I think it is a pretty good guess you are reading this, because you want to lose belly fat, and whether you’re overweight and taking the first few steps to getting in shape, or you’ve been on the health track for a while, you know the fat around the belly section just doesn’t want to budge.
Whether you’re male or female, the same tends to be true: It seems impossible to lose belly fat!
I can tell you, that it is possible, and this site is made to tell you how.
I know it is possible, because I have seen it done, even by one of my friends, about whom I really didn’t think it possible. You can read more about that in the post “About”.
You might be heavily overweight, or just in the need of losing the last kilos around the waist. Either way these pages can help you.
For a man that stomach fat is in one end of the scale really a bother, in the other end the thing standing between you and six pack abs.
For women, to lose the fat around the belly, is a way to feel so much better whether you are overweight or just a little chubby. And, although ab definition is often not the goal, being almost slim, and then getting rid of that fat around the belly is the key to a smooth, soft and trim figure.
Your problem might be that you have actually not much belly fat, but your belly still seems chubby. Then the best thing to do will be to strengthen your stomach muscles. It can do wonders for you getting a trim figure. I that is your problem, have a look at the post “Exercises for stomach muscles”.
But why is it that belly fat is so hard to get rid of? And more importantly, how do you get rid of it? Fortunately, there are tried and true methods that can help anyone deal with this problem. The truth is, though, they aren’t ‘quick and easy’ as many so called diet and exercise gurus tell you. As long as you’re willing to make a commitment and put in some effort, you can reduce belly fat – don’t expect a magic solution, but believe in it : It can be done!
As I said, no magic, but knowledge, tips, exercise, diet and determination. And you will find almost all the help you need on this pages.
What is it about belly fat that makes it so hard to lose? Well, it’s not that there’s anything different about the fat in that area itself. It’s simply the fact that when you burn fat, your body uses up fat reserves from different parts of your body first. It just so happens that the mid-section fat reserves are amongst the last to be burned up.
The Science of Fat Loss
Let’s get a few myths and urban legends out of the way right here and now. While nutrition, fat loss and body science all have their complicated aspects, there’s one thing you need to understand right off the bat which is very simple:
To lose body fat, you need to use more calories than you consume.
It’s physically impossible to lose body fat if you eat more calories than you use up on a daily basis. Anyone who tries to tell you different is a charlatan, not a genius or guru.
The Wrong Way to Lose Fat: The Starvation Response
Now, here’s the problem. Many people hear this and think, “Aha – so all I have to do is drop my calorie intake way below my daily energy requirements, and then I’ll lose weight.”
Well, technically that’s true, but there’s a problem. You see your body has a little built-in mechanism called the “starvation response.” It’s a little evolutionary hangover from the days your ancestors lived on foraged berries and the occasional woolly mammoth.
You see in the distant past, humans didn’t have a regular food source – the three meals a day norm we all know and love is an invention afforded us by things like new farm technology and supermarkets. Your body didn’t evolve in a world with supermarkets – it evolved in a world where food was sometimes scarce, and you often didn’t know where your next meal was coming from.
That’s why we store body fat. Fat storage is actually a genius example of nature in action. By developing the ability to store fat, your body is able to store energy you take in when food is plentiful, so you can draw on those fat reserves for energy when food is scarce. In a world where humans never knew where their next meal was coming from, this was an excellent mechanism.
In a world of McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme, it’s not so effective. The easy abundance of sugars and saturated fats means people are eating way more of these things than was ever available in the environment where the human body evolved. The result? An obesity epidemic.
Now, why is it important for you to know all this? Because I want you to realize how smart your body systems are. See, there’s another aspect to this whole automatic fat-storing system, and it’s this:
When your energy intake (calories) drops for a long period of time, your body actually changes your metabolism to make it easier for you to store fat and survive on a low energy intake.
Stop for a second and think about what this means. You starve yourself on a diet for a few weeks. Your body, smart as it is, thinks you’re actually starving – so it starts adjusting the way it functions so you can survive on less and less food and store fat more easily.
So what happens when you hit the point where you can’t stand the starvation and you end up stuffing your face with cheeseburgers and donuts?
You gain weight more easily than ever before. Sound familiar?
This is why dieting on its own – especially extreme calorie restricting diets – don’t work in the long term. When it comes to losing fat, and especially the last few pounds of belly fat, the motto is: Slow and steady wins the race. If you rush, you fail. Simple as that.
How to Reduce Belly Fat: The Difference Between ‘Losing Weight’ and ‘Losing Fat’
The obsession these days is with ‘losing weight,’ as if any reduction in the number you see on the scales is a good thing. Guess what? It isn’t.
This might come as a shock to you. There’s a whole industry out there exploiting the fact that the average person doesn’t understand the difference between losing weight and losing fat.
So here it is, explained simply: losing body fat is good, but losing muscle is bad.
That’s another big problem with trying to lose too much weight all at once by starving yourself. You’re not only losing fat, you’re losing muscle. Muscle is good – the more muscle you have, the faster the rate your body naturally burns fat becomes. In other words, if you have muscle on your body the less dieting and exercise you’ll need to lose fat. You’ve probably never thought about that before, have you?
So understand – your goal is to lose fat. You want to be losing fat, and fat only. If you’re losing fat and muscle together, you’ll actually hurt yourself in the long run because it will become harder and harder to lose fat as your diet continues (and thus it will be virtually impossible to lose the last few pounds from the stomach area, which is the most stubborn fat to get rid of).
The Difference Between Men and Women
Now, there are a couple of important points of difference between men and women when it comes to losing belly fat. Of course, the biological fat burning process is the same for all humans, regardless of gender. The difference is mainly in the amount of body fat required by each gender, and where on the body that fat is stored.
Women have higher body fat levels on average because they need this fat for reproductive organs like the uterus and breasts. Both men and women require a certain level of essential body fat for the organs to function properly – women just happen to have more because of the difference in the sexual organs.
What’s considered a healthy body fat content for men is around 15-20%. For women it’s more like 20-35% because of these bodily differences. Of course, if you intend to get in really good shape you’ll be going below these ranges – but remember that even pro bodybuilders have on and off seasons. A male bodybuilder might go as low as 5% for a competition, but be around 9% body fat in the off season. For women, the low point in body fat content is nowhere near 5% because once again, women require more essential fat for bodily and reproductive organs to function properly.
Calories In, Calories Out
As we’ve already covered, the amount of calories you eat and the amount you burn are the main factors that determine whether you’ll lose fat, or gain more. So in order to really cut down on fat you have to be prepared to measure your calories in and calories out. This can be a pretty painstaking process at first, but after a while it becomes simple as you get to know off the top of your head how many calories are in a particular meal or piece of food. And once you see the results that come from precision measurement of your calorie intake, you’ll be glad you took the time to do it.
How do you measure calories? Well, the first thing I recommend you do is keep a calorie diary for a week. Again, that might seem painstaking but the benefits it can bring you are huge – so just suck it up, make the commitment and get it done.
It’s important that when you start keeping a diary you include absolutely everything you eat, including little snacks. Many people ‘cheat’ on a food diary, failing to include high calorie snacks. On paper it looks like they’re eating fewer calories than they burn – but they still get fatter.
There’s no point trying to cheat yourself. Be honest and measure everything you eat. Don’t deliberately record something as having fewer calories than it really contains, either.
How do you know how many calories are in what you’re eating? Well, many packaged foods have this information on the label – in fact it’s required by law with many foods. For the first few days you may have to measure your servings and then calculate the calorie content of the food based on what the packaging tells you. Again, this is a lot of effort at first but you’ll realize pretty quickly that you don’t actually eat that many different types of food. Pretty quickly you’ll become familiar with the calorie content of the foods you eat the most, and that simplifies the process a whole lot.
What about foods that don’t come with a label and nutritional information? In this case, Google is your best friend. It’s pretty easy to punch whatever the food is into Google and find out a rough calorie count per serving from which you can make calculations.
Here’s a time-saving tip: most people have at least two or three meals that they’ll eat over and over again several times a week. If you figure out how many calories go into each of your standard meals like this, you’ll save yourself a lot of calculating time. Once you know how many calories are in the meal, all you have to do is make sure you keep portion sizes the same every time you eat it.
We’ll talk more about exactly how many calories you should be eating and how to choose the right foods a little later in this article.
Lose Belly Fat: Calorie Quality
So far we’ve mentioned the basic idea that you can’t lose fat unless your incoming calories are less than the amount of calories you burn over an extended period of time. But it’s not just quantity that matters when it comes to diet – quality is also important. There’s a difference between calories coming from, say, a chocolate ice cream compared to calories coming from an apple.
At the basic level, a calorie is a calorie. But the reality is that different foods have different effects on the body, and this will alter how many calories you eventually end up taking in.
Calorie Content: Fats, Carbs and Protein
It’s worth noting that the three main groups of nutrients we all need to survive – carbs, fats and protein – have different calorie densities. In other words, a single gram of fat does not contain the same amount of calories as a single gram of protein or carbohydrate. Here’s how it breaks down:
ñ A gram of fat contains 9 calories
ñ A gram of protein contains 4 calories
ñ A gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories
ñ another one to eatch out for is alcohol, which contains 7 calories per gram
Controlling Your Saturated Fat Intake
Most Americans, and many other people in Western countries, eat way too much saturated fat. This is due to the prevalence in their diets of foods like cheeseburgers, steaks, and so on. As you can see from the breakdown of calorie density above, it’s fairly easy to put on body fat when you’re eating a lot of saturated fat at 9 calories per gram. So one of the absolute keys to losing belly fat is to keep a close eye on your saturated fat intake – but just remember, it isn’t everything! It’s an important factor, but it’s not the only factor. I say this because many people seem to have the mistaken belief that if they just stop eating fat, the pounds will start melting away. This is a belief that ultimately leads to disappoint.
Fat Isn’t the Only Thing That Makes You Fat!
Now, an important distinction needs to be made at this point. I just mentioned the fact that it’s easy to get fat when you’re eating a lot of saturated fat… but there’s a real difference between dietary fat (the fat you eat) and body fat (the fat you store in your body). Many people mistakenly think that the amount of fat their body stores as body fat is the same as the amount of dietary fat they eat. In other words they think if they eat one pound of dietary fat each week, they’ll gain a pound in body fat. But it’s not that simple.
Some of the fat you eat will be consumed as energy instead of being stored. Likewise, some of the carbohydrates you eat, if they aren’t used as energy, may end up being stored as fat. That’s right: carbohydrates can make you fat.
Again, there’s an entire industry (several industries, really) that is built around exploiting the fact that many people don’t understand this aspect of how to lose belly fat. Think about virtually every “non-fat” or “low-fat” food product you’ve ever seen. Yes, these products may be low in saturated fat, but they may also be high in carbs. It doesn’t matter if you eat nothing but non-fat foods – if you eat way more calories than you use, you’re still going to gain body fat. It’s as simple as that.
Putting a Good Diet in Place
If you want to reduce belly fat, you’re probably going to need to change your diet. That doesn’t have to be the end of the world, trust me.
If you’re already on a healthy diet – great. Keep it up. But you still need to assess your diet on a regular basis. In fact, it may be that foods you think are helpful are actually hurting you. Consider the example of high sugar, low-fat food given above.
There’s something else you need to be aware of if you want to lose belly fat: there are good fats and bad fats. You actually need a certain amount of good fats as part of a healthy diet. Again, simply starving yourself of all fat is not a good way to achieve your optimal body.
Lose Belly Fat Fast: Belly Fat Diet and Exercise Combined
Unless you’re a genetic freak (in a good way) you’re going to find it virtually impossible to lose the last of your fat without exercise. That’s just a reality you’re going to have to deal with – you can’t just diet your way to the body of your dreams. Losing body fat is not only about controlling the amount of calories you take in, it’s also about raising the number of calories you burn.
Lose Belly Fat: What is Aerobic Exercise?
The type of exercise you really need to focus on if you want to lose belly fat is called ‘aerobic’ exercise. If you’ve never done a lot of exercise in the past, the word ‘aerobics’ might carry a few negative images with it of people like Richard Simmons wearing spandex and step up and down on boxes. Don’t worry, it’s nothing that bad.
Aerobic exercise, which you need to focus on to reduce belly fat, is simply exercise ‘with oxygen.’ What that means is that in this form of exercise, you’re working out for a long time period (preferably upwards of fifteen minutes) to get your lungs working. Your body is using oxygen as a fuel. This is opposed to anaerobic exercise (exercise without oxygen), where your body is relying purely on fuel that’s already in your system. To give you examples, a five mile run would be a form of aerobic exercise. A hundred-yard sprint would be a form of anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise involves short, high intensity bursts. Aerobic exercise is about sustaining a moderate level of intensity over a longer time period.
If you’re just starting out with exercise after a long period of doing none, the key is to start slowly. Many people try to launch straight into a high intensity training program in order to get quick results, and they end up burning out after a week or two. Remember, when it comes to exercise, more is not always better. If you burn yourself out, you’ll only end up hurting your efforts to lose belly fat in the long term.
Know your own limits, but be prepared to work and push yourself a little. If you can only manage a five-minute brisk walk for starters, then start with that and work up slowly. Just remember you want to be aiming for longer exercise periods – many experts say 12 minutes is the magic number at which fat burning begins in a moderate intensity workout. That’s roughly the amount of time it takes for the body to start burning fat for energy.
The Role of Weight Training
We’ve already touched on the role muscle plays in how you lose fat– it increases your metabolic rate, which basically means you use up more energy when you’re sitting around doing nothing, which makes it easier to burn fat.
So if you really want to lose fat as effectively and sustainably as possible – in other words, if you want to keep it off in the long term – you need to bring weight training into your life if you haven’t already. Don’t freak out at this point. The term ‘weight training’ doesn’t have to mean lifting huge dumbbells and getting big, bulky muscles. In fact ‘resistance training’ is probably a better term. You’re simply training your muscles to work against resistance, as a result of which they’ll grow back stronger.
Again, there’s no need to worry about getting bulky. Putting on bulk is actually something bodybuilders do on purpose by overloading on calories and lifting extremely heavy weights. If your calorie intake is lower than the amount of calories you’re using each day, it’s physically impossible for you to gain muscle bulk (although you can get some ‘bloating’ from your eater intake).
Again though, resistance training is not as important as aerobic workouts. Those are the ones that burn fat directly, so don’t focus solely on weight training instead of doing aerobic exercise. If you’re going to do resistance training it needs to be in addition to aerobic training, not in place of it.
The Beer Gut
Men with the distinctive ‘beer gut’ have their work cut out for them when it comes to losing belly fat. There’s a reason why the standard beer gut paunch is solid, rather than squishy as you’d expect from fat. It’s because the fat in the beer gut is actually behind the wall of the abdominal muscles.
Lose Belly Fat: Finding the Right Calories In/Calories Out Balance
As you already know, in order to lose fat in a sustainable, long term way, you need to make sure you’re using more calories than you eat – without starving your body to the point where it adapts and starts functioning on a lower calorie level. You may have figured out by now that in order to figure out exactly the right number of calories you should be eating, you need to know how many calories you’re burning.
If you’ve been on a belly fat diet and exercise program for a while and you’ve gotten some good results, you might already know a bit of the stuff above. What you’re looking for is that extra kick, something to push you beyond your plateau to get that really top quality body you’ve been dreaming of.
Let’s go back to the starvation response for a second. The starvation response is simply a specific example of a more general trait of your body: it adapts. The human body has an incredible capacity to adapt to changes in its surroundings. It’s a survival mechanism.
This is how muscle grows in the first place, after all. You build muscle by destroying muscle. Weight training stresses your muscles and kills off muscle cells. Your body then says to itself, “Hm, that muscle is under stress – better rebuild it a little stronger.” And, assuming you have a high enough protein intake, that’s what happens.
But again – your body adapts. If you keep doing the same type of exercise over and over again, you don’t get the same results in terms of body changes. Your body is ‘used to it.’
This applies to your diet as well as exercise. Not so much in terms of the foods you eat (although you should mix it up) but in terms of your calories in/calories out ratio. If you keep that ratio the same for too long, you’ll eventually hit a plateau.
So how do you lose that last few pounds and really ‘get ripped’? The short answer: keep your body guessing. You need to be prepared to throw your body a few curveballs so those adaptations that lead to plateaus don’t have a chance to set in. This is one of the secrets successful dieters and bodybuilders use to burn belly fat.
Staying Motivated to Lose Belly Fat
As you’re probably well aware by now, losing belly fat isn’t just about diet, exercise and other things you do physically – it’s also largely a mental game. It can be tough to keep up the motivation you need to get to your goals.
One of the first things I’d like to point out is that results themselves are motivating, so making sure you know what you’re doing and measuring your results carefully will help deal with the motivation issue. As long as you’re measuring your progress each week and you’re actually making progress, those improvements become self-reinforcing. When you see yourself getting closer to the body you want, you feel positive and start to enjoy your healthy food and exercise regime even more.
Of course, the opposite is also true – if you’re working hard to lose belly fat but your results are going backwards, it can sap your motivation. That’s why knowledge is so important. If what you’re doing is not working, you need to be able to figure out why and change what you’re doing, rather than just plunging ahead harder on the same course and getting more and more frustrated. You can adapt your diet and training properly if you don’t understand how the body gains and burns fat.
Sometimes, though, results on their own aren’t enough to keep you motivated. You slowly drop from four workouts a week, to three, to two… and before you know it you’ve stopped altogether. How do you prevent this?
First of all, understand that it takes about three weeks to form a new habit. In other words, working out or changing your diet might suck for the first three weeks, but as long as you can stick it out through those three weeks, the changes will become your ‘new normal.’ Once the habit forms it becomes more difficult to slip back into your old ways.
Also, feel free to make use of positive thinking tools like affirmations and visualizing. Write down affirmations, such as “I am in the best shape of my life,” (affirmations should always be in the present tense). But don’t only focus on affirmations about body shape. You should also include affirmations relating to your attitude, like “Exercise is fun and easy.” Changing your mental attitude towards exercise and healthy eating make it much easier to lose belly fat in the long term.
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