7 Simple Steps to Get Rid of Belly Fat, Safely and Quickly

Carrying a little extra belly fat than you’d like?

No, we’ve not been spying on you in the gym. We just know what it feels like to lose weight, only to have the stubborn stuff sticking to your waist.

The truth is, belly fat isn’t impossible to shift. With the right plan of action, you can attack abdominal fat stores quite easily – it’s all about tactics.

One of the most intimidating things to learn about belly fat is it’s alive and metabolically active. Yes, we pulled the same wincing face when we found out.

It’s a functioning organ, siphoning out dangerous inflammatories that can cause deadly disease. Type two diabetes and heart disease risks rise through the roof when you’re losing the fight on flab[1]. Cancer can also be fueled too, with studies showing a close connection between wider waistbands and increased cases[2][3].

But every cloud has a silver lining, even this chubby one. Taking action to turn your training, diet, and lifestyle into a belly fat busting trident isn’t complicated. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the tools to start today.

What causes belly fat?

Belly fat doesn’t just spring up overnight. It takes time to accumulate and unfortunately happens when we’re not looking. If you’ve ever accidentally gone up a jean size, you’re not alone.

The hardest hurdle to get over is what actually causes belly fat. Almost every member of gen-pop will say diet, but it’s not all beers and burritos to blame. Piling your plate with death-by-lasagna-worthy portions obviously doesn’t help either. Yet, even your overall lifestyle could be contributing.

Let’s line up the culprits.

Poor food choices

Pizza - junk food

Sorry for pointing out the obvious, but come on, poor food choices have to be number one. It doesn’t matter how many military bootcamps, squat sessions, or crossfit classes you crush, no normal person outworks a bad diet. Not even athletes have that luxury.

First, look at your daily energy expenditure like cash being taken from a bank account. If you spend more calories than you eat in a day, you tap into your savings – aka fat stores – for fuel. Overeat, however, and you turn spare fuel into stored fat for later.

Constantly choosing high-cal foods with low nutritional value soon causes a tighter fit. One of your body’s favorite fat vaults is its belly, which doesn’t bode well for your health.

Eating too many manufactured transfats is another culprit you should watch out for. And by transfats, we mean the worst kind to choose from – partially hydrogenated oils.

Transfats don’t just add extra unhealthy fat into your diet. They can move fat from other areas of the body and transport it to the abdomen, which most of us call our belly. In fact, transfats are so bad for your health, the US FDA wanted to try and eliminate them from all food by 2018[4].

Now, the problem with transfats is we can’t get enough. Cakes, cookies, candy, and fried takeout are all our favorite treats, but can be full of transfats. You also have to keep an eye out for hydrogenated vegetable and cooking oils too.

Bottom line – try to avoid transfats whenever you can. Chill out on the sweet treats and consider switching to coconut oil.

You’re sleep deprived

Think you’re fine with a few less zeds? Guess again.

Not only is sleep deprivation a leading cause of illness[5], but studies say it might contribute to weight gain[6]. Wearing the grind like a badge of honor doesn’t look too well pinned on a bulging belly.

We’ll get more into this a little later.

You’re stressed out

Stress blasts your body with cortisol, which in small doses is a useful hormone. Do it again and again though, and you start to run into problems.

Stress is brought on by the approach of a threat. After the initial fight or flight response simmers down cortisol still hangs around, long after the adrenaline and noradrenaline have levelled out. Here’s where chronic cortisol elevation causes problem.

Cortisol triggers a release of insulin, which allows your body to use sugars for energy. It wants fuel now and it wants it fast. After all, you’re stressed! Your body doesn’t see any difference in a raging mammoth or an encroaching report deadline. To your primal makeup, both threats are very, very real. Digestion switches off and you need energy to fight.

You’ll also find that stress makes you hungrier as it hikes-up ghrelin levels. After the fight or flight response switches off, your body is looking to replenish calories quickly. You’ve just fought off an angry animal remember – or finally handed in the paperwork to your boss. Now, with blood sugar low and intense calorie cravings, you’re more likely to reach into the cookie cupboard.

You drink too much alcohol

Alcohol consumption

Everybody enjoys a tipple to unwind on the weekends. But the beer belly is real – bottom line.

Without trying to give you beer fear, your drinking habits contribute to your waistband. Whenever you sink a cold one the alcohol inside is turned into acetate, which you can’t store. You can, however, burn if off for energy.

With all the acetate swimming around inside you, the three main macros get left out. Carbs, fats, and proteins run the risk of being stored as fat because your body doesn’t need them. Imagine transferring your wage into a savings account after being handed a wad of cash.

Alcohol itself contains seven calories per gram. That’s just the pure stuff too, not counting the extra found in beers, wine, and cocktails. So, even if you’re eating well through the week, Saturday’s antics could cancel out your efforts. Especially considering a heavy night can ramp up cortisol levels.   

You don’t exercise

Exercise plays an important part in a thriving, healthy lifestyle. You don’t have to shadow an Olympian to enjoy the benefits either. Just swiping your gym card a few days each week goes a long way to banishing belly fat. More on this in a moment. 

How to get rid of belly fat

1) Lift weights

Weight lifting help you get rid of belly fat quickly

Exercise is tailor made for budging belly fat – fact[7]. Lifting weights is one of the best methods too.

Resistance training attacks abdominal fat from all angles. First, it burns a heck of a lot of calories to lift heavy weights with intent. Given that the only way to burn fat is with a calorie deficit[8], lifting can keep you in a negative balance, causing a breakdown and burn off unwanted belly fat.

But there’s more to resistance training than meets the eye – it can upgrade your metabolism.

If it was all about crushing calories, we’d tell you to put the treadmill on ten and be done with it. Instead, we’re instructing you to hit the gym and build. Muscle requires much more energy at rest compared to fat, so by stacking it, you actively give your metabolism a boost.

To put it plainly, the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn every day trying to maintain it. According to one study, 24-weeks of weight training caused a 9% increase in resting metabolism in men, and close to 4% in women[9].

If all that wasn’t enough, experts say you’ll keep burning extra calories post-lifting workout compared to cardio[10][11]. Want to get the most afterburn out of your session? Try turning up the intensity![12]

Step 2. Combine with cardio

Combining lifting with the heart challenging effects of cardio is tried and tested[13][14]. When it comes to fat loss, it’s not a case of one or the other, it’s both.  

Countless studies prove cardiovascular training can crush calories[15]. Some of them show it’s particularly adept at reducing abdominal fat too[16][17].  

Naturally, your workouts impact relies heavily on volume or intensity. A six-mile jog will require more fuel than a steady 20-minute stride-out at lunch. Similarly, a hardcore HIIT session should burn through a hefty batch of calories compared to a relaxed aerobics class.

It’s up to you how you fit cardio into the mix. However, a lot of gym-goers find HIIT is enough of a short, sharp, shock to the system. High-intensity training for just 30-minutes could burn you 25-30% more calories than other workouts of the same length[18].

Ultimately though, it’s about what’s right for you. Finding an enjoyable form of cardio training keeps things enticing and engaging. At the end of it, fat loss relies on long term consistency, not short-term intensity. It’s all about what you’ll stick with week after week.

Step 3. Eat more protein

consuming more protein may improve weight loss

Guess again if you thought protein was exclusive to building muscle. Throwing out the meat and leaving the two veg really isn’t the right way to wipe out belly fat. In fact, starving yourself with super low-cal salads is the worst thing you can do – after a 30-day diet of detox tea that is.

First, protein plays a part in producing hormones that promote fullness. It also helps to calm down hangry ghrelin, the hormone that triggers hunger. So, just by eating more protein, your meals could become more satisfying[19][20].

In one study, researchers let 19 healthy people eat whatever they wanted, providing their diet was 30% protein. What they saw was that the subjects ate 441 calories less per day, compared to when their unlimited diet was 10% protein[21]. Keep in mind that these were the exact same people, just eating varying percentages of protein.

But wait, there’s more. Research also suggests protein is pretty good at ramping up your metabolism – by 20-35% in fact[22][23]. It takes a lot of energy to breakdown all those stacked aminos; something your digestive system is happy to go hunting for. Just the act of eating protein alone can increase the number of calories you use in a day.

Finally, you have the thing protein’s most famous for – muscle. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle, so by eating enough, you support its maintenance and growth. We saw earlier how lean muscle keeps your metabolism firing and belly fat at bay.

For the sake of your midline, stick to lean protein. Choose grilled chicken breast over salty southern fried; think baked tofu instead of salt ‘n’ pepper takeout. Re-read the transfats section if you’re still not convinced.

Step 4. Track calories

Dropping an inch or two from your waist isn’t a one-way street. How you get there is up to you, but whichever road you go down, one thing needs to be constant – negative energy.

No, not bad vibes and a foul mood. We’re talking about calories coming in vs. calories going out.

A calorie deficit is absolutely essential for burning belly fat[24]. After all, why would your intelligent, well-adapted body tap into its precious fat stores if food cals are going spare? You don’t need to answer that. We all know you’d use whatever energy you’ve eaten and save the rest for later.

A lot of dieters genuinely underestimate how much they eat. You can always have too much of a good thing, and even eyeballing healthy foods can tip the scales the wrong way. Whole peanut butter is great for you, but there’s a big difference between a level tablespoon and a heaped hunk. We’re not saying you don’t know how to handle portions – more like it doesn’t hurt to measure.

So, if you’re serious about getting rid of belly fat, track calories. Starting a food diary or downloading a diet tracking app can both be effective[25][26].

Step 5. Chill out and reduce stress

In a world of super-stressed Steve’s, stand out from the crowd and chill out a little. Constantly enduring high-stress situations wreaks havoc on your health and hormones.

Earlier we looked at the impact cortisol can have on belly fat. Evidence suggests it makes you hungrier, messes up your metabolism, and also has the potential to expand your waistline[27][28]. Being an overworked timebomb quickly loses its appeal when it makes you chubby.

Making time for stress relief could be the trick you’re looking for. Find a way to unwind like boxing, yoga, or something creative; even better yet, cut off stress from the start. Learn to say no to more things, don’t put yourself in unnecessary high-stress situations.

Naturally, there’s no way your boss is going to sign off a four-month meditation trip to a Tibetan ashram. You probably don’t want to put yourself through all that sitting around either. Luckily, just a bit of self-care and slowing down can go a long way. So, for your belly’s sake, relax.

Step 6. Fix your sleep

Improving your sleep may help your weight loss effort

Learning to relax a little more goes hand in hand with fixing sleep. Chances are, if your stress levels are through the roof, you’re probably not resting well either.

Sleep is important for a lot of health markers, including your weight. Studies show that not getting enough can increase your chances of adding ab-fluff around the belly[29][30].

According to one study, sleep restriction changes endocannabinoid levels, which are signals that affect the brains reward system alongside appetite. Being sleep deprived can make you more likely to grab at unhealthy snacks to satisfy a need for pleasurable eating. Your desire to feast on certain foods skyrockets and your willpower to say no might wain[31].

And if that wasn’t enough to get you dialing in a date with your duvet, another study from Sweden suggests poor sleep messes up your metabolism. In short, it could change the way your body uses food for energy and stores belly fat – not in a good way either[32].

Most people do well on around seven to eight hours sleep each night. Switching off your phone, avoiding screens for an hour before hitting the hay, and making your room cool are three great hacks for good sleep.   

Step 7. Give intermittent fasting a go

Fasting has been part of religious practice for millennia. Yet in recent years the modern weight-loss world has grabbed ahold with both hands and won’t let go. It’s fair to say intermittent fasting is one of the more on-trend methods right now.

Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet, it’s an eating pattern. You fast for a certain period and follow it up with a set window for eating. There’s no off-limit foods or macros, it’s all on the clock, which is why many people prefer it.

According to a recent review, varying forms of intermittent fasting helped people lose 4-7% of abdominal within 6-24 weeks[33]. Overall weight loss saw similar results too, with a 3-8% total reduction over 3-24 weeks.

Let’s say you’re concerned about losing muscle. After all, you didn’t sacrifice hours in the gym making gains, just to diet them away.

This is where intermittent fasting can become your not-so-secret weapon. One study showed IF caused less muscle loss than constant calorie restriction, while others suggests it promotes muscle growth hormones[34][35][36]

The Final Word

Take these seven steps to get rid of belly fat and try them today. They’re super simple, safe, and should instigate progress quickly.

Successful fat loss is always about following the rules. Eat well, maintain your calorie deficit, and integrate exercise. We’ve given you the tools, now it’s time to take action. Be realistic with your goals and look to lose a healthy amount of half to two pounds per week.

Avoid crash diets at all costs, unless you’re happy to risk your health and pile the weight back on after, that is. Keep safe out there and play the long game – it’s always worth it.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5835471/

[2] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2047487313492631

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27573429

[4] https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/trans-fat

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449130/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23319909

[7] https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-6510-1

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18025815

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11283427

[10] http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02701367.2014.999190?journalCode=urqe20

[11] http://jap.physiology.org/content/75/4/1847.short

[12] http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.1997.10718664?src=recsys

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3544497/

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3487794/

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21681120

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17637702

[17] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25863524

[18] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25162652

[19] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19820013

[20] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23466396

[21] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16002798

[22] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15466943

[23] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9683329

[24] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24864199

[25] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18617080

[26] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23229890

[27] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15044359

[28] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18984030

[29] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18258619

[30] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632337/

[31] https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/molecular-ties-between-lack-sleep-weight-gain

[32] https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/8/eaar8590

[33] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S193152441400200X

[34] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21410865

[35] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC329619/

[36] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1548337

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