If you’re sick and tired of working on losing belly fat, but nothing seems to be happening – this article is for you. Losing belly fat is very possible, but it requires an understanding of some key strategies that will help you solve the belly fat issue once and for all.
Does it take magical pills to lose belly fat?
As fellow fitness blogger – Physiqonomics says…you’re not going to get a magical 3 step fat loss prescription from this article. In fact, this article is officially #BULL$HITFREE – so if you’re looking for someone to rub your shoulders and tell you “it’s ok – it’s not your fault” – stop reading now.
The TRUTH about Losing Belly Fat
You’re carrying more body fat than you want to be carrying because of the simple fact that you eat food than your body needs and over time you’ve built up body fat in areas that are tough to get rid of…AKA your body is the result of your choices.
That means its time to leave your excuses and history at the door. You are officially grabbing life by nuts and saying “I’m going to be held responsible for my actions moving forward”.
Yes, you might have been born with poor genetics, or you ate bad food as a kid or whatever the case may be. However, that body fat isn’t going to magically go away, so it’s up to you to get rid of it.
In order to lose that unwanted fat you’re going to have to less, move more and do a combination of those two things for a long enough period of time to burn through that belly-fat (along with other fat stores on your body).
If you’re keeping it real, you know that you’d love to rid yourself of your belly-fat once and for all. We’ve all taken a look at our midsections (well as least those of us who aren’t born shredded) and wished for a leaner more defined stomach. A flat, toned and ripped set of abs tops most fitness enthusiasts wish lists. The problem is that belly fat seems to be the hardest and most stubborn body-fat to lose. This article is all about why belly-fat is the most difficult area to cut and how you can put together a strategy to beat belly fat once and for all.
The Reality of Motivation and Losing Belly Fat
Don’t be shocked to find that I won’t be giving you special “Motivation Hacks” or some other guru line of “Just think positive thoughts and visualize your six pack”. That’s for the corny Instagram celebrities who think because they have millions of followers they can mislead you with BS. Naaaaaw fam…we don’t dont do that here.
The tricky thing about Motivation is that the more you seek to find motivation – the more it disappears. Why is that? Because trying to get motivation means you aren’t doing jack $hit. You’re sitting around waiting for the Motivation fairy to tap you on the head and grant you three wishes or something. Not gonna happen.
There’s only secret to getting motivated: TAKE ACTION DAILY. Action will lead to momentum and momentum leads to feeling motivated at times. Das it mane.
How Your Body Loses Belly Fat (and Burns Fat for Fuel)
Burning fat for fuel is a two-part process which involves releasing energy from fat stores into the blood (this is called lipolysis) and cells taking these molecules in and utilizing them (oxidation). The first step, lipolysis, is triggered by chemicals known as “catecholamines.” For example, Adrenaline is a catecholamine and once these chemicals are in your bloodstream, they attach to “receptors” (attachment sites) on fat cells, which causes them to release some of their energy stores.
After these molecules release (free fatty acids), they are then used as fuel (burned or “oxidized”) by different types of cells in the body. Well trained muscle is particularly good at oxidizing fats which is why it’s much easier to lose when you have a lot of muscle mass. Just another reason to include resistance training in your fitness plan.
Now this is where we get to the difference between belly fat cells and fat cells that are easier to burn in other areas of the body. Fat cells have a certain number of receptor sites for catecholamines, but they aren’t all the same. One type of receptor is known as an “alpha-2” receptor, and another is a “beta-2” receptor. The physiology gets somewhat complicated, but the bottom line is this: beta-2 receptors speed up lipolysis (the release of energy from fat stores into the blood) and alpha-2 receptors slow it down.
What this means for belly-fat purposes is that fat cells with more beta-2 receptors are easier to burn off, whereas fat cells that have more alpha-2 receptors are much more difficult. This is the problem with belly-fat, along with all other “stubborn fat” areas. The ratio between beta-2 and alpha-2 receptors is heavily weighted towards alpha-2 receptors in these areas. Thus, when you’re focused on reducing bodyfat, you immediately start seeing reductions in fat masses with high amounts of beta-2 receptors, but the fat areas with large amounts of alpha-2 receptors are much slower to respond.
For the majority of you reading this article, this means rapid reductions in fat loss from places like your arms, shoulders, face, legs, and chest. However, it also means much slower reductions in our stomach area, hips, lower back and thighs. These latter areas are usually the last parts to get really lean simply because they contain greater amounts of alpha-2 receptors.
The “Lose Belly Fat” Checklist
Track Your Food
If you haven’t been tracking your food intake, that’s the best place to start when it comes to losing belly fat. Listen, this whole “get lean” thing isn’t easy so if you’re not willing to be an adult and track the calories that go into your mouth – you really don’t deserve to have a lean stomach. Just keeping it real. And the good news is that technology makes it so easy for you! Download an app like My Fitness Pal and just follow the directions. Once you see how much food you’re taking in on average then it’s time to make some adjustments (see the next step).
Fall in Love With Patience
The body is genetically wired to lose fat in certain areas first, so by understanding you can implement a healthy and gradual fat loss plan. Trying to speed things up by going the extreme route will eventually lead to disaster. Rebounding and adding back all your fat loss (plus potentially more than what you started with) will only serve to frustrate you even more. Yo-yo dieting can make losing fat 10x harder in the long run as new fat cells are created and old ones become harder to burn off.
Set an Appropriate Caloric Intake
For most people setting your calories around 10-12 X Your current body weight is a good place to start. If your’e less active, consider the lower end of the spectrum (x 10) and if you’re a maniac and running around all day – try the higher end. As you start to lean down and drop weight, you’ll need to readjust calories. However, don’t try and constantly change your calories every few days if you notice a change in the scale. Allow your body to get the most out of each calorie level before making significant changes.
Consider a Keto Approach
Ketogenic diets are primarily based around high fat, moderate protein and very low carb (under 50g per day). Not everyone can adopt a ketogenic diet as a permanent lifestyle, but in my experience “going keto” can help with folks who have trouble fat areas that just won’t seem to budge. It’s never a bad idea to experiment with different dietary plans and keto works great for a lot of people. You can always add carbs back in gradually after you’ve reached a level of leanness that you’re satisfied with.
Don’t Go Cardio Crazy
Focus most of your efforts on building muscle with a properly put together resistance training plan. This will help keep your metabolism healthy and also allow for cardio to be used as tool instead of a crutch that you’re constantly relying on. Cardio is excellent for overall health, but shouldn’t be abused for fat loss purposes. Trying to do hours and hours of cardio each week will quickly lead to a plateau. Your focus should be on training with weights or body weight movements while incorporating metabolic conditioning workouts 1-3x per week and then utilizing low-impact cardio like walking or biking to increase overall activity (and improve your mood).
A Helpful Video on Training with High Reps or Low Reps to Lose Belly Fat
Incorporate Strategic Diet Breaks
Losing belly fat takes time and the last thing you want to do is get burned out. A general suggestion is to focus on losing fat for 6-12 weeks before taking a 1-3 week diet “break”. This doesn’t mean you go off the deep end and start chowing down on donuts, soda, and pizza every day. That’s called being a dumbass. Instead you should simply raise calories by 500 or so and eat more carbs or fats (or both) to give your body a chance to maintain your new weight loss. This also helps for mental purposes. Remember when I mentioned that losing belly fat is hard? Well hard things take a toll if you go at it like a savage 24/7/365. Taking a planned “break” can ensure that you keep the momentum alive and continue to progress. As you get leaner and leaner it’s a good idea to take more frequent breaks to coax your body into losing that last bit of stubborn fat.
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Relax and Get Better Sleep
Stress is a fat loss KILLER. Meditation can help calm your mind and teach you breathing exercises for stressful time. Starting your day with some quiet time where you can clear your mind can set you up for less stress and thus, better fat loss results!
Get Better Sleep
Some people say 6 hours of sleep, others say 9 then there are the standard 8 hours per night recommendations. Which one is it?? Well the real fat loss boost comes from quality sleep. Meaning your sleep environment needs be set up for success. This includes darkening your room, sleeping in cool temperatures, minimizing technology and TV usage near bed time, utilizing your bed for sleep and sex only, and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon. This will help you fall asleep easier and get deeper, more productive sleep which is excellent for losing body fat!
Getting a lean and fit body takes time. That stubborn fat is always going to be the last to go, however, it can and will get burned off if you stick with the plan. Don’t get discouraged by slow results. Remember – slow and steady wins the race. Trying to create overnight results will always end badly.
If you have any questions – consider leaving them in the comments below!