You want a trimmer waistline. You want to lose a few pounds of belly fat in a relatively short period of time. Shoot, you’d even love a set of six-pack abs.

That’s great, because when you reduce your percentage of body fat (especially when you lose visceral fat like belly fat), you reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and if you do it the right way, you improve your overall health and fitness. So while losing some belly fat will help you look better, it will also make you health

Reducing your body fat percentage isn’t easy, though. If it was, everyone would look like this. But if you follow the right program, you can. Stick to the following plan and reducing your body fat percentage — and losing some pounds of belly fat — is almost assured.

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But, first, let’s get a couple of things out of the way.

One, it’s impossible to “spot reduce.” While you can target certain areas of your body in terms of building up the muscles in that area, you can’t decide to just lose weight in your stomach, or your thighs, or your rear. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t remove subcutaneous body fat from specific areas of the body by doing exercises that target those areas. Doing hundreds of crunches will certainly strengthen your abs, but that won’t reduce the amount of fat stored in your torso.

Want to lose pounds of belly fat? You’ll have to lose pounds of weight. Some will come from your stomach. Some will come from the rest of your body.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t have certain areas where we’re predisposed to put on fat. If I gain a few excess pounds, most seem to appear on my stomach. Other people tend to put on pounds in their thighs or rear. They’re gaining weight everywhere, of course, but it seems to appear more readily in a certain area. On the flip side, if I lose five or six pounds, my waistline gets noticeably less soft.

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The beauty of intermittent fasting is that there really is just one rule: Eat for eight hours, then don’t eat for 16 hours. (Some people choose to fast for 18 hours; try that if you want, but, jeez, it’s a long time to go without eating.) When you decide to start eating is up to you. What you eat during that time frame is up to you.

Just figure out what works best for your schedule and your lifestyle. Most people wait a while after they wake up to start eating; for me, it’s easier to hold off for a few hours in the morning than it is to go, say, from 3 or 4 p.m. until bedtime without eating. Plus, if you work out in the morning before you eat, you get to double-dip on fat burning, since your body will use even more of your stored fat for energy.