One of the most common questions I get is what is the best way to lose weight from the stomach? Excess belly fat is a common complaint for most women, especially for those over 40. Fat distribution caused by the swaying and shifting hormones that happen later in life cause fat distribution to change shifting from our hips, thighs and breasts to smack-dab across the belly.
While most of us notice the aesthetic issues of belly fat, we’ve all gone through the panic of the arrival of bikini season, the health implications are a more pertinent reason to ward off and remove belly fat. An increase in hip-to-waist ratio carries higher risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Shedding the pounds from our waist line is not only good for our ego but also good for our health.
Lose Weight From the Stomach – 3 Steps
Here’s the bad news first, you can’t spot reduce. Once you have belly fat you have to work to lose fat until your stomach reaches its place in line. You can do 100 crunches a day but if it isn’t the waistlines turn you get very strong ab muscles hidden under a layer of fat.
To lose weight from the stomach you combine three habits that in combination encourage fat loss. Burning away fat takes time so have patience. How long depends on how much weight you have to lose and how your body chooses to shed fat. Stick with these habits until the belly fat is gone and then continue step 2 and 3 to keep it off.
- Eat slightly fewer calories than you burn inducing weight loss.
- Exercise in ways that cause the body to lose fat.
- Eliminate habits that increase belly fat.
Lose the Weight from the Stomach: Eating Fewer Calories
You’ll want to eat in a slight deficit of about 200-500 calories below your daily calorie burn. If you only have a bit of weight to lose stay closer to the 200-300 range. If you have quite a bit of weight to lose you can sway closer to the 500 area. Resist the urge to cut calories drastically.
Drastic calorie cuts trigger your body to also shed muscle to compensate for the energy loss. This reaction flip-flops your metabolism making it harder to lose any additional weight. If it goes on long enough eventually you’ll just gain the weight right back. Those drastic measures also trigger intensive cravings for high calorie foods, further increasing the chances of weight gain.
Eating whole food, mostly fresh whole fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and small portions of healthy fats are the best way to fill your calorie requirements. The slow burn of whole foods keeps those insulin levels steady helping you ward off making more belly fat while you’re trying to lose it. The low-calorie volume of these foods lets you eat more of them so you feel full rather than deprived.
Lose the Weight from the Stomach: Moves that Encourage Fat Loss
To ward off the risk of losing muscle mass you need to add strength training to your routine. Aim to include sessions three to four times a week. When I say heavy weight I mean what is heavy for you. Eight repetitions of a movement should feel hard and ten almost impossible. If you can do twelve repetitions without strain it is time to increase the weight. Any lighter won’t impact muscle growth. Don’t worry, you can’t get bulky from this, muscle is extremely hard to build for women.
In addition to strength training add in some type of cardio two or three times a week. The choices are endless, choose any activity that you like. The type doesn’t matter. Twenty to thirty minutes is sufficient.
Keep in mind that as you lose weight your overall daily calorie burn drops. Periodically check your daily burn to see if you are in the right level.
Lose Weight From the Stomach: Eliminate Bad Habits
Avoid foods with fast-energy carbohydrates as these cause your body to store higher than usual belly fat. These fast burning foods include processed food, fast food, white rice, white flour and sugar. Any food that is plant-based or dairy modified from its original form will also have fast burning properties to some degree or another (see our post Should I Eat Low Carb, Macro Smackdown). Eat a whole orange rather than drinking the juice!
Another habit to watch out for is exercising too hard too often. Cortisol hormones help you manage stress and use fat for fuel under normal activity levels. If you push yourself too hard those levels skyrocket and cause a reverse effect. You start storing higher than normal levels of body fat rather than burn it.
Keep exercises such as high intensity interval training, circuit workouts, cross-fit and intensive cardio sessions limited to once or twice a week. Build your performance levels gradually and pay attention to how you feel. If you are feeling cranky, irritable or are having trouble sleeping you are doing too much.
How Do You Lose Weight From the Stomach?
So how do lose weight around the stomach? Eat good food, not too much, pick up the weights, don’t stress out and have some patience. 🙂
- Female Hormones and Fat Loss, Jade Teta, February 23, 2012, Metabolic Effect
- Cortisol Connection: Tips on Managing Stress and Weight. Christine A. Maglione-Garves, Len Kravitz, Ph.D., and Suzanne Schneider, Ph.D, University of New Mexico, https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/stresscortisol.html
- 4 Ways to Outsmart a Craving, Sally Kuzemchak, RD, November 3, 2011, Prevention Magazine, http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-tips/how-stop-food-cravings-and-overeating