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Unfortunately, you cannot "spot reduce fat." Where you store fat is based on individual genetics and often gender. This means that everyone stores fat differently and in different spots. To lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume, putting your body in an energy deficit and forcing your body to use your excess fuel (ie fat) to keep you moving throughout the day. To burn one pound of fat a week, you need to burn 3500 calories more than what you consumed. That breaks down to a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. You can achieve that deficit two ways, eating less and/or moving more. It is best achieved by using a combination of reducing your calorie intake and adding in more movement each day.
The more fat you burn overall, will help you burn fat off of key fat deposit areas, stomach, hips, and thighs to name a few. Once you reduce the fat off your stomach, you want to make sure you have conditioned the muscles to achieve toned, washboard abdominals. Perform these exercises: plank, side plank, ball crunches, knee ups, cable rotations and ball medicine ball pullover throw. Perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise. You can break these up into several sessions before your resistance training workout – or make them an ab circuit, moving from one exercise to another with a 10 minute cardio break in between.
As fitness professionals we get asked this all the time! There isn’t a certain food or exercises that will make us specifically lose belly fat. Spot reduction is not possible! You need to expend more calories than you consume to burn body fat. A reduced calorie diet, progressive resistance training and cardio will get you on your way to reducing body fat. Use these tips to get you started:
- Drink at least 64 oz. of water a day
- Eat as clean of diet as possible. Reduce high fat and high sugar foods like soda, candy and chips.
- Incorporate cardiovascular activity into your routine-at least 3 days per week
- Try out circuit training for your resistance training workouts. Keep yourself moving from one exercise to the next to keep your heart rate elevated and burning calories!
What we are talking about is “spot reducing”. Spot reducing is simply the fallacy of being able to reduce body fat in a specific area of the body through specific exercises. This cannot happen. When combining a proper diet and exercise program, an individual is able to lose body fat from their entire body through a slow and natural process. Unfortunately every person's “body” is different. Everyone will lose body fat from different areas of their bodies at different times. Eventually the body will lose its fat from the belly area as well as from all other areas of the body. However, there is no way to tell when this will happen.
Unfortunately we cannot choose where we want our body to lose fat from. The idea that we can lose fat from certain trouble spots on our body is a myth. Spot reduction is not possible. When a person loses fat he will lose fat from the body as a whole. Another common misconception when it comes to losing belly fat is that by doing hundreds of crunches and other exercises that target the abdominal area we will burn belly fat. This again is not true. While exercise can greatly help strengthen and tighten our trouble spots understand that fat loss occurs throughout the body as a whole. Engaging in regular cardio and strength training along with improving your nutritional habits will help you create a daily caloric deficit and result in fat loss. Follow the three tips below to help get you started.
- Perform cardiovascular activities for fat loss. An intense cardio workout performed three to four days a week will help the body burn calories and therefore help with fat loss. Interval training alternating periods of high and low intensity exercise is a great way to train and burn a greater number of calories during your workout. Use interval training only after you have established a firm cardio foundation.
- Strength train your entire body two to three days a week. Doing hundreds of crunches will not help get rid of belly fat. Exercises that target the abdominal area will certainly help strengthen and tone the abdominals but to lose belly fat you need to lose fat from the body as a whole. Focus on exercises that target the major muscle groups in your body. Pull ups, push ups, squats and walking lunges are great exercises to include in your full body workouts.
- Clean up your diet. Limit the amount of foods you eat that contain high calories and little nutritional value. Fast foods, candies, soda and alcohol are examples of these types of foods. Eat smaller portions and choose a wide variety of more nutritious foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, lean protein, and low fat dairy products. Remember in the end the way to reducing belly fat is to reduce total body fat.
Well, as far as we know we cannot spot reduce. Most of us have a spot or two in our body that we all want to have a little bit less fat on and we want to be able to see the muscles or the shape of our body underneath a little bit better. When we do start to lose fat, we lose fat overall steadily throughout our bodies. So if someone is going through a weight loss program they will see these changes in different areas of their body. Some people tend to lose weight faster in their face, some people faster in their arms, or their stomach. We all tend to have a couple of stubborn spots where the last bit of our weight is stored and that is basically related to genetics and kind of family traits that we might see. So if we do want to lose belly fat, the best way to do that is to have an exercise and nutrition program that is going to meet our lifestyle, help us feel good, move better, move regularly, and the weight will come off steadily. When it is time for it to come off the belly, it will come off the belly, but doing more sit ups or trying to spot reduce is not going to enhance that. You can strengthen the muscles underneath fat, but you cannot make the fat in that one specific area go down. “Toning” is really just burning off the fat and strengthening the muscle underneath. Think about it, if spot reduction worked, then for all the talking we do we should all have very lean and toned cheeks and jaws, an we know that is not necessarily the case. The fat is distributed relatively evenly throughout our bodies and we can thank our parents and grand parents for where ours tends to go. We are in control of how much is there, but not where it is. So, as far as we know we cannot spot reduce and an overall health and fitness program will help you lose weight off your belly.
Although many late-night infomercials would have you believe that belly fat reduction is just a matter of purchasing the right equipment, or performing endless sets of abdominal exercise, removing fat from this stubborn area is exactly the same as removing it from anywhere else. To remove fat from your body you must burn more calories than you take in on a regular basis.
You can't choose where it comes off first, only that it does come off. Body fat comes off in the reverse order that it went on. Way back when your body first started receiving more calories than it needed, it was forced to store them in a convenient place (likely your belly, although genetics determine the location). It then began to store excess calories in a variety of places (thighs, hips, arms, etc.). In order to get to the belly fat, you'll first have to get through all the other storage sites.
Unfortunately, spot reduction just isn't possible.
The best way to remove body fat (and eventually belly fat) is through smart nutrition, regular cardio exercise, and a resistance training program. Once you have all three components in place, you may first notice changes in your legs, arms, or butt, yet the belly fat remains. That's OK, you'll get to the belly fat eventually, as long as it's coming off from somewhere you're doing great!
We can turn losing belly fat into a basic math problem and away from questionable fad diets. Anyone with medical problems should seek a registered dietician or medical professional to assist them in their journey.
1. 3500 calories equals a pound.
2. Safe weight loss is typically 1-2 pounds per week.
3. A caloric deficit of 3500 calories a week or 500 calories a day is needed to lose pound one.
4. Weekly exercise needs to burn 3500 calories per week to lose the second pound.
5. Five to six bouts of exercise equaling a total of 3500 calories burned in one week will accomplish this.
You will begin losing these pounds in the last place you put them on which is different for every person. If you gained fat in belly first, arms second, and face third, you first lose fat from your face first, arms second, and then your belly last. However, if you gained fat in your belly last it will be the first to come off.
Success takes commitment. There is no magic pill. Hard work, discipline, and consistency will get the job done. You just need to do your homework in calorie counting and exercise. The pounds will start to melt off. Dieticians can help you choose how many calories to consume each day and from the right foods to meet your goals faster.
To deal with the body fat already on your stomach and expose the abdominal muscles underneath you need to focus on aerobic exercise. Cardio can range from something like walking, which is sustainable long term and you can do for the rest of your life to reap the benefits, or jogging, biking or running, depending on your level of physical fitness. You should plan on doing cardio 4-5 times a week.
In addition, do not ignore weight training. Muscle burns calories. Contrary to popular belief, doing ab exercises do not target the fat around your mid-section. There is no way to target specific areas of fat. Your body burns the fat as a whole, not from specific areas. I'm not saying that ab exercises are bad or that they shouldn't be done. Doing proper ab exercises will definitely define them. However, you must burn the fat that is hiding them. For best results, you must do aerobic cardio activity, weight training and proper diet to lose body fat that has accumulated around your abdomen. People mistakenly assume that if they do 100 crunches a day, it will burn it off. You will not ever be able to see great abs under that layer of fat if you do not incorporate cardio and resistance exercises together in your workout. Try to do weight training 2-3 times a week to help get rid of body fat.
Eat enough to accommodate your activity level and pick healthy foods. On days with a lot of exercise, eat more, but be sure to keep a calorie deficit going. If you can keep a 500 calorie deficit each day, you should be on track to lose one to two pounds per week. Moreover, cut down or eliminate processed foods. A healthy body will do better exercise, burn more calories, and increase muscle which, in turn, will burn more calories all day long. There are so many healthy choices and you'll feel so much better. It's worth spending a little extra on better food products you need to round out your diet. It is also important to drink enough water to get rid of the toxins and harmful materials in your body and to be hydrated. You need to drink 8-10 glasses (8 oz) a day for average people. If you are an athlete or if you live in a dry area, you might need to drink more.
There are many lifestyle and medical options for those seeking to lose belly fat and stay healthy. Try these five tips:
1. Avoid refined carbohydrates.
You’re more likely to develop belly fat if your diet is packed with calories, refined carbohydrates and sugar. Refined carbs include baked goods, white bread, white pasta and white rice. Eating refined carbs leads to a surge in blood sugar levels and insulin, which in turn increases the amount of belly fat that the body will store.
2. Eat whole grains and high-fiber foods.
High-fiber diets have been linked to weight loss, and you’re less likely to overeat when you get enough fiber. A healthy diet contains a daily serving of 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams of fiber for men. Fiber helps us stay full and feel more satisfied for a longer period of time. Food products such as brown rice and 100% whole wheat are considered whole grains because those items retain the outer layer of grain, which is packed with fiber and nutrients. But those same nutrients are often stripped away from processed foods.
3. Choose the right type of fatty foods.
Not all fats are created equal. Medical and dietary experts praise the health value of monounsaturated fats, which are simple fats. Mono fats help reduce belly fat. Excellent sources of mono fats include avocados, seeds and olive oils. The American Heart Association has linked mono fats to:
- lower levels of "bad" cholesterol
- lower risk of heart disease and stroke
- increase in nutrients that maintain the health of cells in the bod.
Omega-3 fatty acids also are important in controlling belly fats. Great sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds.
4. Get enough sleep.
Lack of sleep upsets the normal activities of two hormones that control our appetite. Leptin is the hormone that sends the “stomach-is-full” message to the brain, and ghrelin is the hormone that sends out “eat-more” messages. But when you’re starved for sleep, those appetite-controlling hormones are thrown off balance. When you are sleep deprived, you tend to crave more carbs during the day -- usually processed carbs such as donuts, cakes and cookies. And that’s a double whammy of too many processed carbs and too many calories.
5. Stay active.
Exercise is always important, and any good nutritional program should include exercise.
To let your inner six pack show, you need to burn fat all over your body! Getting rid of belly fat is achieved through a combination of eating a sensible reduced-calorie diet, and participating in a progressive resistance training and cardio exercise program. However, with this being said, when you do reduce your body fat, you want to reveal some amazing abdominals and that means you are going to have to work those abs! Two effective exercises for your core that tighten up the muscles surrounding your waist and help support your spine, are the plank and standing cable rotation. Not only do these exercises work all the muscles of your core, they can also help give you the appearance of a slimmer waist!
Same old answer as how to lose fat from anywhere in the body. Reduction in calories and increase in activity. As the body is in a caloric deficit the body uses fat for fuel. The location that the body chooses to take the fat from is determined by genetics not specific exercises or diet. Though it is possible to lose fat by diet alone or exercise alone it is best when done in a combination of both.
The American College of Sports Medicine identifies a desirable weight loss program as one that meets the following criteria:
- Provides intake not lower than 1200 calories for normal adults and allows proper distribution of foods to meet nutritional requirements.
- Provides a negative caloric balance (not to exceed 500 to 1000 calories per day) resulting in gradual weight loss.
- Includes an exercise program that promotes a daily caloric expenditure of more than 300 calories.
The National Weight Control Registry found that 89% of people who lost 30 or more pounds and kept it off for at least 1 year accomplished their goals through a combination of diet and exercise only 10% succeeded using diet alone and only 1% using exercise alone.
Using the right type of diet and exercise, you can reduce belly fat. Watch this video as Rovenia Brock, Jorge Cruise and I show you some ways to trim a big belly.
Our RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) accounts for 65% to 75% of energy our body uses while at rest. A reduction in activity over an extended time reduces this energy and opens the gate for accumulation of stored energy or fat. Increasing activity levels increases the use of energy, thereby increasing the rate at which our bodies burn off stored energy.
Changing your daily habits to move more will increase the use of energy. Developing more muscle throughout your body will also increase the use of energy. The increased use of energy will help your body reduce the stored fat throughout your body. None of which will matter much until you change your eating habits. You must eat and eat frequently, small portion controlled meals five to six times a day around 2.5 to 3 hours apart. Choosing low-glycemic meals turns off your insulin and provides healthier fuel for your body according to Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, author of Dr. A’s Habits of Health. This adapted behavior will help you with long-term weight control.
Dr. Lawrence J. Cheskin Director of The Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in his book Losing Weight for Good states obesity as a child increases the number of fat cells in the body and can never be lost only reduced. If this is your case, adapting these new habits will help in the reduction and/or burning of these cells, thereby lowering your percent body fat.
Use the TEE (Total Energy Expenditure) formula to determine the recommended calories you need to consume each day. You can find this formula at “www.calculator.net” under the heading “Calorie Calculator.” As you reduce your weight make sure you stay within a healthy range. Use the BMI (Body Mass Index) formula to calculate your healthy BMI. This formula is also located at “www.calculator.net” under the heading “BMI Calculator.” Just make sure you don’t allow yourself to drop below a BMI of 18.5.
Even with what has been stated, it is highly recommend you work with a Certified Health and Fitness Coach to help you achieve your goals. And always consult your physician before starting a weight loss and/or fitness program.
Unfortunately, there isn't a specific diet or food that will target reducing belly fat. But if you focus on a whole-body approach to weight loss, you should lose belly fat. Just keep in mind that whenever you want to make changes to your eating plan, they should be ones that you will enjoy; otherwise they'll be hard to stick with.
Your diet should include foods from all the food groups. As far as exercise goes, you want to make sure you are doing a combination of aerobic or cardio and weight training.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.