Losing belly fat is a big challenge for most people and it can be annoying. Whether it’s for health or vanity reasons, getting rid of that stubborn belly fat is important. Excess belly fat has been associated with serious health issues; it can lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other health issues.
Women find it harder to lose belly fat than men, reason being that women have different hormones compared to men. There are high levels of leptin in women, a hormone which plays a significant role when it comes to metabolism, appetite control and weight loss.
Leptin determines the body’s ability to burn fat. High levels of leptin speed up your metabolism, making the body burn more fat. Low levels of leptin means slow metabolism which makes the body to burn less fat.
Due to the extreme highs and lows in the levels of leptin in women it makes it harder for them to lose belly fat than men.
Losing belly fat can be frustrating for some people because of its stubbornness, not to worry though; I will share with you some effective strategies that will help you get rid of the excess belly fat in no time.
Understand why fat is accumulated in the belly
I know this is a hard one to swallow because it’s something that you have no control over. Your genes determine how fat will be distributed in the body, for some fat settles in the lower body hence referred as pear-shaped. For others fat tends to accumulate in the midsection of the body resulting to belly fat, hence the term apple-shaped.
Research shows that one can gain belly fat due to stress. Cortisol hormones are responsible for this! When stressed the body will release these hormones and they trigger fat accumulation around the belly. Not to forget, stress makes you overeat and eat unhealthy foods which also cause belly fat.
This is a lifestyle for people who are physically inactive and spend most of the day seated, be it in the office or watching TV at home. This is something that can be avoided and if not it can lead to fat belly and serious health issues.
If you sit a lot, try and make small changes like taking a few steps around the office when not busy, standing in waiting rooms instead of sitting, walking to the mall, taking the stairs or any other activity that involves movement.
Other causes of belly fat include: overeating, aging, Insulin, improper digestion, slow metabolism, menopause, unhealthy eating and alcoholism.
For you to lose belly fat both exercise and diet is essential
This applies in overall body fat not just belly fat, engaging in exercise helps burn more calories than you consume. When the body realizes that the calories consumed are less than what it needs, it taps energy from stored fat. A bigger deficit the more fat you lose.
Strength training to burn belly fat
Strength training is important and will not only help you lose belly fat but also lose weight. The good thing about strength training is that most of the fat you burn during and after the workout is released from the stomach.
Strength training at least twice a week can reduce body fat percentage by a significant value and reduce fat gain in the middle which comes with age. In fact, research shows that aerobics workout are less effective and can’t give the same results as full body strength training, when it comes to losing fat.
Research by East Carolina University with a group of 8 young men lifting weights for 45 minutes; where they inserted microdialysis probe in every man’s belly to show number of fat cells lost before, during and after the exercise.
They discovered that after the men lifted the weights, their metabolism went up by over 10%, burning 104 calories per hour from 95 calories on the same time point on control day. And the rate of fat burning had doubled after resistance training. They also found out that 80% of the fat released came from fat cells in the stomach.
Engage in exercises with high metabolic demand to lose belly fat fast. Exercises like; pull ups, bench press, squats, deadlifts and rows, doing 3 sets of 10 reps each exercise. These exercises burn calories during and after the workout.
High Intensity Interval Training
HIIT is an effective exercise and will help get rid of belly fat fast, it burns more calories and increases your endurance. The exercise combines high intensity exercises that raise your heart rate with longer bursts of low intensity exercise and then repeated several times for a particular period of time.
A study by University of New South Wales Medical Sciences shows that HIIT can burn fat 3 times more than moderate intensity cardio. Researchers compared two groups and discovered that the group which did 8 seconds of sprinting on a bike then 12 seconds of low intensity exercise, repeatedly for 20 minutes lost THREE TIMES body fat compared to those who exercised at a moderate pace for 40 minutes.
The problem with engaging in long sessions of moderate intensity cardio is that you end up losing both fat and muscle.
I have to say this though; you will need some certain level of fitness to be able to engage in HIIT. If you are overweight and can’t do HIIT for now, start with moderate cardio then engage in HIIT later when your fitness and endurance increase.
Walk your way to a flatter stomach
If you can’t engage strength training or HIIT due to health or any other reason, walking also works. Though it’s not the quickest way to get rid of belly fat, combing it with calorie deficit will work.
Walk around the compound, to the mall, use the stairs instead of the elevator and walk for pleasure to increase the number of calories you burn. Walking 3-4 miles a day burns more than 200 calories.
In order to lose you belly fat fast you need to eat the right foods
I know you have heard this before but I have to say it again, for you to lose weight they need to burn more calories than you consume. You need to create a caloric deficit to lose belly fat fast, this means consuming less calories than your body burns.
The body needs the three macronutrients; proteins, carbs and fats, where each performs different functions. As much as the number of calories matter the quality of the calories will determine where the weight will be lost.
Some books and articles may be promising “miracle foods” which will get rid of belly fat, THERE ARE NO SUCH FOODS! But there are foods that will boost your metabolism hence fastening the fat burning process and other bad foods that will add belly fat.
Low-Carbs diet will reduce belly fat
Eating too many carbohydrates does no good to your waistline. When you consume many carbs; the calories the body doesn’t use are converted to triglycerides then transferred to the fat cells where they are stored.
Reduce the intake of white carbs like; white bread, rice, sugar, refined flour, sweets, white pasta and sweetened foods. These foods are low in nutrients and very rich in calories, which will lead to weight gain. High-carbs diet will mean increased levels insulin (the body stores excess insulin as fat) which the body needs to process the food.
Eat low-carbs foods like; bacon, vegetables, fruits in moderation, legumes and whole grains. Limiting yourself to 50 to 150g of carbohydrates (depending on your weight) would be considered as low-carbs diet.
Proteins will boost your metabolism and keep you full for long
Proteins play a vital role in maintaining and building muscles, they also boost your metabolism by increasing the number of calories you burn during digestion. They also keep us full for a long period because they take longer to digest, therefore you won’t overeat.
Proteins burn more calories than fats and carbs, for every 100 calories consumed proteins burn 25 while carbs and fats burn less than 15 calories. Consume a gram of protein for every pound you weigh, if you weigh 200lbs, intake 200g of proteins per day. Losing belly fat or overall weight would be difficult without adequate proteins.
Consume lean proteins; high-fat proteins and medium-fat proteins contain a lot of calories and will slow down the weight loss process. Here are some of the proteins you should consume; lean beef, white egg, chicken breast, fish, milk and beans.
Don’t eat the wrong fats
The body reacts differently to different types of fats, saturated fats; found in meat, dairy products or poultry has been discovered to increase visceral fat.
On the other hand monosaturated fats and some polysaturated fats are healthy and don’t have any inflammatory effect when consumed in the right portions.
Monosaturated fats include; peanuts, olives, olive oil, avocados, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts. Some healthy polysaturated fats are; sunflower seeds, fatty fish (salmon) and walnuts, which are all omega 3s.
Don’t eat too much of these fats to avoid increase in calorie intake and more belly fat. If taken in small portions these fats are healthy.
The amount of macronutrients one should consume may vary depending on how much you exercise, your health and how much weight you want to lose.
If you think there’s something I have left out or there’s a method that has worked for you and I haven’t covered it in the article, share it in the comments section. Feel free to ask questions and leave suggestions as well.[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]