by outdoor activities that involve cocktails, so chose wisely and drink plenty of water.

Remember, it won't happen overnight, but consistent progress can happen with a lot of hard work!

Shelly Greenfield is a certified fitness trainer and writes a weekly fitness column for the Post-Bulletin. If you have an idea for a fitness profile, contact her at

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