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How to Lose Belly Fat

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Excess belly fat is a common problem for both men and women. Unfortunately, it isn’t a problem that gets easier to manage as we get older. After the age of 30 we start to lose muscle and, because we move less, gain fat. So it becomes increasingly harder to lose belly fat.

1. Causes of Belly Fat

Regularly overeating, i.e. consuming more calories that you burn, will lead to increases in body fat generally, and belly fat specifically. However, there are other reasons that can cause a weight gain around the belly.

Factors that can influence belly fat include gender, genetics, hormones, body shape, lifestyle and certain foods. An effective plan to lose belly fat should addresses the causes for why you are carrying more belly fat than you would like.

Read more: The causes of belly fat

2. Best Exercises

Exercises targeting the stomach are not enough to help you lose belly fat. Sit-ups, crunches and core work are not going to burn belly fat. Exercises like crunches do not target belly fat, they target belly muscle (i.e. abs). They will make your muscles bigger, which is great, but it won’t burn fat. However, once you’ve lost weight, those exercises will pay off.

Cardiovascular exercise will help you create a greater calorie deficit and help you lose weight. Research suggests that high intensity interval training is one of the most effective methods of burning belly fat.

Read more: The best exercises to lose belly fat

3. Belly Fat Diet

To lose belly fat you have to burn more calories (energy) than you eat. In other words, follow a calorie-controlled diet. However, there is much more you can do than simply reducing your calorie intake.

There are certain foods that can help your efforts, while other foods can make things more challenging. Foods that are low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil, walnuts, and flax seeds. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, preferably organic is ideal.

Indeed, research shows that Mediterranean style diet may be the best diet in aiding the loss of tummy fat. Avoid refined grains, which increase belly fat, and choose whole grains instead.

Read more: Foods that can help you lose belly fat.

4. Ab Exercises

Ab exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles for a toned, flat and defined tummy. Remember, while crunches will strengthen your abs and core, the first step to toned abs is losing stomach fat. However, to get the abs you’re after, once you’ve reduced your body fat percentage you then need to focus on building muscle.

Read more: Ab exercises with video – 200 exercise!

5. Body Type

To help you set the right targets, and to choose the right exercises and diet to lose belly fat, customize your weight loss program to suit your individual needs. It can help you understand how easy it is to lose weight or build muscle.

Having an understanding of your body type, can help you determine the best macronutrient ratio and type of diet to help you lose stomach fat. For example, some endomorphs lose weight more easily on low-carb diets, while others do better with high-carb.

  • Mesomorph can boast incredible ab definition.  
  • Ectomorphs  are relatively light, as they have a light frame and are lightly muscled. Ectomorphs should be able to lose belly fat relatively easily, but will have to put a lot of effort in gaining muscle mass and ab definition.
  • Endomorphs tend struggle the most to lose belly fat, and have to work harder to achieve defined abs.

Use the body type calculator to determine your body type.

6. Customize Weight Loss

Use the:

  • Body fat calculator to determine you body fat percentage and keep track of your weight loss. If your body fat percentage is high, then you may have higher levels of stomach fat and it worth talking it through with your doctor. Ideally you should get you body fat percentage measured professionally, e.g. at a fitness center/ gym or during a health check-up. Some universities also offer body fat analysis.
  • Exercise calculator to determine how many calories you’re burning during exercise
  • Calorie calculator to find out your calorie requirements to lose weight.

Sources

  1. Romero-Corral A, Somers VK, Sierra-Johnson J. Normal weight obesity: a risk factor for cardiometabolic dysregulation and cardiovascular mortality. Eur Heart J. 2010;31(6):737-46. DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehp487. PMID: 19933515.
  2. Janssen I, Katzmarzyk PT, Ross R. Waist circumference and not body mass index explains obesity-related health risk. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79(3):379-84. DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/79.3.379. PMID: 14985210.
  3. Dalton M, Cameron AJ, Zimmet PZ; AusDiab Steering Committee. Waist circumference, waist-hip ratio and body mass index and their correlation with cardiovascular disease risk factors in Australian adults. J Intern Med. 2003;254(6):555-63. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2003.01229.x. PMID: 14641796.
  4. de Koning L, Merchant AT, Pogue J, Anand SS. Waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio as predictors of cardiovascular events: meta-regression analysis of prospective studies. Eur Heart J. 2007;28(7):850-6. DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehm026. PMID: 17403720.
  5. Lee CM, Huxley RR, Wildman RP, Woodward M. Indices of abdominal obesity are better discriminators of cardiovascular risk factors than BMI: a meta-analysis. J Clin Epidemiol. 2008;61(7):646-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2007.08.012. PMID: 18359190.
  6. Zhang H, Tong TK, Qiu W, et al. Comparable Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training and Prolonged Continuous Exercise Training on Abdominal Visceral Fat Reduction in Obese Young Women. J Diabetes Res. 2017;2017:5071740. DOI: 10.1155/2017/5071740. PMID: 28116314.

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