I have skinny arms and legs but a lot of belly, which makes me feel horrible and disfigured. Which diet and exercise plan should I follow, as a 28-year-old male with a sedentary lifestyle, to have a healthy body?
Eat more protein-rich foods, and get some healthy fats in there. (Think oily fish, avocados, olive oil). Ditch the sandwiches, pizzas, chips and big pasta meals. A little's alright, but these carbs absorb quickly and often go straight to that belly.
Start paying attention to packaging: I never recommend on the dot calorie counting. It's unnecessary and boring as shit. Instead pay brief attention to the packaging on foods you eat: the rough calories, protein, carb and fat contents. Learn from it. Start making sure you're getting foods with good amounts of those proteins and fats, and avoid high carb meals, learn which each are, and roughly how many calories they contain. Try to get your daily calories (use a calorie calculator online) and a little surplus.
Soon enough, you'll have a good general understanding of what you're eating, and how it'll effect you - without having to count at all.
Cut down on sugar. A dangerously addictive carb that really is your enemy. It's responsible for a lot of snacking cravings and these again go straight to your belly. The occasional piece of fruit is alright, but try to get most of your "5 a day" and carbs from vegetables. Feel like snacking? Start carrying a water bottle and drink a bit - it really does help (look at Nalgene bottles, great for everyday).
Sleep. A lot of reports suggest that a bigger belly (as opposed to limbs etc) is a common side effect of minor sleep deprivation. I struggle with sleep, and it's the goal I'm focused on at the moment. 7 hours at least, even if you fell that you can get by with 5.
Cardio. Or HIIT. Find a form of either that you can enjoy, or at least manage - and aim for three times a week. Cardio is the key to looking proportional. Lifting weights is great for building up mass, but for that general athletic look you're going to need a bit of cardio.
If you want to go down the weight-lifting route too, which in my opinion is a good idea - though cardio will do enough for a minimal change approach - here's my advice:
Focus on compound exercises. Ones that hit multiple, large muscle groups. Why? Working big, and multiple muscle groups at once forces your body to body to produce more growth hormones and testosterone. These will help you build muscle all over, and burn more calories - far more advantageous in your position.
You don't need to spend hours doing crunches:
- Barbell rows
- Bench/shoulder press/dips
That's your basic-but-effective weight-lifting approach. Aim for two or three times a week, along with your cardio.
Listen to three of these? You'll see good results.
Listen to all? You'll be feeling fucking fantastic about yourself inside of three months.
It sounds like a lot of work, but it's not really. Its a lot of change. Once you get used to it you might find yourself really enjoying the way it makes you feel. Eventually you'll actually come to enjoy the whole process.
Look at food packaging: more protein, more healthy fats, less carbs.
Cardio three times a week.
Compound weight-lifting exercises, twice or three times a week.
Good luck with it all - I promise it's worth it.
Hope this has been helpful.