What you'll learn in this blog
Belly fat just seems to appear out of nowhere, doesn’t it?
Despite it being a slow and creeping process from flat stomach to a pouchy midriff, it feels like it happens overnight.
Then once you notice it, that’s all you can think about.
It might start with a favourite sweater feeling a little tighter than usual. Then the button on your jeans doesn’t quite reach the buttonhole. Before you know it, you look in the mirror and your heart sinks—there are wobbly, fleshy bits where there weren’t before.
You stand there and wonder: What is going on?
If this sounds familiar, then first of all, don’t worry. We’ve got your back. So many of us find ourselves in a similar situation. And, while it can feel disheartening to begin with, the good news is that you can do something about it.
Yes, you may have gained a few pounds, but you can lose them again. It’s completely reversible— and it’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.
We’ve got some great tips that you can start weaving into your lifestyle straight away. These handy hints will get you shredding that belly fat so that you can regain your confidence, boost your fitness, and get you feeling back to your absolute best self.
Revved up and ready? Let’s go.
Why do we get belly fat?
Before we get into how to lose belly fat, we’ll first take a quick look at some of the reasons why fat tends to gather around our abdomens.
Everything about our bodies work the way they do because it helped our ancestors survive.
Thousands of years ago, food was much more scarce, so it made sense that we would evolve a way to store calories to power us through those lean times—and that way is through increased body fat, especially around the stomach.
But while our societies developed incredibly quickly over the last few centuries, our biology is still very much stuck back in time. Human evolution just isn’t quick enough to keep up with the expansion of dietary options and easy access to new types of food.
If you find yourself holding more fat around your belly as you age, then you’re not alone.
You may have heard the term “middle-age spread”—where women’s bodies start to store extra body fat around the abdomen as they age—instead of the thighs and the hips.
It can become harder to keep weight off as we age. As your metabolism starts to slow down, your body just won’t use up energy and burn fat at the same rate, so it stays on as body weight around the belly.
But don’t let this discourage you in any way, as there are lots of things you can do to raise your metabolism and make it easier to shed the pounds at any age, and we’ll show you how—just keep reading. You’ve got this.
Expanding on our last point: your hormones change as you get older, which can make it harder to stay lean. When women reach menopause their oestrogen levels drop pretty dramatically. This change is part of the reason that fat starts to settle around the midriff more than the lower body.
Did you know? Studies suggest that around 5-8% of body weight for premenopausal women is belly fat. But for postmenopausal women, belly fat accounts for more like 15-20% of their overall body weight.
Men and women tend to store body fat differently. For women, during their reproductive years, fat is spread across multiple areas that would benefit the mother and baby during pregnancy, and beyond. But, a dip in oestrogen levels during menopause basically means that you store less fat around the bum, hips, and thighs and see settling around the belly instead.
Women’s overall body fat levels are also generally higher than men’s, as this also helps them potentially grow, birth, and nurse a child.
Knowledge nugget: According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a healthy body fat percentage should be:
- Age 20-39 = 8-19% for men / 21-32% for women
- Age 40-59 = 11-21% for men / 23-33% for women
- Age 60-79 = 13-24% for men / 24-35% for women
As you can see, women are naturally inclined to have more body fat than men, but what is seen as healthy levels actually rises with age as hormonal and metabolic changes take shape.
As mentioned, women have extra fat reserves to aid pregnancy and breastfeeding. But, what happens when that excess body fat is no longer needed?
Post-pregnancy weight will be naturally lost, at least in part, during the first six weeks or so after childbirth. But, the remainder can sometimes hang around for months if left unchecked.
If looking for ways to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight has taken you on this journey, the top tips we’re going to explore here will help you do just that.
A frazzled mind doesn’t automatically lead to weight gain, but it certainly doesn’t help matters.
Not only are you more likely to overeat and skip exercise sessions when you’re stressed or have your mind on other things—your body also reacts differently to stress than it does when you’re in a good mood or mental state.
When you feel stress, or some other form of strong negative emotion, your body produces more of the hormone cortisol than usual. The release of cortisol prepares your body for fight-or-flight responses to what your brain sees as dangerous or unwelcome scenarios.
As extra cortisol is released by your adrenal glands, your metabolism slows down— making weight loss harder. It also increases your appetite for sweet or fatty foods, which is why we tend to comfort eat when under pressure or feeling down.
Prolonged or chronic stress can be particularly bad for your weight loss efforts as the negative effects snowball over time. Another reason why taking care of your mental health is so important.
Read: Discover why exercise is essential to your mental health by reading our essential guide.
How can you lose belly fat?
When we talk about belly fat, we need to be a little more specific. Why? Well, because fat comes in two different forms:
- Subcutaneous fat
- Visceral fat
Subcutaneous fat is the kind that sits just beneath the skin. This is spread across your whole body and is important for protecting your bones and muscles, keeping you insulated, and storing energy.
While we need this type of fat to function and stay in good health, too much can be bad, especially if you have an abundance of the second type of fat.
The other kind— visceral fat—lies deeper inside your body. It surrounds your internal organs. This is the fat that we tend to store on the belly and that causes lots of health problems, like heart disease or diabetes.
While visceral fat often builds up more around your stomach, you can’t target that area alone— fat loss happens across your whole body.
Advice that says you can strip down belly fat by doing countless sit-ups every day, (for example) is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Pay it no attention.
This should be comforting, though, not demoralising. It means you don’t have to do any extra work to lose belly fat. Just stick to the weight loss tips we’re going to cover now and you’ll start seeing the results you deserve.
It might seem like following these approaches takes a little longer to see the difference around the belly as there is usually more weight to shed from there. But, you will lose weight around your belly— and keep it off.
So, what are the things you should be doing to approach weight loss as a whole? Let’s explore.
How Can You Boost Belly Fat Loss?
From here on out, let’s not think of it as ‘belly fat loss’. It’s just weight loss.
As you weave these top tips into your life, you’ll find that you burn fat pretty steadily from your whole frame. This will reduce your overall body weight along with fat from around your abdomen.
1. Eat healthy fats
Eat fat to lose fat. What? Yes, you read that correctly: eating healthy sources of fat is actually good for your waistline.
Unsaturated fats help regulate your blood sugar and hormone levels. You can also use them as solid energy sources that will make you feel full and spritely.
Look to include healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (like avocados and fatty fish) in your diet and avoid all unhealthy trans fats (e.g. baked goods) and most saturated fats (like lard).
2. Eat the right kinds of carbs
First fat, now carbs. Are you dreaming? No, carbs can genuinely help you lose weight. Again, they just have to be the right kind.
Complex carbs are the ones you want, as they take longer for your body to digest (which takes more effort to do so) and release energy slowly throughout the day.
Simple carbs, on the other hand, contain more sugars, leading to spikes in energy followed by a crash. When this happens, you end up feeling sluggish and tired (not good when you’re juggling a million plates every day).
So, go for sweet potatoes, whole grain rice and pasta, as well as plenty of fresh fruit and fibrous vegetables, like leafy greens.
Steer clear of refined carbs found in fast food, candy, soda, and any other processed foods. Basically, avoid all sugar—it’s one of the worst things for your waistline.
3. Increase your protein intake
Along with fats and carbs, protein is the third of the macronutrients that make up most of our diets and give us a big energy boost. Of the three, protein has the highest thermic effect of food. This means that a larger portion of protein’s calories is used up for metabolic processes compared to fat or carbs. So, you’ll burn more calories by eating protein than other foods.
Protein also helps you build muscle mass (at the expense of body fat), and reduces your appetite. Eat more eggs and lean cuts of meat, or tofu and various kinds of beans if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Top tip: Increase your protein intake further with a healthy protein-packed meal replacement shake. Despite containing fewer calories than a full meal, it will still fill you up and provide the nutrients you’d typically get from whole foods.
4. Don’t drink your calories
Sodas, fruit juices, energy drinks…these mostly contain hidden sugars and can be shockingly high in calories.
If you want to effectively burn fat and lose weight, then every calorie counts. Don’t waste your precious daily calorie consumption on sugary drinks.
Water is the way to go. It’s cheap, refreshing, and keeps you hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, as well as a big glass before every meal to fill your stomach and stop yourself from overeating.
5. Avoid alcohol
Other types of sugary drinks to avoid when you’re trying to burn belly fat is alcohol. Like sodas and fruit juices, most alcoholic drinks are packed with calories and full of simple carbs.
Having a glass of wine or a slimline gin and tonic is fine on occasion (we all deserve a treat). But, limiting your alcohol intake as much as possible will make weight loss far easier.
Read: If you do like a cheeky tipple here and there, check out our top alcoholic drinks for weight loss.
6. Supplement your diet
Taking high-quality supplements can give a real boost to how much belly fat you lose. But, it’s all about the ingredients.
Look for supplements that contain safe, proven fat-burning and appetite-suppressing ingredients.
Caffeine and capsicum are both great thermogenic fat burners that boost your metabolism and speed up weight loss.
The likes of chromium picolinate and nopal cactus (AKA prickly pear) can reduce hunger, curb food cravings, and limit the amount of calories that are absorbed and then stored by your body.
7. Do a little cardio
Cardiovascular exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be boring. Any form of aerobic workout that gets your heart rate up is good for burning calories and losing excess weight.
Running, rowing, cycling, swimming, dancing, Zumba, aerobics…all of these count as cardio workouts. So, find a cardio option that you enjoy and it will become much more fun and easier to weave into your lifestyle (a brisk walk and dancing around the kitchen also count as cardio activities!).
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are pretty effective at burning calories, as they keep your metabolism boosted for up to 48 hours afterwards. This basically leads to an increase in calorie burning and extra fat loss.
These workouts are short (between 10 and 30 minutes) but incredibly intense. You’ll be working extremely hard in shorter time frames than in traditional exercise sessions. But, you will burn some serious energy.
8. Lift some weights
Resistance training isn’t just for men and it won’t make you look like a bodybuilder. It will simply burn calories and help you lose belly fat.
Your metabolic rate goes up when you resistance train, making it easier for you to burn fat, as well as grow stronger and improve your posture.
The weights don’t even have to be heavy. Using lighter weights, or even just your body weight, is still a brilliant way to exercise. Just use whatever you can to create resistance (soup cans, anyone?) and make your body work hard to burn calories.
9. Be more active in general
Weight loss happens when you burn more calories than you consume. Eating fewer calories and upping your activity levels is the simplest way to do this.
All movement counts towards the calories you burn. So, find little ways throughout your day to get your body moving, for example:
- Walk instead of driving on short journeys
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park further away from the store than usual
- Put your groceries in a shopping basket instead of a cart at the supermarket
All of these simple things add up over the course of a day, a week, a month, a year —so don’t underestimate them.
10. Track what you do
A good way to measure your progress is to monitor everything that you eat and make note of what you do during your workouts.
Set yourself a calorie count to stick to, then make sure that what you are eating fits within that limit. This will ensure you don’t overeat and put weight on.
Likewise, keep a record of how you exercise. How long are your sessions? What weights do you lift? How much cardio did you do? Tracking key workout metrics like these lets you see how you are progressing and how much fitter you’re becoming.
If you’re still not burning fat after a few weeks, you can gauge what needs to change. You could reduce your daily calories slightly, add in an extra workout each week, and lift heavier weights. Start with whichever areas feel weakest regarding your diet and exercise habits.
11. Reduce your stress levels
We touched on this slightly before, but to stress the point (pardon the pun): a stressful state isn’t good for weight loss.
Take time for yourself each day to slow down and relax. You could try some flowing yoga moves to bring down your heart rate and improve your flexibility. Meditation and mindfulness can also bring down your stress levels and push minor problems away.
A happier mind is much better than a frazzled one for helping you stick to your weight loss routine.
Yes, our final tip to help you lose excess belly fat is to go to bed.
Sleep is incredibly important for recovering from your workouts, reducing fatigue, and keeping you energised for another day of activity.
A body that is low on sleep is rarely in a prime position to burn fat effectively. Your mental faculties and body's systems run poorly if you haven’t been able to get a good night of quality sleep.
This can quickly spiral out of control and be harmful towards your overall health and overall physical well-being if not kept in check. So make sure you get between seven to nine hours each night.
Read: Our guide to burning fat when you sleep for a few tip-top nocturnal weight loss tips.
The Best Ways To Lose Belly Fat
All of the tips and tricks we’ve talked about in this article won’t just get you burning belly fat—they’ll help you lose weight from across your whole body.
Targeting belly fat alone isn’t really possible. The way to go is to steadily drop the pounds everywhere. By taking a holistic approach to weight loss, you’re not only able to burn fat in a healthy way, but you’re more likely to keep it off in future.
Getting your diet and exercise in order is the place to start. Make the small tweaks and changes that we spoke about so that they become a natural part of your life.
You shouldn’t feel like you’re ‘on a fad diet’ that one day ends—that sort of thinking will lead to your weight ‘yo-yoing.’
To step your fat loss up an extra gear, add a fat-burning and appetite-suppressing supplement into the mix.
The ingredients in PhenQ are chosen for their ability to raise your metabolism for faster fat loss while reducing your appetite.
This is the absolute quickest and easiest thing you can do to put yourself ahead of the game and really boost your body’s fat-burning potential.
Good luck—you’ve got this.