The most common way of doing tons of crunches and other abdominal exercises won't do the trick (as you've probably noticed already.) However, this does not mean that you do not need to strengthen your abs. The stronger your abdominal muscles, the better your posture and fewer problems with low back pain.
But if your goal is to shrink your "muffin top" then high-intensity, interval cardio is what you need. This means alternating between periods of high-intensity (8-9 on a scale of perceived exertion) for 1 to 2 minutes followed by a recovery period of the same duration (5-6 on the same scale). Studies show that this type of cardio works better for losing belly fat than the traditional long, slow duration type of cardio. Extra perk: you just need 25-30 minutes instead of the usual 60.
However, no amount of cardio will shave off belly inches, if you also don't eat well. A lean midsection is made in the kitchen. For instance, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, belly fat was reduced by 3.7 percent.
"Ten grams of soluble fiber can be achieved by eating two small apples, 1 cup of green peas and ½ cup of pinto beans," said Kristen Hairston, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and the study's lead researcher.