If you’re a woman who’s been struggling to lose belly fat and want to know what to do to finally slim down your waistline for good, then you want to read this.
Have you ever noticed that the last part of your body to slim down is your stomach area?
There are scientific reasons why we have such a darn hard time getting rid of belly fat and why everything we eat seems to stick in that area.
Don’t worry. It’s not your fault.
- You aren’t a genetic disaster.
- There’s probably nothing wrong with your hormones.
- You don’t have to starve yourself.
- You don’t have to avoid fat in foods.
- You don’t have to avoid carbs. BUT it makes fat loss more efficient. (Read below about the Twinkie diet!)
- You don’t have to spend hours and hours in the gym.
- You don’t need to do special ab workouts.
The good news is that losing belly fat is much simpler than you probably thought.
In fact, all you have to do is make simple, slight changes to your exercise and diet regimen. Nothing crazy, actually. You’ve probably been spending way too much time than necessary trying to get a slim waist.
Let’s see if you recognize some of these myths…
6 Belly Fat Loss Myths
1. Getting a slim waist is not a linear process.
You might have a skinny belly one day and a puffy belly the next. You can thank sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes. It is normal for weight to fluctuate.
2. Eating 3 meals a day versus 5 or 6 smaller meals a day doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter if you eat 1200 calories early in the day or at 10pm in front of the TV. They still happened.
3. You can’t target belly fat through exercise.
Crunches and sit-ups don’t directly burn belly fat.
4. Certain foods won’t stop or help you lose it.
Drinking special teas and avoiding dairy won’t make it go away. Neither will eating more avocados.
5. Stress isn’t causing stubborn belly fat.
Stress can push you to overeat and gain weight, but that means you will gain weight throughout the rest of your body, too.
6. Eating fat doesn’t make your belly fat.
Unless you eat too much. In fact, healthy fats can aid weight loss. You can read my article “Does Eating Fat Make Me Fat?”.
Before I tell you exactly what you need to do to lose stubborn belly fat IN LESS TIME, it’s good to know the simple science behind why belly fat is so hard to get rid of and how fat burning works.
Simple Fat-Burning Science
Behind every diet is a simple explanation of how it is meant to work: Energy Balance.
So, what exactly is energy balance?
Energy balance is the relationship between energy in and energy out. It is the amount of calories consumed through eating and drinking compared to calories burned through physical activity.
? More IN than OUT over time = WEIGHT GAIN ?
? More OUT than IN over time = WEIGHT LOSS ?
However, notice above that I mentioned “OVER TIME”. Your energy in and energy out don’t need to balance out every day.
Let’s say you’ve been consuming 300 calories less per day on Monday through Friday, but you go out with friends on Saturday night and splurge with an extra 900 calories. You’re still short 600 calories for the week (-300 calories x 5 days + 900 calories = -600).
It doesn’t matter where that extra 900 calories came from, whether it was a barrel of lettuce or a piece of cheesecake.
In fact, one professor was able to prove that as long as less energy is consumed than used, it doesn’t even matter if it’s total junk food, you can still lose weight.
Nutrition professor Mark Haub at Kansas State University ate a steady stream of Twinkies, powdered donuts, Oreos and other gas station snacks for 10 weeks.
He made sure that all this junk still resulted in a calorie deficit and he lost 27 pounds, just to prove that weight loss is achieved through calorie deficit, not by the nutritional content of the food.
Of course, this is not recommended. Sure, he lost weight, but not the healthy way. I’m sure if he continued, he wouldn’t be walking the Earth today or much longer at least. However, he did prove a point when it comes to energy balance!
So How Do You Find Out How Many Calories To Consume?
Take a look at the chart below. Keep in mind that this is only an ESTIMATE of calorie requirements to KEEP the same weight. Everyone is different, but this is a good starting point.
Sedentary: only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
Moderately Active: physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
Active: physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
So, you should find which category you think you fit into, and decrease that amount over time (within a reasonable level, around 300 calories to start).
When you take in less calories than you need, your body takes the energy from fat cells to be used by other cells in the body, such as muscle cells.
The Fat-Burning Process
When you eat, your body releases a hormone called insulin to keep your blood sugar levels from getting too high. During this process, fat burning does not occur until insulin levels decline and your body senses it is time to burn the stored fat as a source of energy.
Your body burns fat through a 2-step process:
Step 1 => Energy needs to be released from fat cells so it can travel through the blood as free fatty acids (lipolysis).
Step 2 => Cells need to take those free fatty acids from the blood and use/burn them (oxidation).
In order for Step 1 to occur, fat cells need to be “prompted” by hormones called “catecholamines.” They are produced by your adrenal glands and include adrenaline and noradrenaline.
Once catecholamines are in your blood, they need to attach to fat cell “receptors” (like a lock and key) to prompt the fat cell to release some energy to be used by the body.
However…. There are two types of receptors. Check this out…
Simple Stubborn Belly Fat Science
TWO TYPES OF FAT
Yes, there really are two types of fat. The regular stuff, and the stubborn stuff.
TWO TYPES OF FAT RECEPTORS
There are two types of fat receptors for catecholamines and they have opposing functions:
? ALPHA-receptors: hinder fat burning – BAD ?
? BETA-receptors: accelerate fat burning – GOOD ?
Stubborn fat areas have more alpha-receptors than beta-receptors, making it harder to burn the fat.
Women tend to have more in their stomach areas than men, which makes sense biologically because we can carry babies there.
However, most of us don’t want to walk around with a mommy pooch, ready to pop out baby after baby after baby.
Strategies For Burning Stubborn Belly Fat
You actually don’t need to do anything special to get rid of belly fat other than lower your body fat percentage. Sorry, but ab exercises alone aren’t going to slim your waistline.
Crunches And Sit-Ups Don’t Work
The most common myth that most people believe is that crunches and sit-ups remove belly fat. Not true!
The belief is that exercise burns calories, so to remove fat in a particular area of the body, you should exercise that area.
However, this is not the way it works. Yes, exercise burns calories. But, exercise burns calories evenly throughout the body, not just in the area you are exercising.
By doing an enormous amount of crunches and sit-ups, you might get rid of some belly fat, but no more than in other parts of your body. In addition, although you will have rock hard abs, you still won’t get the definition.
You have to reduce your overall body fat first.
Want To Know An Estimate Of Your Body Fat Percentage?
If you want to be nerdy and do it yourself:
To calculate BMI, you divide your weight in kilograms and by your height in meters squared.
Or you can use this calculator:
Fat Percentage Calculator
If you want super tight abs, plan on getting your body fat percentage below 20% (for women).
By losing weight, eventually you will lose belly fat. But…
Although reducing calories will help, burning stubborn belly fat shouldn’t be attempted through diet alone. You are not going to get the flat, toned belly you want without working out. Without exercise, you’ll end up with a skinny body but with a mushy belly, otherwise known as “skinny fat.” AND, if you’re a mom, you’ll still have the mommy pooch. Basically, it won’t look toned. Trust me, I have been there.
ATTENTION MOMS: AN OBSTACLE TO A FLAT STOMACH
Around 60% of moms have “Diastasis Recti” 6 weeks following childbirth, better known as the “mommy pooch.”
This happens when your abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy and sometimes don’t close, causing your belly to “stick out.”
To all those people in the grocery store asking when your baby is due, 6 months after due date: Thanks a lot.
Luckily, there are ways you can correct this problem. Exercise is one of them and you can find the solution here:
Mommy pooch aside, here are the strategies for getting a trim, sexy waist by burning stubborn belly fat…
How Keeping Insulin Levels Low Burns More Stubborn Belly Fat
Keeping insulin levels low inhibits the “bad” alpha-receptors on your fat cells, sparking an energy-releasing action, which will burn fat in your stubborn belly area.
You can achieve optimal low insulin levels through a low-carb, high protein diet.
A low-carb diet = 50-100 grams per day of carbs.
A very-low-carb diet = 20-50 grams per day of carbs.
Calculating protein needed for a high-protein diet is complicated, but you can use an online calculator if you want.
I’ll tell you more about the protein part below and for now, I’ll show you why low-carb helps.
Earlier, I mentioned that fat burning is not efficient after eating until insulin levels are low. I would also like to add that by keeping them consistently low through the right diet, one that is high in protein and low in simple carbohydrates, you can turn your body into a fat-burning machine.
Carbs can put your insulin levels on a rollercoaster ride. A meal high in carbs will lead to a big spike in insulin. Protein doesn’t exactly have the same effect. It still causes insulin to be released but not as rapidly.
Rapid insulin spikes are no good for trying to lose belly fat.
How Exercising In A Fasted State Helps You Lose Stubborn Belly Fat
Since fat burning doesn’t occur until insulin levels are low, the best way to burn fat more effectively is to exercise when insulin levels are low.
The most effective time to work out is first thing in the morning, after you slept and have not eaten in 8+ hours.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to starve yourself before a workout. If you do eat before exercising, I recommend that you eat less than 30 grams of protein, less than 10 grams of carbohydrates, and wait a few hours.
Although exercising in a fasted state still means you need to balance energy (energy in versus energy out), doing it this way does accelerate fat loss.
In fact, research published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that people who fasted before a morning workout burned 20% more fat than when they had a meal beforehand!
One downside to exercising in a fasted state is losing muscle tissue. You can combat this by consuming enough protein (I’ll tell you more about that further down) and also making sure you alternate days with weight resistance training (exercising using weights) to build and maintain muscle.
Building and maintaining muscle tissue is important, even for women, because muscle cells burn up more calories than fat cells. By building and maintaining muscle, your body will require more calories. If you don’t increase your calories to meet up with demands, you’ll burn more fat.
Use this Paleo trick and Easy-Soft exercise program
to lose up to 10 lbs of belly fat in 8 weeks…
Without starving yourself or getting a gym membership.
How High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Burns Stubborn Belly Fat
Want to save a ton of time and get the best out of it when it comes to burning that stubborn belly fat?
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a pretty good exercise strategy that alternates short (4-30 minute) periods of anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods.
There is a science behind how this works, but I am going to make it simple:
HIIT workouts result in more fat-burning hormones to be released than by doing low-intensity exercise.
AND… These short, intense workouts have been scientifically proven to burn 50% more fat than low-intensity exercise.
They not only burn calories during the workout, but they also help you burn more calories throughout the day, turning your body into a fat-torching machine.
How Eating High-Protein Helps Burn Stubborn Belly Fat
I’m sure you’ve probably heard that eating a lot of protein helps with weight loss, but do you know how?
Well, besides helping curb appetite, protein also helps with insulin levels. Like I said, low insulin levels mean weight loss.
Unfortunately as we get older, our body changes (sigh ?) and our fat cells don’t respond to insulin as well as they used to. This means that we become more insulin-resistant.
As our body becomes insulin-resistant, our body tries to pump out even more insulin, hoping that will do the trick.
A diet high in protein may protect you against insulin resistance and lower insulin levels…
which will… you guessed it… help you burn that bastard of a belly!
In fact, in a study on obese women who followed a diet for eight weeks that was around 30% protein, 40% carbs, and 30% fat lost significantly more fat—including in the belly area—than women who stuck to a plan that was 16% protein, 55% carbs, and 26% fat.
You can eat all the eggs and bacon and beans you want, but if you need something quick, whey protein is the best way to go to get that extra protein in.
Personally, I like to get a little help in the form of protein shakes. My husband hates that I drink them (he’s a chef), but he’s going to have to live with it because:
- I like the taste (I pretend they’re a naughty milkshake!).
- They are convenient.
- They work.
Plus, I am a busy mom and nurse practitioner and sometimes just need something quick in the morning or after my workout. That’s where a protein shake comes in really handy.
Every single morning, I drink a BioTrust Low Carb protein shake. I find the Peach Mango flavor mixed with a dab of plain greek yogurt, and some flax seeds blended together with ice to be super delish, but that’s just me.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
CLA has been clinically proven to increase fat loss by up to 400% versus placebo, and is #1 for burning belly fat. It works by naturally activating the full fat-burning potential of each fat cell.
CLA is a healthy and naturally occurring “super fat” found in beef and dairy products such as milk, yogurt, butter, and cheese. However, to get enough CLA (2+ grams/day) through diet to reap its fat-burning benefits, you would have to eat:
- 12 pounds of beef
- 25 pounds of cheddar cheese
- 5 and ½ sticks of butter
- 7 and ½ gallons of milk…or…
- 79, 8-oz containers of yogurt…
And that’s for every day of the week! That’s when the beauty of science comes in and now we can get enough CLA in a small softgel.
For CLA, I personally use Biotrust BellyTrim XP. It’s made by a company I can trust because they have independent laboratory testing done. That means that they don’t test their own products, a third party does. That way, you can rest assured that what they say is in the bottle is actually in there. I think that’s important because a lot of other companies have been found to fill their pills with rice, wheat, beans, and other fake substances.
I like this one because it’s a metabolism booster but it’s not a stimulant. I tend to get jittery from stimulants, so this is the one I use to avoid that.
It’s made from two herbal extracts (Sphaeranthus indicus and Garcinia mangostana) and a couple of research studies proved that these herbal extracts led to almost 4 times more weight loss and 2.5 times reduction in waist and hip measurements.
It took about two weeks for it to start kicking in when I first started taking them, and then things really started to slim down faster.
I take it when I want to lose weight and slim my belly, but I don’t take them once I reach my goal because I get too skinny (never thought I would ever say that!). Again, I like that company. I’m a big fan.
Again, my husband is a chef and is offended when I would rather drink a protein shake for breakfast. But, sometimes I need to literally run out the door in the morning and I don’t have time to eat. That’s when my protein shake comes in handy, so he’s just going to have to live with it.
Belly fat can be really stubborn and it’s not your fault. But, you can make a few easy changes, such as:
- Changing your workout strategy from low-intensity to High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
- Exercising in a fasted state.
- Lowering you body fat percentage by reducing calorie intake.
- Eating high-protein, either naturally or via high-protein shakes.
- Taking the right supplements.
How Much CLA is Enough? | Dairy Nutrition. https://www.dairynutrition.ca/nutrients-in-milk-products/fat/how-much-cla-is-enough. Accessed April 13, 2016.
Laursen PB, Jenkins DG (2002). “The Scientific Basis for High-Intensity Interval Training”. Sports Medicine (Review). 32 (1): 53–73.
Vroegrijk IOCM, van Diepen JA, van den Berg S, et al. Pomegranate seed oil, a rich source of punicic acid, prevents diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance in mice. Food Chem Toxicol Int J Publ Br Ind Biol Res Assoc. 2011;49(6):1426-1430. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2011.03.037.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2013). Balance Food and Activity. Accessed from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/healthy-weight-basics/balance.html
Park, M. (2010). Twinkie diet helps nutrition professor lose 27 pounds. CNN. Accessed from http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/
Sperstad, J.B., Tennfjord, M.K., Hilde, G., Ellstrom-Engh, M., & Bo, K. (2016). Diastasis recti abdominis during pregnancy and 12 months after childbirth: prevalence, risk factors and report of lumbopelvic pain. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50, 1092-1096.
Vispute, S.S., Smith, J.D., LeCheminant, J.D., & Hurley, K.S. (2011). The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat. Journal of Strength Cond Res, 25(9), 2559-2564.
Use this Paleo trick and Easy-Soft exercise program
to lose up to 10 lbs of belly fat in 8 weeks…
Without starving yourself or getting a gym membership.
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