Looking to lose belly fat fast that you put on over time from a little bit of that ‘good living’? It’s alright, so are plenty of other men and women. Thanks to a variety of lifestyle factors, a chubby belly is not an uncommon occurrence. Sitting at desks all day, long TV marathons with an abundance of snacks, driving to places which are in walking distance, and poor meal choices will all contribute to a little more junk in the trunk than you might want.
Belly fat creeps up on you. It’s not like you wake up one morning 10 pounds heavier and sporting a beer gut, it’s put on in lumps throughout the year. A birthday here, a celebration there.
Intersperse them with a few takeaways and beers and soon enough the mirror is showing you a different picture to the one you want.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to lose belly fat (and keep it gone). It’s not as tricky as you think, either. Healthy eating isn’t bland, exercise doesn’t have to be boring, and losing weight isn’t about ruining your social life. Losing belly fat can be an enjoyable experience that’s not too hard once you use a few helpful techniques.
However, let’s start with what you shouldn’t do.
Lose Belly Fat: What Not to Do
1. Do 100 sit-ups everyday hoping you’ll get a six pack
Sit-ups can be a useful and effective exercise for strengthening the abs. However, doing them every day is just going to leave you sore and frustrated with your lack of results. Ab training is a good tool to have under your belt, but the first step to seeing your abs is to lose the fat covering them.
2. Commit to any fad diets
90% of the time that new and exciting diet your friend has been raving about only works short-term. Fad diets work on absolutes such as cutting out a certain macronutrient (carbs, fat or protein) or a specific type of food. Every diet that works for losing weight works on one process: calorie balance. The calories you take in versus the calories you burn are the ultimate driving factor behind weight loss and weight gain. There are diets which make this process easier, but nothing bypasses it. Most fad diets work don’t teach sustainable, long-term habits which means people end up wasting their time and ending back at square one. Not good.
3. Cut out all junk or ‘unhealthy’ foods
In a similar fashion to fad diets, cutting out certain foods that you enjoy can lead to cravings and binge eating. For instance, if you really love pizza, cutting it out is only going to make you want it more and make you feel bad or guilty when you eat it. The trick is to learn how to incorporate it into your diet to reduce cravings and make the diet more enjoyable.
4. Weigh yourself each morning
Weight and fat are too very different things. Weight refers to everything on and in your body: muscle, bone, liquid, fat, etc. Therefore, losing or gaining weight doesn’t mean you’ve lost or gained fat, it just means something’s changed in your body. It’s not about what happens day to day, it’s about what happens on a consistent basis. To get a good view of your weight, stepping on the scales twice per week should be more than enough. Once per week also works. If your weight is gradually decreasing on average, then you can be sure what you’re doing is right. There’s no point in beating yourself up because you woke up a little heavier one day as most likely it’s just a little bit more water being retained.
Also, make sure to weigh yourself at the same time. You’ll most likely gain weight over the course of the day because of all the food you’re eating. Try to weigh yourself each morning after a trip to the toilet to get the most accurate and consistent reading.
5. Miss out on seeing your friends and family because it doesn’t work with your exercise routine or diet
As we’ve already said, for a diet to be truly effective, it needs to work long term. Therefore, your diet and lifestyle also need to keep you happy. If you’re losing friends or skipping occasions in order to change how you look, then you’re either not going to feel as good at the end of your journey or you’re going to cut yourself short. Either way, each ends up with stress and suboptimal results. You’re not going to stay dedicated and motivated if your social life is dwindling. Remember, your diet needs to work for you as much as you’re working for it.
So, now you know exactly what not to do, it’d be pretty helpful to find out what you should do to lose belly fat, right?
How to Lose Belly Fat the Right Way
1. Find Exercise That You Enjoy
One of the biggest reasons why people believe they can’t lose weight is because they don’t enjoy exercise. The thing is, as soon as you attach that label to yourself, it becomes harder and harder to remove it. The secret is finding exercise that you enjoy. When you’re first starting to try and lose weight, don’t worry about what’s best, just focus on what works for you. Weightlifting, cycling, running, football, athletics, rowing, swimming, powerlifting – the list is endless and so are your choices. The first step to losing stubborn body fat is getting into the routine of exercise and making it part of your lifestyle. Once it’s a regular and not unusual occurrence, then you can focus on what’s optimal.
2. Start Resistance Training
Once you’ve got into a regular routine involving frequent physical activity, the next step is incorporating some form of resistance training. Compound movements involving multiple joints will not only work the most muscles, but burn the most calories. Focus on the six big lifts: the squat, the deadlift, the pull-up, rows, the overhead press, and the bench press. All together these hit each and every muscle in your body.
Forget body-part splits of legs, shoulders, chest, arms, and back, too. Not only do these take up a lot of time, they’re also sub optimal for beginner and intermediate lifters. Three-days a week is the minimum amount of resistance training sessions with four being preferred. If you follow a three-day split, follow a full body routine each time. If you’re going for four, then follow a lower body/upper body split. This will spike MPS (muscle-protein synthesis: the process by which your body builds more muscle) more times in each area, leading to more muscle growth.
Why build more muscle? Unlike fat, muscle is metabolically active, meaning that it burns calories when it’s on your body. This means you’ll burn more calories at rest leading to further fat gain. Not to mention, when trying to lose belly fat you still want to hold onto your muscle so that you look more toned and defined as you lose fat opposed to just smaller and weaker. Fat loss is the goal, not just weight loss.
3. Increase Your Protein Intake
There are a lot of benefits to increasing your protein intake when trying to lose weight. First of all, following on from resistance training, protein helps to spare muscle mass when trying to lose fat. The more muscle you have, the better you’ll look and the more fat you’ll lose.
Secondly, protein is extremely satiating, the most so out of the three macronutrients. This means that you’re less likely to overeat and more likely to feel full on a lower calorie diet, making eating for weight loss easier.
Lastly, out of the three macronutrients, protein is the least likely to be converted into fat. The process of converting protein into fat is extremely inefficient.
4. Use the 80/20 Rule
Instead of trying to eliminate things from your diet completely, the 80/20 rule allows for some leeway whilst still keeping you on track for your goal. When first embarking on a weight loss diet, many people will work on extremes and absolute. How many people do you know who cut out all carbs? Or remove fats? Or follow a smoothie diet? Or only eat past a certain time? None of these allow for any flexibility and therefore, are hard to keep up long-term.
The 80/20 simply means eating whole, natural, ‘healthy’ foods 80% of the time and then saving 20% of the time for those sweet treats or more-unhealthy options. The ratio is just a guideline so don’t think that you have to stick to it rigidly. The predominant driving factor is to eat fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, and whole grains most of the time whilst allowing yourself a few cravings every now and again. This limits the chance of binging, helps improve adherence and also makes losing fat more enjoyable. Also, it shows you how no one food is ‘bad’, it’s just that the devil is in the dose.
5. Try Counting Calories (And Don’t Cut Them Too Low)
Counting calories can seem like a trivial task, but actually it’s a great way to learn more about the foods you eat. Chances are that you don’t have a good idea about the amount of calories, fat, protein, carbs, and salt your food contains. Tracking helps you become informed and also guess more accurately when you don’t have access to the nutritional content. This can make sticking to your diet when you’re out and about much easier as well as helping with your body composition goals in the future. You don’t need to track all the time, just two to three days a week should do it. Yet, tracking every day for set amount of time, such as a month, can also be useful.
You also don’t want to cut your calories too low or you’ll risk losing some of that precious muscle. It’ll also make the diet harder to stick to. Furthermore, when your metabolism eventually adapts, you’ll have to eat even less to drop more weight. Just stick to the MED (minimum effective dose) which is about 300 calories less than your daily caloric needs. Track your weight over a period of two weeks. If the trend is erring on the side of weight loss, then you know you’re doing the right thing. If you’re gaining or maintaining your weight, then you’ll need to lower your calories further.
6. Enjoy the Process, Not Just the Result
Last, but by no means least, you need to enjoy the process as much as you enjoy the eventual results. Time is precious and should not be wasted on being upset, stressed, and frustrated. The process may not always be easy, but it shouldn’t have you tearing your hair out. If you are feeling particularly down in the dumps about your exercise or diet, then something’s got to change.
These tips for how to lose belly fat will get you off to the best start possible, just remember it takes a bit of hard work and patience to see results.