The secret to losing belly fat is actually no secret at all. What it comes down to is this—clean, balanced eating; consistent workouts; and regular, restorative sleep. It sounds simple—and it is—but with today’s bustling lifestyle it gets harder and harder to shed unwanted pounds.
While it’s very difficult and rather impossible (according to many naysayers) to spot-reduce fat, targeting body fat as a whole is your best bet to busting that belly. Here’s what you need to know if you want rid yourself of that extra fluff.
1. Eat proteins, carbs and healthy fats at every meal
Food is your foundation, and fitness is the accessory. Every meal and snack needs to embrace the macronutrient trifecta of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats to help reduce overall body fat, which will aid in reducing stubborn belly fat. You can’t go wrong by dividing your plate into thirds and filling each section with a primo protein, primo carbohydrate, and primo fat.
2. Move more throughout the day
While working out is great for burning calories and building muscle, you don’t want to do a morning workout and then sit at a desk all day. You want to increase non-exercise activity thermogenesis (“NEAT”). It’s the calories you burn moving around throughout the day (not through exercise). Increasing NEAT will increase your metabolic rate, burning more daily calories, helping you lose weight overall.
If you sit most of the day, set reminders to stand up and walk around a few minutes every hour. Take a brisk walk during your lunch break, walk up a few flights to get to the bathroom on a different floor in your office building, or take a stroll every night after dinner.
3. Cut down on the sweets
Sugary foods such as ice cream, cookies, chocolate and candy spike your insulin levels, which makes losing weight really hard. Keeping your insulin levels low will help you reduce your overall body fat percentage, and that means belly fat.
Eating sugar also increases your cravings for it, and since sweets tend to be high in calories, that’s another reason to cut down and only indulge every once in a while.
4. Get enough sleep each night
Sleep and weight gain are closely linked since a lack of sleep will raise cortisol levels (your stress hormone), as well as grehlin (hunger hormone), and increasing cravings, so you eat more.
Lack of sleep will also make you too tired to get up for that early morning workout, or have the energy to get push hard if you do make it. So aim to get between seven and nine hours each night, or whatever you feel your body needs.
5. Do HIIT workouts
The most effective type of cardio that’s proven to target belly fat is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). And no need to suffer for hours at the gym. The whole workout, including warmup, doesn’t need to be more than 45 minutes to be effective, and three to four times a week is enough.
6. Eat in a calorie deficit
In order to decrease your overall body fat percentage, and lose belly fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume. You can do this through a combination of diet and exercise, being sure to never go below 1,200 calories per day.
7. Drink lots of water throughout the day
Grab a huge reusable water bottle and keep it by your side at all times. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so staying hydrated may be what your body needs — not a second helping of dinner. Aim to get between 60 and 100 ounces each day.
8. Reduce stress
Stress plays a big role in creating a leaner waist because it triggers the production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that’s linked to an increased appetite and more belly fat.
Find healthy ways to relax and bring more joy to your life each day. Get 10 minutes alone to color, play music, read your favorite book, or do a tension-melting yoga sequence. If you’re anxious or worried, call a friend or therapist or write in a journal. And go ahead and treat yourself to a manicure or a massage when you’re really stressed. It’s good for your mental health — and your belly.
9. Stop eating when you’re satisfied
Overeating at every meal means you’re eating in a calorie surplus, which will cause weight gain. Practice mindfulness when you sit down to eat. Limit the distraction, chew each bite well, put your fork or food down between bites, and stop when you’re halfway through to take a 10-minute break and assess whether you’re really hungry for the rest. Stop when you feel satisfied, but not stuffed.
10. Eliminate processed foods
Forgo eating packaged foods that contain a laundry list of chemically-laden ingredients, trans-fat, sugar, and salt. This includes packaged candy, cookies, chips, and frozen dinners. They’re high in calories and don’t offer much nutrition, so you end up feeling hunger, and eat more. Choose whole foods that contain one ingredient — itself — and cook meals at home so you know exactly what’s in your food.
11. Limit the alcohol
Wine, beer, and cocktails contain carbs and empty calories that aren’t doing your belly any favors. Alcohol can also impair your judgment, increasing cravings for junk food, and making it hard to say no. That foggy feeling the next day also isn’t going to inspire you to hit the gym. If you’re used to drinking every night, cut it down to once a week and you’ll notice a difference.
12. Get on the 4 Week Diet program
Given the health and fitness landscape in today’s world, it has never been easier to lose weight, look good and feel better. Never. Weight loss doesn’t require you to starve, give up your favorite foods or exercise till you drop. And it certainly doesn’t require you to have the skinny gene or fancy Lululemon tights. It is a simple matter when one cuts through all the smoke. Cutting through the smoke is the hard part.
In fact, if you have not achieved weight loss success, it likely has nothing to do with you. Given endless diet strategies, diet supplements and misinformation available, it is a wonder we’re still healthy and alive, much less lose weight.
If the search for the ‘right’ diet system has left you more confused than empowered, take a deep breath and relax. My friend Brian Flatt, creator of the 4 Week Diet, will take aim at this confusion, blow away the smoke and make things as simple as possible. In fact, he’ll nail it down to a single “trick”. Just four hormones. And with these four hormones, we can all work miracles. Click here to see Brian’s presentation on the 4 Week Diet now.