How to Get Rid of Belly Fat | 11 Ways to Lose Belly Fat for Good

InVite Health

We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

You Asked: How to Get Rid of Belly Fat Safely & Sustainably

Follow these 11 expert tips for long term success

how to lose belly fat, best way to lose belly fat, how to lose belly fat naturally
Gu Studio

If you've searched "how to get rid of belly fat" or "the best way to lose belly fat" and landed here, know you're not alone. The truth is that stubborn belly fat (and hard to lose lower belly fat) can be a source of insecurity for many people. 77% of UK women surveyed* by Women's Health said they'd like to slim down, with 43% saying that an undefined stomach is their biggest insecurity when naked in front of a partner.

Plus, after over a year of having our daily movement drastically changed by shifting lockdown measures, the worry of having moved less (our NEAT exercise has plummeted) might be playing on your mind, too. Fortunately, we have 11 easy steps you can take to help move more and lose body fat safely and sustainably.

A quick caveat: This guide will absolutely not answer the question of ‘how can I lose belly fat in a week’. Sustainable weight loss, underpinned by healthy habits and lifestyle change, is the key to long term results. Not Crash dieting often ends in renewed weight gain and an emotional rollercoaster that could take months or years to recover from.

What is belly fat?

First things first. Before we talk about how to get rid of belly fat, it’s important to know exactly what it is we’re talking about.

'Belly fat or abdominal fat is the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that sits around the waist and provides a store of energy, and also protection and heat, for the organs,' says Tarik Belalij, personal trainer and nutritionist at Everyone Active Becontree Leisure Centre.

'Small amounts of fat below the skin is normal and healthy, it is the visceral fat, which surrounds the organs that can be the most dangerous type of fat – leading to heart attacks and diabetes.'

How do you know if you’ve got this type of fat situation going on? 'Excessive visceral fat is what causes the "beer gut" (also known as belly "pooch"), pushing the stomach out from the inside,' Belalij says. So, to reiterate, we’re not talking bloating, which comes and goes, we're talking about actual belly fat tissue.

How much body fat should you have?

Women do need some belly fat to function – fat cells store oestrogen, so have too little and your whole hormonal function can go out of equilibrium, causing serious health issues such as irregular periods and even infertility.

Striving for rippled abs or trying to get a six-pack, for most, wouldn't be healthy. Instead, aim to sit within the 21-30% body fat category. This is what's considered a healthy body fat percentage range for women.

Not in that category? Let's talk about what steps you should take to improve your composition and health.

11 tips to successfully lose belly fat for good

Trying to get rid of stubborn belly fat comes down to nailing a number of things. It's not all about how to lose belly fat fast, drastically stripping back calories or doing really hard gym workouts. Now, don't get us wrong – nutrition and daily movement are crucial. But managing your stress and looking after your sleep is key, too.

So, if you're ready, let's get into everything you need to know to lose belly fat.

1. Learn how many calories your body needs

    Not to recycle the old adage but you really can't out-exercise a bad diet. To lose belly fat (and this goes for all body fat), you need to be in a calorie deficit. This means consuming fewer calories than you're expending through exercise and general living.

    'When it comes to knowing how to lose belly fat, the best way to start is to watch what you eat,' Belalij says. 'When you digest large amounts of calories, your body allocates some of these to functional systems which work to keep you alive (think the brain, muscles and organs),' says Belalij. 'It also uses it to fill up energy stores. Any excess is then stored in fat cells around the body – typically being those of the belly.'

    To calculate a calorie deficit, peep our handy guide below. It'll help you work out how many calories you need to eat a day to hit your goals. (We'll get onto what foods to focus on shortly!)

    calorie deficit calculator

    Worried about the price of healthy eating? Stock up on cheap healthy snacks. By having healthier food in the house you're less likely to face-plant the sugary stuff when hunger strikes.

    2. Prioritise nutrient-dense foods

    It's not all about eating less. Music to our ears, we're sure you'll agree. Rather than simply cutting down on cals, you need to consider the kind of food you're consuming. (In most cases you actually have to eat a lot more nutrient dense food to hit the same calorie count as processed ones.)

    Belalij suggests building meals around lots of nutrient-rich vegetables, a source of protein and some healthy, unprocessed carbs. 'Start with leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens, then add carrots, broccoli and peas.

    'Lean meats, including turkey and chicken, are ideal as they are lower in fat and therefore calories, or, if you are vegetarian/vegan, add in tofu or a handful of nuts such as pine, cashew or almonds and a sprinkling of seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin). When it comes to carbohydrates, rice, quinoa and potatoes are perfect.'

    Your best course of action is to make small, manageable changes, and figure out what's most sustainable for you. Remember: we're after long term change, not short-lived tweaks. That said, cutting down on processed foods will likely help with water retention so it's good news for anyone desperately searching for 'how to lose belly fat in a week'.


    4 foods to reduce if you're trying to lose belly fat

    1. Processed foods: Dense in calories, carbs, fats and sugars, these are essentially a belly fat inducing combination – typically they’re nutritionally unsatisfying but mood-wise pretty feel good, meaning you can’t help but eat more. And more.
    2. Alcohol: Seven cals per gram may not sound like much but one or two G&Ts later and they soon add up. Plus, because the breakdown of alcohol is prioritised, its energy quickly tops up glycogen supplies with the remainder being stored as fat.
    3. Inflammatory foods: These could be types of sugar or simply any food that doesn’t agree with you, as this causes your stomach to flare up, sending the body into panic mode and increasing fat storage as a safety mechanism.
    4. Sauces and dressing: Read unnecessary hidden calories. Flavour your food with calorie-free herbs and spices, instead.

      3. Consider macro counting

      If you're a little more familiar with counting calories and want to fine-tune your fat loss efforts, it might be time to consider learning how to count and calculate your macros.

      "Counting macros" is a diet technique to make sure you're eating the right amounts of each macronutrient – protein, fat and carbohydrates. By tweaking the volume of each you can make your fat loss efforts more efficient.

      This is because each macronutrient plays a different role in keeping our bodies ticking over. In broad strokes: protein helps to build and maintain muscle tissue, carbohydrates provide fast and slow-release energy and fat supports healthy hormone function.

      Tweaking the volumes you eat can help build muscle and lose body fat more efficiently, as well as allowing you to re-incorporate some of your favourite foods. Because you're looking at what makes up what you eat, foods that are less nutrient-dense can be incorporated (in moderation). All you'll need to do is work out how that impacts the rest of your day.

      Counting macros isn't for everyone, but it can be a helpful guide if you find counting calories too restrictive.

      how to calculate macros, women's health uk

      4. Increase your NEAT

      We've been conditioned to think that super hard exercise is going to be the thing to help us lose belly fat. In fact – surprise, surprise – it's much more holistic than that. Instead of hammering the HIIT, keeping your nutrition, exercise and general movement in check are all important.

      Outside of gym workouts (and home workouts), the movement you're doing walking to the shops, making a cup of tea or taking your pooch out to stretch their legs can contribute more to hitting your healthy fat loss goals. This is known as NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) and is a cornerstone of healthy body composition.

      'NEAT simply refers to the energy used carrying out any daily activity that isn't formal exercise (e.g. running or resistance training) or sleeping,' says Elliott Upton, personal trainer at Ultimate Performance and Head of LiveUP Online Coaching.

      NEAT plays a major role in how much energy you expend per day (aka how many calories you burn) and increasing your metabolic rate. It also helps control your blood sugar, aid muscle recovery, lower stress levels and improve cardiovascular health.

      You can increase your NEAT by walking instead of taking public transport, opting for the stairs over the elevator or doing household chores.

      Get around everything you need to know about NEAT exercise with our full explainer.

      5. Ignore the "best exercises for belly fat" and "belly fat exercises"

      Think smashing out crunches every day will get you abs like J.Lo? Think again. 'While crunches will help strengthen your abdominals and core muscles, they’re not enough in isolation to burn calories,' Luke Hughes, Origym PT says.

      Instead, Hughes recommends a rounded bodyweight or free weights workout routine done at high intensity as the best way to lose belly fat. These sessions will help to burn calories and increase muscle mass, which will, in turn, taps into your body fat stores – even within a limited time period.

      Do note though, too much HIIT can elevate cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body. Aim for three to four sessions per week and make sure you're allowing your body plenty of time and space to recover.

      'Burning calories through cardio exercise like this helps to burn belly fat, particularly when we operate at a calorie deficit,' says Hughes. 'Try adding star jumps and mountain climbers into your workouts.'

      Cardio workouts to lose belly fat

        'The key to continually improving and losing belly fat is to scale up your workouts every week. Incrementally increase the intensity and load of your workouts, and you will soon see improvements to your fitness,' says Hughes.

        6. Watch your stress

        'Stress may be an evolutionary response that helps keep us alive,' says performance nutritionist and qualified dietitian, Tom Irving, 'but frequent and persistent doses can elevate cortisol levels, which is both inflammatory as well as antilipolytic (anti-fat burning).'

        Why? Well, when we're in "flight or flight" mode, the body releases glucose (energy) into the blood to prepare you for a difficult situation, explains Catherine Rabess, dietitian and NHS dietetic manager.

        'Once the adrenaline wears off the blood glucose (energy) levels drop, leaving the brain to send signals of hunger and increasing appetite. This could be in the form of sugary cravings. It's completely normal.'

        Often, this kind of stress is associated with unhealthy habits like emotional eating, not getting enough sleep, skipping meals, eating quick and accessible fast food and exercising less, she adds – all of which can lead to unhealthy weight gain.

        Add a year plus of upheaval to the mix and you'll understand why this might be a period of time where you're finding it more difficult to lose body fat. This isn't something to beat yourself up over. It just means you may need to be more vigilant about managing your stress as much as you can by controlling what's controllable and reminding yourself that losing body fat needn't be your biggest priority right now.

        7. Look at the quality of your sleep

        Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep, too. Yes, it can help combat under-eye bags but, according to the University of Leeds, adults who get more than six hours of sleep per night are likely to carry 3cm less around their waist.

        Head to bed (and eat your dinner) earlier and follow the WH how to get to sleep guide to ensure a lack of shut-eye doesn’t hold you back from losing belly fat.

        8. Get outside

        According to Hughes, a lack of sunlight can increase levels of belly fat. Indeed, findings presented at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting, revealed that, in women, both total and abdominal fat were associated with lower levels of vitamin D.

        In addition to sunlight, vitamin D can be obtained from food and supplements. Check out nutritionist Rob Hobson’s guide to overcoming a vitamin D deficiency.

        If you're not sure how to make the most of your time outside why not try this month-long walking for weight loss plan or learn to run for 30 minutes comfortably with a four-week running plan.

        9. Track progress in a healthy way

        'Remember that scales don’t take into account muscle mass so the best way to check your progress is by taking pictures,' says Belalij. 'Take them in the morning under the same lighting and compare your physique each week. If you check your belly in the mirror every day, chances are you won’t notice any differences, which could be disheartening.'

        If you do prefer to go by numbers, invest in a set of smart scales but only weigh yourself once a week.

        10. Set realistic expectations

        One thing to note if you're a 40+ woman: losing belly fat naturally might be harder than before. Let us introduce you to a new word: somatopause. It refers to the time in your life when the growth hormone somatotropin begins to decline, something that happens once you hit your 40s.

        Combined with declining levels of oestrogen and progesterone, fat storage will also tend to move from your hips and thighs to your stomach. But, this isn't the time to go HAM on HIIT workouts. Kate Rowe-Ham, personal trainer and founder of the Fit Hut in Sussex advises focussing on resistance training to build muscle tissue that'll support your metabolism as you age.

        'You can’t spot-reduce fat,' says Rowe-Ham, referring to the myth of removing fat from specific parts of your body. 'Increasing lean body mass by building muscle is the most sustainable way forward if healthy weight loss is the goal.'

        Try these workouts to build muscle and lose belly fat

          11. Think about your gut

          Followed everything above to the letter, but not losing belly fat as quickly as you might like? It could be that the levels of good to bad bacteria in your gut aren’t at their optimum.

          Researchers from Washington University found that people with excess weight, including abdominal fat, tend to have greater numbers of Firmicutes bacteria, suggesting this one could encourage the body to absorb more calories from food. Don’t believe us? Here’s what your poop can tell you about your belly fat.


          Cut through the noise with expert advice, home workouts, easy nutrition and more direct to your inbox. Sign up to the WOMEN'S HEALTH NEWSLETTER

          *Women's Health Naked Survey 2018

          This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
          Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
          More From Weight Loss
          xxfseo.com