How To Reduce Lower Belly Fat – 3 Simple Ways To Follow Charushila Biswas Hyderabd040-395603080 December 9, 2019

Lower belly fat is a global health issue. About 60% of the population (above 18 years) in the US has belly fat (1). Visceral fat is linked to insulin resistance, which is a precursor for diabetes (2). It can also impair insulin sensitivity in liver and muscle tissue (3). This increases the chances of metabolic diseases. Hence, it is important to get rid of belly fat. Here are three ways to reduce lower belly fat.

You can measure your belly fat at home by using a simple measuring tape. Measure your waist and hip circumference to get the ratio.

According to the WHO, a healthy waist to hip ratio (WHR) is 0.80 or less in women and 0.90 or less in men. A WHR of 1 or more indicates abdominal obesity or belly fat (4).

Contents

How To Reduce Lower Belly Fat

There are no fast tricks to get rid of lower belly fat. You need to have a holistic approach (exercise, diet, and lifestyle management) to obtain positive and sustainable results.

1. Exercise

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to lower belly fat. However, focusing only on ab and core exercises is not going to help out. Spot reduction of the fat around your belly is not possible.

A study on 24 healthy individuals doing abdominal exercise for six weeks showed no significant benefit in reducing abdominal fat (5). Instead, you need to target different muscle groups with aerobic exercises. Several studies have found that aerobic exercises can help reduce belly fat (6).

Try out different forms of exercises – like strength training, cardio, and aerobic exercises – for better results. On your abs days, do the following exercises with some cardio to target your core muscles :

  • Leg Raises – 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Scissor Kicks – 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Leg In And Out – 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Standing Alternate Leg Kicks – 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Lying Leg Curls – 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Mountain Climbers – 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Bicycle Crunches – 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Russian Twists – 3 sets of 20 reps
  • Burpees – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Flutter Kicks – 3 sets of 20 reps
  • Superman – 2 sets of 3 reps

2. Healthy Diet

  • Cut Down On Carbs

Cutting down on carbs is extremely beneficial in reducing excess belly fat. A low-carb diet decreases a few pounds quickly as it releases water from the body. In a study conducted at the Haimoto Clinic (Japan), 63 people (men and women) on a low-carb diet showed a reduction in belly fat, subcutaneous fat, and waist circumference (7).

Limiting carb intake to 100 g/day, consuming more fruits and vegetables, replacing grains with whole grains, and portion control are important to kick start your weight loss. The dietary fiber in whole grains improves satiety to aid weight loss (8). The bioactive compounds in fruits and vegetables help in various cellular reactions and processes (9).

  • Include Protein In Every Meal

A study carried on 27 overweight/obese men by the University of Missouri found that a high-protein diet improves appetite control and satiety to promote weight loss (10).

Proteins take longer to digest and release PYY, a gut hormone that decreases appetite and promotes satiety (11). They also help build lean muscle mass, a site where a number of mitochondria (cell organelles in which sugar gets converted to usable energy) are present, boosting up metabolism (12

You should aim for a 25-30% protein intake of total calories. Use coconut oil for grilling or sautéing your protein as a study has shown that medium- and long-chain triacylglycerol (MLCT) suppresses body fat accumulation in humans (13).

  • Consume Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are a great way to reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is directly linked to obesity. Include polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds, clarified butter, fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids in your diet to lower inflammation (14).

  • Bulk Up On Fiber

When the soluble fiber found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is fermented in the large intestine, it produces two gut hormones – glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) and peptide YY (PYY). These hormones increase satiety (15). The best ways to incorporate fiber in the diet is being regular with your fruit and vegetable intake, replacing regular grains with whole grains, and adding legumes to your diet.

  • Avoid Refined Sugar

If you want to lose belly fat, you need to avoid refined sugar in any form – colas, candies, chocolates, cakes, cookies, etc. Many studies have shown that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increases the chances of obesity. A positive correlation was established between the intake of sugary beverages and weight gain/obesity among children and adults (16).

Use jaggery, dark brown sugar, organic honey, and organic maple syrup instead of refined sugar when you crave something sweet.

  • Drink Green Tea

Green tea is the perfect detox drink when you are trying to lose belly fat. It contains caffeine and EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which can have powerful effects on metabolism. It helps nullify the harmful effects of free oxygen radicals, thereby preventing toxin accumulation (17). The effect may be strengthened when green tea consumption is combined with exercise.

Have two to three cups (8 fluid ounces) of green tea per day.

  • Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is the key to flushing out toxins. Consume less energy-dense (low-calorie) foods to lose weight. Drinking 500 ml water 30 minutes before a meal can lead to moderate weight loss (18).

A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism states that drinking 500 ml of water increases metabolic rate by 30% because of water-induced thermogenesis. This can be beneficial for weight loss (19).

3. Lifestyle Management

If you are following a great diet but still not losing your belly fat, then your lifestyle could be to blame. Stress, inadequate sleep, and bad lifestyle habits are the major culprits of belly fat.

  • Stress Management

Stress and weight gain are interconnected. A study published in Obesity Research states that uncontrollable stress increases the cortisol levels in your body, which causes fat deposition in the abdomen area (20). This increase in cortisol levels can also increase the urge for “comfort foods” like refined carbs, fried foods, and sweets. These foods cause fat deposition, specifically in the abdominal area (21). A few things you can do to reduce stress are:

  • Do deep breathing exercises in the early morning and before going to bed.
  • Walk outdoors for 15-20 minutes (slow pace work) to get some fresh air.
  • Spend some time on a hobby you enjoy.
  • Take some time out from your busy schedule to enjoy with your family and friends.
  • Proper Sleep

Sleep helps recharge your body and mind. Sleep deprivation increases inflammation and toxin build-up in the body. A study published in Obesity Journal on obese women showed that sleeping more than 7 hours per night increased the likelihood of weight-loss success (22). Therefore, the quality and quantity of sleep are vital factors in losing belly fat.

Conclusion

You cannot lose all your belly fat within a week or a month. Abdominal fat is stubborn and requires a long-term strategy. Start with a good exercise regimen, eat well, and reduce stress to gradually reduce the inches from your belly.

22 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Indicator Details: Percentage with Abdominal Obesity by Survey Year, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    https://nccd.cdc.gov/ckd/detail.aspx?Qnum=Q146
  • Insulin resistance: definition and consequences, Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11460565
  • What causes the insulin resistance underlying obesity?Current Opinion In Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4038351/
  • Waist Circumference and Waist-Hip Ratio, Report of a WHO Expert Consultation, World Health Organization.
    https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44583/9789241501491_eng.pdf;jsessionid=B75820A2C301B29DA1FE75C7ADDE596B?sequence=1
  • The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21804427
  • A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of aerobic vs. resistance exercise training on visceral fat, Obesity Reviews, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21951360
  • Effects of a moderate low-carbohydrate diet on preferential abdominal fat loss and cardiovascular risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138148/
  • Dietary fiber and satiety: the effects of oats on satiety, Nutrition Reviews, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4757923/
  • Health-Promoting Components of Fruits and Vegetables in the Diet, Advances in Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3650511/
  • The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men, Obesity, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847729
  • A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats, Nutrition & Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4258944/
  • Chapter 2 – Anatomy of Skeletal Muscle and Its Vascular Supply, Skeletal Muscle Circulation, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK57140/
  • The application of medium-chain fatty acids: edible oil with a suppressing effect on body fat accumulation, Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296368
  • N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Inflammation in Obesity: Local Effect and Systemic Benefit, BioMed Research International, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4538411/
  • Dietary Fibre and Its Effect on Health, International Journal of Research and Analytical Reviews.
  • Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210834/
  • Epigallocatechin Gallate Is the Most Effective Catechin Against Antioxidant Stress via Hydrogen Peroxide and Radical Scavenging Activity, Medical Science Monitor, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6247744/
  • Efficacy of water preloading before main meals as a strategy for weight loss in primary care patients with obesity: RCT, Obesity, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26237305/
  • Water-induced thermogenesis, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14671205
  • Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women, Obesity Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16353426
  • Stress and Obesity: Are There More Susceptible Individuals?Current Obesity Reports, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5958156/
  • Relationship between sleep quality and quantity and weight loss in women participating in a weight-loss intervention trial, Obesity, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22402738

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Charushila Biswas

Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. And that prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.

9 Tips (+ Workout) to Get Rid of Lower Belly Fat

Muffin top. Belly pooch. There are plenty of ways to describe extra belly fat, most of them with less-than-desireable nicknames.

Whether you’ve struggled to lose belly fat after having kids, have recently hit menopause, or life (and cupcakes) have simply gotten in the way, most of us have dealt with carrying extra weight around our middle before.

However, if you want to get rid of lower belly fat for good, it’s not enough to try a few sit-ups and call it a day.

The hard truth is: you can’t spot reduce belly fat. If you want to lose fat, you have to lose it all over.

Getting rid of belly fat and sculpting the muscles underneath requires both changing your diet and ramping up your workouts. This article covers 9 helpful lifestyle and exercise tips to get rid of lower belly fat:

  1. Get 150 minutes of cardio per week
  2. Do HIIT 1-2 times per week
  3. Do ab-toning workouts
  4. Create a calorie deficit
  5. Increase protein and fiber intake
  6. Limit simple sugars and refined carbs
  7. Drink more water
  8. Minimize stress levels
  9. Get 7-9 hours of sleep

And don’t forget to check out our intense 15-minute flat ab workout filled with moves to help you define the most important (and overlooked) muscles in your core!

Jump to workout

1. Get 150 Minutes of Heart-Pumping Cardio Per Week

As we said above, if you want to lose belly fat, you have to lose weight all over. You have to shed your “extra layer” to see the muscles underneath. Cardio is a part of the weight loss equation.

The CDC recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week, which can include anything from jogging, jumping rope, cycling, or a spin class. There is no one right way to raise your heart rate, so pick what you like to do.

The bottom line is: you need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight (more to come on that below) so doing some cardio will help with that math equation. The bonus is you will strengthen your heart muscle and your stamina. Since heart disease is the number one killer of women in America, taking care of your heart should be high on your self care list for overall health and calorie burning.

To get started with cardio, try these 7 best cardio workouts for weight loss.

2. Fit in HIIT 1-2 Times Per Week

If you are willing to give HIIT a try as part of your cardio prescription, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a top choice for anyone looking to burn fat. HIIT helps burn fat and torch more calories in a shorter amount of time than other workouts.

Here’s how it works: You give maximum effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods. HIIT workouts train and condition both your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. This kind of exercise gets your heart rate up and improves your cardiovascular fitness level while burning more fat and calories in less time.

Consider HIIT your intense workouts, while your cardio workouts are more steady-state. You need a mix of both!

3. Do Ab-Toning Workouts

Like we said above, you can’t spot reduce fat in any area of your body. However, you can absolutely work to tone specific areas by using specific exercises.

First things first: it’s important to understand the different types of abdominal muscles. To get rid of belly fat, you have to target all the muscles of your stomach, not just one. You need to do exercises that target the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus and the obliques.

The rectus abdominus muscle is that straight-down-the-middle muscle that, if strengthened enough, is where your “six pack” shows up. The basic crunch is great for working this muscle but not the only worthy ab exercise.

You should also aim to strengthen your transverse abdominus, the muscle that sits deep and low in your belly. By taking time to strengthen this muscle properly, you are creating a built-in “corset” for your body that holds the abs in tight and protects your low back. Pilates is an example of a workout that can help you work your transverse abdominus. My favorite Pilates exercise to start with is a full body roll up.

Finally, you should also target your obliques, which are your side abdominals. They help you bend side to side, rotate right and left, and stabilize and protect your spine. Your obliques have to work in harmony with all of your abdominal muscles to truly give you a tight tummy and a strong, stable back. Check out this Russian Twist exercise or side plank to work your obliques.

Note: If you are pregnant, consult your doctor to decide if it’s safe for you to do ab exercises. If you have recently given birth and have any abdominal wall separation, check out our 10 minute workout for Diastasis Recti to help you ease back into exercise. Also read our article on how to ease back into abdominal work after a baby.

If you’re ready to start moving, jump to our ab-toning workout below!

4. Create a Calorie Deficit

It’s fairly straightforward: If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. This is what is referred to as a “calorie deficit”.

You can reduce calories by lowering your calorie intake, increasing physical activity, or a combination of both.

For most people, a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day is sufficient for weight loss and unlikely to significantly affect your hunger or energy.

However, it should be noted that women generally should not consume fewer than 1,200 calories per day, and men no fewer than 1,500 calories.

A good tip to use when creating a calorie deficit with diet is to fill half of your plate with veggies—and the remaining parts with lean protein (salmon, chicken) and some healthy carbs (quinoa, rice.) This will help you with portion control.

For increasing physical activity, you’ll be more motivated if you pick something you like to do. I always suggest walking, especially for beginners, because most people are willing to try power walking. Power walking doesn’t require a trip to the gym or a lot of extra time – it can burn up to 200 or more calories per 30-minute walk. The key to walking for weight loss is to walk fast. Walk like you are in an airport and late for a flight.

Just because these tips are simple, does not mean they are easy. Here are some tips to stay motivated during your weight loss journey.

5. Increase Protein and Fiber Intake

In order to lose weight, including from your lower belly, you should consume an adequate amount of fiber and protein.

Fiber has a wide range of benefits, including aiding weight loss. Some types of fiber slow the absorption of nutrients, allowing you to feel full longer, therefore consuming less calories throughout the day and helping achieve a deficit.

Men need between 30 and 38 grams of fiber per day, and women need between 21 and 25 grams per day.

Some good sources of fiber include: avocados, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.

Protein is made up of amino acids and helps feed and repair our muscles, among other parts of our body. However, it’s where you are getting your protein that matters most.

Choose good sources of animal protein, like fish, poultry, eggs and low-fat dairy. Vegetables also provide ample amounts of protein – look for dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, broccoli and asparagus. And don’t forget quinoa, a grain that mimics the same amino acid profile as an animal protein. A good choice for vegetarians and vegans.

6. Limit Added Sugars and Refined Carbs

It’s true, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. And you may not want to hear it, but limiting or better yet eliminating added sugars and refined carbohydrates is key to hitting your weight loss goals, including decreasing belly fat.

Added sugars like those in soda, juice, cookies, muffins, processed meals, and candy are the enemy. (Don’t be afraid of natural sugar found in foods like fruits, vegetables and dairy products, which contain healthy fiber and don’t affect your insulin in the same way.)

Added sugars increase your hunger and desire for more sugar, neither of which make weight loss easier. Also, drinking a lot of sugary beverages is linked to an increased amount of visceral fat, a kind of deep belly fat associated with conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Refined carbohydrates are typically found in processed, packaged foods like frozen pizza or food made with white flour like pasta and bagels. These carbs act just like added sugar in your body. Refined carbs release glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream much faster than complex carbs like quinoa, sweet potatoes and whole grains. This results in blood sugar spikes, which lead to crashes that can trigger hunger and cravings for more high-carb foods.

Refined carbohydrate foods also usually lack essential nutrients and can be considered “empty” calories.

Note: In addition to added sugars and refined carbs, alcohol also contributes to weight gain: it stops your body from burning fat, it’s high in calories, it can make you feel hungry, and it can lead to poor food choices. Remember to drink in moderation – women should have no more than one drink a day, and men should have no more than two per day.

7. Drink More Water

Water has plenty of benefits, several of which involve maintaining a healthy weight, like improving energy and reducing hunger.

And consider this: in a living, moving body, skeletal muscle is more than 70 percent water. In order to put healthy muscle on your body, water is a necessity.

On average, you should be drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. If you exercise regularly, add another glass or two to that.

8. Minimize Stress Levels

High cortisol (the stress hormone) levels have actually been linked to belly fat retention.

Although it’s not necessarily the first step in reducing belly fat, chronic stress can definitely cause some people to hold on to more visceral fat.

Manage stress through meditation, yoga and self-care, and see if you notice a difference.

9. Get 7-9 Hours of Sleep

You may not think of sleep as being connected to your weight loss journey, but research shows otherwise: study participants who were put on a sleep-deprived diet experienced a 55 percent reduction in fat loss compared to the well-rested participants.

Lack of sleep can also change your fat cells by disrupting your body’s ability to properly use insulin. Excess insulin can cause your body to store fat in the wrong places, which can cause weight gain and even diabetes.

Adults should regularly get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep to stay healthy, alert and energized.

15-Minute Workout To Burn Lower Belly Fat

Now that you’ve learned the diet and lifestyle changes needed to reduce fat, here is the 15-minute workout that completes the picture. Perform 2-3 times per week to melt off belly fat.

This workout will tone and sculpt all the muscles in your core, including your transverse abdominus (low abs), rectus abdominus (vertical ab muscle), and oblique muscles.

Do this workout first thing when you get up, while the kids are eating breakfast, or at the gym on your lunch break—whenever you have time to squeeze it in.

Perform each of these moves for 1 minute. Take a 1-minute rest afterwards—then start from the beginning and do another 1 minute for each move.

Oblique Burners

1) Stand with feet a little wider than hip distance apart, knees bent, and hands held behind the back of your head.

2) Bend to the right, reaching right hand toward floor behind your leg. Keep spine long.

3) Return to center and repeat on the left side.

Froggy Crunches

1) Start lying on mat with fingers at the base of your head and elbows pointed out. Bring the soles of your feet together, knees pointed outward.

2) Tilt your chin slightly forward and squeeze abdominals to lift chest upward. Keep arms and neck relaxed. Slowly lower down and repeat.

Side Plank Lift and Lower

1) Start by laying on your right side with forearm below shoulder, body lifted and legs long and feet stacked. Keep body straight, abs tight and place left hand on hip.

2) Dip your hips down towards the mat and lift back up, using your obliques and core muscles.

Sweeping Scissors

1) Start lying on the mat with arms over your head and legs long.

2) Sweep arms out to sides and bring head, neck, and shoulders off the mat reaching arms long and lift one leg up and in towards the chest. Reaching arms forward on the sides of the leg. Roll back to mat lowering the leg, and repeat on the other side.

Ab Reverse Curl

1) Lie on mat and extend your legs straight up towards the ceiling.

2) As you exhale, tighten your low belly to push your feet straight into the air. Hips will lift slightly off the mat.

3) Return you hips and lower back to the mat with control. Use your abdominals vs. momentum to create the movement and avoid rolling onto the neck

Plank Jacks

1) Begin in a forearm plank position with your body in a straight line and abdominals contracted.

2) Step your left foot out to the left; step your right foot out to the center.

3) Step your left foot back to center; step your right foot back to center.

Bird Dog Crunch

1) Kneel on the mat on all fours. Reach one arm long, draw in the abs, and extend the opposite leg long behind you.

2) Bring the elbow and knee in towards your center as you round your back remember to draw in your abs. repeat on other side.

Want to lose belly fat? You’ve come to the right place…

First, you need to get real about the dangers of belly fat, because it’s affecting more of us than ever before. According to the latest government stats, 26 per cent of British adults are classified as obese. That’s just over one in four people, meaning that Britain is on-track to become the fattest country in Europe by 2025. If current trends continue, forecasters have warned that half of us will be obese by 2045.

To fight the flab around your belly, you need to understand what you’re up against. Read on to find out about the different types of fat, the causes and, most importantly, how to lose it.

The Different Types of Belly Fat

Not all fat is created equal. Excess timber around the waist hurts your health in a way that subcutaneous fat – the soft layer of chub that sits directly under the skin – doesn’t. Belly fat (a.k.a. visceral fat) is stored in your abdominal cavity, and shares space with important organs like the liver, stomach, kidneys and intestines.

Belly fat is metabolically active, which means it’s basically an organ in itself – and not one you’d want to donate on the register.

It excels at pumping out various inflammatory substances, interfering with hormones that regulate appetite, weight, mood and brain function, and sending your cortisol levels — responsible for stress — through the roof. No surprise then, that it’s associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

Related Story

So far, so tragic. There is, however, some good news. Belly fat may be the most dangerous type of body fat, but since it’s buried deep within your body, it’s also the easiest to get rid of. But before we talk about that, it’s worth identifying the causes of belly fat. After all, it’s far better to not put the weight on in the first place.

What Causes Belly Fat? The Main Culprits

We all know that eating too much and moving too little is the foundation upon which flab is built. But there’s more to the belly fat equation than ‘calories in and calories out’. Certain stressors, for example, will see you scaling your belt notches with very little effort. Here’s what you should look out for.

1. You’re Eating Trans Fats

If antioxidants are the good guys of gut health, trans fats are the super-villains. These sneaky fats actively contribute to your wobbly waist – not just by adding new fat, but by moving fat from other areas of your body to your belly. During a six-year study at Wake Forest University, monkeys that were fed an 8 per cent trans fat diet had 33 per cent more belly fat than monkeys that were fed an 8 per cent monounsaturated fat diet.

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There are currently no legal requirements for food manufacturers to label trans fats, according to the British Dietetic Association, so you need to check ingredients lists for hydrogenated fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils. The biggest culprits? Your ‘cheat day’ favourites: cakes, biscuits, ice cream, popcorn, pies, fried food, fast food, takeaways — the list goes on.

2. You’re Seriously Stressed

When your cortisol levels are through the roof, it triggers the release of insulin, and this is where things go awry. Initially, the ‘fight-or-flight’ response shuts down your digestive system so you can deal with the “threat”, like a very hungry lion or, more realistically, heavy traffic on your way to work. Once the danger has passed, your body seeks to replenish the hundreds of calories you burned fighting to the death/swearing at rush hour traffic and makes you ravenously hungry.

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Since your blood sugar levels are now super low (thanks insulin) and your reward centres are blinkered (thanks cortisol) you wind up face-planting the biscuit tin rather than the fruit bowl. To make matters worse, cortisol helps to release myostatin, a protein that breaks down muscle.

You’re Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Can one too many pints really earn you a beer belly? Well, yes. As you gulp down your drink, your body turns the alcohol into acetate, which your body can’t store. It becomes your primary energy source, and the proteins, carbs and fats swirling around your digestive system are converted to fat by default.

Factor in the excess calories from your drinks (around seven per gram) – with the gut-busting kebab you pick up on the way home (‘drunk hunger’ is a real, proven thing) and suddenly you’re looking at excess fat storage.

Not only does a night on the sauce send your cortisol levels through the roof, it saps your testosterone, which means you’ll find it more difficult to build lean muscle and burn fat as fuel.

You’ve Got Too Much of the Wrong Gut Bacteria

Most of the bacteria that dwell in your gut are pretty useful. They produce hormones, regulate your immune system, digest food, extract nutrients, control your mood, manage your appetite, and much more besides. That obese people tend to have higher numbers of Firmicutes bacteria is no coincidence – according to research published in the online journal Nature, these bacteria increase the number of calories your body absorbs from food.

According to a study of more than 1,300 twins published in the journal Genome Biology, the less diverse your gut bacteria, the more likely you are to have belly fat. Grow your gut community to shed serious timber.

How to Get Rid of Belly Fat Quickly and Safely

If you’re serious about banishing belly fat and improving your health, surviving on salad and hitting the treadmill for hours on end is a miserable (and highly inefficient) way to go about it.

Here’s how to shift belly fat in five easy steps:

skynesherGetty Images

1. Hike up Your Metabolism

Your ultimate goal is to hike up your metabolism, and the intensity of your workout, the fundamentals of your diet, how much muscle you have, how well you manage stress, and your quality of sleep all play a part in this.

“A faster metabolism helps burn fat,” explains Marcus Reddy, consultant laparoscopic, upper GI and bariatric surgeon at Spire St Anthony’s Hospital. While your metabolism is predetermined by your body size, sex and age, he says, “increasing lean body mass, avoiding long periods of hunger, and intense periods of physical activity can aid burning”.

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2. Get Your Diet in Check

Prioritise lean protein like beef, turkey, eggs, fish, chicken, and tofu. In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, participants were either assigned a 12 per cent or 25 per cent protein diet. While the first group lost 11 pounds on average, the high-protein participants shedded around 20 pounds and ditched twice as much belly fat as the low-protein subjects.

Don’t know your steak from your salmon when it comes to deciphering protein, fats, and carbs? You need our ultimate guide to tracking your macros.

Limit foods high in refined carbohydrates and refined sugar (white bread, white pasta, white rice), and replace them with high fibre ‘complex carbs’ – think: whole grains, brown rice, sweet potato, oats, beans and pulses. Fill your boots with as many vegetables as possible – they’re low calorie, high in micronutrients, and the fibre in them will keep you full.

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Snack on portion-controlled fruit, seeds and nuts. One study found that snacking on 42g of almonds per day (instead of munching on something high-carb with equal calories) helped to reduce belly fat and improved cholesterol levels. “The high levels of fibre are proven to combat excess calorie consumption later in the day,” says registered dietitian Lucy Jones.

Research published in the Journal of Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases concluded that following the Mediterranean diet could help to mitigate the harmful effects of belly fat on your heart. Better yet, it boosts the number of healthy bacteria in your gut – a study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition saw levels rise by up to seven per cent, compared with a western diet.

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It’s also important to make sure you’re eating regularly. Avoid very low calorie diets or ‘crash diets’, advises Reddy. “Periods of starvation can lower your metabolism and prevent you losing weight.”

Our beginner’s guide to meal prep won’t leave you hungry.

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3. Up the Intensity of Your Workout

Focus on increasing physical activity and building muscle to burn belly fat, recommends Reddy. “Mild activity such as walking is poor at burning fat due to its low energy consumption whilst intense cardio training will consume energy and increase metabolic rate after exercise,” he says.

When scientists from Canada’s Laval University compared a 15-week HIIT programme and a 20-week endurance-training programme, they found the former was far more effective at stoking up the body’s metabolism, which resulted in greater fat loss.

Balance your high-intensity workouts with weight lifting sessions and you’re onto a winner. Researchers at Harvard University followed more than 10,500 men over a 12 year period, and found that those who added 20 minutes of weight training to their regular cardio workout gained less age-related belly fat than those who pounded the treadmill.

Focus on compound moves like deadlifts, squats, kettlebell swings, lunges, chest presses, shoulder presses — exercises that work your entire body rather than isolating muscles. Simply put, you cannot ‘spot-reduce’ fat, meaning that endless crunches will do little for getting rid of your belly. For best results split your sessions over different days.

Not sure where to start? Our beginner’s guide to lifting weights will have you pumping iron like a pro before you know it.

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4. Learn How to Manage Stress

You don’t have to take a three-month sabbatical in Bali or enrol on a ‘breathing class’ in a Scandi Yogi retreat to find inner calm. You don’t even have to meditate (though it’ll almost certainly help). If a few minutes of deep-belly breathing in a quiet spot doesn’t chill you out, try a bodyweight workout or taking a walk around the block. Exercise boosts your circulation, transporting cortisol to your kidneys, which flush it out.

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Eating slowly will also help cinch your waist, too. Inhaling croissants while run-walking to work will do little to satiate you – not that you’ll do much digesting anyway, with all that cortisol flooding your system. Instead, by making time to eat and focusing on your food (that also means not scrolling through Instagram), you’ll wind up eating less and you’ll feel fuller for longer.

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5. Get Quality Sleep

A study by the University of Chicago found that clocking up an average six and a half hours sleep can supercharge your cortisol levels and send levels of hunger-boosting hormone ghrelin sky-high – the perfect combination for effortless weight-gain.

When you’re low on Zzz’s, activity in the brain’s frontal lobe (the sensible decision-making part) is impaired. At the same time, the more ‘primal’ parts of your brain that deal with things like desire and motivation are lit up like the Blackpool Illuminations.

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Inadequate sleep also wreaks havoc on your metabolism. When the body doesn’t get enough rest, it conserves energy by slowing down basic functions. The combination of untamable cravings, little willpower, and inefficient processing is an open invitation for fat storage. Follow our advice to improve your sleep tonight.

This article was written by Jenny Sugar and repurposed with permission from POPSUGAR Fitness.

Clean eating and hitting the gym can help you reach your weight-loss goal, but you might find you have a little extra pooch around your midsection. Here are three things you can do to help you achieve a trimmer belly.

(Looking for a program that will help you get a flat tummy—and keep it that way? With our Lose Belly Fat—For Good routines, you can see results in as little as two weeks.)

When Eating
Take an honest look at your diet and your bathroom schedule. Your belly might not be caused by fat but by air trapped in your digestive system. If you’re not getting enough fiber (you need 25 to 30 grams a day), constipation can cause bloating. On the other hand, overdoing it on fiber or eating too many gas-producing foods like broccoli, apples, or beans can also make your belly pooch a bit. Thankfully, there are also foods you can eat—like blueberries—that are proven to diminish belly fat, so sip on this flat-belly smoothie or crunch on this flat-belly salad to keep you regular and help you debloat.

When Doing Cardio
Studies show that including interval training in your cardio sessions is proven to diminish stomach fat. If you find that you normally stick to a consistent pace when running, biking, or swimming, mix it up by adding 10- to 60-second, fast-paced or sprinting intervals—here’s a 45-minute treadmill workout that does just that. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) works on the same principle as intervals, where you push to your maximum training for a period of time and follow up with a shorter rest period. Give this type of workout a try with our full-body 10-minute HIIT workout.

Short on time? Try this 5-minute high-intensity circuit workout:

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When Strength Training
Basic crunches can help tone your abs, but they only target certain abdominal muscles. Incorporate full-body exercises like variations of plank or core moves using a ball. Simply balancing on one leg on a BOSU will target your core, too. Also, try using different types of equipment—this 10-minute abs video features a small hand towel to sculpt your core.

More from POPSUGAR Fitness:
25 Salads to Help You Lose Weight
How to Lose Weight, No Gym or Diet Required
How Much Should You Exercise to Lose Weight?

Flat Stomach – Mission Impossible? These 4 Tips Can Make a Difference

If you consider your belly a problem zone when it comes to fat loss, you are not alone. This is especially true if you already lost some weight, but still feel far away from a “flat tummy”.

Is it really so hard to get a flat stomach or are you doing it wrong?

Here’s what you should know:

  • Focusing solely on problem areas can backfire: The more you obsess about your belly, the further away you get from feeling confident in your body, no matter the size. Start with a reassessment of your goals. Focus on making healthier choices long term and getting your core powerful and able to support you in all activities of daily life.
  • Bloat vs. fat: It is unrealistic to expect that you can have a flat stomach 24/7. Even if you lose a lot of fat from your abdominal area, you will still notice daily fluctuations from bloating. A completely flat stomach is not a “natural state” for your body.

Can you get your stomach flat fast?

It takes a lot of dedication to get a flat stomach, and, as always, it starts with a healthy lifestyle. Your belly won’t disappear from one day to the next, no matter what miracle cure you try. One thing you can do is reduce bloating by avoiding certain foods, such as legumes, cruciferous vegetables, and dairy products.

The following 4 tips are key to achieving a flat stomach…

1. Focus on intense, total-body workouts

It’s nearly impossible to get abs with targeted exercises when there is a layer of fat on top. It’s better to focus on total-body workouts, like those in the Results app, that recruit many muscle groups at the same time. This will result in more calories burned and more overall body fat lost. When you are working out at an intensity level that is challenging for you, you don’t need to spend hours working out. Find out how to crank up the intensity and burn more calories during your next workout.

Having a hard time pushing yourself to train hard? Try recruiting a friend to join you for your workouts.

2. Get that core strong

The best exercise to strengthen your core is the Plank! And when your core is strong, you will get stronger overall. You will have better form and be more fit for all types of activities. So get to know and love this exercise, as well as many other exercises that challenge your core. Not only does the Plank hit the core muscles hard, it also helps you improve your balance and strengthens your back and chest. Even your legs have to do some work.

Make it your mission to try a plank variation during every single workout. Once you start getting a feeling for your abdominal muscles, you will feel much more confident about your midsection.

3. Stay away from alcohol

This might get a “BOOO!” from the crowd, but it’s really important. Not only is alcohol full of empty calories, it also releases estrogen into the bloodstream which, in excess, can cause you to put on weight. If you’re really serious about getting a flat belly for summer, keep your alcohol intake to a minimum.

4. Take control of your eating habits

I say this all the time, but you can’t outtrain a bad diet. In fact, your eating habits are the key here. Check out the steps you can take:

  • Get rid of all the processed foods, microwave dinners, fast food, chips, soda, etc. All the extra sugar and sodium will surely prevent you from getting rid of the belly pooch. Don’t forget – sugar is hidden in many foods where you wouldn’t expect it.
  • Think whole foods: fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and heart-healthy fats! This fruity quinoa salad is perfect for summer and, when that sweet tooth starts calling, sink your teeth into these deliciously moist brownies made with kidney beans!
  • Drink plenty of water. This will prevent that extra bloat and help boost your metabolism. Some other drinks can help you reduce your belly bloat, too.

The bottomline

Getting a flat stomach is not an overnight project, but it’s also not impossible.

Before deciding that you really want to go for it, be aware that it will likely require bigger changes in your nutrition and current lifestyle. If you start working out, take control of your eating habits, reduce alcohol intake, and strengthen your core – you will already be much more confident on the beach.

Start today with a 12-week workout plan you can do at home without equipment!

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We all get a belly from time to time especially mums who may have a bit of a mum tum as part of their post-baby body. But exactly what causes that extra bit of belly fat that overhangs and how do we get rid of it?

One of the most frustrating parts about losing weight is looking in the mirror and seeing what is commonly termed as ‘the overhang’, ‘the pouch’ or most affectionately of all, ‘the mum tum’.

The good news is that you can leap over this final weight loss hurdle – the bad news is that you’re going to have to work pretty hard for it. And no it’s not just about doing 100 sit-ups every day.

Want to know what a mum tum is all about and how exactly you can go from mummy tummy to flat tummy? Read on…

What exactly is “the overhang” or “mummy tummy”?

The most important thing to understand is that belly fat is made up of not one, but two types of fat – which is why losing belly fat and getting a flat stomach is tougher than losing fat off our arms or legs (which is made up of only one layer of fat).

The top layer is called the subcutaneous fat and this sits on top and is the soft, cushy fat that you can touch, feel and see staring back at you in the mirror.

Below this is the underlying fat which is what’s called the visceral fat and this surrounds and protects our vital organs. If you have too much visceral fat it can cause health implications such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Subcutaneous fat simply stores unused calories around our waistline in the event that one day you will be threatened with starvation and your body will need an excess calorie supply to survive.

Basically, to lose the ‘overhang’ you need to overcome thousands of years of human evolution dating back to caveman times when the threat of over eating was less prevalent.

Visceral fat, however, is much more active below the surface which plays havoc with your insulin resistance levels and can lead to more complicated health issues, which is yet another very good reason to work at losing “overhang” stomach fat.

And by following a nutritionally balanced healthy eating and exercise plan like on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge – you can do this!

Below these layers of fat are your tummy muscles which may be getting a work out from sit-ups or squats or other exercises but this may not cause the overhang or jelly belly to disappear.

How to lose that bit extra tummy or ‘the overhang’?

The key to losing your tummy is very simple: You need to move – A LOT AND OFTEN!

This does not mean doing endless crunches, sit-ups and planks – although these are great exercises when included into a well rounded diet and exercise routine, you cannot use them to isolate weight loss or target areas.

As such isolating only the abdominals will have absolutely no bearing on the removal of the fat above it as the abdominal muscle and the fat above it are not directly related, other than by being closely positioned anatomically.

The simple fact is that fat is stored energy (calories) just waiting to be burned whether it is located on your stomach, legs, bum or arms, and in 99% of cases when you exercise the last fat to get burned is from your bum and stomach!

Here’s a sneak peek of one of our Core Workouts that will help build your abdominal muscles available on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge!

The areas that it will first start to burn is often genetically predetermined, but for most people and especially women the bum and stomach areas are the last places to see the fat burning take place. Which can sometimes lead to women feeling self-conscious in a bikini and seeking out a quick fix when what they need to do is be patient with their bodies, especially if they are dealing with baby bellies.

This is why abdominal muscles are often the last muscles to make an appearance on your new lighter body as they’ve been hiding under both your subcutaneous and visceral belly fat even though you’ve performed a thousand crunches!

That six pack or flat tummy may just be the hardest thing to accomplish on your weight loss goals, but it’s not impossible, it just takes time, whether it be six weeks or six months, patience and a plan.

So where does this leave my tummy overhang?

Sophie’s terrific tummy transformation!

If you’ve read up to this point you’ve probably realised there is no ONE miracle exercise or quick fix that will remove excess overhang.

However, the great news is that if you combine multiple exercises such as walking, jogging, squats, push-ups, crunches your belly will eventually reduce in size.

The key point to remember is that it will take time but if you keep going, it will be worth it!

And remember small amounts of progress is still progress so don’t ever ever give up and remember to take measurements too and don’t just live by the scales.

Concerned about diastasis or muscle separation here’s some exercises to help.

20 foods to help blast belly fat.

15 tips for blasting belly fat and getting that flat tummy.

All you need to know about diastasis recti or muscle separation.

Bust belly fat and lose that mummy tummy on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge

Regain your body confidence with The Healthy Mummy’s 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge.

Our Challenge is designed by mums FOR MUMS – to help them reach their goal weight and tackle their health and fitness.

The Challenge is home to customisable meal plans, 24/7 social support and realistic exercises mums can do AT HOME.

To find out more on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge click here.

Top 5 Lower Abs Exercises Without Weights

How to Strengthen Your Lower Abs Without Weights

Abdominal exercises tend to work both the upper and lower regions of your abs, however, a lot of the common exercises lean more towards targeting your upper abs primarily. These exercises include crunches, sit-ups, bicycle kicks, Russian twists, etc. Your lower abdominal muscles need more attention if you wish to flatten your stomach and even add definition, and they are generally considered an elite core workout. You not only benefit from focusing on your lower abs, but also increase your core strength and abdominal endurance to support upper abs training. Sound like a good plan for you? Then let’s take a look at lower abdominal information and workouts that require no weights or equipment – though a yoga mat or something similar is recommended to keep your lower spine from digging into hard floor.

Do You Have to Target Specific Abdominal Regions?

No, you actually don’t have to perform exercise specific activities to increase the strength and definition of your upper and lower abs. Abdominal exercises, as mentioned above, are capable of allowing simultaneous training that will eventually produce results. The same thing applies to muscles such as your biceps. If you train with compound lifts, the biceps muscle is going to grow at a steady pace as well. However, isolating a muscle area of focus decreases the amount of time it takes to accomplish your goals, and in this sense it would be to flatten and strengthen your lower stomach region. The amount of time it decreases depends on the person since we all have different body types.

The Other Benefit of Strengthening Your Abdominal Muscles

Another benefit mentioned when it comes to abdominal training is increasing the strength of your body’s core. People tend to go along with what others are saying about the “core”, but in truth have no idea what they actually mean. The core muscles in your body allow you to basically stabilize your body for training and daily activities. The muscles included in the core are your transversus abdominus (abs), pelvis, obliques, and lower back muscles as well. They are the region on your body that is bounded by the abdominal wall, and make up the core of your body. Now you know what somebody is talking about when they say something like “core strengthening exercises”.

So what does your core have to do with you? Stabilizing your core is crucial not just for walking purposes, but for allowing you to increase your training performance since it keeps your body in proper position while performing exercises such as squats and the bench press. Without core strength, you could easily crash down with the weights and cause potential injury to yourself or others. Those in their later years also benefit from core strengthening because it helps prevent later injuries to common areas such as the hips.

Let’s proceed on to the next section covering exercises that focus on your lower abs with secondary muscles being the upper abs, hip flexors, and even inner thighs for one of the exercises as well. They are all fairly easy to do and require nothing but your body, focus, and proper technique. You choose the number of repetitions and sets required since nobody really knows your physical conditioning better than you. A great way for starting off though, would be x3 sets for 20 repetitions each just to get a feel for them. Start off slow and get the form down first and foremost.

My Top 5 Exercises Recommendations to Strengthen Your Lower Abs Without Weights

#1: V Crunches

V crunches are where you raise your legs up and together while simultaneously pulling your upper body up like a crunch to touch your toes. Your body basically forms a “V” every rep you perform since you pause your legs once they reach a 45 degree angle from the floor. The great emphasis on your lower and upper abdominal muscles is what makes this exercise vital to this type of training, and the secondary area of focus is your hip flexors as well.

#2: Roll Ups

This exercise focuses primarily on just your lower abs, which is different from the previous V crunches that target both with similar emphasis. The easy way they are performed is while lying on your back, you place your feet together and leave them firmly on the floor fully extended. With arms extended above your head, raise your body off the floor similar to a sit-up, but use your fingertips to pull your body forward until you touch your toes. You will notice that your hip flexors need to be tightened along with your abs to complete the exercise correctly, thus making it an elite core exercise to think about.

#3: Lying Down Leg Raises

Let’s continue this training setup with leg raises while lying on your back. Simply extend your legs out fully and keep your feet together. Place your palms under the lowest portion of your buttocks, and keep your back firmly against the ground. Squeeze your lower abdominals so you can lift your legs up until they are vertically straight from the ground. Lower your legs back down and stop them prior to touching the floor. These simple movements activate your lower abs and hip flexors during both phases of the exercise.

They also physically prepare your body to be able to perform other exercises such as squats with better form due to core strengthening, and can help increase your hip strength for those who have had previous injuries or face potential injuries due to aging.

#4: Hello Dolly’s

This unfamiliar exercise to most is great for hitting those hard to train lower abs and inner thighs, plus they are very easy to perform as a beginner’s workout. The military commonly uses this for morning physical training along with other services. The bottom line is that they work when it comes to training your core and flattening your stomach. All you do is lie down on your back with legs fully extended and feet together. Place hands palms down just below your buttocks, and raise your shoulders to where they are just off the floor. Lift your heels about 6 inches from the floor, and start to open and close your legs like a book.

#5: Scissors

The scissors exercise is another beginner’s workout that is easy to implement into any lower abdominal training. They primarily target your lower abs, but the upper abs receives a nice burn as well. Start off lying on your back, legs fully extended, and feet together. Place hands palms down just below your buttocks, and raise your shoulders just off the ground. Lift heels about 6 inches from the floor, and then alternate lifting each foot up and down simultaneously. The movement appears to look like scissors opening and closing.

The Bottom Line

You don’t need fancy equipment and a gym to train your lower abdominal muscles. You just need hard work, dedication, and the exercises provided to start flattening your stomach and increase your core strength. Add in some more exercises for your upper abs and make it an all around training routine that lasts at least 15 minutes. Interested in bodyweight training to fill up your weekly exercise regimen? Check out my other article covering bodyweight training and see if it’s right for you.

On another note, none of these benefits are going to help much with an improper diet. A very low calorie deficit is not the correct choice to make when it comes to flattening your abs and strengthening the core. Eating healthy foods that are high in nutrition prevents the need for starvation, and throwing out junk foods should be your starting point. Your abdominal region is one of the first areas for excess sugars and fats to go, so stay informed on proper nutrition techniques and always maintain a healthy diet while drinking plenty of water.

Remember to consult your physician if you have had any previous medical conditions prior to embarking on any changes with your physical activities. Stretch regularly to possibly prevent any serious injuries and encourage muscle recovery to remove soreness and stiffness within your body.

Author Profile: Brian Pankau ISSA-CPT, IFPA-SNS

Strong Fit Living Brian is a Marine that has become a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. He has written for numerous publications over the past eight years as a freelance writer on topics such as muscle building, weight loss, healthy eating, and more. His eBook for sale is Slim Strong Fit Exercise Programs.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.

7 Exercises to Tone Your Lower Abs

Muffin top, gut, beer belly—call it whatever you like. Many are able to make the top row of the desirable 6-pack visible, but the dreaded lower abs can be challenging to develop.

You can’t necessarily isolate one section of the rectus abdominis muscles, but you can target one area more than another. An effective way to do this is by performing exercises that move the lower body toward the upper body, as opposed to traditional movements (crunches and sit-ups), where the upper body moves toward the lower body.

A popular fitness saying is “abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.” When it comes to lower abs, this quote holds especially true.

You can perform ab exercises every day, but if you follow your workout with a trip to the local fast-food restaurant, your six-pack will remain a mystery.

Most individuals need to get their body fat percentage into the single digits to reveal the midsection. The solution is a combination of a healthy, clean diet consisting of eating real food, higher intensity workouts to help shed fat, and safe, effective ab exercises.

1. Hanging Leg-Lifts

Grab a pull-up bar firmly. Keeping your shoulders and back active, let your feet hang. Begin the exercise by bending your knees and bringing them up toward your armpits. Pause for a count at the top of the movement, and lower your legs down under control.

Equipment Options: pull-up bar, ab slings, dip bar

Variations: straight legs, bent knee, weighted, rotations (“hanging wipers”)

Sets/Reps: 2 to 3 sets of 15 reps

2. Body-Saws

Begin in a forearm-plank position with your feet in the TRX cradles. Initiate the movement from your torso and shoulders by pushing your body back from your elbows (think about pushing your heels behind you). Bring your knees toward your chest to complete one rep.

Equipment Options: TRX, stability ball, sliders

Sets/Reps: 2 to 3 sets of 15 reps

3. Slider Seal Walks

This exercise requires a pair of sliders for your feet and a turf or hardwood surface (towels can be used on hardwood) that allows sliding. Begin in a push-up position with the sliders under your feet.

Keep your abs braced and be sure to not fully lock out your elbows. Walk forward on your hands as your feet drag along behind you.

Note: This is a great anti-rotation movement because the goal is to minimize side-to-side rotation of the pelvis.

Sets/Reps: 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 20 yards

4. Stability Ball Reverse Crunches

Begin on your back with your arms by your side, palms flat on the ground and a stability ball in between your legs. Squeeze your heels hard into the ball and bring your knees up toward your shoulders. Lower your legs back down under control to complete one rep.

Note: In addition to working the lower ab muscles, the reverse crunch has postural benefits as well.

Sets/Reps: 2 to 3 sets of 15 reps

5. Ab Wheel Rollouts

Start with your knees on a pad or mat with an ab wheel in your hands. Slowly roll straight and forward. Be sure to bring your hips along and don’t just extend the arms. Extend far enough to engage the abs, and focus on bracing the core as you use your abs and hips to pull yourself back to the starting position.

Note: It’s important to not go too far out on this movement and drop into excessive lumbar extension.

Sets/Reps: 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

6. Dragon-Flags

Made popular by Bruce Lee, this advanced exercise requires a great deal of core strength. Lie on your back on a flat bench and reach your hands behind your head to grab the top of the bench for support.

Lift your legs up toward your head, attempting to keep them straight. Pause for a count at the top of the movement, and lower your legs in a slow, controlled motion. Maintain control and a neutral spine; try to avoid excessively arching the back.

Note: At the top of the movement, make sure you’re supporting your weight with your upper back and not your neck. Additionally, apply constant tension by gripping the bench firmly.

Sets/Reps: 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps

7. Pull-Ups

In addition to training the upper-body muscles, pull-ups and chin-ups are an effective exercise for activating the lower abs. On each rep, fight the urge to go into extension and maintain a slow and controlled tempo.

Sets/Reps: Vary greatly depending on strength. Begin with 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 8 reps.

READ THIS NEXT: 7 Exercises to Tone Your Oblique Muscles

5 Exercises That Will Really Target Your Lower Abs

Take an informal poll at the gym about which body part is hardest to target, and you’ll probably get some strange looks. But you’ll also likely hear “lower abs” more than anything else.

So if you feel like all those crunches aren’t showing dividends at the lowest portion of your abdominals, you’re not alone. Below, we’ll explain why and recommend a few trainer-approved exercises that will get the job done.

“There are four primary muscle groups in your core but only two main muscle groups in the abs: the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis,” says Aaptiv Trainer Kenta Seki.

He explains that the rectus abdominis is the top layer of the abs, so it is the most visible and generally the easiest to target.

The transverse abdominis, on the other hand, makes up the underlying abdominal muscles. According to Seki, it “connects to a deeper part of the pelvis, so it takes more focus to engage.”

The Benefits of Building Strong Abs

Having a flat stomach is not the same as having a strong core. The former may look good, but the latter is central to health and mobility. “Your core is literally the center of your body, and it helps with many types of functions, including breathing, digestion, bone/joint stabilization, and, of course, movement,” Seki says. “Having a strong core can help many of these functions.”

Maintaining strong lower abs, in particular, can also help your lower back. Seki notes that many people suffer from lower back pain caused by an anterior pelvic tilt—also known as an overarched lower back.

This extra arching can occur for a variety of reasons but is commonly associated with prolonged sitting, bad posture, and poor movement patterns. But it “can be prevented with a strong transverse abdominis,” Seki says.

Target your abs with Aaptiv’s core workouts in app now!

Five Exercises to Target Your Lower Abs

Building strong abdominal muscles (we love this little gadget) will protect your lumbar spine, promote good posture, and protect your internal organs.

To help your cause, Seki shares five of his favorite ab exercises below. Add them to your workout regimen, stick with it, and you’ll feel the effects.

Forearm Plank

This classic core move hits every inch of your abdominals while also strengthening your back and improving overall stability. A low plank performed on your forearms targets those deep ab muscles better than a high plank on your hands.

Get into position on your forearms and toes, maintaining a straight line from your shoulders to your heels, and hold. Don’t let your hips drop toward the floor, as this puts pressure on your lower back.

Leg Raise

The leg raise is a trainer favorite for targeting the lower abs and can be performed from a hanging bar or on the ground. As the latter requires zero equipment, you can do it anywhere.

Lie on your back with your legs straight out and arms at your sides. Keep your abs tight and your lower back pressed into the ground. Keeping your legs straight, slowly raise them to a 90-degree angle, then lower them back down toward the ground. To make the move more difficult, raise them up again before your feet hit the ground.

Flutter Kick

Flutter kicks are simply a variation of the leg raise and are great when you want to mix things up. They work your abs, lower back, and hip flexors.

Start flat on your back with your legs straight out and arms at your sides. Lift your heels about six inches off the floor, then flutter your legs in a scissorlike motion. Switch between short, quick flutters and long, slow movements to get the most out of this exercise.

Hollow Man

This seemingly simple move is deceptively difficult, but if you can master the hollow man, you’ll give your lower abs quite the workout.

Lie on your back with your legs straight, feet together, and arms stretched overhead. While pressing your lower back into the ground, slowly raise your arms, shoulders, and legs until you form a “hollow” body shape, like a shallow curve. Keep your abs tight, and hold this position.

Hip Bridge

The hip bridge is a multifaceted move that works your glutes, hamstrings, and core.

Start flat on your back with your arms at your sides and knees bent. Place your feet flat on the floor, about hip-width apart and just a few inches from your butt. Pushing through your heels, squeeze your glutes and abs, and raise your hips to the sky until you create a diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold at the top before lowering back down.

While we know that abs are made in the kitchen, you can still build strength in your lower abs with this series of exercises. For more workouts that target this hard-to-hit area, head to the Aaptiv app and look for core workouts in the Strength Training section.

Sagging Lower Abdomen? The Answer May Be a Mini Tummy Tuck

Most people complain about having a sagging, flabby lower abdomen. Although the cause of such a condition cannot be attributed to one factor only, an unhealthy lifestyle typically contributes to it. Pregnancy and weight fluctuations also result in a sagging lower abdomen. A healthy diet and exercise regimen may not be enough to correct the issue – a mini tummy tuck is often required.

The Mini Tummy Tuck

A mini tummy tuck, also called a partial abdominoplasty, is a term that many people aren’t aware of. It can be a good option for those with a drooping lower abdomen. The procedure focuses primarily on the abdominal region below the belly button and above the pubic area.

The mini tummy tuck is similar to the abdominoplasty in that it involves removing excess tissue from the abdomen. However, the procedure uses a smaller incision on the lower abdomen, making it less invasive than traditional abdominoplasty.

It involves tightening lower abdominal muscles, removing superfluous skin, and removing excess fatty tissue. The procedure can truly give a new shape to the midsection.

Who Can Come In for a Mini Tummy Tuck?

A mini tummy tuck is an ideal option for women who have excess skin on their lower abdomen, excess fat in the area, and sagging abdominal muscles. Women who find their abdominal area drooping due to aging can go for this treatment. Younger women who have a small degree of sagging that they want to reshape also find this helpful.

How Is a Mini Tummy Tuck Performed?

The surgery is performed under general anesthesia, yet sometimes IV sedation and local anesthesia is used depending on the case. The size of the incision depends on the amount of skin to be removed, but usually a small incision is made. The procedure is also called a “scarless tummy tuck” because the size of the incision is much smaller than the one made in traditional tummy tuck surgeries.

Unlike with a traditional abdominoplasty, there is no need for surgeons to reposition the navel during a mini tummy tuck. The procedure also requires a smaller degree of exposure of the abdominal wall. Usually, the focal point is the area between the navel and the point of incision.

After removing extra fat and tightening the abdominal muscles, the surgeon stretches the skin downwards, removing an extra tissue and stitching back the remaining skin. A temporary drainage tube may be placed near the incision.

When the procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, the patient is released within a few hours of the surgery. Some degree of pain is natural, but it should be controllable with the help of prescription pain-control medication. Strenuous activities should be avoided for a few weeks in order to avoid complications and keep the healing process as short as possible.

Schedule an Appointment for an Informative Consultation

Does the mini tummy tuck sound like the right procedure for your lower abdomen? To take advantage of effective contouring, contact our office and arrange a consultation. Dr. Lawrence Glassman, a skilled board-certified plastic surgeon, will be happy to help.

Your Ultimate Guide to Discovering Your Tummy Type

Not all sagging stomachs are the same. They come in different shapes and sizes and appear for all sorts of reasons. Sagging stomachs may be caused by alcohol or stress, feeling bloated, thyroid problems and more. Yet while a tummy caused by wine sticks out mainly at the front, a bloated stomach feels hard to touch. The guide below will help you determine what your tummy type is, and how to shrink its size.

1. Wine tummy

Appearance: While there is less weight gain around your hips and bottom, a wine tummy mainly sticks out at the front. Its appearance resembles that of a pot belly.

The layer of fat stretches from your stomach to your pelvis and may also seep between the vital organs located in this area: the intestines, bowel, and liver. Fat gathers in this area because the fat cells are very sensitive to the effects of insulin (a hormone that dictates how much fat is stored in the body). So, when the sugars from booze are released into the body, insulin is released, telling the body to store it as fat within this deep layer.

Cause: Binge drinking and alcohol. Eating too many refined carbohydrates is also a cause.

Studies show that women who drink more than 12 units in a single sitting gain an extra 4 inches around their waist. In another study conducted on 57,000 people by the Center for Alcohol Research in Denmark, heavier drinkers are more likely to develop a rounded, apple-shaped tummy than those who drink in moderation.

Shed the weight: Watch the calories as you drink.

Alcohol typically slows down metabolism by up to 70%. Generally, this effect does not last long, however, if it becomes a habit, it can make you pack on the pounds, primarily at the waist. Monitor the calories you drink just as much as the ones you eat – doing so may help you resist a third or fourth glass. Bear in mind that a large 250ml glass of wine is equivalent to a 228 calorie ice-cream. Another noteworthy point is that alcohol stimulates appetite, encouraging you to eat more. Consequently, that weight gain will be stored deep inside the body.

2. Bloated tummy

Appearance: A bloated tummy predominantly sticks out at the front. The skin feels hard to touch, almost as if there’s an inflated balloon deep inside.

You’ll likely start off with a flat tummy at the start of your day, which tends to expand as time goes on, especially after a meal. Nevertheless, no matter how big your tummy gets, your weight will remain the same on the scale.

Cause: A buildup of wind.

Food gets broken down as it travels through the intestines. The bacteria that breaks down the food creates six to eight liters of gas as a by-product. But if the bacteria has difficulty breaking down certain foods, it will start to ferment, creating more wind. Consequently, it starts to push the abdominal wall outwards. Furthermore, constipation and eating too much may also be a cause. And as a result, too much food in the stomach can cause bloating.

Shed the weight: Refrain from eating foods that trigger bloating.

Foods that trigger bloating may be harder for the body to digest, in which case it is best to avoid foods such as artificial sweeteners, wheat, garlic, and onions. Some fruit like cherries and plums, as well as certain vegetables including artichokes, beetroot, and mushrooms, should also be avoided. A lactose-free diet can also help reduce a bloated stomach.

3. Stress tummy

Appearance: If your tummy bulge is caused by stress, it sticks out from the front, but appears softer and has a saggy appearance, more than that of a pot belly.

It tends to start under the bust, forming a soft roll which hangs over your waistband.

Cause: A continuous state of stress.

When we feel stressed, the fight-or-flight hormone known as cortisol releases sugar into the bloodstream, giving the body energy to escape or defend itself. So, unless you use up this energy (as your body is expecting you to), the energy is simply re-deposited as fat.

Shed the weight: Engage in relaxation techniques.

Manage your stress levels with relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation. A good night’s sleep is essential as it encourages the body to no longer feel as though it has to prepare for an attack. Eating small portions and slow-release carbohydrates, like oats and legumes, can also help maintain your stress levels.

4. Pear tummy

Appearance: A slim waist, with a roll of fat around your bikini line.

Aside from fat around your bikini line, women with a pear tummy generally have a bigger bottom and larger hips, creating a pear-shaped look.

Cause: Female sex hormones, particularly estrogen.

Some women suffer from estrogen dominance, which may be genetic or triggered by other issues causing an imbalance in female sex hormones. It may also be caused by fibroids – benign tumors of muscular tissue which grow inside the womb. Women may also be exposed to too much estrogen because they ingest high levels of synthetic versions of the hormone from farmed meat, water or residues from chemicals in plastics and water. This type of tummy fat is especially common in women aged 30 to 50. Unless a woman is on hormone replacement therapy, she will likely lose the fat on her hips and thighs, leaving her looking more apple-shaped than pear.

Shed the weight: Avoid foods high in saturated fats, which have been linked to higher levels of estrogen.

Opt for a diet high in easy-to-digest fiber, like seeds and green leafy vegetables. These types of food help bind themselves to the extra estrogen in the digestive tract, removing it from the body.

5. Mummy Tummy

Appearance: Your tummy area will lack tone and have a saggy-looking appearance.

A mummy tummy becomes apparent three months or more after you’ve given birth.

Cause: A weak abdominal wall.

During pregnancy and birth, the abdominal muscles divide, enabling your uterus and tummy to expand. Once you have given birth, the two sides of your six-pack muscles should naturally knit back together. If not, you are left with a bulge. This is caused by a weak abdominal wall, that cannot hold in the contents of your stomach and intestines.

Shed the weight: Seek help from a physiotherapist.

A physiotherapist can teach you exercises to help knit your muscles back in place. Pelvic floor exercises will also help strengthen the muscles from within. Yoga poses, like plank pose, are especially useful.

6. Thyroid tummy

Appearance: Your whole body is big, including your arms and legs.

Cause: Hypothyroidism

A butterfly-shaped gland in the neck produces a hormone called thyroxine, which controls how fast you process calories in food. However, women who suffer from hypothyroidism make less of this hormone. Women who suffer from hypothyroidism do not burn up all the calories consumed, consequently the extra calories are stored, depositing all over the body as fat. Its exact cause is unknown, however, it is believed to be caused by the aging process.

Shed the weight: Eating foods rich in iodine.

Prior to seeking treatment, it is important to get proper diagnosis, as hypothyroidism is often confused with mid-life weight gain. Inadequate levels of thyroxine also cause tiredness, constipation and cold feet – all of which contribute to a slower metabolism. Natural treatment includes eating foods rich in iodine, which help support the thyroid, like shellfish, seafood, and dark leafy green vegetables. Alternatively, treatment may also include drugs containing a synthetic version of the hormone, to top up levels.

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How to Get Rid of Sagging Belly Skin

Having a toned firm belly is one of the steps to getting fit, so no wonder everyone doesn’t spare efforts and time to get rid of sagging belly skin and to show off the perfect abs in crop tops. However, we all know that when it comes to belly, workout gets even harder, since this is the part of the body, which requires more attention and efforts for the perfect outcomes. Still, nothing is impossible and you can definitely reach perfection following our easy tips on how to get rid of sagging belly skin for good!

The Causes of Sagging Belly Skin

Let’s start with understanding why our belly skin may sag. Sagging may occur for different reasons, the most common ones of which are the following:

• Pregnancy and childbirth: During pregnancy, our abdominal muscles and the skin fall under strong pressure from the uterus, which is rapidly increasing in size. For this reason, the skin and muscles on our stomach stretch, losing their former elasticity. The situation may be aggravated after having a cesarean section.

• Losing too much weight: After a rapid weight loss, our skin does not have time to adapt and go back to its permanent state, which sometimes results in wrinkles and laxity.

• Among other reasons for sagging belly skin we should mention the lack of physical activity, which leads to muscle atrophy and slows down the metabolism.

• Not keeping a healthy diet can also be a reason. The destructive effect that soda, convenience food, chips and fast food have on our figure and skin is no secret for anyone. Stress also is a widely spread cause for sagging belly skin. When stressed, sometimes we choose to act like gluttons instead of trying to figure out ways to solve our problems.

How to Deal with Sagging Belly Skin?

Many women mistakenly believe that trying to affect the problematic area of the skin locally will lead to positive results. Many of these women, for instance, start torturing themselves by doing too many sit-ups, impatiently waiting for positive results in a very short period of time. We would hate to disappoint you, but no matter how appealing the headlines and the titles of all kinds of workout videos, such as “Get a Flat Stomach In Seven Days” or “Elastic Belly Skin for Just Five Minutes a Day” may sound, these things are practically impossible. Why? Well, first of all, we need to realize that sagging belly skin does not appear in a day or two and respectively, it needs to be dealt with for more than just a week. Also, it is important to keep in mind that the positive results can be achieved only if we take comprehensive measures. Wondering what we mean by comprehensive measures? Go on reading and you will see!

A Balanced Diet To Remove Sagging Belly Skin

The key to success in this difficult task is reviewing the food we consume and going for a healthier diet. You should by no means go on those exhausting diets, the ones that offer to lose 10-15 pounds in one month. Be sure that as soon as such a diet comes to an end, the weight that you have lost will come back with a vengeance, bringing along a couple more extra pounds. It is vital for all of us to learn how to eat healthy and keep a balanced diet, which will include vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, nuts, dairy products, cereals and porridges, as for our body to function properly, it needs to get its daily intake of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats. It is preferred that our food be cooked by baking, steaming or stewing. Try to avoid fried, greasy, overly salty and peppery food. Eat food rich in proteins, as such products can recover your muscles and improve metabolism. Nutritionists recommend eating small portions of food 5-6 times a day.

Water Balance

We should by no means forget about drinking water. It’s necessary to consume about 1,5-2 liters of pure natural water daily. It helps us normalize the water balance, helps the body get rid of toxins and significantly improves skin elasticity.

Besides, water has a positive effect on digestive processes; it speeds up metabolism and ensures that body operates in a stable way.

Fat-Burning Workouts for Sagging Belly Skin

Among fat-burning workouts we can mention swimming, cycling, running, skiing and skipping rope. To practice such exercises no special equipment is necessary most of the time. All you need is desire. Even if it’s not possible for you to ride a bike, ski or skip rope, 30-60 minutes of dancing a day, climbing stairs, or arranging a morning jog can make up for that. Thanks to cardio trainings you will not only get rid of the saggy belly, but also improve your cardiovascular system and overall health in general.

We feel that about the positive effects of swimming we should speak separately. This exercising method not only brings forth good results in a very short time, but allows you to relax, relieve stress and have fun. Besides swimming, while in the pool, you can perform a variety of exercises used in water aerobics, which increase the fat burning effect.

Strength Training

A very good way of toning the muscles and tightening the belly skin is weight training at the gym. At first, it is advised to work with a personal trainer, who will choose an individual program and appropriate weights for you. If you do not have the opportunity to attend a sports club, there is no need to despair. There are lots of effective exercises, allowing one to get rid of wrinkled and sagging belly skin that can be performed at home.

Hula Hoop to Your Aid!

Fitness trainers do not seem to agree on the idea of whether the use of hula-hoops helps to fight sagging and wrinkled belly skin or not. However, one thing is true and undebatable: even if a hula hoop does not help to strengthen the muscles, it is a very powerful way of massaging the problematic area.

Massage

Massage, preferably done by a professional, is one of the most effective ways in your fight for smooth and elastic belly skin. This procedure, obviously, cannot be considered a tender one and sometimes the patients may experience pain, but believe us when we tell you that it will totally be worth it in the long run! The most effective material used during these procedures is a mixture made of honey and any kind of essential oil. Anti-cellulite gel or creams are widely used as well.

There is a whole set of massage techniques specially designed for the belly area, such as stroking, circular movements and clapping. When we are using honey, belly skin is constantly retracted when slapping, which improves blood circulation in the given area, serves as a means of cell renewal and helps to remove excess liquid. For the first positive results to become visible, you need at least 10 sessions of massage, which will need to be repeated after a certain period of time.

Using vacuum jars, tumblers or just your hands, you can use these massage techniques at home. Of course, it will take time to achieve the first results, but be sure that the results will come! Massage needs to be done clockwise with smooth accurate movements using olive, peach, or any other type of oil or any anti-cellulite cream or gel. White clay also is an excellent medium for massaging as it rejuvenates the skin making it more elastic and improves blood flow.

Wraps for Sagging Belly Skin

Another way to return elasticity, firmness and smoothness to your belly skin is using wraps. Here honey, anti-cellulite gels and lotions, masks with algae or white clay are widely used. First it is necessary to thoroughly clean the skin with a scrub. This will allow the pores to open up to take all the useful minerals from honey and masks. After cleansing, you should apply the material you prefer on the problematic area and wrap with cling film. Then you can lie down or do household chores for 30-40 minutes. Upon completion of the procedure, it is necessary to remove the film, take a shower and apply a moisturizing cream.

Visiting Saunas and Baths

In saunas or baths all the harmful substances and toxins are cleaned from the body with the help of water. If you are going to visit a bath, make sure to grab a good birch broom and herbal teas. It is recommended to choose such saunas and steam rooms that have a pool with cool water. Temperature contrast that happens during the transition from steam to cold water has a very beneficial effect on the skin as it tones and refreshes it.

Mesotherapy

In our struggle against sagging and flabby belly after giving birth or rapidly losing weight mesotherapy can be a way out. Thanks to special meso-cocktails your belly will get rid of stretch marks and your skin will get back its former elasticity. Modern technologies and specially designed equipment allow us making painless injections, making sure that the patient feels no discomfort. Depending on the individual, non-invasive methods can also be used.

Plastic Surgery

Probably the most extreme way of getting rid of sagging belly skin is the surgical intervention. To many people this method may seem rather simple and easy – a few hours on operating table and all your flaws are gone forever. However, everything is not as easy as it may seem. First of all, plastic surgery requires anesthesia and anesthesia involves taking risks. Secondly, you will have to take too many tests and go through all sorts of preparatory procedures.

But all this is nothing compared to the period of rehabilitation, the period when patients recover after surgery. There is this constant nagging pain and you have to wear special bandages and corsets for at least two months. It’s difficult to sleep, walk, move and sit. The financial side of this method is no less important, because, as you know, plastic surgery is by no means a cheap procedure. Therefore, before making such an important decision you should think very well. We mean, what if you have a chance to fix it without the help of a scalpel? After all, with proper nutrition, practicing sports and other methods described above, you will not only get rid of the sagging belly you hate so much, but also will significantly improve your overall health and acquire some useful habits.

One thing you should always keep in your mind is that everything is in your hands and with the right exercises and procedures you have a chance to “save” the skin on your belly from sagging. During pregnancy, smear your belly with olive oil or any other type of essential oil. They help skin remain elastic and prevent the formation of stretch marks. Also, make sure you pay enough attention to your diet, because even a small piece of chocolate or regular white bread is not going to benefit you and your child. What they will do is being converted into body fat. Do not be afraid to do light exercises; yoga is strongly advised for pregnant women.

If you are trying to lose weight, try doing it gradually. No need to go to extreme lengths or go on rigid diets. As a form of precaution, during the weight-loss process, you can start making scrubs, masks and body wraps. If the weight does go away gradually, then you do not have to look for effective ways to deal with saggy skin that just does not manage to catch up with the pace at which you drop excess weight. Remember that rapid weight loss is extremely harmful and dangerous for the body. After all, everything is better in moderation, isn’t it?

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