Belly fat—that one thing we can’t help but notice when we look in the mirror.
Abdominal fat is some of the most stubborn on the body. It’s both easy to gain and hard to lose, thanks to its deep evolutionary origins. Now that it’s mostly vestigial and associated with ageing, it’s a popular target for those who want to get fit.
If you’re struggling to shift stubborn abdominal fat, don’t panic. Here are 5 simple ways to lose belly fat.
1. Skip the Sit-Ups
Many people still make the mistake of thinking that spot exercises will tackle regions of fat—in this case, that sit-ups or crunches can do away with belly fat.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Spot exercises help with muscle tone, but no one will know how toned your stomach muscles are if they’re hiding behind belly fat, and crunches won’t do much to help.
Consider switching to aerobic exercises like swimming, brisk walking, or jogging to burn belly fat. These are cardiovascular activities that get your whole body working, meaning they burn a lot of calories and, therefore, your fat reserves.
One popular technique for fat-burning cardio is interval training. This involves low-intensity exercise interspersed with intense, high-energy bursts. This burns more calories over time than more typical steady-state workouts.
2. Back to Basics
Devilishly convenient and far too delicious, processed foods cast a large shadow on the modern diet.
Broadly, processed foods are any foods that have been transformed on their way to your table. That, of course, includes a huge number of things you might eat daily.
Not all processed foods are inherently unhealthy, but they make it easy to lose track of what goes into your body. Many processed foods are loaded up with added sugars, salt, and fats, which obscure their nutritional content.
To make matters worse, processed foods often market themselves as healthy despite their additives. Breakfast cereals, for instance, often have more in common with dessert than they do with a healthy meal, despite their branding.
By sticking to foods with little to no processing, like vegetables, nuts, fruits, and meat, you’ll make things easier to track and will find it easier to stay within your recommended intake. Cooking more meals from scratch is also a simple yet effective way to reduce your processed food intake.
3. Sleep Tight
Science has given us a mountain of evidence to show the interconnectivity of our body. Many problems have unlikely causes. For instance, your sleep habits might be hampering your fat-burning efforts.
Poor-quality, disturbed sleep can contribute to weight retention and frustrate efforts to burn belly fat. Consider practising good sleep hygiene to see how it affects your diet. Worst case scenario? Better sleep will improve your overall health.
If you have persistent sleep problems, consider speaking to your doctor. It could be that you have an underlying condition, such as sleep apnoea, which could make it harder to lose weight and burn fat.
4. Chill Out
Alongside poor-quality sleep, stress is another overlooked contributor to weight gain.
Research shows that higher levels of stress can lead to weight gain, both directly (through our body’s response to stress) and indirectly (through behavioural responses like comfort eating). More weight means more abdominal fat to deal with.
Managing your stress level is easier said than done, of course. If you can’t eliminate sources of stress, try mindfulness exercises like meditation. Despite its wishy-washy reputation, meditation is one of the simplest, scientifically-backed things you can do to manage your stress levels.
5. The Carb Conundrum
Carbohydrates are the combo of sugar, fibres and starches that form an essential part of your diet. Carbs are pretty complicated, scientifically speaking. The straightforward version is that carbs are high-energy foods that form a staple part of the human diet, but can lead to undesirable fat when consumed in excess amounts.
Simple carbs include sugary foods, while complex carbs are found in the likes of fruit and bread.
In their simple form, carbs are the espresso of food, while complex carbs deliver energy over many hours. Ditching sources of simple carbs, like white bread, white pasta, and processed sugar, and increasing your intake of complex carbs can help you feel fuller for longer and give you more sustainable energy levels.
You can also reduce your overall carb intake in favour of protein, which will help you feel full and regulate your appetite. That will make it easier to burn fat overall. Protein can be found abundantly in unprocessed foods, like meat, seeds, nuts, and legumes, so it can also help you eat less processed food.
Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat
These five simple ways to lose belly fat can help you beat the paunch and find a figure you’re happy with. The best part about these tips is that you can start doing them today—they’re that simple.
Looking for more ways to find your figure? Make sure to check our other articles here.