No matter where you live in the world, you’re not immune to gaining weight - especially as you age. More often than not, the weight you gain gets stored through your midsection. I want to tell you about 5 ways you can lose belly fat...easily.
It’s not as difficult as you think. In fact, belly fat is fairly easy to lose. A lot of people don’t believe me when I tell them this, but it’s true!
If you know you’ve got problem belly fat, or if you’re gaining weight in a way that seems out of control - stop, take a breath and read on.
Obesity vs Overweight vs Normal Weight: What’s the difference?
We hear a lot of global obesity rates rising significantly every year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global obesity rate has tripled since 1975. That’s alarming and it’s only on the rise, taking millions of us along for the ride.
The terms “overweight” and “obese” are commonly measured by something called a BMI, or body mass index - which is simply you’re height to weight ratio.
Underweight: 18.4 or Below
Normal Weight: 18.5 to 24.9
Overweight: 25 to 29.9
Obese: 30 or Greater
You can calculate your own BMI with this calculator. Just enter your height and weight and your results will be given immediately.
Body fat and waist-to-hip ratio measurements are more accurate when it comes to assessing whether someone is overweight or obese - and it’s what I do with my clients.
But a BMI is easy to measure with this calculator. Besides, if your BMI is greater than 24.9 and you’re not some bodybuilder hitting the gym five days a week with muscles bulging out of your shirt, you’ve probably got extra body fat to lose.
Please remember that BMI will not take into account your body fat, rather, it's a predictor of fat. So you could quite possibly be "skinny fat" or have a BMI slightly out of the "normal" range and be healthy.
5 Ways You Can Lose Belly Fat
I mentioned above that belly fat is easy enough to lose. Most people don't believe me, but it's true. Our body doesn’t need or want unhealthy amounts of belly fat, also called visceral fat. But it gets packed on because we do something that puts it there.
A lot of people think that they’re genetically inclined to be overweight or obese - and to some extent, our genes definitely factor into how much body fat we store, however, there are many other factors we can control that help to keep our body healthy - we’re just not doing it!
What do you say we start doing it? Let's re-shape your habits and some aspects of your life that are packing belly fat around your very important organs that just want a little more breathing room to be healthier.
A few great things about these tips:
- You don’t have to leave your home.
- You don’t need to buy expensive supplements.
- You don’t need to count calories.
- You don’t need to exercise hours a day.
But you do have to do the work. Let's do it!
1) Eat More Fiber
You don't need to take Metamucil and you don't need to eat boring, cardboard-ish foods all day...but you do need to load up on the stuff your body truly loves - fiber.
If you ate a diet that regularly had 25 to 35 grams of fiber in it, you’d almost certainly lose belly fat. It would be impossible not to.
- Fiber binds to toxins in your gut and moves them out.
- Fiber increases the good bacteria in your belly exponentially.
- Fiber makes you feel less hungry.
- Fiber balances blood sugar levels.
- One gram of fiber moves seven calories out, creating a "negative net calorie" effect
All of these things directly or indirectly affect the amount of belly fat you have around your midsection. Beyond that, fiber-rich foods are inherently healthier foods! With all these amazing benefits, you’d think we’d all be reading labels to make sure what we’re eating has plenty of fiber in it. But we don’t! The average person gets just over 12 grams of fiber a day.
Don’t know where to get your fiber? I put together a meal plan for you to follow for one full week (FREE download, friends!). Oh, and the meal plan contains recipes. I’ve literally taken the guesswork out of the equation. What are you waiting for?
2) Sleep at Least 7 Hours a Night
Think of sleep as food. If your body can make good use of seven to eight hours every night, you’ll have less belly fat than people who get less sleep.
A study conducted at the University of Chicago looked at two groups of people, both on a low-calorie diet. One group slept 5.5 hours a night, and another group slept 8.5 hours a night. Interestingly enough, both groups lost the same amount of weight (7 pounds), but the sleep-deprived group lost mostly muscle in comparison to the rested group that lost mostly fat.
This study was only conducted over a two week period! Now, the participants were indeed overweight to begin with, so the fact that they lost weight on a low-calorie diet is not a shocker. It’s the huge disparity between muscle and fat loss that’s the real eye-opener.
If you’re a mom with young children, a caregiver, or if you have a profession that demands overnight hours, try to do the best you can by accumulating seven to eight hours over the course of a day. I know it's not always possible to get those golden hours of sleep.
If you simply have a hard time sleeping, here are a couple of tips:
- Try curbing alcohol - especially if you’re a peri-menopausal or menopausal women. Alcohol and hormones don’t play well together and can bring out the worst in sleepless nights.
- Don’t eat too close to bedtime! If you eat within 3 hours of hitting the sack, your insulin levels will be higher, directly interfering with the hormones that help you sleep. Oh, and those elevated insulin levels at that time of night do nothing but pack on belly fat!
3) Follow the 12 Gram Rule
Usually, I tell people to focus on the ingredient labels and not worry about the nutrition facts as much, but this one exception. This is a great rule for anyone who needs to get a handle on their sugar and sugar cravings.
Avoid eating foods that have more than 12 grams of added sugar in the foods you're eating. It's that simple.
This rule, along with eating more fiber and getting more sleep are three of the greatest ways to lose belly fat for good. Why? Because they're all related to lifestyle changes, not dieting.
I'm not suggesting you eat only 12 grams of sugar. Simply avoid foods that have more than 12 grams of added sugar by swapping healthier versions. For example:
- Instead of having a bag of M&Ms (31 grams), have a couple of squares of dark chocolate.
- Instead of having an Iced Caramel Macchiato (34 grams), have a plain cold brew coffee.
- Instead of having a sugar-sweetened soda (~39 grams), have sparkling water with a splash of juice.
Initially, you may need to look at what it is you're eating to get familiar with the foods that have a whole lotta sugar, and those that don't. Truth be told, you'd be shocked to know how many grams of added sugar the average person eats every day.
The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 25 grams of sugar and men 36 grams. Unfortunately, we demolish those recommendations! The average person consumes 170 grams.
I don't like the idea of exercising off calories. It doesn't really teach any lasting habits...and what happens if you sprain your ankle, hurt your shoulder or can't exercise anymore? But since people still relate to the calories in/calories out model, here is some perspective on how long it would take to jog off these popular sugary drinks.
4) Do This Workout
Having a little bit of direction with the workouts you're doing can help tremendously. When I put together training plans for people, it's based on their specific needs and what they like to do. No one likes to be bored when they walk into the gym or wake up early in the morning for a workout.
As a rule, no one should rely on workouts alone for burning belly fat. I always like to say that abs are made in the kitchen! But it's so good to move, feel strong and tone up sagging muscle.
These workouts are super short and sweet, but they will get your heart rate up and keep you moving for a few good minutes.
Try this workout:
- Warm up for a few minutes (jog around the block for a few minutes, jog in place, etc)
- 45 Body Weight Squats
- 30 Alternating Lunges (15 each leg)
- 30-Second Wall Squat
- 30-Second Straight Arm Plank
- 10-Minute Jog/Run
Rest 2 minutes. Drink a little water. Wipe off the sweat and get ready to go again. Go through two more cycles of this circuit!
If you're looking for another great way to shape up, try this HIIT workout (with printable workout).
5) Write It Down
Infrequent or too frequent eating, a lack of sleep, too little water, too little activity all play a role in turning our metabolism on or off. I created a food and activity journal for you to use if you’re interested. You can download it here.
You don’t need to journal your food and activity each and every day, but maintaining a food journal one week a month can be really helpful in staying accountable to your fitness or diet goals. This journal will have you:
- Track WHEN you eat
- Track WHAT you eat
- Track WATER consumption
- Track ACTIVITY
- Track SLEEP
- Track MOOD/ENERGY
That’s it! Print out a few copies, keep them in a folder or binder, and refer back to them often. If you have any questions, need advice or want to set up a fitness or healthy eating plan, contact me for a consultation.