If you have been running on a consistent basis and watching what you eat, but you STILL can’t get rid of your belly fat, then you came to the right place. So, today I want to share with you some of the most effective ways to get rid of that stubborn ab flab and enjoyer a flatter stomach.
Are you excited? You should be.
I used to have belly fat too. But after starting a running program and making some major lifestyle changes (especially diet wise), now I enjoy a (relatively) flat stomach.
But here is my big epiphany:
Running is not enough
I had to learn this one the hard way. Sure, running burns mad calories, but running alone won’t help you eradicate belly fat for good. You will need also to change your diet (abs, after all, are made in the kitchen), and make other lifestyle changes.
Image Credit – Ursus Fortis via Flickr
What’s Belly Fat?
Belly fat, also known as “visceral fat” in the scientific circles—is the most dangerous fat there is. This lethal fat accumulates in the abdominal area and envelopes your organs, creating an “apple-shaped” figure. The bad news here is that you can’t actually see visceral fat, and it’s often linked with a larger waist.
This fat is really uncomfortable and an ugly sight to look at, but it’s not just the aesthetics that should worry you. Belly fat is also linked to a plethora of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, dementia, heart diseases, certain types of cancer, and other serious ailments.
In other words, belly fat is a bad omen. And you should do all you can to get rid of it.
6 Proven Ways to Lose Belly Fat
Here is a list of smart habits that will help you get rid of that pooch and enjoy a sexier stomach.
1. Say No to Carbs
Eliminating belly fat is 90 percent healthy diet, period.
Truth be told, you can run and work out as hard as you can, but if your sweet tooth has the last say, there is not much you can do.
By cutting on sugar, your body will become leaner and you will be able to reduce bodyfat much more easily, especially if you backed your new diet with the right workout routines and lifestyle habits.
Bad news is Americans are consuming more sugar than ever before. In fact, a study from the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill, determined that the average American consumes about 80 more calories per day than they did in 1977. That does not seem as much but if you do the math you will be really surprised here. Those extra 80 calories a day adds up to a staggering 2,400 calories per month.
Get rid of all sources of empty calories, especially simple carbs. These foods are usually stripped of their nutritional value and are chock-full of empty calories, sodium, sugar, and “bad” carbs, bringing along almost nothing for your body, except for more fat cells and a bigger waistline.
Here is what to do. Cut back (or eliminate them for good) on all forms of refined and processed calories, including: white bread, cookies, waffles, muffins, candy, chips, bagels, pastries, cakes, donuts, pasta, crackers, junk & fried foods and any other processed foods you get in a bag or a box.
Instead fill yourself up with vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and the “good” carbs, including lettuce, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet potatoes, black beans, onion, garlic, eggs, wild salmon, chicken breast, berries, apples, peaches, avocadoes, almonds, walnuts and nuts.
In other words, if you can’t kill it, grow it, or pick it, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it!
Image Credit – Jeremy Hall via Flckr
2. No liquid calories
Go a step a further and eliminate all sources of liquid calories from your diet.
These liquid calories come in just about any form—soda, coffee, energy drinks fruit, beer, and other sugar-sweetened beverages—and they can wreak havoc on your health and waistline.
Sugar, after all, is a toxic killer. And liquid sugar is the worst because liquid calories come in undetected under radar screen since they don’t get “indexed” by the brain in the same way as it would index solid food.
As a result, when you consume sugar-sweetened beverages, you end up taking in a lot of extra calories without even taking notice.
And sorry to say this but the diet coke has to go as well. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that people who consumed diet soda on a regular basis gained about triple the amount of fat over a period of nine years as those who didn’t drink it.
So don’t let the marketing hype lure you in. diet soda is till rich with artificial sweeteners and other unhealthy additives.
Do your best and limit your consumption of all sources of liquid calories, and that includes coke, sports drinks, beer, alcohol, juice, coffees, and other forms sugar-sweetened drinks.
Instead, drink plenty of water. It’s good for you.
3. Do Intervals
Running is great for burning calories and reducing belly fat, but to get the most out of it, those 45-minute long runs at a steady pace is not the best way to go.
Instead do intervals by alternating between high intensity burst of running and slow jogging or walking for recovery. According to studies, intervals are proven to reduce belly fat and boost metabolism.
Image Credit – Robb Hammer via Flickr
Here is an interval workout routine to get you started. You can also perform this routine on a treadmill if you want more control over your pace and intensity. Just be careful and stay within your fitness level.
Start with a proper warm-up of 5 to 10 minutes of slow jogging to raise your core temperature and get your muscles ready for the task ahead. Go hard for 30 seconds, then rest for one minute, then go hard again. Repeat the process for 15 to 20 minutes, then finish it off with a cool down.
For more, check my 6 fat burning workouts.
But what if you are really overweight and can’t do sprint?
In that case, you could do the walk-run method by alternating between periods of jogging at a slow pace and walking for recovery. You can also use a stationary bike.
Here is the beginner’s guide you need.
4. No More Crunches
Of course, classic ab exercises like sit-ups and crunches can strengthen your abs, but unfortunately these are not the best exercises for sculpting your midsection. In fact, I think they are a waste of time and you should be doing something else instead.
So what kind of ab exercises you should be doing?
Start doing functional exercises that recruits your core muscles as well as other muscle groups.
Functional exercises engage multiple muscles groups and also challenge your cardiovascular system, so you end up burning off more calories. Not only that, these exercises are also ideal for strengthening all of your core muscles—upper and lower abs, obliques, glutes, and they will also strength other muscles groups such as your shoulders, quads and chest.
Image Credit – Tom via Flickr
In my opinion, one of the best core exercises in the world is the good ol’ planks, where you hold yourself in a standard push-up position, core engaged, back flat, forearms resting firmly on the ground.
Planks cannot only hit your core hard, they also activate your legs, chest, and shoulders.
If you are beginner, then start with 3 to 5 sets of plank holds for 20 to 30 seconds each. As you get stronger, hold it for longer and try adding in more variations.
Here are 4 core workout routines that can help.
5. Sleep Well
Yes, you can sleep your way to a better and slimmer body. And here is why:
If you are sleep-deprived your metabolism slows down to a grinding pace. According to a study published in the journal Sleep, people how logged in6 to 7 hours of sleep during the night’s time had the lowest levels of visceral fat. The researchers concluded that sleeping above or below that range was linked to more belly fat, and those who slept less than 5 hours reported the worst numbers.
In another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found that women who logged in less than 5 hours of sleep per night were about 30 percent more likely to face weight problems over 16 years than those who had healthy sleeping patterns.
Not only that, those who logged in less than 5 hours a night gained five times more visceral fat than healthy sleepers.
Here is what you need to ensure that you are getting your enough sleep.
- Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours of high quality uninterrupted sleep during the night’s time.
- Ensure quality sleep by removing all sorts of distractions, like your TV, Smartphone, and other electronics, from your bedroom.
- Keep your room cool—around 65 degrees.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants three to four hours before going to bed.
- Keep a strict and fixed sleeping schedule by going to bed and getting up at the same time, even on weekend.
- Accept the fact that you cannot accomplish everything on the to-do list. That’s life and bad stuff happens to good people all the time.
- Your bedroom has two functions: Sleep and sex. So keep it that way.
6. Relax to the Max
This is maybe news to you but stress cannot only wreak havoc on your health, it can also lead to more belly fat.
Study from the Ohio State University, revealed that stress can hinder you from losing weight, or even add more pounds, by disturbing healthy hormone regulation.
All of these metabolic disturbances can make you hungry as your body keeps on releasing cortisol as long as stress continues. Bad news is when you are stressed out, you will tend to go for high-fat, high-calorie treats and foods because these foods stimulate the brain to release good-feel chemicals that ease the tension.
Therefore, you have to do your best to keep stress out.
Here are a few things you can do here:
- Start meditating. Techniques like Vipassana and Transcendental Meditation can be easily learned in the comfort of your house.
- Keep a daily journal and jot down what’s bothering you. This will help you identify major stressors in life, along with ways of dealing with them.
- Start a yoga class, especially Yin yoga.
- Learn how to be more assertive and say no to family members, friends and the rest of the world, especially when they ask you for something you just don’t have the time to do.
- Get enough sleep—at least 7 to 8 hours a night.
- Remove friction and grey zone areas from your life—especially when it comes your work and love life.
- Find time to do the things you enjoy the most—even if it’s watching the Walking Dead for the third time—That’s something I’m guilty of.
I think that’s it for today. Don’t worry, I will be writing more about running and weight loss in the near future.
Please do your best to put into action what you just learned.
In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.
Feel free to leave your comments and questions below.
Featured Image Credit – Mexica Project via Flickr