My fiancé, Holly, showing off the progress of her recent efforts to lose belly fat.
Losing fat from around the belly is probably the hardest part of the body to lose fat from. It’s often the last part of the body to lose fat and the first part gain it.
You can be categorised in many ways for how you put on and store fat. You might store more fat around your chest, like someone categorised with a mesomorph shape. You might not store much fat at all, like someone categorised with an ectomorph shape. Alternatively, you might store fat around your hips, like someone categorised with an endomorph shape. Whatever your shape, if you’re carrying an extra few kilos, chances are you’ll have some fat you want to lose from your belly.
How to Lose Belly Fat
As is the theme of everything I share, I’m going to discuss things from a point-of-view of fitness, nutrition and psychology. Start with exercise because it gives you little wins and the chemicals that are released throughout your body afterwards provide little doses of motivation. Then consider what you eat. I’m a huge advocate for choosing “swapping over stopping”. When you stop something, you feel like you’re missing out. Swap an unhealthy food for a healthier option that tastes just as good. As you make progress, consider your thoughts and feelings about yourself. No one ever truly does something nice for someone they hate. Consider all the amazing things your body has done for you, allowed you to do, and love it for those experiences.
Once a week, go for a one hour run/walk. An hour run is too much for most people. Start with walking and when you can, run. Run for as long as you can, even if it’s just for ten seconds. While you’re walking, walk at a pace that you can still hold a conversation, but only just. Longer cardiovascular exercise like this is the best type of exercise for burning visceral fat. That’s the fat that surrounds your organs.
- HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
Three times a week, do a fifteen to thirty minute high intensity workout. Join a group for this — whether it’s in a gym or in the outdoors. Boxing is a great high intensity workout. Increasing and lowering your heart rate as you do in HIIT, has considerable benefits for burning fat and developing multiple components of fitness. HIIT achieves more in less time but burns more superficial fat, which is why at least one long cardiovascular workout per week is still important.
At least twice a week, if not more, develop your strength. Use your bodyweight and practice becoming competent at the foundational moves first — squat, lunge, push up, pull up, hinge and brace. My work at the Northern Territory Institute of Sport (NTIS) has shown me that you can develop incredible strength, and a rippling 6-pack, without ever lifting a weight. Just search the Internet for a workout performed in the playground and you’ll see what I’m talking about. For a strength workout that anyone can do, check out these low-impact exercises for beginners.
Eat vegetables with every meal as often as you can. Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals so you get almost everything your body needs from them. They’re not very filling so include plenty of healthy fats and protein as well.
The understanding that sugar is bad is almost common knowledge in society today. However, the understanding that fat is actually good, is not. Healthy fats that come from foods such as avocados, cheese, eggs, chia seeds, nuts, fish, coconut oil and olive oil are very good for the body. When these fats are present in the body, they are the preferred source of energy. They also help you to feel full and are very tasty.
Protein is the building blocks of your body. Eating protein in your diet helps you to repair and replace old cells. It is also very filling. Adding a protein source to your meal will not only help create a healthy body, it will help to fill you up and keep you satisfied for longer.
Start each day by drinking 500ml to 1L of water. This will help to flush your digestive system and hydrate every cell of your body, like charging a battery to 100% Drink one to two cups of water every time before you eat. This will help to fill your tummy and prevent you from eating as much. Sometimes we think we’re hungry when in fact we’re slightly dehydrated. This leads to overeating.
Get rid of the wheat. I don’t know how many times I’ve come across people who have lost dramatic amounts of weight (over time) and when asked what they did, they said they gave up wheat. Just eliminating gluten can have massive benefits for your health — and not just for people with celiac disease. For more on wheat, download my free ebook here where I go into much more detail on the topic. For more on gluten, you can read this article.
Belly fat is probably the hardest part of the body to lose fat from. Regardless of your body type, everyone has trouble with belly fat when their not in peak physical condition. Remember to love your body for what it’s done and given you. Exercise by doing some cardio, HIIT and strength training most days of every week and eat right by upping the veggies, healthy fats and protein, while reducing wheat and sugar.
What is your biggest challenge with losing belly fat?
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