Lower belly fat can be tricky to burn because you can’t spot treat it like other areas of your body. However, with a little hard work and dedication, you can get rid of your excess weight by altering your diet, performing full body workouts, and making simple lifestyle changes
Losing Excess Fat
Reduce your caloric intake. When it comes to losing weight, there is no way to spot-treat, or only lose weight from 1 part of the body at a time. If you want to lose belly fat, you will need to lose overall weight by reducing your caloric intake.
- Cut out about 500 to 750 calories daily from your diet. This small decrease in calories can help you lose about 1 to 1.5 pounds per week.
- Aiming to lose more weight than this per week is generally not advised by health professionals.
- Use a food journal or online tracker to get an idea of how many calories you currently eat daily. Subtract 500 to 750 from that total to get an idea of how many calories you should consume daily to result in moderate weight loss.
Focus mostly on protein, fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that following a lower carbohydrate diet can not only help you lose weight quickly, but specifically decrease the amount of stomach fat you have.
- Fill up on 3 – 4 oz of lean protein at each meal (about the size of a deck of cards).
- Choose mostly non-starchy vegetables (like peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, cauliflower or lettuce) and aim for a serving or 2 at each meal. Have 1 to 2 cups of leafy greens.
- Eat 1 to 2 servings of fruit daily. Fruit contains natural sugars and should be eaten in correct portion sizes — 1/2 cup for most fruits or 1 medium piece.
- Examples of lower carb meals include: mixed green salad with raw vegetables, 5 oz of grilled chicken and an oil-based dressing, 1 cup greek yogurt with nuts and 1/2 cup of fruit, or grilled salmon with a small salad and steamed broccoli.
Limit grains. Foods like bread, rice and pasta can be a part of a healthy diet; however, these foods are significantly higher in carbohydrates than other foods. Limit these to help you stick to your lower calorie diet.
- Foods to limit include bread, rice, pasta, crackers, chips, tortillas, English muffins, etc.
- Limit portion sizes to 1 oz or 1/2 cup. Do not avoid grains altogether. Choose grains with lots of nutrition and that will keep you full, like quinoa or oatmeal.
- In addition, aim to choose 100% whole grain options. These foods are higher in fiber and other nutrients that are apart of a healthy diet.
Skip added sugars. Studies have shown that sugar (especially added sugar) is 1 of the main culprits in excess stomach fat Limit foods high in sugars.
- Added sugars are those that companies add to a product during the manufacturing process. For example, cookies or ice cream have added sugar, which you might expect, but items like crackers, juice, pasta sauce can also have a lot of added sugar.
- Natural sugar is not added and is contained naturally in foods. For example, fruit has some sugar, but it’s natural sugar. Foods with natural sugar are much better choices as they generally have more essential nutrients.
- Get in the habit of reading food labels, and beware of hidden sugars in any packaged foods. Learn the different names for added sugar and note that there may be multiple forms of sugar added to 1 product.
- If you have a sweet tooth, choose healthy options like honey, dark chocolate, dried fruit, and Greek yogurt to satisfy your cravings.
Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining your body’s normal functions and studies have shown that drinking plenty of water can also help you shed pounds faster.
- This is partially due to the fact that water helps keep you full so that you eat less.
- Aim to drink at least 8 to 13 glasses of water per day. Drink 1 to 2 glasses before each meal to help curb your appetite and make you fuller faster.
Getting Rid of Belly Fat with Exercise
Work out in the morning. Some studies have shown that if you work out in the morning, prior to eating your first meal, many of the calories you burn come from fat (instead of stored glycogen).
- To work out in the morning, you actually won’t need to get up much earlier. Try just setting your alarm 30 to 60 minutes earlier than you typically do.
- Some other benefits of working out in the morning include missing after work gym crowds, getting your exercise out of the way, free afternoons and a more focused day.
Get aerobic exercise. Cardiovascular exercises burn calories and help speed up your metabolism so that you can lose weight faster.
- You should get at least 150 minutes total of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, which you can break up into 30 minutes 5 days a week. If you’re trying to lose visceral fat, however, some experts suggest getting up to 60 minutes a day.
- Exercises can include jogging, walking briskly, cycling, swimming, and hiking, dancing
- Try to find an exercise that you enjoy. If your workouts are fun, then you are far more likely to stick with them.
Incorporate strength training. Incorporating a few days of resistance or strength training is also important. This will help tone muscle and maintain lean muscle mass while you’re dieting.
- It’s recommended to include about 2 to 3 days of strength training each week. Make sure to do exercises that work your entire body and all major muscle groups.
- Although you cannot spot-treat, incorporating some strength training exercises that focus on your core (back and abdominal muscles) can help support the look of a toner, leaner stomach. Do exercises like the plank, crunches, or v-sits.
Do interval training. Studies have shown that people who do high-intensity interval training (HITT) lose more fat around their stomach compared to regular cardiovascular exercise.
- HIIT is a type of exercise that is done for shorter periods of time, but works your body harder. You alternate between short bursts of very high-intensity exercises with bouts of more moderate-intensity exercises.
- Include 1 to 2 days of HIIT each week. This can count as your cardio exercise as well – it is recommended to get 75 minutes total of high-intensity exercise each week.
Modifying Lifestyle Behaviors
Target stress. Stress causes an increase in cortisol, a hormone that causes the body to store extra fat, particularly in the midsection. Stress can also cause emotional eating, or eating for comfort rather than out of hunger.
- Try eliminating or reducing stress-provoking people and things from your life, if possible.
- You can also reduce the amount of stress and anxiety you feel on a daily basis by better managing your time so that you aren’t constantly rushing to meet your deadlines.
- If you struggle with stress, take a few minutes every day to sit down, close your eyes, focus on your breath, and clear your head of all of your thoughts and preoccupations.
Get more sleep. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your appetite and body fat. When you don’t get enough sleep you run the risk of weight gain and increased fat around your stomach.
- The recommendation is to get at least 7 to 9 hours nightly for adults. This amount will help maintain your health but also help you feel well rested.
- Make sure to turn off all the lights. Turn off any electronic devices (like phones, tablets or computers) at least 2 hours before bed.
Tracking Progress and Staying Motivated
Find a diet or exercise buddy. Losing weight on your own can be difficult, especially when people around you are eating unhealthy things.
- Find a friend to diet with so that you can help keep each other motivated, share tips and tricks, and keep each other company while exercising.
- Studies have shown that people lose more weight and keep it off longer when they have a good support group
Keep a diet journal. Studies have shown that people who keep track of the food they eat by writing it down tend to lose weight faster, and keep it off, than those who don’t.
- This is partially due to the fact that writing things down forces you to be held accountable for your decisions. Make sure to be as accurate as you can with your journaling.
- Try using an online calorie calculator/diary or just keeping a handwritten journal. Apps such as MyFitnessPal and other websites help you keep track of the foods you eat and allow you to look up the calorie content of various foods.
- Weigh yourself daily or weekly to see what progress you’ve made over time. Try to weigh yourself at the same time of day and wearing the same clothes for the most accurate reflection of progress.
- Weighing yourself daily may help you quickly identify any issues with your weight loss regimen – if you see the scale creeping up, you can go back through your journal to see if you are overeating, or you can increase your cardio, all before you gain too much weight.
- Also periodically re-measure your waist or hips to see how much fat you’ve lost around your stomach.