Do you want to get rid of belly fat? Are you aiming to work off the fat that gathers in your stomach area? Do you seem to accumulate fat in your abdomen naturally? If any of those questions resonated with you, then you’re like many other people who are struggling to work off belly fat that seems to stick to you or build no matter what you try!
Luckily, losing weight and fat is science. Specifically, it’s biology, and lots of research over the years has told us exactly how to go about it in the most effective ways. Here’s how fitness experts reveal the 7 best ways to get rid of belly fat.
1. Eat Healthy Fat
It sounds counterintuitive to eat fat to lose fat, but it works – as long as you’re opting for healthy fats. Unsaturated fats, namely polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, are your best bet. These fats make you feel full faster and provide lots of other positive benefits, but mostly, they’re good at helping you lose visceral fat and abdominal fat.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics national medial spokesperson Yasi Ansari, a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics and a Registered Dietician, recommends adding healthy fats in moderation in regular meals. They’re high in calories, so you can’t have too much of them, but they increase satiety and are great for health when done right.
- Olive Oil
But what, then, are fats you should avoid? Trans fats are the very worst of the bunch, and they are made by placing hydrogen into unsaturated fats. Commonly found in spreads, soybean oil, and margarine, they’re so bad for you that many producers and manufacturers have discontinued their use in their products altogether!
Not only have trans fats been linked to multiple life-threatening diseases, but they also increase abdominal fat. A study found that consuming diets rich in trans fat can increase abdominal fat by 33%. To avoid trans fats, stick to unsaturated healthy fats in moderation, and you’ll lose that belly weight in time.
2. Track Your Consumption
Losing fat is all about math. This is why tracking consumption – and exercise – can be a useful way to meet your goals. If you don’t have issues with number obsession, this is a good way to become more mindful of what you eat and the work you put into losing fat.
American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer Chris Gagliardi explains that by burning 500 more calories than usual for a week, you’d burn 3,500 calories that week in deficit, leading to one pound of fat lost. Gagliardi says that while counting calories is the easiest way to be sure of what you’re doing, you don’t have to crunch numbers – cutting down portions or adding 30 minutes to a workout and being aware of those changes can work, too.
As an individual, you can decide how quickly you want to lose weight and how much you want to cut from your everyday diet or add to your exercise following that. Keeping a food diary has been found to increase weight loss progress and makes the process more positive in terms of results, so do consider finding a way to track yourself, whether via pen and paper, app, or another method.
Exercise is a wonderful way to get rid of belly fat slowly, and it’s much more sustainable than a restrictive diet. Adding exercise to your routine means you’ll be healthier overall, and it’s a better way to seek long-term fat loss that keeps the weight off.
Johns Hopkins’ Clinical and Research Physiology director Kerry Stewart explains that exercise is so effective because it promotes many results for so little exchanged time. It’s also especially effective with belly fat because exercise brings down insulin levels, signaling that the body does not need to hold onto fat.
Here are some great exercise options to try:
· Ab Workouts
If you’re trying to lose belly fat, you should work on gaining lean muscle in the stomach area. There’s no way to spot reduce fat in certain parts of your body, but building muscle can be done in specific areas. NASM-certified personal trainer Chris DiVecchio recommends choosing to do ab workouts a few times a week non-consecutively, choosing workouts that target the muscles of your abdomen and sides.
· Aerobic Exercise
Certified Diabetes Educator and Registered Dietitian Franziska Spritzler states that cardiovascular exercises, or aerobic exercises, are a great way to burn calories quickly while improving health. It’s often been found to be among the most effective belly fat-blasting exercise kinds out there, and results have been revealed clearly in studies.
· Lift Weights
Spritzler also recommends this form of resistance training. Studies that focus on individuals with metabolic diseases show that belly fat loss can be achieved via training. Some studies even show that a mix of strength and aerobic workouts lead to higher visceral fat losses than other methods of working out.
Simply just walking can help reduce visceral fat even at low levels or amounts, says research. Gagliardi states that walking is a common entry exercise for many, and even starting with just a minute of walking and working your way up can help. Start slow and walk a little every day, increasing the amount as you get used to it.
Fiber, especially soluble fiber, is crucial to satiety and is a great way to manage your portions better. You may have noticed that sugars and refined carbs don’t keep you full for long, and that’s precisely why – they lack fiber.
George Mason University’s department of nutrition and food studies chair Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, M.D., states that fiber slows down your digestion, which is what makes you feel full faster.
Studies have found that soluble fiber makes you eat less, reduces the calories absorbed from food by the body, and helps weight loss. Better yet, research indicates that for every 10 grams added to one’s intake of soluble fiber, belly fat gain decreases by 3.7%.
Some good sources of soluble fiber are:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Flax Seeds
- Shirataki Noodles
5. Get More Sleep
Few people realize just how big of a role sleep can play in a weight loss plan’s success. Cheskin states that sleeping too little is significantly worse for your weight loss than getting enough of it or even sleeping too much. It would be best if you were sleeping for around 8 hours a night, at least.
Studies have shown that individuals who sleep less tend to eat more to maintain their energy levels, concentration, and general positive thinking during the day. They also often make worse calorie choices as their body craves certain unhealthy quick fixes found in junk food. It also means that they’re awake longer and therefore get hungry more often, and they often have less energy to work out.
This also, of course, affects belly fat, as all the aforementioned bad habits performed by those who lack sleep typically contribute to abdominal buildup. If you are getting enough hours of sleep but still feel very tired during the day, this can also contribute to the problem, and you should get yourself checked for a sleep disorder.
6. Eat More Protein
You’ve probably heard a lot about using protein for “gains” at the gym, but there’s a reason it’s such a big deal in the fitness world. Protein can:
- Hasten muscle recovery so you can work out muscles more often
- Increase feelings of satiety, so you eat smaller portions and don’t give in to cravings
- Raise your metabolic rate, so you burn fat faster
- Aid in muscle growth and retention, so your workouts produce better results
Spritzler stresses the importance of protein in weight management and also discusses how most people who consume higher levels of protein enjoy a more positive outlook on fat loss. Research has shown that those who eat high-protein diets tend to have lower abdominal fat levels overall.
Here are some great protein options:
- Whey Protein
7. Learn To Manage Stress
Did you know that being stressed out can cause you to gain fat around your belly? According to Spritzler, this is because when you’re stressed out, you trigger a component in the body known as the adrenal glands. These glands then produce a stress hormone known as cortisol.
When you’re stressed out on rare occasions, cortisol is nothing short of useful. It is meant to kick in during fight-or-flight situations. It works by putting your body in survival mode to focus entirely on the situation that is causing you stress.
The problem is that “survival mode” means the body is retaining fat to survive. When stress is rare, this isn’t much of a problem. But when your stress is constant, chronic, or long-term, it means you’re storing abdominal fat indefinitely.
Worse still, this constant stress can lead to long-term imbalances in cortisol production, so it’ll be harder to lose that weight later. Basically, if you don’t start learning to manage stress and boost your positive thinking, it’ll be even harder to work off belly fat when you want to.
There is an additional psychological issue with stress, of course – you are more likely to crave unhealthy foods and give in to cravings when stressed out. It’s a psychological game, and it’s much easier to “win” if you start working on finding ways to relax.
Many people want to lose belly fat, and if you do, there are plenty of healthy and sustainable ways to start. Avoid “quick” solutions like crash dieting or “fad” options like waist trainers. These will not work in the long run, might be counterproductive, and may even harm you.
Losing belly fat is much more straightforward than you might think, with many of the recommended and science-backed methods boosting sustainability and ease. You can make these changes to your life at your own pace and without disrupting your entire world – and that’s what makes the journey doable!