When your belly gets into a round shape, the fat you have accumulated over time not only looks and feels bad, it also leaves you with that all important question: How to lose belly fat quickly?
We are going to address this very question — how to lose belly fat? — in detail just so you can lose this unwanted fat at the earliest.
How To Lose Belly Fat? Are All Fats Bad?
No, They Are Not! Fats are one of the building blocks of life which are required to be consumed by us in optimal amounts for normal functioning of the body. Before we move to the nasty bits of fat, let’s have a quick look at the functions of fat that take place in our body.
Fats help in the formation of lipid bilayers of the cell membrane which works like a guarded gate to give cells their partial permeability to some molecules and not to the others. Fat molecules also help in some hormone formation.
The layer of fats beneath the skin helps in providing insulation under cold weather and the fats which are metabolized by our digestive system liberate light energy amounts converting them into the body’s energy currency called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
That is the limit fat can stay our friend. Anymore and it begins to store beneath our skin and gradually becomes visible from the outside.
To further dig into how fat becomes our enemy, we need to know the types of fats.
Do Fats Have A Type? Which Type Leads To Belly Fat?
Chances are if you have read reached this far, you are looking for an answer to your question on how to lose belly fat. But let’s not hurry our way to the answer and first try to understand how fat accumulation in body takes place.
Fat is divided into two categories: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat which is right beneath our skin. It is the part we pinch. Visceral fat is found is deep down inside the body and is hazardous for health. This deeper layer of fat is a health hazard because it accumulates around one’s liver, heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs.
Also known as excess intra-abdominal adipose, visceral fat is primarily responsible for your protruding belly and increased waist size.
If belly fat and waist sizes are consistently increasing, it is an indication that you are storing dangerously increasing amounts of visceral fat in your body. This fat can lead to obesity which is a trigger for many health conditions involving hypertension, dementia, cardiovascular problems, diabetes and particular cancer types like colon cancer and breast cancer.
A study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found out that in type 2 diabetes patients, the increase in visceral fat adiposity was directly increasing the burden of arterial stiffness which puts these people at an increased risk of coronary artery diseases and chronic heart failure.
How Do Men And Women Store Fat In Their Body Differently?
Naturally, women contain more fat in their bodies as compared to men. It is said that the healthy body fat contained by an active woman is 18-20%. On the other hand, the healthy body fat for an active man is just 10-15%.
But why is it so? Women are responsible for bearing a child in their womb, so the bodies have has evolved to go through this grueling task. A woman’s body starts storing fat reserves when she hits puberty, to help her during pregnancy.
The difference doesn’t end here but the way these fats are distributed throughout the body is also different for men and women. Women tend to store these fats in their hips, thighs, buttocks and lower abdomen. A woman’s body stores more subcutaneous fat whereas a man’s body stores more visceral fat, which makes it a serious health risk.
Men, on the other hand, store excess body fat in their upper body, particularly the abdominal area. This is one reason why men struggle to get rid of their “pear shaped” belly. Research also found that as men tend to store more visceral fat, getting rid of the fat through a diet plan is fruitful as compared to exercising.
Another gender difference arises as we talk of burning fats in the body. Women are able to burn fats more efficiently in their body as compared to men. The female hormones in women’s body play a vital role in the fat metabolism and burning of consumed fat. This results in faster omega-3 fatty acid production in women than men. This fact suggests that women carry the fats in their bodies in a healthier way as compared to men.
However, the post-menopausal age which is accompanied by hormonal changes, leads to disturbed fat distribution in the body. Consequently, women begin to store significantly large amounts of fats in their abdominal areas which leads to belly fat problems.
This gender difference in fat metabolism is one of the evolutionary differences between men and women which cannot be challenged. But we certainly can join a gym and switch to healthier eating to stay fit and reduce belly fat.
How Do I Know How Much Belly Fat I Have?
That really is simple. When you struggle to fit into your favorite dress or when your protruding belly becomes noticeable by your family or friends, then you know you have got to do something about it.
For recording the visceral fat levels in your body, you can undergo an MRI or CT scan. But why would you want to get these costly scans done when you have a measuring tape at home? Wrap it around your waist and take the measurements with all honestly.
If you are a woman, you can heave a sigh of relief if your waist measures less than 35 inches. For men, a waist measurement over 40 inches is a warning for you to begin losing some belly fat.
Why Do I Have Belly Fat?
We as humans are not fond of owning up to our mistakes. The guilty pleasure of binge eating is harder to admit. You might have belly fat but you might not know why you have it. Here is your chance to get to know the reasons why you have belly fat.
Consuming Sugar Loaded Food
First things first, you have to face it. You can’t complain about your increasing waist size if you are not keeping a watch on your sugar intake. If you can’t resist scrumptious cakes and muffins, losing weight and getting rid of your belly fat will just remain a dream for you. But if you want to make this dream a reality, you have to cut down the amount of sugar you consume.
High fructose content in the sugary drinks is attributed to increasing belly fat. Comparing regular sugar and high-fructose corn syrup shows that the fructose content in them is 50% and 55%, respectively.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed the fructose metabolism and its influence on lipids leading towards obesity. High fructose containing foods are found to induce hyperlipidemia in mice model. In the experiment, it was observed that increased amount of fructose in diet increased the serum triacylcerol.
When a similar experiment was conducted on human participants, it was recorded that the human liver had an increased ability to metabolize fructose into lipids, comparing the levels of glucose being converted to lipids.
In addition to this, other studies have also found that high fructose containing foods and beverages also linked to reduced lipid metabolism and fat burnout.
Thereby, it is proven that fructose rich food is not good for you. It not only leads towards obesity but also induces insulin resistance in the body leading to type 2 diabetes in people.
Trans Fats Are Also Your Enemy
Trans fats are naturally present in foods like milk and meat products, but the amount of trans fats in these foods is low. On the contrary, artificially produced trans fats are present in higher amount in many food products. Industrially produced processed food items contain these trans fats to increase the shelf life of many products.
These artificial trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more stable and solid. They help food products have better taste and texture but they also increase low density lipids (LDL) in your body. If you are eating cookies, biscuits, cakes, doughnuts, frozen pizza and margarine, they are contributing greatly to your belly fat.
Your Mental Stress Is Stresses Your Belly and It Protrudes Out
Studies show that your stress hormone, cortisol, has a direct association with the abdominal fat distribution, particularly for women. Under laboratory induced stressors, it was found that the salivary cortisol level increases fat distribution in the abdominal area.
You must be wondering: “how is stress contributing to my belly fat?” The relation is pretty simple, let’s find out how. When one is under stress the adrenal glands secrete cortisol to fight off the stressor. To prepare the body to deal with this stress and go on to fight or flight, carbohydrates and fats in the body are broken down. This nutrient breakdown leads towards an Increased appetite which consequently results in increased food intake that is not burned by the body, increasing belly fat.
You Are A Lazy Person
There is nothing in this world which can justify your laziness and lack of interest in physical activity. No matter how healthy you eat, you will gain some belly fat if you do not exercise. This exercise doesn’t have to be a strenuous one, it can be moderate like walking or jogging.
A recent study published in The Lancet found out that sedentary lifestyle is increasing in people and it is leading towards serious health hazards, like obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and even certain types of cancer.
If you are one of those people whose sitting times exceeds eight hours a day, this is definitely for you. You need to increase your physical activity and add 60 to 75 minutes of moderate intensity physical exercise to your routine, daily. You can break the time in parts and meet the time requirement during the day whenever convenient. Being healthy can simply not get easier than this.
You Like To Get Drunk Frequently
It is correct that if taken in moderate amounts, alcoholic beverages can help reduce risks of stroke and Parkinson’s disease. But it is also true that if you are consuming high amounts of alcohol, you are prone to gaining weight, particularly belly fat. While studies seem conflicted to find a definitive link between the two variables, evidence does suggest a correlation. Due to high calorie content and appetite-enhancing effects, weight gain can be linked with high amounts of alcohol consumption.
61% of the calorie count is contributed by alcohol intake in people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol. Men are estimated to consume 433 calories per day of moderate drinking whereas it is 300 calories for women.
In addition to this, the National Health Services (NHS), England, suggests that their relation of alcohol consumption and obesity is complex and many factors such as lifestyle, genetics and social factors contribute towards this association. The investigators agreed that heavy drinking increases the risk of obesity and this risk is more pronounced in men than women. Interestingly, the relationship between beer consumption and increasing waist circumference — “beer belly” — was found in men but not in women.
Binge Eating Disorder Can Be A Prime Factor
Categorized as one of most common eating disorders in the US, binge eating disorder (BED) affects over 2.8 million Americans. Binge eating means consuming excessive quantities of food in one sitting while experiencing a lack of self-control over food consumption.
During this period the person consumes dangerously huge amounts of food. Often, the reason behind this voracious appetite is linked with a mental stressor of a trauma.
The condition is diagnosed when a person has an excessive eating episode at least once in a week for a span of three months. These disturbed eating patterns are associated with obesity and increased belly fat.
Being A Couch Potato
Over the years, the increasing popularity of TV shows and movies in adolescents and young people has given a significant rise to binge watching. While these people can watch their favorite shows back to back without feeling tired, they can’t sit through a stretch without feeling hungry. Yes, you guessed it right.
Those cravings for fizzy drinks, nachos, caramel popcorns or unhealthy snacks in general are silently contributing to increasing belly fat, little by little, inch by inch.
Not Paying Heed To Your Calorie Count
Eating unhealthy is a big no for leading a healthy life. These two things are contradictory to one another and simply don’t go together. It is important for you to keep a constant eye on your calorie intake.
Make a habit of looking carefully at the nutrient labels on the food products before purchasing them. Keep a record of your daily calorie intake by either keeping a diary or using a fitness application on your smartphone.
Hormonal Imbalance Can Increase Belly Fat
There are times when you eat healthy and moderate exercise is your routine, but you don’t seem to get rid of you belly fat. This might be an indicator for you to get your hormonal checkup.
Some hormonal imbalances are specifically linked with an increase in obesity and belly fat. Let’s list them down here:
- Leptin: Also known as appetite regulating hormone, it works by modulating the size of adipose tissues in the body. The hormone acts through two working mechanisms, counteractive and stimulatory mechanism, which reduce and increase hunger, respectively.Under normal conditions, the hormone is released from fat cells which travel to the brain cells to signal you to stop eating.
However, if you are consuming high amounts of fructose containing foods, your liver cannot process the sugar in them into simpler sugars.This excessive sugar in your system is converted into lipids which are further metabolized into triglycerides, which are then stored in your belly and other organs.
Simultaneously, due to the influx of sugar molecules, the leptin secretion increases normal levels. Due to this increased hormonal level, the brain cells begin to skip the signals that indicate stomach fullness. As a result of this failed signal reception, you continue to eat more than you should.
- Estrogen: We know that female sex hormone estrogen is crucial for the reproductive system development of a woman. As we discussed earlier, estrogen helps in fat storage in hips and thighs which can later be used during pregnancy for child bearing process.
As women begin to age beyond their reproductive age, they reach menopause which deprives them of their ability of bearing a child and reduces the estrogen levels significantly. These dipping estrogen levels change the way fat storage is governed in women’s bodies.
The fat now starts to store in the belly instead of hips and thighs, inevitability leading to a bulging belly.
- Male Testosterone: As men age, their sex hormone testosterone’s levels also begin to decrease which can lead to weight gain around the belly.
- Female Testosterone: Women’s body also contains a small amount of testosterone hormone which helps in muscle growth and supporting metabolism. As you are exposed to toxic chemicals in your environment, like pesticides, plastics and synthetic hormones from the meat we consume, the hormonal balance in the body is disrupted.
This chemical exposure increases the xeno-estrogen levels in the body, leading to reduced testosterone levels which in turn affect the food metabolism, causing belly fat and obesity.
- Thyroid: Thyroid glands are important for the regulation of metabolic processes in men and women. Underactive thyroid glands lead to a condition known as hypothyroidism which mostly affects women. Hypothyroidism results in low basal metabolic rate which not only leads to weight gain but also makes it hard to lose weight.
You Are Consuming A Low Fiber Diet And Low Protein Diet
It is important to watch your diet for the fiber content. Fibers help you feel full after consuming lesser food quantities, reduce absorption of calorie from food and help satiate hunger. In addition to this, whole-grain diets help in keeping digestive system healthy by improving bowel movement and reducing digestion problems.
If you are consuming a low-protein diet, you tend to eat more which leads to increased weight gain and corresponding increase in belly fat.
The Genes Your Parents Gave You Are At Fault
Although experts stay genetic disposition to obesity is triggered by environmental factors and lifestyle of a person, there are quite some genetic factors which lead towards increased belly fat one way or the other. Stress and appetite regulatory hormone levels are genetically governed.
If your hormonal levels are below or above the normal levels, you might be in trouble. Weight gain is also attributed to how adipose tissue are stored and fat is distributed in the body. Some genetic variations also lead towards a condition called hyperphagia which stimulates increased desire for food consumption and excessive eating.
If You Don’t Know Who To Blame, Blame Your Gut/Fecal Bacteria
As experts work tirelessly to find a way to combat obesity, they have found a role played by gut and fecal bacteria and other microorganisms in deciding a person’s physique.
Recently, a study conducted in England found out that having a lean body was associated with having a diverse fecal bacteria whereas obesity is linked with the presence of less diverse bacteria. It is believed that these bacteria have a role to play in food absorption, digestion and metabolism rate regulation.
You Aren’t Sleeping Properly
Some of you will completely agree with this point even if they find other points debatable. A longitudinal study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, and conducted in Finland followed up research participants for five to seven years to find an association between obesity and sleep problems.
These sleep problems included trouble in falling asleep, waking up several times from sleep and trouble staying asleep. Over the years, it was found that these conditions had a direct association with weight gain in women but not in men. Weight gain of an average of 5 kgs was observed and associated with the disrupted secretion of chemicals/hormones which work as appetite regulators in the human body.
Now that you know the details behind how you store fat in your body, let’s learn about some of the most effective ways to reduce your belly fat.
How To Lose Belly Fat?
Now that you have read about the problem and are maybe found guilty of carrying around a huge belly, it is time for you to know the ways that answer your question on how to lose belly fat.
1-Cut Down On Your Trans Fats Consumption
According to the American Heart Association, people should reduce their saturated fat and trans fat consumption to only 5% to 6% of their daily calorie intake. It is advised that these trans fats be replaced by monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats which are healthier lipid alternatives.
You need to know how many calories you are consuming on a daily basis. Once you are aware of the amount of trans fats share of these calories, only then you will be able to monitor your trans fats intake.
- Increase the amount of fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet without garnishing them with high calorie sugary sauces or salt. Replace your high calorie favorite food products with these fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Always check the Nutrition Facts labels on the products you buy. Don’t buy products which have high trans fats amounts.
- Replace trans fats with good fats. Limit trans fats consumption to 5% of your consumed calories. For instance, if you take in 2,000 calories a day, your saturated fat consumption should not be greater than 13 grams (200 calories).
- Change your food preference to foods containing non-hydrogenated oils, instead of partially hydrogenated, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils or saturated fats. Look for foods which contain “0 trans fats” and no hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list.
- Softer margarines should be used in place of butter. Out of the available margarine varieties, tub and liquid margarine are better when compared with harder stick forms.
2-Increase Your Protein Intake
You might be surprised to hear this one. It is normally believed that you can reduce your belly fat only by starving yourself or by not satiating your appetite well. But, this is not true; you do not have to starve yourself to reduce some flab off your belly. You, however, have to switch your eating habits to eating healthier foods.
Increasing your protein intake is one such strategy to reduce your belly fat. But why? Let’ trace back to the basic concept of energy intake and weight loss. A person can lose weight when the energy they produce from eating their food does not exceed their eating requirement.
We need to learn weight gain and food in terms of energy we are consuming from our food.
According to American Heart Association journal, the American people’s diet on an average consists of 12% to 16% of protein, 34% fat and 49% carbohydrates. The energy provided by one gram of fat is approximately 9 kilocalorie and one gram of protein or carbohydrate liberates about 4 kilocalorie of energy. This suggests that if the macronutrient intake composition is changed and protein quantity in the food consumed is increased, the amount of energy produced will reduce accordingly.
Thereby, increasing the protein intake from 72 g/d to 162 g/d can help contribute 64% of the total energy produced, limiting the fat increase. However, for this purpose, it is advised that plant-based proteins be preferred over proteins from animal sources. Meat products contain saturated fats and low-density lipoproteins in addition to containing protein which can be harmful.
Another study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at the macronutrient intake as the predictor of waist circumference over a period of 5 years and reached an exciting conclusion. It was found that increasing the intake of proteins in the diet was inversely proportional to waist circumference over time.
It is also said that protein levels in the body have a direct effect on the regulation of several weight regulating hormone. As hypothalamus regulates appetite by secreting appetite-reducing hormones named as GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin which further leads to the reduction of hunger hormone ghrelin’s level.
When you are eating more proteins than carbohydrates and fats, this increases the appetite-reducing hormone levels in the blood stream which inevitably helps you consume less quantities of food.
As you eat proteins, your body requires some energy for their digestion and metabolism. This energy is produced by burning calories which are already stored in the body. Known as thermic effect of food (TEF), it is said that 20% to 30% calories burn during the cycle of digestion and metabolism of protein molecules in the food.
And as protein increases, as does one’s metabolism. A high protein diet can help burn 80 to 100 calories per day.
3-How Can I Evaluate My Protein Intake?
- Although proteins are an important component of food and they help in reducing belly fat, it is also important to know that excessive protein consumption is also not good for your health.
- The total protein should remain on an average 50g/d to 100 g/d.
- It is important that a proportion be maintained with other nutrients, particularly carbohydrates should not be completely omitted from the diet. It is recommended that a minimum of 100 grams per day of carbohydrates by consumed.
- High protein foods like seafood, fish, nuts, dairy products, whole grains, legumes and eggs be preferred over meat.
4-Stop Blaming Your Genes And Start Working Out
For those of you who keep blaming their parents for giving them the obesity favoring genes, while they recline over the couch enjoying their tortillas, I have bad news for you. You can’t shield your failure at following diet plans or workout regimes because a recent study from Newcastle University, UK, suggests that though you may be prone to getting obese due to your genes, but workout results stay unaffected by the fact that you have a genetic tendency to become obese. So get back up and starting working out, your genes won’t pose a challenge.
5-Start Drinking Green Tea To Burn Belly
Fat You must have heard about this trick but you might not have believed it. Although few studies have been published that mentions the efficacy of green tea for reducing belly fat, the detailed mechanism of how it is done remained to be explored.
However, experts say that, routinely taking green tea can help in reducing belly fat by increasing the rate of fat deposit breakout at the abdominal area. In additional to this, drinking green tea is linked with improved insulin sensitivity, consequently resulting in improved blood sugar regulation leading towards controlled appetite and reduced food cravings.
6-Starving Yourself Is Not A solution, Start Eating Frequently
Eating is how you lose your belly fat. You are wrong if you think skipping meals is a way to reduce belly fat. Doing so leads your body to enter the catabolic state where your muscle tissues begin to break down for energy liberation while the fats stay stored in the body. The best practice is to take small and more portions of healthy diet, preferably eat after every three hours. This will keep your metabolic system active and working to produce optimal energy levels, along with keeping appetite controlling hormones in check.
7-Increase Your Fiber Intake
Fiber containing foods have high roughage content leading to proper food digestion, reduced constipation and decrease in visceral fat in the body. Make smart eating choices; replace refined foods with whole grain food products. Add beans, chickpeas, curries, lentils, salads and fresh foods to your meals. For breakfast, go for high fiber cereals, oatmeal, porridge and whole-grain bread.
8-Add Yogurt To Your Eating Routine
Having a small cup of yogurt between your meals not only reduces your appetite and you automatically consume smaller portions of meals, it also helps you will keep up with your required protein intake.
9-Cut Down On Your Carbs
Studies suggest that foods rich in carbohydrates increase your likelihood of getting belly fat. Even if the calorie count doesn’t change by alternate energy sources, studies show that having more quantity of carbs in your meal is like asking for trouble.
10-Say No To Junk Food
The mouthwatering junk food is full of saturated fats which are no good for your health. However, it is time to make a decision; either it is your love for junk food or getting rid of belly fat. These junk foods also have high salt, sugar, trans fat, carbohydrate and calories which will definitely not help you stay in a good shape.
11-Say Yes to Mediterranean Diet
Mediterranean diet is a favorite of health professionals as solution to obesity problems. It offers you a comprehensive, hassle-free diet plan. The key characteristics of this diet include increased intake of legumes, unrefined cereals, olive oil, fresh vegetable, regular fish intake (high protein, low fat, simple as that), moderate intake of dairy products like cheese and yogurt, low intake of meat products and moderate intake of wine.
Yes, you read it right. Wine can help you reduce belly fat as it is made from a plant derived chemical known as resveratrol which reduces obesity related inflammations and assists in burning belly fat.
How To Lose Belly Fat? What Else Can Help
- Say good bye to sugary beverages and sodas.
- Top your salads with vinegar — acidic foods help in burning 20-40% carbs.
- Drink a glass of water or two before taking your meal. You will already feel full and will consume less food.
- Sacrifice scoops of ice cream cake. Consume them as little as possible.
- Never skip your breakfast.
- Chew your food slowly and give your salivary enzymes some time to start working.
- Eating slowly will also make you feel full sooner.
- Use smaller plates, your servings will automatically become smaller.
- Don’t be in a rush to get yourself a second serving.
- Have a colorful food. Having more colors on your plate translates into you consuming healthier food.
- Eat fruits, instead of having their juices. Don’t waste the fiber in the peels.
- Let nuts be your snacks.
- Eat blueberries to burn fats.
- Switch to plant-based smoothies, even if you aren’t fond of them.
- Stay motivated and have faith in yourself.
- Move around, don’t be a couch potato.
- Add spices like cinnamon and ginger to your recipes.
- Whole wheat pasta should replace the pasta you currently eat.
- Develop a taste for dark chocolate, if you haven’t already.
- Make green, leafy vegetables like broccoli and spinach your new favorites.
Exercises For Reducing Belly Fat Quickly
Now that you have learnt how fat accumulates in your body over time as the balance between calorie intake and calorie burning is disrupted. The stubborn belly fat which has taken years to make its place onto your belly isn’t easy to get rid of. It won’t disappear overnight; it requires you to work hard towards achieving that flat belly. Before asking how to lose belly fat, you should yourself if you are ready to lose belly fat.
Don’t get fooled by fat melting belts and vibration devices worn around your belly to reduce belly fat, they are a waste of your time and money. You have to be honest to yourself in your effort to reduce your belly fat and work out.
Here is a list of exercises which can help you get rid of belly fat.
- Crunches: When performed with other abdominal exercises, crunches help build strength in the belly muscles. Often associated with building up toned abs, it is important that crunches should be complemented with a cardio exercise regimen to have good results for belly fat reduction.
As a beginner, you can start with a 10-minute long exercise sessions and increase them by gradually adding two to three sets to your routine.
- Reverse Crunches: Crunches comes in many ways and all of them are useful to help reduce belly face. Once you have accustomed yourself with a routine of doing crunches, it is time for you to modify the exercise and move onto its later stages. In this exercise, you need to tilt your legs behind with your shoulders. Be sure that you have the right posture, you have to keep your back straight while performing reverse crunches, otherwise you can put yourself at a risk of injury.
- Side Crunches: Building onto the basic concept of crunches which focuses on involving abdominal muscles in a physical activity, side crunches are about tilting your legs to the same side with shoulders simultaneously. This particularly helps in involving the side muscles of your abdominal area.
- Vertical Leg Crunch: For this, you extend your legs upwards and cross one knee over the other. Now that you are in a perfect posture for this exercise, you have to breathe in and lift your upper body from the floor coming towards the pelvis, simultaneously. As you come back to the previous position, you have to exhale slowly and repeat this set of exercise 12 to 15 times and increase it to three sets as you continue performing the exercise in routine.
- Twist Crunches: This branch of crunches is about lifting your upper torso while performing the exercise. But as the name says, this form of crunches has a little twist to it. As you lift your right shoulder towards the left, you keep your torso on ground on alternate side, repeating it 10 times.
- Ball Crunches: This is another crunches technique which is done with the help of a Swiss ball. It is a quick way to work out your abs.
- Cardio Exercises: Cardio workouts make the most important category of exercise for burning fat and losing weight. Cardio exercises can be any exercise that increases your heart rate. As the heart rate increases, more blood vessels begin to deliver oxygen to the cells in the muscles, which subsequently leads to burning of accumulated fats effectively. The best part of cardio exercise is that they are highly effective against reducing belly fat and you have many options to choose from. Cardio exercises include:
- Walking: You might be surprised to know that walking does come in the category of cardio exercises. A brisk walk for 30-45 minutes for five days a week carried out regularly is an effective way of losing belly fat. Although the results will not be received overnight, you will notice a gradual change within days.
- Jogging: It is a great idea to keep switching from one exercise to the other because often your body becomes acquainted to one type of exercise which leads to less efficiently burning of belly fats. Switching to jogging is a good idea.
- Running: Running is a great way of reducing your belly fat, it paces up your metabolic rate and burns out your stubborn belly fat. Invest in some good quality joggers, grab your phone, update your playlist, make use of your earphones and run as fast as you can.
- Swimming: Swimming is an ideal exercise. It not only helps you lose your belly fat but also helps you to be in a perfect shape by toning down your body as the muscles of your arms, chest, abdomen and legs are all at work at the same time.
- Aerobics exercise: It is just another name for cardio exercises which requires oxygenated blood to be pumped by the heart and delivered to the working muscles. Other aerobic/cardio exercises include dancing, aerobics sessions, hiking, cycling, spinning, exercising on cardio machines like treadmill running, kickboxing etc. These exercises are not only good for you to reduce your belly fat, but they are also helpful in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and depression.
Be Careful Of Your Cardio Exercise Regime
Be careful when you are doing cardio as you might get over excited and may perform some of the high-intensity cardio exercises for a longer duration without taking breaks in between. This is not the right way to go about it. This is harmful for your health. Intensity and duration of your cardio exercise should increase gradually.
A rule of thumb is to increase the duration by 10% per walk instead of making abrupt jumps. Studies from International Journal of Obesity have shown the impact of breaks and altering duration of high intensity exercise on fat loss and overall health.
Known as high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE), it helps the body to recover from the strenuous exercise effects by changing the exercise for a while and then returning back to the initial exercise. For instance, if you have been doing hard sprinting for 30-40 seconds, you can alternate it with 15-20 seconds of walking or jogging to help your body relax a little.
This technique has been found to help significantly reduce total body fat, insulin resistance and levels of subcutaneous fat in trunk and legs. Another study shows that making use of HIIE regularly in exercising can increase aerobic and anaerobic fitness of the body and help in adaptation of skeletal muscles in oxidative and glycolytic processes.
Cardio Workouts At Home Is How You Lose Fat
There are days you might not want to face the sun and stay at home all day long. Lucky for you, there are solutions that don’t need you to leave your home to continue your cardio exercise regime. This exercise regime includes a four-move warm up and a main circuit of exercise. It is a 20-minute long practice.
The warm up exercises include reverse lunges, squats with arms overhead, bridges and plank shoulder touches. Then comes the main circuit of exercise which includes use of mountain climbers, burpees, squat jumps, skier jumps, and pilates. now you have to cool down with downward dog, cat and cow posture and finish it up with warrior II pose which is about standing with your feet wide apart and stretching your arms, while bending your right knee and lowering your hips down. After taking five or more deep breaths, you can repeat your 20-minute simple to do cardio at home.
Doing Planks Is How You Lose Belly Fat
While crunches only work on the front and side muscles of the abdomen, to get faster results in reducing belly fat it is important to involve all the muscles in the abdominal region along with the muscles of lower back and hips. According to fitness experts, planks are a good alternative to crunches.
Doing planks can help you in two way: firstly, if you do planks regularly you will burn more calories than other exercises as during planks more muscles are involved. Secondly, it will help train your muscles to stabilize the pelvis and spine and improve your posture and prevent back pain problems.
You can do your planks through side plank, rolling plank, elbow plank, shoulder plank, plank with arm up, plank open and close, chair side plank lifts, plank in and out climbing plank, ski abs and plank with alternating side leg.
Exercises like captain’s chair, pushups, alligator drag, stomach vacuum, breathing exercise and yoga can also help in reducing belly fat.
How Can Breathing Exercises And Yoga Help In Losing Belly Fat?
This really is the simplest answer to your question as to how to lose belly fat. It might come as a surprise but you have read it right — breathing exercises can also reduce your belly fat. These breathing techniques include deep breathing, diaphragm breathing, stimulating breathing exercise, abdominal breathing, shining the skull breathing, belly breathing, mouth breathing and flying stomach lock
- Deep breathing helps reduce belly fat by helping in burning excessive fats stored in your belly. It is done as deep breathing increases the oxygen intake and inevitably leads to burning down calories.
- These different breathing techniques help abdominal muscles to become flexible which leads to toning of abs.
- Deep breathing also reduces stress and hormonal imbalance which increases cravings and hunger. If stress and hormonal imbalance is fixed, belly fat will also be controlled.
- Breathing exercises also help in strengthening the muscles in the stomach, improve food digestion and metabolism.
- Deep breathing techniques also relieve other health problems including colds, allergies and respiratory problems.
This looks too good to be true, doesn’t it? You can try these simple breathing exercises and see the improvement yourself.
Some More Exercise To Lose Belly Fat
- A 10-minute workout regime including prisoner squat, seal jump, pushup, lateral jump and burpee.
- Muscle run according to your running stamina and experience with body-weight exercise involving 25 push-ups, 25 sit-ups, 25 squat jumps and 25 crunches.
- A power hour run including 800 jump ropes, ¼ mile run, 700 jump ropes and ¼ mile run, the number of jump ropes are to be reduced by 100 counts every day.
- 20-minute workout including walk/treadmill run, dumbbell fly, pushup and plank.
- 20-minute workout including pull-up, dumbbell lateral raise, lying dumbbell skull crusher, side to side hop.
- Cardio sessions including plank/slide plank combo or overhead lunge, skydiver lunge and gluten bridge or sumo squat, pike pushup and frog thrust
- Other exercises: leg lift, hop onto bench, burpee, dumbbell curl, bear crawl, parallel bar hand walk, forward sprint, carb walk, backward sprint, mountain climber, sit-up and throw clean and press and close grip push-up.
Additional Belly Fat Reduction Tips For Older Men And Women
The question of how to lose belly fat is certainly not age bound and everybody needs to know how it’s done. While the question of how to lose belly fat or how to lose fat in general remains same across age groups, the ways of losing belly fat vary according to your age. The exercises for older men and women change a bit from younger groups.
As you age your metabolism slows down and you have to keep a check on your calorie intake accordingly. According to the US Department of Agriculture, you calorie intake should be:
Age bracket 51-60
Sedentary Lifestyle: 2,200
Moderately Active: 2,400
Age bracket 61-70
Sedentary Lifestyle: 2,000
Moderately Active: 2,200-2,400
Age bracket 71-75
Sedentary Lifestyle: 2,000
Moderately Active: 2,200
Age bracket: 76+
Sedentary Lifestyle: 2,000
Moderately Active: 2,200
Age bracket: 51-60
Sedentary Lifestyle: 1,600
Moderately Active: 1,800
Age bracket: 61-70
Sedentary Lifestyle: 1,600
Moderately Active: 1,800
Age bracket: 71-75:
Sedentary Lifestyle: 1,600
Moderately Active: 1,800
Age bracket: 76+
Sedentary Lifestyle: 1,600
Moderately Active: 1,800
You have to first see if you are eating according to the recommended guidelines. If you are not, you have to plan your diet to keep your calorie count in place. In addition, you have to make sure you have a routine of moderate intensity physical activity to counteract the effect of slowed metabolism.
A cardio exercise of 250 minutes a week is an optimal physical activity routine. The aerobic exercises like walking, swimming or stationary cycling for 30 minutes a day is what you need to add to your life and stick to it. You can also make use of interval training (a combination of high intensity and low intensity exercise), abdominal exercise and strength training to maximize the results.
According to American Academy of Family Physicians, older adults should participate in about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise or an equivalent exercise of each per week to stay healthy.
Additional Belly Fat Reduction Tips For Women After Pregnancy
Mummy tummy is a pain we know. Your desperation to get rid of it is also understandable but you have to play it safe, particularly after having a cesarean section delivery. Ladies, stay away from strenuous exercises. It is important for you to lose belly fat in a healthy way without being tempted by crash diets and high intensity workouts.
If you are breastfeeding your child, you need to realize that feeding also helps burn calories. It is recommended that you wait until two months after delivering your child to begin with low intensity physical activities which include cycling, jogging, running, swimming and walking.
Continue with just one of these low-intensity workouts for a few weeks, you can move on to crunches and sit-ups, starting with smaller durations and gradually increasing them.
Additional Belly Fat Reduction Tips For Women After Menopause
Menopause lowers the level of estrogen which in turn reduces the metabolic rate. It is important to add cardio exercise in your lifestyle. The most suitable exercises for you would be bicycling, running, walking and swimming.
In addition, following lifestyle modifications will be of help to you:
- Switching to healthier fats like nuts and olive oil/butter
- Keep yourself active, take small servings of meals
- Stay away from late nigh munching
- Have a proper night sleep to keep your hunger hormones regulated
- Don’t stress about petty issues in life, it shows on your belly
Why Should You Care About Losing Belly Fat Even If You don’t Feel Insecure About Your Appearance?
I think you shouldn’t be asking this question because belly fat is not just about your appearance, it is about your health. As obesity causes various health issues, here is a quick list of some of those issues to help you put your health at the top of your priority list:
- High blood pressure
- Foggy memory and cognitive problems
- High cholesterol levels
- Weakens your joints, muscles and spine
- High risk of heart diseases
- Risk of stroke
- Sleep cycle disturbance
- Risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, uterine cancer, colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer
- Risk of type 2 diabetes
- Risk of giving preterm birth
After going through this extensive guide to lose belly fat, you should not be left with a single excuse to get rid of your belly fat. Your question on how to reduce belly fat has been answered in detail. Now it is your turn to work hard with all honesty and work on losing your belly fat.
Co Author : Fizza Akbar