When it comes to fat loss, most people will agree that the toughest spot for reducing body fat is usually the abdominals. This applies to women especially, as they are genetically pre-programmed to carry more body fat than men, due to fertility.
Stalled belly fat loss can be frustrating for anyone who feels like they are making visible progress elsewhere. Visceral fat (aka belly fat) is also most concerning, due to the fact that it carries the highest risk in association with the development of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
So, what are some tried and true ways to deal with this pesky issue? Regular exercise is, of course, only part of the equation, and there are several other things: diet, stress levels, even hormonal changes (especially in females) that factor in and can make a world of difference when it comes to trimming your waistline.
I wanted to take a deeper dive into each of these areas and discuss what is actually effective in blasting belly fat because we’ve all felt stuck and unable to make progress with our fitness goals at some point. It can be overwhelming and sometimes discouraging, especially when you feel like you’re doing everything you can and not getting the results you want.
So, get ready because I’m about to share with you some of the most effective ways to ignite the fire within and begin torching that belly fat! Let’s do this.
Meet In The Middle
Of course you’ll want to incorporate some type of movement into your routine if you’re not already in a regular exercise program, but this is just part of the formula for successful belly fat loss. One common misconception is that you can isolate and reduce this common trouble spot alone with crunches, but this won’t actually help. A reduction in overall body fat will help get you there, so it’s important to remember that you will likely have to incorporate full body movements, which will help give an all over toned appearance. That being said, some of the best workouts you can do to help strengthen your entire core include: pilates, burpees, planks, and mountain climbers.
As the old saying goes, you are what you consume. Obviously that doesn’t mean if you eat some broccoli, you will turn green and walk around looking like a piece of broccoli (that would be a sight), but whatever fuel you are putting into your body is exactly what you’ll get out of it. Consuming excess sugar and processed carbs is not the way to a flatter stomach. Things like sugary drinks can be especially dangerous because your body doesn’t know the difference in liquid sugars versus solid sugars like fruit. So if you’re drinking sodas, sports drinks, and juices in excess thinking you won’t gain weight by drinking your calories, you definitely need to omit these from your diet. Plus, sugary drinks are not satiating, and much like a good night kiss, they’ll just leave you wanting more.
Pump Up the Protein
You want a core that’s lean and mean? Get more protein! Protein is more satiating and research shows that those who consume more protein feel fuller longer and tend to eat less. As a fuel, protein burns at a much slower rate than carbohydrates, and it can also help with building lean muscle. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to get about 30% of your daily calories from protein, and some people are even opting to go carnivore, getting all or most of their daily calories from animal proteins only and lowering their carb intake. This obviously won’t work for everyone, and those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet would need to find other ways to supplement their protein with things like lentils, quinoa, pea protein, and plant-based milks, etc.
Shed The Carbs
This isn’t to say that you should cut out all carbs or adopt a ketogenic lifestyle necessarily, but research has shown that lowering your daily carbohydrates (especially cutting the processed ones) can help with overall weight loss, including belly fat. Not to mention, most people find that they will automatically lose some water weight when they ditch the carbs. Carbs behave similarly to sugar when it comes to your metabolism, causing a temporary insulin spike and offering a burst of quick energy. If this energy isn’t used quickly though (say, to power you through your workout), it will get stored as body fat. This is why you may sometimes eat a higher carb meal and after feel puffy and bloated.
Drink Your Water
Most people aren’t drinking enough water these days, and yet it’s such an easy problem to solve. Making sure you’re properly hydrated is essential for overall physical health at the cellular level, but it’s also important to drink enough water when you’re trying to lose excess belly fat. It keeps your metabolism humming and can even work as an appetite regulator. If you’re in between meals and start to feel like you might be hungry, try drinking no smaller than an eight oz. glass of water, and see how you feel. If you’re still feeling like you need something to refuel, choose a high protein snack like a slice or two of turkey breast, or some hummus with a few crudité veggies to hold you over until your next meal.
Rest Your Body
Believe it or not, sleep actually plays a very important role in our metabolism and body fat percentage. If you are clocking less than seven hours of sleep each night, this can mess with your appetite-regulating hormones (ghrelin and leptin). According to this Healthline article, when you’re not getting proper sleep, the body will begin to make more ghrelin (signaling hunger) and less leptin (the signal that tells you you’re full) Studies have shown that shorter sleep duration (less than seven hours) increases your risk for obesity by 55% in adults. If you’re interested in learning more about how your circadian rhythm influences fat loss, check out this informative Key Nutrition podcast episode.
Unfortunately there’s no magic pill that’ll take away your belly fat, but with consistent effort, lifestyle modifications, and a little patience, you’ll be on your way to a flatter tummy in no time.