How to lose belly fat naturally
Believe me, it is really bad for your health. Belly fat consists of mostly visceral fat which is particularly bad for your cardiovascular health. Besides aesthetics (belly fat is not good to look at) it is overall dangerous for your health.
If you have belly fat, you have to dump it.
There is no other way round.
Many of these pendulous belly fat guys are pre diabetic and insulin resistant. These can destroy your health in a slow but sure way as you age. If you want to live long and healthy, you have to dump off your pot belly.
Don’t do these for belly fat loss, these are plain stupid :
- Doing endless crunches and sit ups to compress and burn fat!
- Drastically reduce total calorie intake keeping low dietary protein (not wanting to buck up).
- Avoid fat in diet to prevent further fat storage.
- Avoid higher protein sources for the fear of bulking up.
- Drink lots of fruit juice for good health.
- Doing slow boring cardios too long time to burn calories.
- Do yoga, stretching and isometrics for fat loss.
- Use drugs and steroids to lose belly fat. Steroids are bad and will destroy you. (Fat loss pills have still a lot to prove.)
Stop doing long planks, numerous sit ups and crunches:
Spot reduction is not possible, it is a myth. If you don’t know this, learn it. This is the basis of weight loss science. Don’t think compressing fatty tissue anywhere in your body will melt it!
Crunches and situps are not bad exercises anyway. They burn calories, (much lesser than deadlift or squat, though). You need to increase your core strength for lifting heavy and various other reasons. Lifting heavy shit is the actual key to lose fat, belly and all.
Planks also good isometric exercises for the abs and the obliques. Those muscles need to be strengthened, for stability and toned look. But these have nothing to do with fat mobilization from the belly and love handle areas.
Do heavy weight training:
Lifting heavy is a much better option than cardio. Cardio has several health benefits and burn lots of calories, (maybe more than weight training sessions).
But training heavy releases lots of testosterone as well as improves insulin sensitivity of your body. Building muscles help to rev up the metabolism. You can burn your belly fat much easier by training that way.
The myth of lower load and higher no. of reps for fat loss also is not true. The intensity of training is very important. The total volume is important (weight lifted per rep × no. of reps). But lifting real heavy is a great stimulation for the body. The metabolic remains very high even for several hours after training.
Always go for those big compound movements in the gym involving large muscles of the back, legs and chest. Barbell squat, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, pull ups and there variations are great choices here.
Do HIIT (High intensity interval training) :
For ages people sweat it out on the treadmills and cycles. Even you can see lots of big belly men and women walking along slowly every morning and evening. Do you wonder why they remain the same for a years together?
The answer is the intensity too. To lose fat, belly fat or overall body fat, you have to increase intensity. Otherwise you are destined to hit a wall. Low intensity will hardly work.
HIIT significantly improves body insulin sensitivity too like weight training. It is particularly useful to wash the subcutaneous fat. As diet and cardio fails, use HIIT to squeeze off those last drops of belly fat.
Do not use too much cardio for weight loss:
Several people do slow cardio like jogging/cycling for hours with calorie restriction. This is a double whammy. In a low calorie and low protein catabolic state, your muscles will be eaten away instead of muscles. Think about losing muscles and staying with the fat all the time.
This is one of the main reasons that slow cardios tend to fail in long term. As you lose a few pounds, you plateau off.
Have you seen so many guys becoming thin and frail with persistent belly fat, despite daily doses of morning walk? Cardio won’t help them to get those 6 packs! Do weight training and HIIT, you need some intensity…
Stop excessive calorie restriction :
Everybody knows fat loss cannot occur in calorie excess state. That does not mean you cut down too much calories. That will slow down your metabolism and body will cling to the fat.
Your body has an amazing thermostat like mechanism. When it sees less food supply, it preserves fat for any future energy requirement.
During low calorie diet, your body undergoes stress. The cortisol and thyroid hormones play important roles in regulation of metabolism and fat storage. Again calorie excess will invariably increase fat storage if you do not weight train really hard or have freaking high metabolism. You need to find the sweet spot of total calorie intake.
Please remember this requirement varies too (from time to time). As you lose weight and lower calories further, metabolism will slow down and you have to get rid of that. Weight training, cheat meals, carb loading, cyclic keto diet, HIIT etc. are done to fight this metabolic slowdown. These need to be discussed later in details.
Stop taking sugars, sweets and simple carbs or processed food :
This is almost a must to reduce belly fat. The hanging pot bellies starting out at late twenties and thirties, tend to get bigger with age. This is mainly a result of insulin resistance in the body. If you have belly fat, it means your excess glucose intake can’t be taken care of by your insulin.
As your cell get more and more resistant to insulin, your beta cells of pancreas secrete more and more of insulin. This high insulin continuously shunt the glucose to fat cells instead of other cells. This helps you to get a bigger and bigger belly.
Thus pot bellied, overweight or obese guys are mostly insulin resistant. Giving any sugar/sugary drink or even simple carb will spike insulin and cause more and more damage.
Complex carbs are better choice here. As insulin resistance and belly fat goes hand in hand, carb restriction works wonder here. That is why low carb high fat diet or keto diet has gained such popularity. These keep insulin level low along with calorie restriction.
Hence, if you have belly fat, your primary target is calorie restriction + prevention of high insulin. Always keep in mind, if you have belly fat and/or insulin resistant, you can never lose weight in a high insulin environment in your body. So cut down all those sugars, juices and processed carbs. Read my article on does sugar make you fat.
Complex carbs or slow digesting simple carbs (like rice with ghee or whole fruits with lots of fibers) slow down digestion and absorption. Hence it does not cause insulin surge. Thus these are you best bets for carb source for belly fat loss.
Stop alcohol, juices, soft drinks, soda etc.:
Liquid empty calories and sugary drinks are even worse. These provide very quick calories, mostly from sugar and fructose, by the way. These damage by following ways:
- Fructose is abundant in fruit juice, soda and sugary drinks. It can’t go inside muscle cells even after exercise. If liver glycogen is full, it directly goes to your fat cells.
- The quick absorption of both glucose and fructose significantly spikes insulin. You already know how insulin helps in storing fat and it’s spiking is bad. All those sugars ultimately tend to dump into your belly fat.
- These does not cause you to stay full. In fact these sugary drinks and empty calories make you hungry and thirsty within few minutes. Thus you store fat, keep insulin level high with spikes – preventing fat burning, stay hungry and thirsty to eat/drink more.
- These cause excessive cravings. They trick your brain to go for more and more. All you take ultimately dumps in your belly as fat.
- Alcohols act pretty much in same way as above. Even 1 ml of alcohol provide 7 kcal and that too empty calories.
Increase your protein intake:
Protein is an important ingredient of your food if you want to lose fat and/or gain muscles. Protein stay more in the digestive tract and keeps you full for hours.
Remember proteins are the building blocks of your muscles. Without enough protein intake you can’t build or maintain enough muscles. Muscles are metabolically most active tissues in our body. Build muscles and you burn much more calories, easily and lose belly fat without anything fancy.
Try to take more protein during morning. Studies have shown this will prevent you from extra snacking or unhealthy eating in afternoon. Protein can significantly reduce carb and sugar cravings too.
Calorie content is same as carbs, ie 4 kcal per gram. But protein takes up a lot of calories to digest and absorb. This is called thermic effect of food (almost 15-30% of total calories) . Protein beats carbs hands down here and thus you burn lots of calorie by simply assimilation of food.
If you can’t reach your daily protein requirement from food, go for protein supplements. Protein powders and bars are available and are great choices too if you can use them intelligently.
Eat more fat :
This may seem like a paradox, eating fat to lose belly fat! But that is true and important. If you look at the fat loss diets like keto diet and low carb high fat diet, they tend to have high fat.
Do not think this fat from food goes straight into your pot belly. Body breaks, digests, absorbs and metabolizes dietary fat in a complex manner. Fat has zero effect on insulin hormone and helps to keep it low. (Remember, as said earlier, you can’t lose belly fat efficiently in a high insulin environment in your body.)
Add fat like butter or ghee in your food. A tsp or too with your food won’t provide a ton of calories. But it helps in slowing down carb absorption and reduces it’s insulinogenic properties. Besides it keeps you fuller for hours than a simple carb diet.
Besides omega 3 fatty acids have definite role in better fat metabolism. Studies have shown fat choices with higher omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid, tend to lower cholesterol and triglyceride more. Thus try to have sea food and deep water fish in your diet, as much as possible.
If you can’t get enough of this good fat, pop those fish oil capsules in as supplement. Now a days lots of vitamin and dietary supplements provide these too. Besides losing belly fat naturally, they are good for your heart health too. Doctors prescribe these regularly in patients with obesity and metabolic syndromes.
Sleep more and relax :
Don’t think that staying awake keeps metabolism higher and burns more fat. It does not act that way. Good sleep for 7 to 8 hours have lots of health benefits.
Good sleep reduces the cortisol or the stress hormone. High cortisol has role in storing belly fat. Besides, try relaxing techniques like yoga, meditation, deep breathing etc.
It’s all in your mind. If you are perennially stressed about your job, career, future, client pressure etc. you are having high cortisol in your body. This not only accumulates lots of belly fat but have overall bad effect on your health.
Fat loss pills and supplements are there but try to avoid them or use them cautiously :
Fat loss pills, medications and supplements are available. But we need lots of research to prove their efficacy and safety profile. A few have proved their efficacy but proper diet, exercise and lifestyle modifications are much more effective and health choice for you.
Anyway, green tea and black coffee (without lots of milk/cream/sugar) can be used as good fat loss supplements. Few bulk formation pills like glucomannan, gambusia and fat absorption inhibitor like orlistat have some role. You may try them under doctor supervision but don’t expect great results if your basics are not right.