- Video of the Day
- Research Stands Behind Weight Training
- Weight Training Prevents Belly Fat Accumulation
- Following a Weight-Training Program
- Combine Weights With Other Fat-Loss Strategies
- Burn The Fat
- Build Muscle to Burn More Fat
- Strengthen Your Core
- Training Tips for a Tight Tummy
- Do Ab Belts Work?
- The Mindset
- Lose Belly Fat: What Not to Do
- How to Lose Belly Fat the Right Way
Can I Lose Belly Fat by Lifting Weights?
Cardio isn’t the only way to win the battle of the belly bulge. Weight training effectively builds muscle so your body burns more calories at rest and counters the natural loss of muscle that occurs as you age.
Video of the Day
Even if you don’t experience a huge drop in the number on the scale, weight training will help you lose belly fat and gain muscle. Weight training combined with cardio provides the greatest belly-fat loss.
Research Stands Behind Weight Training
Standard fat-loss advice says you should consume fewer calories than you burn so your body turns to fat stores for fuel, and you subsequently slim down. Weight training doesn’t burn a huge number of calories per session, so it might seem more sensible to spend all your workout time running or cycling to maximize fat loss. However, weight training builds and maintains muscle mass in a way that cardio exercise can’t.
When you build muscle, you increase your body’s ability to burn calories at rest. Muscle tissue requires more calories to maintain than fat. This helps you burn more calories and burn them more efficiently for fat loss all day long, rather than only during the aerobic session.
This means your middle shrinks faster, along with other parts of your body. A study published in a 2013 issue of the International Journal of Cardiology showed that high-intensity resistance training induces faster belly fat loss than cardio activity alone.
Weight Training Prevents Belly Fat Accumulation
Weight training becomes particularly important as you age. It helps mitigate the natural loss of muscle mass and the resulting drop in your metabolism that occurs as you grow older, thus deterring the accumulation of excess fat.
Men who trained 20 minutes every day with weights for 12 years experienced less increase in abdominal fat than those who spent 20 minutes daily doing high-intensity aerobic activity, according to a 2014 study published in Obesity.
Additionally, a 2010 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that post-menopausal women who strength train also experience less middle fat gain than their counterparts who do not.
- A fitness professional can be helpful in designing a balanced weight-training program. They can also assist you in proper form so you get the best results and avoid injury.
Following a Weight-Training Program
Aim for at least two sessions per week that address all the major muscle groups: back, chest, legs, arms, shoulders, abdominals and hips. Do at least one exercise for each of these muscle groups and use a weight that feels heavy after eight to 12 repetitions.
Start with just one set of each exercise and work your way up to three sets over time. When the weight becomes too easy, increase it by 5 to 10 percent.
Combine Weights With Other Fat-Loss Strategies
Make changes to your diet, along with weight training, to experience a greater loss of belly fat. Cut back on refined sugar, refined grains and saturated fat and, if necessary, reduce your overall caloric intake.
When you eat 500 to 1,000 calories fewer than you burn daily, you should lose between 1 and 2 pounds per week. All of these pounds won’t come from your belly, but you’ll eventually see a reduced midsection.
Pair weight training with high-intensity cardio exercise to further accelerate belly fat loss. Teens are particularly responsive to this combination, according to a study published in the Journal of Sports Science in 2014.
Aim for at least 30 minutes per day of moderate-intensity aerobic activity daily, such as brisk walking. Exercise longer and at a greater intensity to see better results.
The Truth: How To Burn Abdominal Fat!
You don’t need to spend a dime to tighten and tone those abdominals. You only need to understand a few things about the human body!
Time to face facts: All those crunches and as-seen-on-TV devices won’t give you a six-pack. What will? Losing the belly fat that covers up your abs, as strong as they may be. Exercise, especially the right kind of cardio, is your ticket to a core you can bounce quarters off.
Burn The Fat
The best way to slim down in the middle is to do plenty of cardiovascular exercise. Some good examples of this are:
But no matter which activity you choose, the best cardio to burn fat is strategic. Either do high-intensity interval training (HIIT), very low-intensity cardio like walking, or ideally, a mix of both.
As the fat within your muscles decreases, you will appear more toned and less flabby.
Build Muscle to Burn More Fat
Toning along with cardiovascular work will speed up and improve the process, but don’t think that you only need to work on your abs. This is another misconception. The truth is that when you work all the larger muscle groups, adding more mass to your muscles, you rev up your metabolism to heights it has never before reached.
Large Muscle Groups To Concentrate On:
- Front and back of thighs
- Triceps and biceps
Your muscles need extra calories to maintain themselves, so more of the food you eat will be feeding your muscles instead of your trouble spots. Your conditioned heart (from the cardiovascular stuff) is more effective at burning calories as well, so you have the golden combination there.
As the fat comes off your body, it will come off your belly. Your body fat is like one organ, located throughout your body, and you can’t take it off just one spot unless you have liposuction done.
Always work your abs at the end of your workout. There’s a good reason for this. You are indirectly using them for all the other exercises you do.
The abs are important stabilizer muscles that keep your form in check. If you do abs first, you will tire them out, and your whole workout will be less than optimal. Work down from the largest to the smallest muscles.
Strengthen Your Core
Doing core exercises is still important, though. Crunches and Janda sit-ups primarily work the largest abdominal muscle, the rectus abdominis, which flexes the spine. This muscle compresses the abdomen to a point, but there are other muscles you need to pay attention to, as well.
The internal and external obliques, which I like to call “nature’s girdle,” are located at the sides of the rectus abdominis. They are the muscles you use when you bend sideways at the spine or twist at the waist. They also contract to compress the abdomen, so you should work them just as hard as you work the rectus abdominis. Adding a twist to crunches works, as well as dumbbell side bends, but be careful not to use any jerky motions, especially if you’ve had back problems.
The transversus abdominal muscles are located at your sides, below the obliques. Often called “lower abs,” these are the muscles that women who are trying to lose their belly after pregnancy should concentrate on. Exercises that call for raising the legs instead of the upper body are effective at strengthening the transversus.
Training Tips for a Tight Tummy
Walking puts all of the abdominal muscles to work. Make sure you swing your arms and contract your midsection while you walk, and maintain a brisk pace. Once you get your body accustomed to a daily walk, you’ll hate to go a day without it. Walk for at least thirty minutes each time to achieve the aerobic effect, and be sure to drink plenty of water.
Weight training not only helps the metabolism, but it also strengthens the bones. Adding muscle also does wonders for your energy level and self-esteem as you age.
Yoga is equally effective at strengthening your body, especially your abs and back. It improves the posture tremendously to create a taller, leaner appearance. Pilates and many mat-based exercises are also great alternatives. The important thing is that you find an activity you like to do. This will greatly improve your odds of sticking with it.
Do Ab Belts Work?
Many television ads are now pitching devices that supposedly stimulate muscles to contract repeatedly without exercise. I even saw an infomercial for an “ab belt” that claimed it does the work of 700 sit-ups in 10 minutes! The ad shows people doing various abdominal exercises the wrong way, hating every second of it, versus smiling men and women going about their days with “Ab-whatevers” strapped around them. How enticing!
Several people in these ads claim to have lost inches around their waist as a result of using these products. Men with six-pack abs credit the device. This is feeding the viewership’s disillusionment about how to lose belly fat. Strengthening your abs alone (and these machines couldn’t possibly do much of that) just won’t do it.
Why is this? Because of the fat! If a heavy woman does hundreds of crunches a day, she may develop strong abs, and they might tighten up a bit, but they’ll still be hidden by fat, and she won’t look any thinner.
About 50 percent of your body fat is located directly beneath the skin. Do you know where most of the rest of it is? Inside the muscles. Doing crunches will not get rid of this fat, and neither will the vibrating belt in the television ads.
The most important thing you need to do is to program yourself mentally. Don’t use a scale to measure your progress. If you work out with weights, you may gain a few pounds while losing inches around the waist. Instead, use that pair of jeans that you want to fit into again, or a pair that fits you now. You’ll see a slight change every few weeks, and that should give you confidence.
Walk as tall as you can. Do back and leg stretches daily to improve your posture. When you’re driving to work, sit up nice and straight and adjust the rear-view mirror so that you’ll know when you’re slouching. Don’t let your shoulders fall forward when you’re at your desk. You can look a size smaller just by doing these things.
I hate to say it. We’ve all seen people with “good genes” and wondered if they had any idea how lucky they are. They probably don’t, but that’s okay. Consider it a character-building experience. If you blame your ancestors for excess flesh in the middle, don’t feel helpless. You just have to work a little harder than some others.
You can still sculpt out a slimmer silhouette with cardiovascular exercise, a healthy, balanced, low fat diet and whatever bonus activities you throw in. This may not be a novel approach, but it really works.
I’m not telling you that it’s easy, but it really is pretty simple. In an age where people don’t even have to go outside to grill a steak, it’s tempting to spend a few dollars on a quick fix. Human anatomy hasn’t changed much throughout history, however. If you adopt your grandparents’ work ethic and apply it to your every day life, you will achieve your greatest results.
How to Fight Belly Fat With Resistance Training
Trying to burn belly fat can, at times, seem almost impossible. No matter how much you exercise, you may not see the changes you desire. For best results when trying to lose belly fat, there are specific guidelines to follow. For example, be sure to choose exercises that focus on increasing muscle mass in the abdominal area. Allowing an adequate amount of recovery time between exercise sessions, and including protein and cardiovascular exercise in your routine are also important tips to remember.
Choose the Right Exercises
One of the most important steps when trying to burn belly fat through resistance training is to choose the exercises that target the belly. Sit ups, planks, and bicycles are all great abdominal exercises that are of varying intensity and can be used quite effectively in the burning of belly fat. For best results, alternate the exercises on a regular basis. For example, perform sit ups in one workout, do planks in the next, and use bicycles to target abdominal muscles in the following workout. Changing the types of exercises that are used guarantees that the exercises stay challenging and effective.
Allow Adequate Recovery Time
For best results, it is important to allow adequate recovery time between exercise sessions. Waiting at least one day between resistance training can ensure optimal results when trying to burn belly fat. However, if two days have passed and you still experience high amounts of soreness in the abdominal area, give it some more time. Engaging in resistance training too quickly and without enough recovery can not only result in potential injury. It is also highly likely to decrease the effectiveness of the core exercises.
In order to completely burn belly fat while engaging in strength training exercises, it is important to include high amounts of protein in the diet. Muscles are composed almost entirely from amino acids, which are found in high amounts in protein. Therefore, in order to maintain the increases in muscle mass that occur as a result of increased strength training, it is essential to increase protein intake. Typically, those who are participating in strength training exercises are encouraged to consume at least one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. In contrast, those who are not physical active only require .8 grams of protein per day in order to maintain good health.
Add Cardiovascular Exercise
Finally, adding cardiovascular exercise to your routine may be a great way to produce the best results when burning belly fat. Though resistance training can greatly increase muscle mass, cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, jogging, or biking, can be a better way to decrease fat stores. Studies have shown that for best results, individuals wishing to cut belly fat should aim to include at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise into their exercise routine each day. Fortunately, these 30 minutes don’t need to be done all at the same time. In fact, doing three 10-minute sessions may be just as effective as one 30 minute session.
What’s the best exercise to burn belly fat?
by Jade Teta on February 7, 2012
Jade Teta ND, CSCS
Weight loss is not the same as fat loss. You may be burning calories or losing weight, but there is no guaranteeing those calories and that weight loss has come from fat. Unless, of course, you are doing resistance training. Unlike aerobic exercise, which burns both fat and muscle, resistance training pushes energy usage towards fat loss exclusively. It is a little known fact among the exercising public, but weight training has several mechanisms that make it ideal for fat burning. One of which is the ability to target fat loss to specific areas, like the belly. As a matter of fact, weight training should be the chosen modality among exercisers attempting to lose belly fat.
Calories and Fat loss
In order to lose weight, you need to burn calories. But in order to ensure that the weight lost is fat, you need to change hormones. This is why weight training is so powerful at burning fat and why it is especially beneficial for belly fat. In order to understand how this works, you need to know a little bit about the physiology of fat.
On every fat cell there are receptors. These receptors are like little keyholes and when they are opened they turn on all the cellular machinery needed to release fat from its storage compartments. The keys that open these receptors are hormones. When it comes to belly fat there is a certain class of hormones that is most important. These hormones are called catecholamines and include adrenaline. When adrenaline docks to its receptor on a fat cell, it sets into motion a host of physiological processes that burn fat and decrease muscle loss.
You can burn as many calories as you want, but if you don’t stimulate the release of adrenaline, you are going to be less efficient at burning fat. This is why slow plotting aerobic exercise just does not cut it. Intensity is the only way to turn on the release of adrenaline and high-intensity weight training is great at making this happen.
As it turns out, belly fat is very rich in the type of receptors that adrenaline reacts with. These receptors are called b-receptors. Since belly fat is so rich in b-receptors, it would make sense that adrenaline would be able to drive fat burning in this area in a very efficient way, and it does. However, this is not the only way weight training excels at burning belly fat.
Lactic acid and Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
Intense weight training and adrenaline release go hand and hand. However, the belly busting effect of adrenaline’s action on b-receptors is only the beginning of the story. When adrenaline is released in the body, it sets into motion a hugely powerful metabolic cascade that delivers the ultimate in fat burning and muscle building.
When adrenaline is released, in addition to burning fat, it also causes the release of blood sugar. When sugar is burned during high-intensity activity where oxygen becomes limited, the body will switch to anaerobic metabolism. This is where sugar is burned without oxygen and lactic acid is created as a byproduct. Most people think of lactic acid as metabolic waste, but it is actually a signaling molecule. As lactic acid levels build up, it triggers the release of HGH and testosterone. These two hormones are two of the most powerful fat burning and muscle building hormones known and they have special action on belly fat. HGH opposes the fat storing action of cortisol at the belly, and testosterone leads to the production of greater numbers of b-receptors in belly fat. The synergistic actions of these two hormones provide enhanced burning of belly fat during exercise and also make it more susceptible to fat loss at future exercise sessions. And because of their action on cortisol, they make it less likely to accumulate fat in the first place.
A recent study out of East Carolina University and published in Volume 102 of the Journal of Applied Physiology demonstrates weight training’s ability to burn belly fat both during and long after the workout is over. Subjects in this study had probes inserted in the subcutaneous fat around the belly. These probes stayed in place before, during, and 45 minutes after exercise. The participants did a full body resistance-training workout that consisted of heavy weights done for 3 sets of 10 reps using several full body exercises. At the end of the study, researchers found that resistance training increased the usage of abdominal fat during exercise and for at least 40 minutes after exercise. Another similar study published in the 2005 journal Diabetologia Vol. 48 showed 3 months of resistance training in obese men drastically improved fat breakdown at the belly through stimulation of b-receptors. And two earlier studies done in the 1980’s, one in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (vol 16) and the other published in the International Journal of Sports medicine (vol 8), showed that resistance training drastically increased adrenaline release when compared to endurance exercise of equal energy expenditure.
Finally, a recent study shows that resistance training done only twice per week can stop the typical age related fat gain around the middle. This study was funded by the NIH and was presented at a 2003 meeting of the American Heart Association. 164 obese women were followed for two years. One group was told to do 30 minutes to one hour of aerobic activity every day and the other group entered into a structured weight-training program twice per week. At the end of the study, the aerobic group had a 21% increase in belly fat while the weight trained group only had a 7% increase. While much of these results can be explained by lack of adherence, the researchers highlighted the fact that twice per week weight training was very well tolerated and accepted and had a major impact on age related belly fat accumulation.
Weight training is often seen as a good way to build muscle, but is rarely seen as a viable fat loss modality. However, scieince is quickly showing aerobic exercise is unable to provide some of the same fat loss benefits as resistance exercise. In order to burn belly fat, aerobic exercise and resistance training should be combined, but weight lifting should be the primary activity. When it comes to belly fat, resistance training should be a priority.
Belly Fat: 12 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight
Getting rid of your belly bulge is important for more than just vanity’s sake. Excess abdominal fat-particularly visceral fat, the kind that surrounds your organs and puffs your stomach into a “beer gut”-is a predictor of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and some cancers. If diet and exercise haven’t done much to reduce your pooch, then your hormones, your age and other genetic factors may be the reason why. Read on for 11 possible reasons why your belly fat won’t budge.
You drink a lot of alcohol
Booze has a lot more calories than you might expect: 153 for a 12-ounce regular beer and 125 for a 5-ounce pour of red wine. (Don’t even get us started on the piña colada, which packs 500 calories into just nine ounces.) But alcohol may be widening to your waistline in another less obvious way. The calories in alcohol can’t be stored for later, so the body’s metabolism has to focus on alcohol first when it’s in the body. This diverts it from its task of burning fat, and fat burn especially drops in the belly. But there is such a thing as drinking responsibly for weight loss. Older women who drink about one alcoholic beverage per per day seem to gain less weight over time than women who don’t drink, probably because they keep other healthy behaviors and are more physically active.
You’re getting older
As you get older, your body changes how it gains and loses weight. Both men and women experience a declining metabolic rate, or the number of calories the body needs to function normally. On top of that, women have to deal with menopause. “If women gain weight after menopause, it’s more likely to be in their bellies,” says Michael Jensen, M.D., professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic’s endocrinology division. In menopause, production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone slows down. Meanwhile, testosterone levels also start to drop, but at a slower rate. This shift in hormones causes women to hold on to weight in their bellies. The good news: you can fight this process. Read on.
You’re doing the wrong workout
A daily run or Spin class is great for your heart, but cardio workouts alone won’t do much for your waist. “You need to do a combination of weights and cardiovascular training,” says Sangeeta Kashyap, M.D., an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. Strength training increases muscle mass, which sets your body up to burn more fat. “Muscle burns more calories than fat, and therefore you naturally burn more calories throughout the day by having more muscle,” says Kate Patton, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. Patton recommends 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 125 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week.
You’re eating too many processed foods
“Refined grains like white bread, crackers and chips, as well as refined sugars in sweetened drinks and desserts increase inflammation in our bodies,” says Patton. “Belly fat is associated with inflammation, so eating too many processed foods will hinder your ability to lose belly fat.” Natural foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains are full of antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may therefore actually prevent belly fat, Patton says.
You’re eating the wrong fats
The body doesn’t react to all fats in the same way. Research correlates high intake of saturated fat (the kind in meat and dairy) to increased visceral fat, says Patton. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats (the kind in olive oil and avocados) and specific types of polyunsaturated fats (mainly omega-3s, found in walnuts, sunflower seeds, and fatty fish like salmon) have anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and if eaten in proper portions may do your body good. But Patton warns that eating too much fat of any kind increases your calorie intake and could lead to weight gain, so enjoy healthy fats in moderation.
Your workout isn’t challenging enough
To banish stubborn belly fat, you have to ramp up your workouts. In a study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, people who completed a high-intensity workout regimen lost more belly fat than those who followed a low-intensity plan. (In fact, the low-intensity exercises experienced no significant changes at all.) “You need to exercise at full intensity because the end goal is to burn more calories, and high intensity exercise does just that,” says Natalie Jill, a San Diego–based certified personal trainer. High intensity workouts mean you’re going all out for as long as you can. If this sounds intimidating, think of it this way: you’ll burn more calories in less time.
You’re doing the wrong exercises
Doing crunches until the cows come home? Stop it! When you’re down to your final inches of belly fat, the dreaded crunch won’t be the exercise that finally reveals your six-pack. “You can’t spot reduce,” Jill says. Instead, she suggests doing functional exercises that use the muscles in your core — abdominals, back, pelvic, obliques — as well as other body parts. “These exercises use more muscles, so there is a higher rate of calorie burn while you are doing them,” she says. Planks are her favorite functional exercise — they activate not just your core muscles but also your arm, leg and butt muscles.
How Protein Shakes Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat
Protein is an important nutrient for weight loss.
Getting enough can boost your metabolism, reduce your appetite and help you lose body fat without losing muscle.
Protein shakes are an easy way to add more protein to your diet, and have been shown to help with weight loss.
This article explains everything you need to know about protein shakes and how they affect your weight.
Protein shakes are drinks made by mixing protein powder with water, although other ingredients are often added as well.
They can be a convenient addition to the diet, especially when access to quality high-protein foods is limited.
Although most people don’t need them to meet daily protein requirements, they can also be useful if you need to increase your intake for some reason.
You can buy protein powder and mix it yourself, but you can also get many different brands of pre-made liquid shakes.
Some of the most popular types of protein powder on the market are:
- Whey protein: Quickly absorbed, dairy-based. Contains all the essential amino acids (1).
- Casein protein: Slowly absorbed, dairy-based. Contains all essential amino acids (1).
- Soy protein: Plant-based and contains all essential amino acids. Also contains soy isoflavones, which may provide some health benefits (2).
- Hemp protein: Plant-based and high in omega-3 and omega-6 fats, but low in the essential amino acid lysine (3).
- Rice protein: Plant-based and low in the essential amino acid lysine (3).
- Pea protein: Plant-based and low in the non-essential amino acids cystine and methionine (4).
Some brands contain a mix of different types of protein powder. For example, many plant-based brands combine types to complement each other’s amino acid profile.
Bottom Line: Protein shakes can contain different types of protein, each with its own characteristics.
Protein can decrease hunger and appetite in two main ways.
First, it increases levels of appetite-reducing hormones like GLP-1, PYY and CCK, while reducing levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin (5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
Second, protein helps you feel full for longer (10, 11).
In one study, a high-protein breakfast helped participants consume up to 135 fewer calories later in the day (12).
In another, overweight men who had been on a weight loss diet increased their protein intake to 25% of total calories. This increase cut cravings by 60% and late-night snacking by half (13).
Increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of total calories helped participants in another study consume 441 fewer calories per day without actively trying to limit their portions (14).
What’s more, by the end of the 12-week study period, they had lost an average of 11 lbs (5 kg) (14).
These shakes can be a convenient way to add extra protein to your diet. However, keep in mind that too much can still lead to excess calories.
Another study found that shakes containing 20-80 grams of protein all decreased hunger by 50-65%, regardless of the amount of protein in their shakes (15).
So if you’re trying to lose weight, 20 grams per shake seems sufficient to reduce hunger.
Bottom Line: Protein can decrease your appetite by affecting your hunger hormones. It can also help you feel full for longer, which can help you eat less and lose body fat.
High protein intake can boost your metabolism, helping you burn slightly more calories each day (16, 17).
That’s in part because a high-protein diet — especially when combined with strength training — may help you build muscle.
This can speed up your metabolism because muscle burns more calories than fat.
One study gave obese participants shakes with either 200 or 0 grams of extra protein per week.
Those given the protein gained 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg) more mass following a 13-week training program (18).
In another study, researchers gave participants a combination of foods and shakes providing either 0.5 g/lbs or 1.1 g/lbs (1.2 g/kg or 2.4 g/kg) of protein per day.
After 6 weeks, those on the higher-protein diet gained 2.4 lbs (1.1 kg) more muscle and lost 2.9 lbs (1.3 kg) more fat (19).
It should be noted, however, that your ability to gain muscle during a weight loss diet may depend on the amount of muscle you already have (20).
Protein can also increase metabolism because of the amount of calories needed to digest and metabolize it. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF).
For instance, 15-30% of protein calories are burned during digestion, while only 5-10% of carb calories and 0-3% of fat calories are burned during digestion (21).
Bottom Line: Protein helps boost metabolism because a lot of energy is spent digesting and metabolizing it. It also helps you build muscle, which burns more calories than fat.
Researchers generally agree that high-protein diets can help you lose more fat, especially fat from the belly area (22, 23).
In one study, participants on a diet providing 25% of calories as protein lost 10% more belly fat after 12 months than those eating half that amount (24).
In another, participants given an extra 56 grams of whey protein per day had lost 5 lbs (2.3 kg) more at the end of a 23-week study period, despite not consciously changing anything else in their diet (25).
A separate study compared the effect of various weight loss diets. The participants consuming more protein lost 31 lbs (14.1 kg) in 3 months — 23% more than those consuming less (26).
In one final study, participants on diets providing 30% of calories from protein lost 8.1 lbs (3.7 kg) more than those on diets providing 15% of calories from protein (13).
Bottom Line: Protein shakes are a convenient way to increase your daily protein intake. This can help boost fat loss, especially from around your mid-section.
How to Lose Belly Fat (For Good!)
It’s women’s number-one nemesis, but blasting belly fat—and keeping it off—isn’t about logging hours on the treadmill. And thank goodness for that. Read on to learn about the super-efficient exercise that helps you lose belly fat in only 25 minutes a day.
If you hate the treadmill, we’ve got good news for you: Minute per minute, weight training fights belly fat better than cardio does, according to new research published in Obesity.
For the study, researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) examined the physical activity, waist circumference, and body weight of 10,500 healthy men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study from 1996 to 2008.
Over the study’s 12 years, the guys who spent 20 minutes a day weight training (lifting free weights, working on weight machines, and performing body-weight strength moves) had a smaller increase in age-related abdominal fat compared with men who completed moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise for the same amount of time—even though those who performed aerobic exercise actually lost more weight than the lifters did.
That’s right: Weight training is the trick when it comes to losing belly fat. Unlike aerobic exercise, which burns both fat and muscle, weight lifting burns fat while building muscle, says lead author Rania Mekary, PhD, a researcher with the HSPH. That’s a vital combination when it comes to blasting belly fat, which tends to increase with age and is linked to diabetes and heart disease. “Weight training reverses exactly what happens as we age—losing muscle mass and gaining fat,” she says.
Plus, by increasing your metabolic rate in both the 48 hours after exercise and over the long term, weight training does a double whammy on belly fat, she says. And as women’s bodies naturally have less muscle and more fat compared to men’s, strength training may be even more important for keeping female bellies flat.
Still, that doesn’t mean you should skip the treadmill altogether, says Mekary, who notes that the study participants who combined aerobic and strength training enjoyed the best results.
Her best advice on how to lose belly fat? Perform aerobic exercises like running, biking, or swimming one to two times a week, and resistance train at least three times a week. (Each session only needs to be 25 minutes, including a post-workout stretch.)
And as far as the weight training exercises you need to hit, just mix it up so that you hit all of your major muscle groups each week, says Mekary. If you want to perform total-body circuits every day or would rather schedule a leg day, arm day, and core day, it’s up to you.
How to Lose Belly Fat Fast – Flab Busting Tips for Men and Women
Looking to lose belly fat fast that you put on over time from a little bit of that ‘good living’? It’s alright, so are plenty of other men and women. Thanks to a variety of lifestyle factors, a chubby belly is not an uncommon occurrence. Sitting at desks all day, long TV marathons with an abundance of snacks, driving to places which are in walking distance, and poor meal choices will all contribute to a little more junk in the trunk than you might want.
Belly fat creeps up on you. It’s not like you wake up one morning 10 pounds heavier and sporting a beer gut, it’s put on in lumps throughout the year. A birthday here, a celebration there.
Intersperse them with a few takeaways and beers and soon enough the mirror is showing you a different picture to the one you want.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to lose belly fat (and keep it gone). It’s not as tricky as you think, either. Healthy eating isn’t bland, exercise doesn’t have to be boring, and losing weight isn’t about ruining your social life. Losing belly fat can be an enjoyable experience that’s not too hard once you use a few helpful techniques.
However, let’s start with what you shouldn’t do.
Lose Belly Fat: What Not to Do
1. Do 100 sit-ups everyday hoping you’ll get a six pack
Sit-ups can be a useful and effective exercise for strengthening the abs. However, doing them every day is just going to leave you sore and frustrated with your lack of results. Ab training is a good tool to have under your belt, but the first step to seeing your abs is to lose the fat covering them.
2. Commit to any fad diets
90% of the time that new and exciting diet your friend has been raving about only works short-term. Fad diets work on absolutes such as cutting out a certain macronutrient (carbs, fat or protein) or a specific type of food. Every diet that works for losing weight works on one process: calorie balance. The calories you take in versus the calories you burn are the ultimate driving factor behind weight loss and weight gain. There are diets which make this process easier, but nothing bypasses it. Most fad diets work don’t teach sustainable, long-term habits which means people end up wasting their time and ending back at square one. Not good.
3. Cut out all junk or ‘unhealthy’ foods
In a similar fashion to fad diets, cutting out certain foods that you enjoy can lead to cravings and binge eating. For instance, if you really love pizza, cutting it out is only going to make you want it more and make you feel bad or guilty when you eat it. The trick is to learn how to incorporate it into your diet to reduce cravings and make the diet more enjoyable.
4. Weigh yourself each morning
Weight and fat are too very different things. Weight refers to everything on and in your body: muscle, bone, liquid, fat, etc. Therefore, losing or gaining weight doesn’t mean you’ve lost or gained fat, it just means something’s changed in your body. It’s not about what happens day to day, it’s about what happens on a consistent basis. To get a good view of your weight, stepping on the scales twice per week should be more than enough. Once per week also works. If your weight is gradually decreasing on average, then you can be sure what you’re doing is right. There’s no point in beating yourself up because you woke up a little heavier one day as most likely it’s just a little bit more water being retained.
Also, make sure to weigh yourself at the same time. You’ll most likely gain weight over the course of the day because of all the food you’re eating. Try to weigh yourself each morning after a trip to the toilet to get the most accurate and consistent reading.
5. Miss out on seeing your friends and family because it doesn’t work with your exercise routine or diet
As we’ve already said, for a diet to be truly effective, it needs to work long term. Therefore, your diet and lifestyle also need to keep you happy. If you’re losing friends or skipping occasions in order to change how you look, then you’re either not going to feel as good at the end of your journey or you’re going to cut yourself short. Either way, each ends up with stress and suboptimal results. You’re not going to stay dedicated and motivated if your social life is dwindling. Remember, your diet needs to work for you as much as you’re working for it.
So, now you know exactly what not to do, it’d be pretty helpful to find out what you should do to lose belly fat, right?
How to Lose Belly Fat the Right Way
1. Find Exercise That You Enjoy
One of the biggest reasons why people believe they can’t lose weight is because they don’t enjoy exercise. The thing is, as soon as you attach that label to yourself, it becomes harder and harder to remove it. The secret is finding exercise that you enjoy. When you’re first starting to try and lose weight, don’t worry about what’s best, just focus on what works for you. Weightlifting, cycling, running, football, athletics, rowing, swimming, powerlifting – the list is endless and so are your choices. The first step to losing stubborn body fat is getting into the routine of exercise and making it part of your lifestyle. Once it’s a regular and not unusual occurrence, then you can focus on what’s optimal.
2. Start Resistance Training
Once you’ve got into a regular routine involving frequent physical activity, the next step is incorporating some form of resistance training. Compound movements involving multiple joints will not only work the most muscles, but burn the most calories. Focus on the six big lifts: the squat, the deadlift, the pull-up, rows, the overhead press, and the bench press. All together these hit each and every muscle in your body.
Forget body-part splits of legs, shoulders, chest, arms, and back, too. Not only do these take up a lot of time, they’re also sub optimal for beginner and intermediate lifters. Three-days a week is the minimum amount of resistance training sessions with four being preferred. If you follow a three-day split, follow a full body routine each time. If you’re going for four, then follow a lower body/upper body split. This will spike MPS (muscle-protein synthesis: the process by which your body builds more muscle) more times in each area, leading to more muscle growth.
Why build more muscle? Unlike fat, muscle is metabolically active, meaning that it burns calories when it’s on your body. This means you’ll burn more calories at rest leading to further fat gain. Not to mention, when trying to lose belly fat you still want to hold onto your muscle so that you look more toned and defined as you lose fat opposed to just smaller and weaker. Fat loss is the goal, not just weight loss.
3. Increase Your Protein Intake
There are a lot of benefits to increasing your protein intake when trying to lose weight. First of all, following on from resistance training, protein helps to spare muscle mass when trying to lose fat. The more muscle you have, the better you’ll look and the more fat you’ll lose.
Secondly, protein is extremely satiating, the most so out of the three macronutrients. This means that you’re less likely to overeat and more likely to feel full on a lower calorie diet, making eating for weight loss easier.
Lastly, out of the three macronutrients, protein is the least likely to be converted into fat. The process of converting protein into fat is extremely inefficient.
4. Use the 80/20 Rule
Instead of trying to eliminate things from your diet completely, the 80/20 rule allows for some leeway whilst still keeping you on track for your goal. When first embarking on a weight loss diet, many people will work on extremes and absolute. How many people do you know who cut out all carbs? Or remove fats? Or follow a smoothie diet? Or only eat past a certain time? None of these allow for any flexibility and therefore, are hard to keep up long-term.
The 80/20 simply means eating whole, natural, ‘healthy’ foods 80% of the time and then saving 20% of the time for those sweet treats or more-unhealthy options. The ratio is just a guideline so don’t think that you have to stick to it rigidly. The predominant driving factor is to eat fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, and whole grains most of the time whilst allowing yourself a few cravings every now and again. This limits the chance of binging, helps improve adherence and also makes losing fat more enjoyable. Also, it shows you how no one food is ‘bad’, it’s just that the devil is in the dose.
5. Try Counting Calories (And Don’t Cut Them Too Low)
Counting calories can seem like a trivial task, but actually it’s a great way to learn more about the foods you eat. Chances are that you don’t have a good idea about the amount of calories, fat, protein, carbs, and salt your food contains. Tracking helps you become informed and also guess more accurately when you don’t have access to the nutritional content. This can make sticking to your diet when you’re out and about much easier as well as helping with your body composition goals in the future. You don’t need to track all the time, just two to three days a week should do it. Yet, tracking every day for set amount of time, such as a month, can also be useful.
You also don’t want to cut your calories too low or you’ll risk losing some of that precious muscle. It’ll also make the diet harder to stick to. Furthermore, when your metabolism eventually adapts, you’ll have to eat even less to drop more weight. Just stick to the MED (minimum effective dose) which is about 300 calories less than your daily caloric needs. Track your weight over a period of two weeks. If the trend is erring on the side of weight loss, then you know you’re doing the right thing. If you’re gaining or maintaining your weight, then you’ll need to lower your calories further.
6. Enjoy the Process, Not Just the Result
Last, but by no means least, you need to enjoy the process as much as you enjoy the eventual results. Time is precious and should not be wasted on being upset, stressed, and frustrated. The process may not always be easy, but it shouldn’t have you tearing your hair out. If you are feeling particularly down in the dumps about your exercise or diet, then something’s got to change.
These tips for how to lose belly fat will get you off to the best start possible, just remember it takes a bit of hard work and patience to see results.