Belly fat is the layer of harmful fat lodged deep under your belly, around your internal organs. Belly fat is more harmful than the subcutaneous fat that appears on the surface of your abdomen or other parts of your body. Visceral fat is metabolically active, which means it releases hormones into the rest of your body that, in excess, can increase the risk for heart disease and other conditions, including metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
There are some substances that your visceral fat serves to your vital organs. Firstly, free fatty acids are released directly to the liver and impair your ability to break down insulin and can lead to diabetes over time (1). Secondly, cortisone release is also associated with diabetes and heart disease (2). Thirdly, PAI-1 would trigger blood clot and contribute to your risk of heart attack and stroke (3). Likewise, C-reactive protein inflames blood vessels, making them more susceptible to artery-clogging plaque (4). Hence, losing belly fat has massive benefits for your health and can help you live longer.
Say bye bye to your belly fat!
So how big is too big? If your belly measurement is over 40 inches (102 cm) for men and 35 inches (88 cm) for women, then you have abdominal obesity.
The secret to burning belly fat is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Follow the following strategies to lose belly fat.
Avoid sugary or artificially-sweetened foods and drinks.
Too much sugar can cause your excess fat to accumulate around your belly and liver. Studies show that sugar has extremely harmful effects on metabolic health. With excess sugar, the liver gets overloaded with fructose and is forced to convert it into fat. Excess fructose can lead to increased accumulation of fat in the belly and liver, which leads to insulin resistance and other metabolic disorders. Liquid sugar is even worse – it doesn’t get ingrained in the brain in the same way as solid calories, so you end up ingesting more total calories when you drink sweetened beverages. Children who drink sugar-sweetened beverages are likely to have a 60% increased risk of obesity (5). Hence, you should minimize the amount of sugar in your diet, and consider eliminating sugary drinks.
Whole fruit, though, is OK because the high content of fiber mitigates the adverse effects of fructose. Furthermore, fruit contains much less fructose compared to that in refined sugar.
Cut carbs from your diet.
You need carbs for energy. But don’t eat way more carbs then you need. Your body will store the excess carbs as fat, including belly fat. Carb restriction is very useful for fat loss. Studies have shown that obese patients who embark on a low carb, low-calorie diet, such as the keto diet, for 24 months have a decrease in belly fat and a reduction in the individual burden of disease (35) – this means that a high proportion of the fat loss on a low-carb diet is the dangerous visceral fat.
Just avoid the refined carbs (sugar, white bread,etc.) should be sufficient, especially if you keep your protein intake high. However, if you need to lose belly fat fast, then consider dropping your carbs down to 50 grams per day – this will put your body into ketosis, killing your appetite and making your body start burning fat as fuel.
Eat more protein.
Protein has a high thermic effect, which means your body burns more energy from protein than it does from fat and carbs. Since protein-rich diets would boost your metabolism and reduce hunger levels, it is a very effective way to lose weight. Protein-pacing caloric-restriction enhances weight loss, body composition, and biomarkers, and maintain these changes for 52-weeks compared to a traditional heart-healthy diet (6). A protein-rich food will suppress cravings and boost metabolism. It would also help you avoid re-gaining weight if you ever decide to abandon your weight loss efforts.
If you want to shrink your belly, 25% of your diet should be protein. So increase your intake of high-protein foods such as whole eggs, seafood, fish, nuts, legumes, lean meat, and dairy products. Protein intake enhances the release of a fullness hormone, PYY, which decreases appetite and promotes fullness.
Eat foods rich in viscous fiber.
Soluble dietary fiber binds water and forms a thick gel that resides in the abdomen to slow down your digestion. Fiber has an anti-inflammatory effect that prevents visceral fat accumulation, likely by modulating the composition of gut microbiota (120). The result is a prolonged feeling of fullness, reduced appetite, and ultimately decreasing amounts of belly fat– this should cause significant improvements in metabolic health and reduced disease risk.
Eat plant-based foods like vegetables and fruits. You can also take fiber supplements such as glucomannan.
Hack your diet with MCT oil
Replacement of long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) with medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in the diet could potentially induce modest reductions in body composition (15).
Intermittent fasting is an efficient way of eating that involves regular short-term fasts. Research shows that individuals who participated in an 8-week alternate day fasting regimen reported feeling full without a compensatory increase in hunger (100).
Aerobic exercise (cardio)
Aerobic exercise effectively reduces belly fat, including in individuals with type 2 diabetes (10). Furthermore, aerobics reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar levels, and mitigates all the other metabolic abnormalities that are associated with excess belly fat. Cardio is also essential during weight maintenance because it prevents you from regaining belly fat after the initial weight loss.
Types of aerobic exercises that you should try right now include walking, running, and swimming. Take a brisk walk or swim if you want a flat belly in a week.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
HIIT will torch your belly fat the fastest (11). HIIT combines resistance and aerobic training by alternating between periods of intense exercise and active rest in one effective routine.HIIT involves working at full throttle for short intervals – typically within a minute – then recovering to an active rest mode for a minute or two.
HIIT increases your metabolism since you need to work hard to get “back to normal.” HIIT also burns more belly fat than steady-pace cardio. Allow 48 hours of recovery between each HIIT workout to avoid overtraining.
The core is made up of abdominal muscles and the muscles of your lower back, pelvic floor, and hips. So, to get a six-pack, you need to add killer ab routines to target all these muscles. Strength training builds muscle mass, which helps to burn fat.
- Pelvic tilt crunch
Lie face-up on an exercise ball with your back and head pressed onto the ball. Keep your feet together on the floor and crunch up with your shoulders off the ball. Raise your hands, trying to reach up to the sky. Repeat.
- Arms over straight-leg crunch
Lie on your back with your arms extended backward, and your legs raised to a 45-degree angle. Bring your arms up and lift your shoulders off the mat while raising your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor. Return to your starting position. Do three sets of 15 reps and gradually build up.
- Side Plank
Lie down on your left side with your elbow directly beneath your shoulder and your legs one on top of the other. Place your right hand on your hip. Now, tighten your core abs and lift your hips off the floor. This way, you’ll be directly working the abdominal muscles. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on a different side.
Start in the push-up position. Place your hands on the ground 2 inches wider than your shoulders. Now, with your feet in place, walk your hands out as far as possible till you feel a stretch in your abdomen. Walk back similarly. Do 10-12 reps for a nice abdominal ab workout.
Five saboteurs of sexy bellies
These are your ab-verseries.
Forget about losing belly fat if you raise the glass daily. Excessive alcohol intake would increase belly fat. Your liver also has to work an extra mile to clear the sugar alcohol – this can get in the way of building ab muscles. To reduce your waistline, drink alcohol in moderation or abstaining altogether.
Trans-fats are created by pumping hydrogen ions into unsaturated fat, such as margarine. These fats have been linked to inflammation, insulin resistance, heart disease, and belly fat gain. Whether or not you’re trying to lose weight, limiting your intake of trans-fat is a good idea.
Spending too much time in our bed or couch would weaken our abdominal muscles. Get up and do something!
Feeling frazzled and frantic? Increased levels of cortisol, as a result of chronic worry, can lead to excess belly fat. Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases your appetite and makes you crave sugary foods that provide instant energy and pleasure. When our cortisol levels are high for an extended period, it can increase the amount of fat you store in your belly. What’s more, those of us who already have a large waist tend to produce more cortisol in response to stress.
Minimize your stress levels to lose belly fat. To de-stress and lose belly fat, learn to breathe and relax.
From scrolling through social media to have a late-night coffee, we unknowingly keep ourselves awake at night. Aside from feeling tired the next day, not getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep each night can affect weight loss. When we lack sleep, our body produces more ghrelin and leptin hormones, which can affect our appetite – this means that when we’re awake past bedtime, we tend to eat more but still feel hungry.
Go to be a little earlier to avoid this hormonal imbalance and remember to remove any distractions that may hinder you from falling asleep.
Pass up the p.m. snacks! Your body may not burn nighttime nibbles as efficiently as it does those you eat during the day. Declare “last call” two hours before bed. If you’re starving, have a low-calorie snack.
How to lose belly fat in a week?
While you likely won’t reach your weight loss goals in days – unless you’re only aiming only a pound – you might be able to observe a minor reduction in your belly fat.
Set realistic goals
Lose excess belly fat by having realistic goals. You won’t be able to achieve a bikini body in just a week. You can, however, drop 1 to 2 pounds of fat to start slimming your midsection, using sustainable methods that’ll motivate you to stick to long term goals without regaining the belly fat.
Your first step? Figure out an appropriate calorie intake target. Eat fewer calories than you burn to start torching belly fat – about 500 to 1000 calories fewer. The small calorie deficit allows you to burn fat without triggering the “starvation mode” that would lead to muscles loss over time.
Stay full with low energy-density foods
It’s normal to feel hungry when you cut your calorie intake, but you don’t want to feel ravenous. Filling your diet with low energy-density foods – low-calorie count per gram – allow you to eat larger portions while restricting your calorie intake. These foods supply water and fiber, which can make you feel full, to fuel your weight loss. Go ahead and load up on vegetables, fruits, and fat-free broth. A few minor tweaks can also lower the energy density of your favorite meals, too.
Exercise away your belly fat
As aforementioned, you can shed excess belly fat by adding exercise to your weekly regime. Refer to the list above.
Avoid harmful fad diets
Go slow. Steer clear of fad diets that promise a double-digit weight loss in just a week. These diets are not sustainable – you’re likely to regain the fat – and such diet may interfere with your weight loss efforts in the long term.
Instead, pair a balanced diet with exercise. Keep your metabolism revving with moderate calorie restriction – above 1200 calories for women and above 1800 calories for men. You’ll feel more satisfied and energetic and achieve a beach-ready body.