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Why can’t I lose my tummy no matter how much exercise I do?

Because it is not all about exercise it is also about your diet, core strength and good posture. Not only that if you are doing sit ups and crunches you are not even activating the correct muscles and they can make your lower abdomen stick out more!

First things though, it could be that if you are carrying any excess fat it is round your middle. We lose fat in the reverse order to where we gain it. So if you gain weight round your tummy first you will lose it there last. It could be you have just a few kios left and that is where they are! If this is the case then you need to have a close look at your diet. You cannot out train a poor diet so get that in order first. If you have been completely honest and your diet does not need improvement then there are a number of other possibilities:

First thing stand sideways on to a mirror. Look at your posture, – does your head stick forward?Is your back arched backwards? Do your ribs almost touch your hips? Now sit down at a desk or in your favourite chair. Notice where your shoulders are – are they in front of your hip bones? Is your back rounded? Now walking – are you looking at your mobile device? Is your head forward and looking down? Are your shoulders rounded forward?

All of these things indicate poor posture and poor posture will push your abdomen out because all your organs are being squashed and they have to go somewhere. So you need to make a conscious effort to stand, sit and walk up straight. Shoulders back in line with your hips, your spine should have a natural curve at the top and in the lower back – something like an elongated letter ‘s’) head up looking straight ahead (put down that mobile device), swing the leg from the hip not just the knees. Adjust your office chair so your feet are flat on the floor and your keyboard is placed so your elbow is bent at 90 degrees. Your screen should be at eye height and at an appropriate distance that you do not jut your head forward to see it. Your head should be on your shoulders and your core muscles engaged. It may feel odd at first and you will have to keep reminding yourself to sit, stand and walk upright. But if you persevere you will master it, especially if you stop looking down at your mobile device too. If you have to keep checking it, then at least hold it up at face height. That will relieve the pain and poor posture of a drooping head. Your head can weigh up to 10 kg and that puts a big strain on your spine if it is not in the correct position, further pushing out your tummy.

Finally you need to get control of your core muscles not just the abs. Planks and all the variations are a far better movement than sit-ups and crunches. Get advice from a good Pilates instructor for other core exercises. The movements may be very small but highly effective!

You’ve gotten into the stride of a healthy nutrition and workout regimen, and you’re seeing the results on the scale. But many women reach their target weight only to be disappointed that they’ve lost little-to-no belly fat. Although it seems logical that our belly fat will shrink as we lose weight, you can’t really tell your body where to lose fat, and it’s extremely common to lose weight disproportionately. But don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with a healthy plan that’ll help you get strong and lean all around.

But first things first: why is belly fat so darn stubborn? Everyone’s body type is different, so it depends on the person, but there are a few common reasons. “Belly fat is often a sign of ‘stress’ or insulin resistance. When you are stressed, your cortisol levels rise, which may lead to storing fat in your middle,” Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of Real Nutrition, told POPSUGAR. “Genetics do play a role here as well, so if your parent tends to carry weight in their middle, you might end up doing the same.”

In addition to genetics, Cassie Lambert, NASM certified trainer and strength coach, told POPSUGAR that your weight-loss method may also play a role. “For example, a low-carbohydrate diet will kick-start weight loss, but this is because of the water loss from the glycogen in the muscles and not fat,” she explained. Lambert also cited large amounts of cardio as an example of how to quickly lose weight but not necessarily belly fat.

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Evan Harden, personal trainer and National Bar League founder, told POPSUGAR that losing weight too rapidly is a common mistake. “When that happens, it is difficult to preserve muscle, let alone grow new muscle,” Harden said. “This leads to losing weight but not body fat and ultimately a poor body composition.” Losing weight gradually is essential to preserving muscle, and Harden noted that new research shows we shouldn’t lose more than one to three percent of our body weight per week.

Although you can’t spot reduce fat, there are nutrition and fitness methods that are effective for losing weight in the most proportional way possible. Shapiro recommended a nutrition plan that consists of high-fiber foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats at every meal.

“Visualize plate and cut it in half. Make sure half the plate is full of plants, fruits, and veggies at every meal,” she advised. “Then cut the other half into quarters, and make sure one-quarter is protein and one-quarter is whole grains.”

Additionally, Shapiro provided the following nutrition tips for overall weight loss:

  • Eat until you are 80 percent full instead of stopping when you are full or stuffed.
  • If you need to go back for seconds, go back for veggies first.
  • Avoid processed foods as much as you can. They can cause you to gain weight and consume foods that aren’t good for you.
  • Eat high-fiber foods so you will stay full longer on fewer calories, such as veggies, whole grains, oatmeal, spinach, whole-wheat bread, berries, and apples.
  • Drink plenty of water, and avoid all sugary beverages. Our bodies don’t register those calories, so we end up eating on top of them.
  • Avoid fried foods.
  • Limit cheese to one time per day.

And while it’s great to be committed to eating well, keep everything in perspective. Don’t berate yourself if you veer off course for a meal or two. ” you fall off your plan, get right back on the next time you eat,” Shapiro said. “Consistency is what moves the needle, not one mistake.”

Now that we’ve got nutrition covered, let’s talk workouts. Even if you only do exercises that target your stomach muscles, you can’t spot-reduce fat. A combination of HIIT cardio exercises and strength training is the most effective fitness regimen to lose body fat all around. Lambert recommended strength training three to five times per week. ” improves body composition and metabolic function, speeds up the metabolism,” she explained. Lambert said to integrate cardio workouts into your routine in order to increase your caloric deficit.

And while we often think of workouts as happening solely in the gym or on the running trail, there are myriad opportunities each day to get moving — and it makes a difference in the long term. “Move more throughout your day to increase the amount of energy burned outside of daily exercise,” Lambert said. “In time, you will be able to reduce fat in a sustainable manner.”

When we set out to lose weight and body fat, it’s easy to become laser-focused on losing weight as quickly as possible. But as Harden emphasized, this isn’t a healthy or effective way to attain a healthier body. If we view good nutrition and consistent exercise as a lifestyle, we’re more likely to lose weight — and belly fat — in a healthy manner and keep it off for good.

Image Source: Getty / filmstudio

10 reasons you’re not losing belly fat

Post-baby or not, overdoing it is never good…

Over Exercising

There’s no doubt that slobbing out won’t do anything to diminish belly fat, but going overboard isn’t the answer either, as Libby affirms:

“Physical stresses such as overexercising and endurance exercise can upset cortisol balance. Switch gruelling cardio workouts for 20-30 minute HIIT sessions instead.”

HIIT the ground running (sorry) with these get fit fast workouts.

Belly bloating

If a protruding tum comes with cramps, wind and bowel trouble, an unhappy digestive system is likely to blame and could be making a less than trim tum situation look and feel a lot worse than it is. Your first step is to beating bloat is to identify the cause of your tummy trouble, and Lucy suggests trying a meal tweak to see if it makes a difference:

“Avoid eating fruit after a meal, as fruit can cause food to ferment in your stomach, leading to bloating and lots of gas.”

Core confusion

The classic sit-up has been sold to us as the best ab honer, but incorrect alignment can make them less effective, not to mention damage your back. A sit-up alone also won’t burn fat that sits on the stomach. Get sweaty with a cardio blast and then mix up your core toning exercises by following Lucy’s drill:

“Do minute-long planks, three sets of 20 bicycle crunch exercises, two sets of 30 heel digs, three sets of 20 bird dogs and the mighty Turkish get up. These are all great exercises for working your deep core muscles, ab muscles and postural muscles, which will instantly make you look taller and slimmer.”

Dumbbell dread

Traditionally many women skirt round the weightlifting section in the gym, and while body weight resistance training is highly effective, pumping a little iron pays dividends. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn, even when resting. which is good news for torching tummy fat. if you’re still hesitant, let performance coach and founder of Twenty Two Training Dalton Wong convince you.

Fat Fear

It seems logical to assume that fat contributes to fat, but nutritionists are keen to point out that since the “low fat” revolution of the 70s, our waistlines have widened dramatically. As personal trainer and nutritionist Keris Marden and fitness expert and health coach Matt Whitmore point out in The Paleo Primer: A Jump-Start Guide to Losing Body Fat and Living Primally:

“Have you ever wondered what takes the place of the removed fat? Answer: heaps of synthetic, non-food chemicals that wreak havoc on our metabolism and digestion. What’s more, most low-fat and fat-free products contain loads of sugar or artificial sweeteners to make up for the lack of taste.”

For a flatter tummy and lower body weight in general, healthy fats such as coconut oil and avocados could well be your weight loss weapon, as Keris and Matt highlight:

“Fat can play a vital role in weight loss the single most important aim of your nutrition should be to balance your blood sugar levels. Dietary fat helps you accomplish that by slowing down the release of nutrients into the bloodstream, so by all means, add a little olive oil or butter to your meals. This will help regulate your appetite and keep your energy levels consistent.”

Fewer sugar spikes, reduced cake cravings and a drip feed of health-giving nutrients into the body will seriously reduce the incidence of belly swelling binges.

Something more serious…

If your diet and fitness regimes are ship-shape, but you’re still not losing any weight, it may be a good idea to seek medical advice. Hormonal disruption can affect fat distribution, so consulting a hormone expert such as Dr Marion Gluck and her team could help, but book an appointment with your GP first for a general health check.

What’s worked for you? Let us know in the comments!

Not Losing Weight in Stomach, Thighs, Face?

Evan is a male aged 20, 5′ 6″. He went from 180 lbs to 140 lbs, BUT now…

He can’t understand how he’s lost all this weight but thinks “my stomach still looks terrible!”

His first 33 were from dietary changes alone, the last 6.5 lbs he introduced cardio. (he got a stationary bike).

Why isn’t fat melting off of his stomach yet?

Relax. There is an Answer to This

Do you aspire to a certain body shape?

I guess we all do. The bad news is that genetics dictate certain things. The good news is that we do have the power to change some things.

We can’t change our bone structure, and the way our body burns fat in specific areas is also something that is unique to us.

Check out these inspiring folks who have found the answer.

Where Does Fat Disappear First?

Do you find when you lose fat it disappears from the places you want to stay big?

Maybe it stubbornly holds on to the places you really want to slim down.

Some of the books we’ve read tried to sell us “spot reduction”. It’s a myth. We cannot choose to burn the fat on our waist over that in our face.

There Are 2 Kinds of Fat

We have adipose tissue all over the body.

This tissue is made of adipocytes (fat cells) whose sole job is to store energy in the form of fat. Body fat distribution differs from person to person.

There are generally two types of fat storage:

  • visceral (surrounding organs).
  • subcutaneous (beneath the skin – about 80% of all body fat is this type (src)).

Does eating fat make you fat? We get to the bottom of that myth here.

Where Do We Gain Fat?


Typical Areas

  • Women – around the buttocks and thighs (gluteofemoral): “pear-shaped”.
  • Men – around the abdomen: “apple-shaped”.

These are the predominant patterns – but both ‘apple’ and ‘pear’ shaped distribution can be found in either gender.

Specific Areas

Knee Fat often builds up on the inside region of the knees in women.
Upper Arm Common in women, fat build up can occur in the middle to the upper area of the upper arm – typically covering the triceps area. Some women elect to have arm liposuction procedure to remove fat from this area without the marks caused by surgery.
Abdomen Fat buildup around the navel area is common in both men and women. It is also one of the few fat deposits that are also found in slim women.
Inner Thigh Fat storage between the thighs is common in women – but also occurs with men. It is more noticeable in women due to the width of the pelvis that in turn influences the position of the thigh (femur).
Outer Thigh Sometimes called “Riding Breeches” – this area is the most likely place for the pitted or ‘quilted’ appearance of cellulite. This fat concentration also blends with fat tissue on the inner thigh and the buttocks.
Buttocks Without fat here – sitting would be quite uncomfortable. Fat is held in place by the gluteal fold. If significant fat is lost from the buttock, only appropriate training can prevent the buttock from sagging down against the thigh.
Lower Back This fat concentration often merges with the buttock area.
Chest Breast tissue comprises the mammary gland (one’s ‘endowment’) surrounded by fat. Men also have atrophied glands and fat in this area. Both sexes gain fat in this area. In men, this can sometimes be mistaken for gynecomastia – a condition that includes not only fat build up, but growth in gland tissue.

Ethnic Variation
There is considerable research showing that fat distribution varies between ethnic groups.

  • Asian adults are more prone to visceral and central obesity than Europeans.
  • Mediterranean women are prone to fat gain in the outer thighs.

Where You Lose Fat First

For most people, fat acts like the layers of an onion.

It doesn’t disappear from a particular place but comes off layer by layer from the whole body.

However, in some people there are localized areas where fat loss (and gain) is more pronounced, and while fat is still shed from all over the body, the loss is proportionately different in different areas.

It tends to go from the most recent place it appeared.

If your tummy started gaining first – this will be the very last place for the fat to disappear from.

This is why a man can get thin in the face – and yet still have a small ‘spare tire’ around his waist. Or a woman may complain of a smaller bust, and yet her hip size has dropped only a tiny amount.

See here: The most important tool for fat loss

Cellulite is Different

White areas are fatty tissue. The person on the left has fat surrounding internal organs.

This is further compounded by cellulite. With cellulite tissue, fatty acids are contained in a net of fibrous connective tissue.

As fat loss occurs the net becomes compressed – making it difficult for the blood supply to readily remove the fat from these stubborn areas.

Why Do I Lose Weight But Look the Same?

  • Obese men tend to lose more visceral (internal) fat while obese women lose more subcutaneous fat (src).
  • Exercise seems to result in more subcutaneous fat loss.
  • Diet alone results in more visceral fat loss (and less surface fat loss) (src).

This explains how you can lose weight – but not necessarily have any radical change in appearance.

What You Can Do

There is very little you can do to influence specific subcutaneous fat distribution.

Exercise should always be a part of any fat loss program – but vigorously exercising a specific body part will not have any influence on local fat in that area. This myth has been debunked again and again.

High-repetition (e.g. 20-30 reps) weight training will not lead to greater fat loss.

In fact, the loss of intensity may ultimately result in less fat loss than lower-reps with heavier weights. Higher reps are good for muscular endurance (more).

Switch Up Your Diet. If you have been in a regimented plan and your fat loss has stalled, it may be time for something different.

  • You May Not Be Eating Enough! Learn why low calories could be sabotaging you here.
  • Learn about the Flexible Diet here
  • See our macronutrient amounts for weight loss calculator

It can be very frustrating but everybody is different.

Stay committed to your training and nutrition – and don’t be dissuaded by the commercials and images that show perfectly proportioned clones.

Understand how your body works, and set achievable goals accordingly.

Photo: Pareerica countrykitty

Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, a Certified Fitness Trainer, and is Healthy Eater’s author and nutitional coach. If you need help reaching your weight loss/fitness goals see his personal macros coaching options. Last Updated: October 1, 2019

Learn how to lose belly fat fast and keep it off forever.

Very often I get questions asking how to lose belly fat fast, so I decided to share all my best tips and tricks to reduce belly fat. In this article I’ll show you how to burn belly fat in an effective and healthy way through food, sleep and exercise.

Belly fat can actually be very dangerous for your health, it can cause a slew of health issues from diabetes, to heart disease, sleep apnea and even some cancer. Plus it’s uncomfortable and can lower self esteem and that’s why I want to share with you you how to lose stomach fat. (1)

Visceral fat in the midsection accounts for many belly fat issues, and it’s extremely dangerous. Visceral fat is a deeper belly fat, stored further under the skin and actually wraps itself around vital organs including the kidneys and liver. (2)

Of course, along with all the health aspects of losing belly fat, there is also the cosmetic aspect. Having a flat (or at least flatter) belly will help you feel better in your own skin, in your clothing and give you a boost of self confidence.

Wouldn’t you love to put on your jeans and feel sexy as hell? In this article, I’ll show you how to lose belly fat fast so you can reduce belly fat and feel amazing.

Belly fat loss is not just an astetic issue, but an overall health issue! If you lose belly fat, you will gain health benefits as well.

#1. Eat Foods That Burn Belly Fat Fast

When it comes to weight loss, your diet is more important that exercise… and for losing belly fat, you need the right foods to help you reduce belly fat and reduce belly bloat. In this section we will share how to lose stomach fat by adding ingredients to your diet.

10 belly fat burning foods:

The hotter the better, hot peppers such as chili peppers, jalapenos, even cayenne powder help increase fat loss and stave off hunger. And they also give you a healthy dose of metabolism boosting vitamin C! (3)

Eggs –

High in lean protein, eggs will help keep your cravings in check, so you will eat less and lose belly fat faster. Some studies have even shown that eating healthy proteins will actually help you lose belly weight. (4)

Beans –

When it comes to foods to eat to lose belly fat, beans are nature’s gift to mankind because of their nutritional balance. They have the perfect amount of carbs and protein and they keep you full for hours. Black beans, kidney, lentils, garbanzo, and cannellini are all good choices. (5)

Nuts and Seeds –

Nuts and seeds not only keep you full, the healthy protein can help you reduce belly fat and even increase your metabolism. Almonds, walnuts, macadamia, cashews, pistachio, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are good examples of belly fat burning foods. (6)

Berries –

Another metabolism boosting ingredient, berries are packed full of Vitamin C and fiber. Studies have shown that fiber helps raise your metabolism and helps you shed belly fat fast. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cranberries are good choices when looking to lose belly fat. (7)

Avocados –

We really love avocados here at Lose Weight by Eating! They are full of fiber, which is fantastic for weight loss and oh so good for you! This healthy fat will actually tell your body to release fat! (8) Enjoy ½ an avocado a day for best results.

Leafy Greens –

Leafy greens help you feel satisfied longer, plus they boost your metabolism and turn off your hunger receptors. You will eat less and lose more belly fat just by increasing your leafy greens! They’re low in calories and high in fiber, making them the perfect weight loss food. Not a fan? Try one of our yummy green smoothies. Examples include spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, bok choy, arugula, chard, and mustard greens.

Citrus Fruit –

Citrus fruit is another big metabolism booster and great for losing belly fat, so much good for you vitamin c and so easy to work into your diet! Squeeze some lemon, lime, orange, or all three fruits into your water and sip all day. (9) Enjoy an orange instead of your sugary snack, or a grapefruit when you crave sour candy.

Coconut –

Coconut is another healthy fat that tells your body to release unwanted belly fat! Try adding coconut water or coconut milk to your morning smoothie, swap out cooking with butter for coconut oil. (10)

Broccoli –

More good for you greens, broccoli helps increase metabolism and helps you burn more belly fat. And at just 30 calories per cup you can have as much as you want, so eat up!

Key Point: Certain foods have metabolism boosting properties and can help you burn belly fat fast. Try to incorporate these foods into your daily diet to kick your fat burning into high gear.

#2. Avoid Foods That Cause Belly Fat

If you want to know how to burn belly fat, there are some foods you should be avoiding. In this section we will share how to burn belly fat by removing a few ingredients from your pantry.

The best diet for losing belly fat involves phasing these foods out by filling your diet with the healthy ingredients in our “Top 10 Foods That Burn Belly Fat Fast” section above.

When trying to lose belly fat, avoid these foods:

First off, all that processed food will only pack on belly fat and make you unhealthy. Try to remove all the prepackaged, preservative filled junk from your diet and replace it with whole foods that will help you lose belly fat. (11)

Sugar and Sugar Substitutes –

Yep, all of it! Try to get your sweet fix from nature, fruit (especially the belly fat burning fruits outlined above) is a great alternative to traditional sugar, which will only turn into more fat. Even worse, fake sugar will make you sick and tell your body to hold onto belly fat. The best way to burn belly fat fast is to stay clear of the chemicals. (12)

Go all natural whenever possible. Try to remove or reduce sugar in your favorite recipes, instead use mashed fruit. And remember, the more sweets you eat, the more you crave. So guess what… the less you eat the less you will crave it!

Carbohydrates –

Not all of them, but try to cut how many carbs you eat by half. Refined carbs are the worst offenders: white bread, pasta and flour. So try swapping for all natural whole wheat versions.

Instead of having a whole sandwich at lunch have a half a sandwich and salad. Small changes will show big results in losing belly fat.

Fats (The Unhealthy Kind) –

I’m talking about the fried foods, heavy buttery dishes and unhealthy cuts of meat like bacon. You don’t really need me to tell you why these are packing on the belly fat do you?!

Swap out fried for baked, use olive oil or coconut oil when cooking and opt for lean protein that will actually help you take off the excess belly fat!

Alcohol –

Empty calories, extra carbs and loads of sugar… oh my! Looking to get rid of that beer belly fat? Then put down the beer friend! All those extra calories and carbs are not helping your efforts. (13)

And if you’re a fan of the mixed drink, holy-moly the calories and sugar (real and fake) in those mixers are seriously hindering your weight loss efforts!

Key Point: Sugar, carbohydrates, processed foods, and alcohol all directly affect your waistline. Avoid these foods if you’re trying to lose belly fat.

#3. Do Exercises That Help You Lose Belly Fat

Keep in mind that in order to lose belly fat, calories need to be burned as well. Try these recommended exercises to lose belly fat fast to really get that weight off.

In this section we will show you how to reduce belly fat with exercise. If you’re not currently exercising daily, try to add 10 minutes per day for 7 days (or skip Saturday and Sunday and do 15 per day).

Great exercises to help you lose belly fat:

Interval exercise is great to reduce belly fat. Small bursts of hard core exercise peppered in with low intensity exercise will keep your body guessing, raise your heart rate burning more calories, and increase fat burning in a big way!

So, how do you practice interval exercise?

It’s easy, say you love walking outside in your neighborhood, keep up your routine just run for a full minute for every 10 minutes of exercise. Really give it your all and kick butt, then back to walking and so on. You can do this in all exercise, if you swim, up your game for a full minute every 10 minutes of exercise.

Just in case this is still vague: For the first 9 minutes exercise like normal, on minute 10 give it 90%-100% and really work hard, then back down to normal exercise for the next 9 minutes, and back up for one more minute before cool down and stretching.

Pilates –

Pilates is one the best core exercises available to lose stomach fat fast, and my current favorite. It involves small movements all centered around core strength that almost anyone at any age and any physical ability can do.

I have taken up Pilates in a big way, and not only do I have the faint line of a six pack starting to show, I have eliminated all my chronic back pain and CRPS/RSD pain! Plus I do look damn good in my jeans, if you’ll allow me to brag a little.

If you can afford it (and it is pricey so don’t hate me) try out a Pilates reformer class, otherwise a Pilates mat class at your gym or even an online video will help you tone up that tummy and feel amazing!

How to lose stomach fat with Other Exercises –

Ab exercises will also help you lose belly fat and help you keep that tummy tone as you lose the weight. We are a huge fan of core and ab exercises here at Lose Weight by Eating, and consider them the best exercise to lose belly fat. Not only to they help you tone up fast, they also strengthen your back, fix your posture (which makes you look thinner!) and help you lose belly fat!

We also love yoga, hula-hooping (yep, great for the abs) and the good standby “Abs of Steel” videos, and trust me the outfits in the 1990’s video will increase the cardio aspect just from laughter alone! There are also a slew of videos online, find one you love and can stick to every few days and you’ll be toning as you shed the unwanted belly fat.

Key Point: You don’t have to work out for long periods to burn belly fat. Try doing high intensity exercises like running, swimming, pilates, and core exercises to help flatten your tummy quickly.

#4. Get More Sleep!

I will be the first to admit, I don’t get enough sleep every night, being a mom and a business woman I just don’t. Sometimes I don’t sleep because my mind is active, other times it’s because I’m stressed and more often than not it’s just my crazy schedule. But sleep is so important to get rid of belly fat and optimum health. (14)

In this section we will share how to lose belly fat with more sleep. I know, it’s my favorite part too.

How many hours of sleep should I get to reduce belly fat?

Try to get between 7-9 hours (yes I said 9… doesn’t that sound heavenly?!) of sleep each night, sure it won’t always happen, but try!

Try a sleep schedule

Set a sleep schedule, go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time, after awhile your body will get it and will take over… you know what I’m talking about. Like when you wake up on a Saturday morning at the same time as your alarm would have gone off at during the workweek.

Put your devices away

I hate to admit it, but I do sleep with my phone in my room. However, I also put it on do not disturb and avoid looking at it after 10:00pm. Just telling myself “It’s on Do Not Disturb” so I won’t be using it either helps me stay off the device.

You may want to detox from having your phone or device in your room for one full week, this will get you out of the habit of grabbing it out of boredom.

Key Point: Inadequate sleep can lead to weight gain, including belly fat accumulation. More sleep means belly fat loss.

#5. Avoid Stress

When humans get stressed, our bodies create a hormone called Cortisol. It’s essential for survival because it helps your body to mount a stress response.

Unfortunately, it can cause weight gain when produced in excess, especially in the abdominal region. (15)

This goes for both men and women, but women tend to hold onto more stress and therefore it affects weight loss more negatively (men, you can read this part… we won’t laugh it’s a valid concern in your lives too!).

Here are some stress relieving activities that in turn can help you reduce belly fat:

  • Take a hot bath
  • Start a new book
  • Do a yoga video
  • Try meditation
  • Color in a stress relieving coloring book
  • Write in a journal

Key Point: The human hormone cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone”, may lead to increased belly fat.

#6. Consider Your Monthly Cycle

Your monthly cycle also plays a huge part in weight loss and losing belly fat! From the wicked chocolate cravings to less sleep and more stress, plus we tend to weigh a good 5-10 pounds more in that week. Cut yourself some slack and plan ahead.

Allow yourself a few squares of dark chocolate each day, expect to weigh a little more and don’t be discouraged when you step on the scale, heck… just put that thing away for a week!

Key Point: Hormonal changes at in women throughout the month can result in temporary weight gain, especially in the belly area.

#7. Don’t skip meals!

Skipping even one meal can lower your ability to lose belly fat. I know you think by skipping a meal you are consuming fewer calories and therefore the weight should come off faster, but it will make weight loss that much harder. So stop skipping meals and just eat smarter.

How to lose belly fat by eating more

In my Lose Weight By Eating weight loss plans I show you how to lose stomach fat by eating more.

Here are the three weight loss plans that will show you how to lose stomach fat and keep it off for good.

Lose Weight By Eating– an easy diet that leans on comfort food made healthy

Detox Diet Week– a one week plan that relies on smoothies and salads

3 Day Detox Diet– a simple 3 day guide to fast weight loss

Key Point: Skipping meals can actually harm your weight loss efforts, so don’t skip if you’re trying to lose belly fat.

Conclusion

You might be eager to lose belly fat to look and feel better, or because your doctor told you it was time to take better care of yourself. Either way, you can reduce belly fat without any fancy equipment or memberships.

Simply take a good hard look at your diet, make a few modifications you can stick with and get your body moving. Not sure where you stand on diet? Write down everything you eat this week, then compare it to the list above and see where you could have made better choices. Don’t beat yourself up though, learning how to lose stomach fat fast is a process. Simply find areas to improve and work on them next week.

Lastly, be kind to yourself…. Weight loss is hard enough, putting yourself down certainly does not help! Celebrate the wins, but don’t focus on mistakes. Tomorrow is a new day!

Lose Weight By Eating cookbooks:

  • How to Lose Weight by Eating: The Clean Eating Diet Plan
  • The Lose Weight by Eating Cookbook
  • Detox Diet Week: The 7 Day Weight Loss Cleanse
  • How to Lose Weight Fast: 10 Tips to Burn Fat Quickly

Pooch, gut, beer belly, love handles—whatever you want to call it, that cushy area between your pecs and your lower half tends to be the most stubborn when it comes to weight loss.

The secret to losing fat is actually no secret at all. What it comes down to is this: clean, balanced eating; consistent workouts; and regular, restorative sleep. It sounds simple—and it is—but with today’s bustling lifestyle it gets harder and harder to shed unwanted pounds.

While it’s very difficult and rather impossible (according to some) to spot-reduce fat, targeting body fat as a whole is your best bet to busting that belly. From the best fat-burning workouts to the top food picks for fat loss—here’s what you need to know if you want rid yourself of that extra fluff.

Top workouts for fat loss

High-intensity interval training

High-intensity interval training is high on every trainer’s list, and for good reason. “My No.1 pick for fat loss would be high-intensity interval training, just because you’re burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time. You’re getting more bang for your buck. I know a lot of guys that don’t have all day to work out in a gym, so when it comes to belly fat you have to focus on calorie burn and intense workouts,” says Jim White, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach. Think bootcamps, tabata, and series of burpees, box jumps, and sprints—those all do the trick. The best thing about HIIT is that it keeps your body working long after you leave the gym, burning calories and fat on your off hours via a phenomenon called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, aka EPOC.

Running

You don’t need to dole out big bucks for specialized workout classes or equipment when your two greatest fat burners are with you at all times—yes, your legs. “Running is one of those workouts that you can do anywhere. All you need to do is go outside—you don’t need equipment. At an average pace you can burn up to 600 calories per hour. Of course the more intense and the faster you run the more calories you’ll burn. Depending upon pace you can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour. You can incorporate intervals of walking, jogging, and running . You can also choose to go up hills or do sprints. Going out in the heat you also burn more calories. “I would definitely incorporate running as a great workout to burn belly fat,” says White.

Cycling

The options for spin today are growing to be more intense and more entertaining at that, with options like SoulCycle, Flywheel, CYC fitness, and your local gym’s trusty spin class. Locking into a bike will not only skyrocket your fat burn, but the pack mentality may cause you to work harder in an effort to keep up with and surpass your fellow riders. “I definitely would put spinning up there as one of the best fat-burning workouts. First of all, you have that great social scene and music coming together . Weight training can sometimes be boring alone, but adding spinning makes things more interesting,” says White. Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Department of Preventive Medicine found that when you work out with others, you’re more likely to enjoy your sweat session. When you enjoy something, you’re more likely to stick to it long-term. It’s a simple concept, but when it comes to losing belly fat it’s particularly important because fat loss is a marathon, not a sprint.

Top foods for fat loss

Quinoa

Quite possibly the king of good carbs, quinoa is one of those foods that is incredibly versatile and boasts an impressive nutritional profile. “Quinoa is almost a complete meal—it has your protein, being one of the highest-protein ancient grains—and it has your healthy carbohydrates. It’s very nutrient dense and very versatile—you can add more protein to it or healthy sources of fat like pumpkin seeds and oils. We need carbohydrates in our body (like quinoa), and a lot of people are afraid to eat them. Quinoa is a slow-digesting carbohydrate, and it’s not high glycemic, so it won’t cause an insulin response like eating straight sugar would,” says White. Carbohydrates give your body energy and help carry you through tough workouts. Quinoa in particular contains all the essential amino acids needed to support muscle development and encourage fat loss. By swapping nutrition-lacking carbs like white rice or pasta for quinoa, you’ll boost your fat burn.

Greek yogurt

Portable and gut-friendly, keeping Greek yogurt on hand is going to help rid you of those unwanted love handles. From a quick snack—pair it with fresh fruit or nuts—to a smoothie enhancer or sour cream substitute, Greek yogurt is very versatile when it comes to daily usage, making it an easy addition to your diet if it’s not a staple already. “It’s high in protein, and a good source of vitamin D and calcium to help rebuild the bones. Especially if you get the plain variety, it’s very low in sugar—it’s a great snack for fat loss,” says White. The key here is to avoid pre-flavored varieties. Fruit-on-the-bottom versions pack in an unsightly amount of sugar that may actually inhibit weight loss and potentially contribute to your fat deposits. A 7-oz serving contains a whopping 18g of protein on average, and also provides healthy gut bacteria to keep your belly feeling good and digestion regular.

Broccoli

Your diet should contain an absurd number of veggies if you’re looking to melt fat away—broccoli being one of them. “When it comes to vegetables, which are very important, I would definitely throw broccoli as No.1,” says White. Broccoli is low in calories and high in fiber, which means it’s going to fill you up, keep you full, and stop any unnecessary craving-driven eating later. One cup of the green stuff contains close to 3g of fiber for a measly 30 calories. It’s also an excellent source of iron, calcium, and vitamin C, which will encourage greater blood flow to the muscles, support healthy bones, and increase immunity.

Asparagus

A close contender for top place as one of the best fat-busting foods is asparagus, according to White. “Asparagus is a natural diuretic, and is also loaded with vitamins. Per one cup cooked it’s only 25 calories, but thanks to the fiber it will fill you up. You can grill it or steam it (steaming will probably be the cleanest way to prepare it), you can boil it or even microwave it. I’ve even seen people eat it raw. You can throw olive oil on it and saute it. There are a lot of different options here. You just want to stay away from the butter,” says White. Due to the diuretic properties of asparagus, you may see more immediate reductions in stomach bloating, reducing your pounch’s appearance while you work over time to really tighten it up.

Salmon

Fishing around for the perfect protein? Salmon is a good place to start. It’s full of healthy fats, and, when combined with regular exercise, can support even greater fat loss, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Salmon’s great because it has omega-3 fatty acids and is a good source of protein. It’s a little higher in fat than other protein options, but it’s the good kind of fat that we need in our diet. I see a lot of athletes that don’t incorporate any fat in their diets and are afraid to eat fat, but this is a good fat to have. Per ounce you get about 7g of protein, so if you’re an average male who’s going to consume around 5oz it can add up to 35g of protein per serving,” says White. Opt for wild salmon vs. farmed varieties, as it tends to contain higher amounts of healthy omega’s and less of the inflammation-causing omega-6 fatty acids.

Blueberries

When it comes to melting fat it’s not all fiber and protein. A balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense foods like berries is extremely important if you want your body to function at its optimal level. “As far as fruit, I would recommend blueberries because they’re one of the highest foods in antioxidants. They’re great to throw into your protein shake for a healthy added sugar after your workouts to help speed up recovery. Per cup we’re looking at around 60 calories, so it’s very low-calorie and very versatile,” says White. Antioxidants not only fight free radicals, but, according to a study from the University of Michigan, rats who were fed blueberry powder with their meals wound up with less belly fat at the end of the 3-month study vs. rats who consumed no berries in their diet, suggesting that the antioxidant compounds help fight and diminish stubborn fat cells.

Green tea

Think of green tea as your fat-melting, metabolism-fueling cocktail. Especially when swapped for other calorie-rich caffeinated beverages like your morning latte, green tea can boost your fat-burn efforts because it’s low in calories and rich in antioxidants. This brew contains certain antioxidants called catechins, which have been found to rev up metabolism and encourage the breakdown of fat cells—particularly belly fat. Researchers from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences suggest that consuming decaffeinated green tea in conjunction with a balanced exercise regimen will increase weight-loss and fat-burning results rather than just sipping on the drink alone.

Recipes for fat loss

(Courtesy of Isabel Smith, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., registered dietitian, and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition)

Quinoa chia pancakes

“The healthy fat and protein in here allow for the classic yummy pancake feel but with more nutritional bang,” says Smith.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Makes: 10-12, 4-5″ pancakes

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa flour
2/3 cup almond milk or water
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp maple syrup
Dash salt
(For pan) mist of avocado oil

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and combine using whisk or immersion (hand-held) blender until mixture is homogenous.
  2. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat, and mist the pan with avocado or other high-smoke point oil for—2 minutes.
  3. Pour batter into 4-5″ rounds, and cook on each side—about 2 minutes.
  4. Serve with your favorite toppings, and enjoy.

Easy chicken peppers

“These are a great and easy dinner, and can be served with simple sweet potato fries,” says Smith.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Makes: 3-4 servings

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp avocado oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 chicken breasts, cubed (equal to 1lb)
2 tsp chili powder
Dash oregano and basil
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast or your favorite cheese; 1-2 pre-cooking, 1 for garnish
5 red (or other color) bell peppers, tops removed, seeds removed and cut into 3-4 pieces

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°, and line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and add onion, saute for 2-3 minutes or slightly browned and soft.
  3. Add chicken to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes before adding all of the herbs, spices, salt, and pepper; then continue to cook until cooked through (another 5 minutes or so).
  4. While the chicken is cooking, remove top and seeds from each pepper and cut each into 3-4 sections.
  5. When the chicken is finished cooking, divide into each pepper boat and garnish with additional cheese or nutritional yeast.
  6. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until peppers are soft.
  7. Remove from oven, and serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy.

Classic beef chili

“Chili is an easy option for a lunch or dinner, and can also be used as leftovers. It’s rich in both protein and fiber, and therefore makes for a good, belly fat-fighting option,” says Smith.

Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Total time: 30-40 minutes
Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1-lb grass-fed beef
2 bell peppers, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-16 oz jar of low-sodium, organic tomato sauce
Dash salt and pepper
1-2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp each: basil, oregano

Directions:

  1. Wash and prepare ingredients.
  2. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat, and add oil.
  3. After 1-2 minutes, add onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until mostly cooked.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil (about 5-7 minutes), then lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat, then serve and enjoy.

Hearty kale salad

“Kale salad is an easy and delicious option for a lunch or dinner—both as a side and as the main course as well,” says Smith.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5-10 minutes
Makes: 3-4 servings

Ingredients:
Salad:
2 heads of kale, cut off the stem, washed and dried
½ sweet potato, cubed and roasted
½ cup pomegranate seeds

Dressing:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
Dash salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry kale and cut off stem, and prepare the sweet potato and pomegranate seeds.
  2. In a salad bowl combine the kale, sweet potato, and pomegranate seeds.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the salad dressing, and pour over the salad.
  4. Mix the salad dressing into the salad using hands to massage the dressing into the kale—note that kale salad is much more palatable after the kale has been sufficiently massaged.
  5. Serve the salad, and enjoy.

Daily habits for fat loss

Pack snacks

No belly-busting diet is complete without a super-charged arsenal of healthy, satiating snacks. By planning ahead for those times you get stuck—think traffic jams and long days at the office—you’ll be equipped to fight against any unhealthy temptations or poor food choices. “I would definitely have snacks planned throughout the day. It’s very important to eat throughout the day to make sure you’re not famished at some of the bigger meals. I would definitely have snack jars with things like granola bars, protein bars, almonds, dehydrated fruits, turkey jerky, and a lot of high-protein snacks stashed at work, in the car, or at home,” says White.

Prepare meals on Sunday

Putting aside time on Sundays to prep for the week ahead will not only save you countless dollars in last-minute takeout meals, but it will also save you a tremendous amount of excess calories in the long run. When we make decisions based on emotions and convenience we often find ourselves tied to less-healthy fare. White suggests getting in the kitchen, throwing on some good music, and preparing your meals for the days ahead. This way you can control ingredients, portions, and also free up time during the week to tend to your usual obligations. If you stick with it in the long-term, this will translate to less overall body fat as a result.

Pencil in your workouts

If you haven’t picked up on the importance of preparation, then we haven’t done our job. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in your busy schedule and forget to put a priority on health and what actions contribute to it. “People don’t plan for the week as far as writing their workout times in the calendar. If you write them down you’re 30% more likely to stay adherent to your workout. Write them down as you would any doctor’s appointment and try to shoot for sticking with it,” says White. The more workouts you check off, the faster you’re going to see results. Do yourself a favor and book that bike ahead of time—you’ll eliminate the opportunity for lame excuses by making a real commitment to your sweat sessions.

Meditate

For most, the thought of sitting down for 10 minutes without any kind of stimulation is embarrassingly scary. However, if you’re able to muster up the willpower to do so, meditating for a small period of time each day will boost your fat-burn efforts by reducing stress. By reducing stress, you reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to higher amounts of fat in the body. “Definitely find some time to meditate. When we’re stressed it can cause an increase in cortisol which can negatively affect body fat. There are a lot of great apps out there like Headspace which take you through a short meditation to try to decrease stress,” says White. Or, look in to Transcendental Meditiation. Four of our cover guys practice this research-backed type of meditation. Don’t knock it until you try it.

Make sleep a priority

Sleep takes all that hard work you’re doing in the kitchen and the gym, and fast tracks those results. A good night’s sleep helps your body recover from activity and also regulates hormones responsible for hunger cues. “Sleep is essential . It’s recommended that adults get 7-8 hours per night. There are a lot of studies on , showing that good sleep can help us eat better and help us to lose weight,” says White. The two specific hormones sleep has an influence over are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin works to keep your energy steady and appetite low. Alternatively, ghrelin increases feelings of hunger. When you fail to get adequate sleep, ghrelin is increased and leptin is decreased, which messes with your hunger signals and can cause you to eat more. By getting your 7-8 hours a night you’ll avoid any wacky cravings and emotional eating, which will make your fat-loss goals that much easier to achieve.

Avoid artificial sweeteners

The zero-calorie tag is particularly tempting when you’re desperate to drop fat, but honestly you’ll see better results if you avoid any artificial sweeteners in your diet. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, when your brain registers something as sweet but fails to get those calories associated with it, it causes your body to seek them elsewhere, leading to excess calorie intake. In addition, popular sweeteners like Splenda are 300-600 times sweeter than real sugar on average, and consuming them may send your sweet cravings through the roof, potentially leading to poor food choices. Steer clear of the fake stuff and reach for the real stuff in moderation if you absolutely need something sweet. However, if you’re really serious about getting rid of your excess fat it would serve you best to avoid added sugar at all costs.

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How To Lose Belly Fat Fast

Belly fat is a stubborn, unsightly beast. It’s also dangerous. Even if you’re slim elsewhere, a pot belly raises your chances of being hit by a heart attack, stroke or diabetes.

There are a few ways to check if that weight around your midsection has put you in the danger zone, but the simplest is to wrap a tape measure around you just below your bellybutton. If you’re a man and the number’s 94cm (37in) or more, it’s time to take action.

While you’ll find plenty of tips on the internet to help you lose belly fat, they’re just that – tips. To make a change, and fast, you need to eat healthily but also be in a caloric deficit, so that you burn more calories than you take in.

The best approach to achieving that is to both modify your diet and start exercising more. Simple to say, far harder to do. Below we’ve got a four-week plan that’s perfect for any fitness level because each move is for time rather than reps, so you do as much as you can manage.

If you’ve been put off taking up exercise to burn fat by the prospect of endless sit-ups, the good news is that there’s not a sit-up in sight – mainly because you can’t reduce fat from a certain area with specific exercises. Instead, this training plan consists of high-intensity exercise involving all major muscle groups, which will help shed the excess fat from all over your body. All you need are a pair of dumbbells, which are eminently affordable if you’d prefer to follow the workouts at home.

However, if you’re not getting on with the plan, not to worry – there are plenty of other ways to exercise. You might prefer running, in which case and this beginner running plan will take you from the couch to 5K in eight weeks, giving you a great target to aim for while you burn vast amounts of calories. And if that’s not your bag either, check out our guide to getting started with all kinds of sports. You’ll find some type of exercise that suits you eventually, we promise, and any kind of movement will help you achieve that crucial caloric deficit, especially when you look forward to doing it.

Now, on to your diet. We’ve got specific diet tips for shifting belly fat at the bottom of this article, but one general tip that can help you lose weight is to adopt a diet that’s relatively high in protein, especially when you’re exercising frequently and need to maintain your muscle mass while losing fat. This exercise-friendly meal plan is a good option, and if you want to make things as easy as possible then check out our guides to healthy recipe box and meal delivery services, which can take all the hassle out of improving your diet.

However, for many of us, perhaps the easiest and most effective change you can make to help you lose belly fat fast is to stop boozing. When a writer tried it for four weeks he experienced what he called “ridiculously good results from a relatively minor lifestyle change”.

How The Plan Works

Here’s what you need to know before you start.

1. You’ll be doing circuit workouts

The plan involves doing four circuit workouts a week. Circuits are sessions where you do one set of an exercise before moving on to the next exercise without resting. You only rest at the end of each round. This is effective because the lack of rest forces both your muscles and your cardio system to work hard, meaning you burn off as many calories as possible. Each circuit finishes with a “supermove” which requires you to do as many reps as possible – maintaining good form – in 60 seconds. These supermoves ensure that you finish each round having given every last drop of energy.

2. You’re against the clock

The five-move circuits are arranged so that you perform the first four exercises for time, as opposed to a set number of reps. There are two main reasons for this. First, it means that you can record the number of reps that you perform and then try to beat your score the next time you do the workout. That should keep you focused when the going gets tough. And second, it means that this programme can be used by beginners and experts alike. If you’re a beginner, you may complete six press-ups in a set whereas an experienced exerciser may do 30. You also get to pick a supermove to suit your fitness levels.

3. Things progress every week

Each week involves doing the same four circuits but that doesn’t mean you get to coast through the plan. For a start, we’ve made weeks three and four more challenging because we’ve increased the duration of each set from 40 to 50 seconds. An extra ten seconds may not sound like a big increase but it’s a substantial step-up in workload and you’ll notice a difference. The fact that you record what you do is also aimed at providing added motivation to help you keep progressing throughout the plan. If you managed 12 reps of a certain exercise in the first week, your week two mission is clear: aim to beat that number.

  • Week 1: Do exercises 1-4 for 40sec, then do the supermove for 60sec. Record your reps to give yourself a target for next time.
  • Week 2: Do exercises 1-4 for 40sec, then do the supermove for 60sec. See if you beat your previous week’s score.
  • Week 3: Do exercises 1-4 for 50sec, then do the supermove for 60sec. The time increases to 50sec per exercise in this week.
  • Week 4: Do exercises 1-4 for 50sec, then do the supermove for 60sec. You should be posting your best scores yet.

The Best Dumbbells To Use

This training plan shows how much you can achieve with just a set of dumbbells, and it’s certainly going to be more convenient (and cheaper) to pick up a set for your home rather than heading to a gym to complete the workouts. We have an extensive round-up of the best dumbbells you can buy for your home, but we’d recommend the BodyPower Rubber Hex for this particular workout plan.

That’s because the renegade row exercise pops up in two sessions and anyone who has ever done a renegade row will know that a hexagonal-shaped dumbbell makes the move far easier, owing to the more stable base it provides compared with a round dumbbell. The BodyPower Rubber Hex dumbbells are also a smart pick if you’re worried about damaging your floors, because the rubber material is less likely to leave a mark than metal weights.

The Bodypower Rubber Hex dumbbells come in a range of weights that runs up to a massive 45kg. We’d say the 12.5kg weights are a great choice for this plan, in that they provide enough of a challenge for exercises like squats without being far too heavy for the lateral raise and overhead press.

Buy on Amazon | £52.99 + £3.95 delivery for 12.5kg pair

How To Warm Up Before Your Workout

In each of the circuits below you’ll be working against the clock to complete as many reps as possible exercise, and there’s no rest between sets until you get to the end of the round. It’s a demanding style of training and given the variety of exercises you’ll be doing, you need to warm up muscles all over the body to give it your best and reduce any risk of injury.

You can follow the routine in this explainer on how to warm up at the gym but, in brief, you’ll start with a series of general dynamic stretches to loosen up your muscles, then move on to warm-ups that are specific to the exercise you are about to do. This can be as simple as doing the exercises without any weight or very light weights, or stretches focusing on the muscles you are going to challenge most in your session.

It should take you no more than ten minutes to get a good warm-up that will allow you to start your workout firing on all cylinders, which is exactly what you need to do if you’re looking to shift belly fat fast.

Circuit 1

Do each move for 40sec in weeks one and two and 50sec in weeks three and four, then rest for 2min between rounds. Do 5 rounds.

1 Squat curl

How With feet shoulder-width apart, simultaneously bend at the hips and knees to lower towards the floor with your chest up and your weight on your heels. As you straighten up, curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders.

Why The squat part of the exercise works your entire lower body. Holding the dumbbells for the duration of the set works your grip strength, and the biceps curl adds an extra muscle and cardio challenge to raise your heart rate.

2 Bent-over row

How Stand tall with your chest up and core braced, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend forwards – hingeing at the hips, not the waist – then row the weights up to your sides, leading with your elbows. Lower back to the start.

Why Using dumbbells for this back exercise will ensure that you get equal muscle development on both sides and gives you a big range of motion so you can concentrate on squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the move.

3 Romanian deadlift

How Keeping your legs straight, lean forward – hingeing at the hips – and lower the weights down the fronts of your shins until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. Then return to the start.

Why This deadlift variation shifts the emphasis to your hamstrings. Doing it with dumbbells will ensure each arm gets to hold its share of the weight.

4 Overhead press

How Stand tall with your chest up and core braced, holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height with palms facing forwards. Press the weights directly overhead until your arms are straight, then return slowly to the start.

Why Following a legs exercise with a shoulder move in a circuit allows you to keep your intensity, and therefore your heart rate, high because you’re working completely separate body parts. This will maximise the calorie burn.

Supermove

Select the move for your level and do as many reps as you can in 60sec.

Beginner: Press-up

Start in the press-up position with hands directly underneath your shoulders, your core and glutes braced, and feet together. Bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor, then press back up powerfully to return to the start.

Intermediate: Wide press-up

Start in the normal press-up position but with your hands out wide. Bend your elbows and lower your chest down towards the floor. Once you are as low as you can comfortably go, press powerfully back up to the start.

Advanced: Diamond press-up

Start in a press-up position but with your thumbs and forefingers together to form a diamond shape. Lower your chest to the floor, keeping your elbows close to your sides, then press back up.

Circuit 2

Do each move for 40sec in weeks one and two and 50sec in weeks three and four, then rest for 2min between rounds. Do 5 rounds.

1 Lunge curl

How Holding dumbbells, take a big step forwards and lower until both knees are bent 90°, keeping your front knee over but not in front of your ankle. At the same time, curl the weights up to your shoulders. Alternate sides.

Why The lunge works every major muscle in your lower body while also providing a test of balance and co-ordination. The biceps curl element makes it an extra-challenging start to the circuit.

2 Renegade row

How Start in a press-up position, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your core braced, row one hand up, leading with your elbow, then lower it back to the floor. Alternate sides with each rep.

Why Think of this move as a brutal version of the plank – it works your back muscles while challenging your stabilisers to keep you level. Make sure you control the movement to get the maximum benefit.

3 Press-up

How Start in the press-up position with hands directly underneath your shoulders, your core and glutes braced, and feet together. Bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor, then press back up powerfully to return to the start.

Why Press-ups offer a safe and effective way of working your chest muscles hard, but only if you do them correctly. Concentrate on the quality of the movement, rather than bashing out lots of “junk” reps.

4 Wide overhead press

How Stand tall with the dumbbells by your shoulders. Engage your core and your glutes to give yourself a stable base and simultaneously press both weights overhead and slightly out to the sides.

Why Changing the angle of the press provides a different challenge to your shoulder muscles from a conventional overhead press. Just make sure the weights go more up than out, to avoid over-stressing your shoulders.

Select the move for your level and do as many reps as you can in 60sec.

Beginner: Split squat

Start in a split stance, with one foot in front of the other, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend both legs until your trailing knee touches the floor. Straighten both legs to return to the start, then go straight into the next rep.

Intermediate: Squat

Stand with your chest up and core braced, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your knees to squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor, then press down through your heels to return to the start.

Advanced: Jump squat

Squat down as described above, then explode upwards, aiming to get as much height as possible. Absorb the impact of the jump as you land, sinking into the next squat and repeating the exercise.

Circuit 3

Do each move for 40sec in weeks one and two and 50sec in weeks three and four, then rest for 2min between rounds. Do 5 rounds.

1 Squat press

How Start with the weights at shoulder height and your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then straighten up while pressing the weights directly overhead.

Why This exercise provides a real cardio challenge because it takes a lot of effort to go from a deep squat to standing up with the weights overhead. Pace yourself and make sure your form is good.

2 Reverse-grip bent-over row

How Stand tall with chest up and core braced, holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing forwards. Bend forwards from your hips, then row the weights up to your sides, leading with your elbows. Lower back to the start.

Why Switching to a reverse grip provides a challenge to your biceps as you draw the weights in to your sides. This is useful because that muscle group isn’t targeted elsewhere in the workout.

3 One-leg Romanian deadlift

How Stand on one leg, holding dumbbells. Bend forward at the hips until you feel a strong stretch in the hamstrings in your standing leg, then straighten back up to complete the rep. Do half the given time on one leg, then switch.

Why This move challenges your balance and proprioception – your body’s sense of where its different parts are positioned – while firing up your hamstrings. To get an extra benefit, squeeze your glutes at the top of the move.

4 Lateral raise

How Stand tall with your chest up and core braced, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Raise the weights out to the sides, leading with your elbows, until they reach shoulder height. Lower them slowly to return to the start.

Why If done correctly, this is a highly effective way of adding size and width to your shoulders, putting you on the fast track to a great-looking upper body. Make sure you follow the form guide closely to maximise the benefit.

Select the move for your level and do as many reps as you can in 60sec.

Beginner: Side to side press-up

Get in a press-up position with your hands slightly wider than normal. Lower to the bottom of the move, then shift your body to just above one hand, then over to the other. On the next rep, go to the other side first.

Intermediate: Spider-Man press-up

Get into a press-up position. As you lower to the bottom of the move, lift one foot off the floor and raise the knee to your elbow. Press back up, placing your foot back on the floor. Repeat on the other side.

Advanced: Divebomber press-up

Start in a press-up position, then raise your hips and bend your elbows. Lower your head and chest down and forwards, moving your torso in a smooth arc so you end up with you head and chest raised. Reverse the movement to return to the start position.

Circuit 4

Do each move for 40sec in weeks one and two and 50sec in weeks three and four, then rest for 2min between rounds. Do 5 rounds.

1 Lunge press

How Holding dumbbells at shoulder height, lunge forwards so that your front knee is over your front ankle. As you lunge, press the weights directly overhead, making sure they go up and not forwards. Alternate sides.

Why This move is a great co-ordination challenge and also a test of your shoulder mobility. If yours is poor, you’ll find you hunch as you press and push the weights forwards.

2 Renegade row

How Start in a press-up position, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your core braced, row your right hand up, leading with your elbow, then lower it back to the floor. Alternate sides with each rep.

Why As before, it works your back muscles while challenging your stabilisers. For an extra challenge, it’s even tougher on rounded dumbbells.

How Start in the press-up position with hands directly underneath your shoulders, your core and glutes braced, and feet together. Bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor, then press back up powerfully to return to the start.

Why Press-ups offer a safe and effective way of working your chest muscles hard, but only if you do them correctly. Concentrate on the quality of the movement, rather than bashing out lots of “junk” reps.

4 Reverse flye

How Leaning forwards at the hips with a weight in each hand, keep your back flat and bring the weights upwards as if you were spreading your wings, aiming to bring your shoulder blades together at the top of the move.

Why This move targets your rear delts, while building stability through your shoulder region and rotator cuffs. It’s more important to focus on the quality of muscle contraction than to churn out more reps by swinging the weights around.

Select the move for your level and do as many reps as you can in 60sec.

Beginner: Lunge

Stand with your chest up and core braced, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Take a step forward and lower until both knees are bent 90°. Push back off your front foot to return to the start. Repeat, leading with your other leg. Alternate sides.

Intermediate: Reverse lunge

Stand with your chest up and core braced, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Take a step backwards and lower until both knees are bent 90°. Push back off your back foot to return to the start. Repeat, leading with your other leg. Alternate sides.

Advanced: Lunge jump

Starting from a lunge position, drive up into a jump, switching legs in the air and landing in a lunge on the other side. Try to absorb the impact of the jump as you land and go seamlessly from one rep to another.

What Next?

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Diet Tips To Help You Lose Belly Fat

Here’s the reality: it doesn’t matter how hard you train in the gym if you don’t put the same time, effort and focus into what you do in the kitchen. The old saying that “you can’t out-train a bad diet” is something of a cliché, but like all clichés it’s rooted in truth. And if you want to make big changes to how you look with your shirt off – and as quickly as possible – then you need to start thinking more about mealtimes. Here’s our expert advice on how you can start to eat smarter and torch body fat faster.

1. Fuel for the day ahead

When following this training plan breakfast is the most important meal of your day because what you eat first thing helps dictate better eating habits until bedtime. A breakfast made from lean protein, healthy fats and fibre – think eggs, bacon, and yes, some green vegetables – provides a sustained release of energy, so hunger won’t hit before lunch.

2. Swap sarnies for salad

Swapping a pre-packed sandwich and crisps for a big bowl of green leaves, mixed veg and chicken, tuna or another quality protein will help shrink your belly fast. A lunch like this will provide muscle-building protein, more stomach-filling fibre to ward off cravings, and an abundance of vitamins and minerals to keep your fat-torching mission on track.

3. Refuel during dinner

Your final meal of the day needs to be high in protein, especially if you’ve just worked out to help the repair of your damaged muscles. Baked salmon, grilled steak or chicken breasts on top of a pile of grilled or roasted veg will provide all your body needs. Add avocado or home-made hummus for some healthy fats to allow your body to better absorb certain vitamins.

4. Be clever with carbs

To lose belly fat quickly you need to be smart with your carbs. A small amount of certain carbs, like sweet potato or wholegrain rice, with dinner after training can aid recovery and help you get to sleep quicker. But the sugars and processed carbs found in chocolate, cakes, biscuits and sodas should be avoided if you want to burn fat and not gain it.

5. Drink like a fish

Being hydrated is crucial to getting lean quickly because if your body is struggling with the mental and physical problems of dehydration, it doesn’t have the resources or inclination to burn fat. Aim to drink at least three litres of water a day – carry a big bottle with you and sip frequently – and drink more on training days to ensure you stay hydrated.

6. Pick the right snacks

To burn fat you need to be in a calorie deficit (expending more than you take in) so inevitably you will feel hungry at times. Nutrient-dense snacks – nuts, natural yogurt, beef jerky – will fill you up and top up your intake of protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Avoid high-sugar nutrient-light snacks.

Why Can’t I Lose My Belly Fat? What Can I Do About it?

Why is it the last few pounds are always the hardest to lose? It doesn’t seem fair that it is often easier to lose 20 pounds than it is to drop the last five.

If you’ve been cutting calories, eating better and hitting the gym, but still can’t seem to shake that last little bit of belly fat, you are not alone. By design, your body doesn’t want to lose any more weight, especially if you are already close to your optimal weight range.

If you’re tired of feeling stuck in your diet, keep reading to learn the most common reasons why stubborn belly fat won’t go away and hear a few things you can do to change that.

Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss

What has worked for you up until this point, may not be the solution you need anymore. It might be time to shake it up and give your metabolism a little kick in the butt. And it could be that you don’t need to lose weight, you really just need to change your body composition – there’s a difference! Getting a six-pack often requires a more strategic approach in fitness and tightly controlled nutrition to drive results.

Weight loss can be a decrease in either muscle, body, or usually a combination of the two. Whereas changing your body composition is focused primarily on increasing lean mass and decreasing body fat. This could mean the number on the scale goes up or stays the same, even though you are losing body fat!

So throw out your scale and grab your measuring tape, or get your body fat percentage analyzed, and track your progress using a different metric. Your ideal body fat percentage depends on age and genetics, but should fall somewhere around one of the following:

If your current percentage falls below the athlete range, you probably do not need to lose any more weight. But if you are at a higher range and looking to decrease, there are a few things you can try.

How to Burn Belly Fat

You’ve probably see a ton of trendy diets and food ads that supposedly turn you into a fat burning machine! But burning fat and losing fat aren’t quite the same thing. Burning fat is simply using fat as a source of fuel. This doesn’t mean that you are dropping weight though. Your body is always burning a little bit of fat, even at rest. And often times you replace this fat with the calories you eat – causing no loss in overall fat mass.

Fat loss on the other hand is the result of cutting calories. If you eat less than you burn, your body fat stores do not get replaced and this results in overall weight loss/decreases in fat mass. But this is not always a perfect science of calories in vs. calories out. When it comes to body composition (% body fat), it gets a little more complicated. The type of workout you are doing, your diet, and lifestyle factors can all effect how successful you are at losing fatty tissue.

And to make things harder, you cannot spot reduce fat – meaning when you do lose body fat it tends to come from all over, not just your belly fat. This can make the process feel like it takes even longer, since small reductions in fat throughout your body is much harder to visually see than fat loss from one specific area.

Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Lose Stubborn Belly Fat and How to Fix It

Here are some common reasons for why you might not be able to lean out, paired with a few tips for what you can do about it.

1). You’re Eating More than You Think

Cutting calories is the only way to shed pounds. If you are eating less than you burn, you will lose weight. This is the single most important thing you can do for fat loss – eat fewer calories!

If you aren’t dropping pounds, you may be eating more than you think. Are you staying on track all week long, counting calories during weekdays but allowing more wiggle room on the weekends? If this sounds familiar, you may be giving yourself too much freedom on off days. It is entirely possible to undo a week’s worth of hard work with a few days of excess calories, especially if alcohol is involved. Your body does not work in 24-hour increments, and what you eat every day plays an important role in the success of your diet.

The Fix: Figure Out How Many Calories You Should Be Eating

Your calorie needs are directly related to your current weight, lean mass, and fitness needs. And finding out exactly how much you should be eating each day is not difficult. You can easily calculate how many calories you need a day using an online calculator or when signing up for a food tracking app. This is a crucial step in helping you be successful.

Use a Calorie Counter App

Once you know how many calories you need each day, the next step is to hold yourself accountable. And it it is pretty impossible to know if you are sticking to your diet if you aren’t tracking your calorie intake through a food tracking program like an app. This is the easiest and most effective way to maintain calorie control. It will also help hold you accountable to your diet and show you exactly how consistent you are being.

If you aren’t tracking your daily food and drink intake, you should start. This is probably the best step you can take towards achieving your fat loss goals. And if you are tracking already, here are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Track every single thing you eat and drink. Including added oils, sauces, small snacks, drinks, alcohol, and cheat meals to see exactly how much damage they are doing to your week.
  • Use weekly averages. You might be surprised how much your weekend splurge is adding to your weekly calorie average. If you eat 1500 calories every day during the week but have a 3,000 calorie Saturday, this could make your daily average look more like 1,700 calories.
  • Weigh and portion out your food as accurately as possible. Even minor differences in serving sizes can add up, especially when you are looking to tightly control your calories.

Pssst.. the Trifecta app has a database of over 6 million food items to search from, a barcode scanner for packaged food, and the ability to track your weekly calorie average.

2). Your Workouts Aren’t Hard Enough

Exercise is not required for fat loss, but it can certainly help! The good news is that any exercise can help get rid of belly fat, since fat loss boils down to eating less calories than you burn. However, certain styles of exercise like strength training and HIIT may offer additional advantages.

The Fix: Exercises That Get Rid of Belly Fat

A long jog or spin on the elliptical may no longer cut it. While you may be burning calories with a moderate workout regime, the key to increased fat burning is to increase calorie burn even after your done in the gym – by building lean mass or increasing you VO2 max. Muscle is more metabolic, meaning it helps you burn more calories at rest, and the more muscle you have, the better you store carbs and utilize them for energy.

VO2 max is the measurement of how efficiently your body can access fat stores for energy and oxygen during intense workouts. And increasing your VO2 max, will increase the amount of fat you are able to burn.

High-Intensity Interval Training – HIIT

HIIT workouts may promote fat loss and improve stamina faster than endurance training alone (1,2,3,4). HIIT not only helps you maximize fat burning throughout the day but can also whip you into shape super fast – since most workouts are short and burn a ton of calories.

Tababa is a four-minute HIIT workout shown to burn up to 400 calories per day (5). It was developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo and will put your metabolism in ultra-high gear. Pick a repetitive workout you can do at a high intensity, like sprints, burpees, mountain climbers, or jumping squats, and grab your stopwatch or smart phone with a timer.

Psst… the Trifecta app has a pretty sick workout timer too! And daily workouts to try.

Based on the science of Tabata, the most effective interval is 20 seconds as hard and fast as you can with 10-second rest in between, with a total of eight intervals (8 x 20 seconds + 10 seconds rest in between each set = 4 minutes). The trick is to try and maintain the same number of reps for each round, and you should be completely spent at the end.

If the thought of HIIT scares you, it shouldn’t. The intensity can easily be adapted to your individual fitness level – you can go at your own pace! Include more HIIT training in your weekly workouts or add Tabata when timing is tight.

Strength Training

If you’re not lifting weights, start! Strength training is one of the best ways to tackle fat loss long-term by keeping your body composition in check. Building muscle mass increases your resting energy expenditure (this means you get to eat more food), tipping the energy balance equation in the favor of weight loss. Plus working your muscles through strength training not only promotes more lean mass but might also assist you in burning more fat all day long (6). Not to mention, muscle creates definition, giving you that toned look, and can make you look leaner overall. This is one of the biggest reasons not to measure your success by the numbers on the scale.

3). You’re Eating the Wrong Foods

While calories in vs. calories out is the number one factor in determining weight reduction, the quality of your food choices is important when it comes to body composition. If your macros are out of whack, you may be hindering your fat burning capabilities. In addition, eating nutritionally poor foods could slow your progress further by messing with your energy, mood, and appetite.

The Fix: Foods That Burn Belly Fat

Okay technically there aren’t any foods that specialize in burning fat more than others. But some types of food can potentially give you an edge when it comes to improving lean mass and burning fat more efficiently.

Studies are continuing to show that what you eat plays a role in losing fat. The best fat burning diets should include lots of vegetables. Most non-starchy veggies – anything except peas, corn, and potatoes – provide few calories and loads of good nutrition you need. Micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals, in vegetables are an important factor in weight management because they help control appetite and support a healthy metabolism.

To clean up your diet, try the following:

Macros for Fat Loss

Getting your macro balance on point will ensure you are utilizing the food you eat as efficiently as possible so that more fatty tissue is broken down for energy.

Start by eating more protein. Protein is one of the most beneficial foods you can eat for fat loss. It helps maintain your lean mass in a calorie deficit (helping you maintain your strength and muscle tone), and keeping lean mass while losing weight usually means you are more prone to lose body fat! Protein also helps reduce appetite and cravings, and is the most thermogenic macro (meaning you burn more calories digesting protein than fat or carbohydrates).

While your overall macro diet can play a key role in fat loss, protein is the most important. Figure out how many grams of protein you need each day and make it a priority to get this amount.

And if you want to take it a step further, find your ideal macro diet based on your calorie goals and fitness level using an online calculator or using the following chart:

Eat Less Processed Foods and More Vegetables

Consider cleaning up your diet by including more whole foods made with simple ingredients.

Heavily processed foods are typically full of added trans fats, sodium, and sugar – none of which is going to help you lose fat or slim down. One study showed your body may even burn twice as many calories digesting less processed foods. And growing research continues to suggest that eating a diet consisting of mostly whole foods is associated with more weight loss (7,8,9).

In addition, in one study those who ate more vegetables, less processed foods, and less high sugar drinks over a year-long period, lost the most weight regardless of genetic make-up (10).

Drink More Water

Cutting out high-calorie beverages, especially sugary drinks like soda and juice, is an easy and effective way to control calorie intake and get your macro balance looking better. This also includes excessive protein drinks. Unless you are using protein shakes as a full meal replacement, or you need them for training and recovery, they may just be adding excess calories to your day.

Opt for more water to keep you hydrated and running like a well-oiled machine. And be sure to track all your beverages with your food to find the right balance that works for you.

4). You’re Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Alcohol is not only calorie dense, providing a whopping 7 calories per gram, but it can also cause increased appetite and lead to more fat storage. When you are consuming alcohol in high amounts, your body prioritizes metabolizing the toxins from your drinks before anything else – this means any excess calories from carbs, fat, or protein you eat is more likely to get stored as fat. And even if you’re not eating while drinking, your body is not effectively breaking down fat as a source of reserved fuel.

The Fix: Don’t Drink Your Calories

It might be time to think about quitting alcohol for a bit. Or if you’re not willing to give it up, you might want to seriously consider the amount you are drinking and make sure you are also tracking the calories from your drinks. It is possible to enjoy a few adult beverages every now and then and still be successful with your fitness goals, but it all comes down to how much you are drinking. You will also want to opt for more low calorie drinks and avoid too many options with excess sugar and added calories.

5). You’re Stressed Out

Stress creates a fight-or-flight response by the body, which causes adrenaline to spike. Adrenaline increases your heart-rate and breathing, and also helps release stores of glucose and fats to be delivered to throughout your body for immediate energy. Once adrenaline subsides, your body releases cortisol, a catabolic hormone that increases appetite and promotes the breakdown of muscle for more immediate energy.

Sometimes a little stress can be a good thing because it allows you to react quickly, harnessing energy where it’s needed most, and performing at a higher level.

When stress is channeled in a negative way, like when daily or chronic stress from life events does not result in the need for immediate output, excess nutrients released from your stress response may get stored as abdominal fat (11,12,13). So it’s no wonder, excess stress could be preventing you from slimming down. Studies have even linked abdominal fat to poor mood (15,16,17).

The Fix: Find Ways to Relax

Sometimes the hardest part about weight loss is your mindset. Here are some of the best ways to control stress and help you think more positively about your diet.

Learn to Meditate

Try yoga! Or learn to meditate. Research suggests yoga is associated with decreased stress, increased fat loss, and improved mood (18,19,20). The practice of yoga is centered around controlling your breath and being more conscious of how you react to the word around you.

By practicing yoga or learning to quiet your mind with regular meditation, you will be able to control your breathing and mental response when stress occurs. You might even find that it improves your mood and overalls sense of well-being (21).

Get More Sleep

While stress can cause you to lose sleep, not sleeping enough may exacerbate your fat storage problem even further (22).

You should be sleeping at least seven hours a night – uninterrupted, quality sleep.

And playing catch-up on the weekends is not going to counteract the lack of sleep you got all week long. Make your rest a priority and dedicate time each night to getting some rest. Remove distractions, like your TV, phone, or pets, and find a dark, quiet place to lay down. Use ear plugs or sleep masks if needed. Your body and your mind will thank you.

Stop Trying So Hard

Contrary to popular belief, you have complete control over your mood and your reaction to the things around you.

Find ways to channel your inner positivity and release the feel good vibes your body needs.

Cut yourself a break and invest in some much needed TLC. Calm your stress levels by taking time to unwind with a good book, get a massage, or take some time off work. Surround yourself with positive people and things you enjoy. If you’ve been pushing yourself hard, give yourself a little more time and patience to be successful. You got this!

Crush Your Fat Loss Diet

Sticking to a diet and fitness plan can feel overwhelming as it is, and life tends to always get in the way of our willpower and good intentions. If you’re finding it difficult to plan, cook, portion, and track all of your food for fat loss, consider trying something a little easier with this free guide to meal prep for fat loss. Perfect your macros and finally lose those last five pounds with evidenced based nutrition plans.

You’ve gotten into the stride of a healthy nutrition and workout regimen, and you’re seeing the results on the scale. But many women reach their target weight only to be disappointed that they’ve lost little-to-no belly fat. Although it seems logical that our belly fat will shrink as we lose weight, you can’t really tell your body where to lose fat, and it’s extremely common to lose weight disproportionately. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered with a healthy plan that’ll help you get strong and lean all around.

But first things first: why is belly fat so darn stubborn? Everyone’s body type is different, so it depends on the person, but there are a few common reasons. “Belly fat is often a sign of ‘stress’ or insulin resistance. When you are stressed, your cortisol levels rise, which may lead to storing fat in your middle,” Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of Real Nutrition, told POPSUGAR. “Genetics do play a role here as well, so if your parent tends to carry weight in their middle, you might end up doing the same.”

Related: These 6 Tried-and-True Tips Will Help You Flatten Your Belly and Trim Your Waist

In addition to genetics, Cassie Lambert, NASM certified trainer and strength coach, told POPSUGAR that your weight-loss method may also play a role. “For example, a low-carbohydrate diet will kick-start weight loss, but this is because of the water loss from the glycogen in the muscles and not fat,” she explained. Lambert also cited large amounts of cardio as an example of how to quickly lose weight but not necessarily belly fat.

Evan Harden, personal trainer and National Bar League founder, told POPSUGAR that losing weight too rapidly is a common mistake. “When that happens, it is difficult to preserve muscle, let alone grow new muscle,” Harden said. “This leads to losing weight but not body fat and ultimately a poor body composition.” Losing weight gradually is essential to preserving muscle, and Harden noted that new research shows we shouldn’t lose more than one to three percent of our body weight per week.

Related: After Years of Working Out, Here’s How I Finally Shrank My Belly Fat

Although you can’t spot reduce fat, there are nutrition and fitness methods that are effective for losing weight in the most proportional way possible. Shapiro recommended a nutrition plan that consists of high-fiber foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats at every meal.

“Visualize plate and cut it in half. Make sure half the plate is full of plants, fruits, and veggies at every meal,” she advised. “Then cut the other half into quarters, and make sure one-quarter is protein and one-quarter is whole grains.”

Additionally, Shapiro provided the following nutrition tips for overall weight loss:

  • Eat until you are 80 percent full instead of stopping when you are full or stuffed.
  • If you need to go back for seconds, go back for veggies first.
  • Avoid processed foods as much as you can. They can cause you to gain weight and consume foods that aren’t good for you.
  • Eat high-fiber foods so you will stay full longer on fewer calories, such as veggies, whole grains, oatmeal, spinach, whole-wheat bread, berries, and apples.
  • Drink plenty of water, and avoid all sugary beverages. Our bodies don’t register those calories, so we end up eating on top of them.
  • Avoid fried foods.
  • Limit cheese to one time per day.

Related: Trying to Tone That Tummy? You’ll Want to Nix These Carbs From Your Diet

And while it’s great to be committed to eating well, keep everything in perspective. Don’t berate yourself if you veer off course for a meal or two. ” you fall off your plan, get right back on the next time you eat,” Shapiro said. “Consistency is what moves the needle, not one mistake.”

Now that we’ve got nutrition covered, let’s talk workouts. Even if you only do exercises that target your stomach muscles, you can’t spot-reduce fat. A combination of HIIT cardio exercises and strength training is the most effective fitness regimen to lose body fat all around. Lambert recommended strength training three to five times per week. ” improves body composition and metabolic function, speeds up the metabolism,” she explained. Lambert said to integrate cardio workouts into your routine in order to increase your caloric deficit.

Related: Burn Fat and Build Muscle With These at-Home HIIT Workouts

And while we often think of workouts as happening solely in the gym or on the running trail, there are myriad opportunities each day to get moving – and it makes a difference in the long term. “Move more throughout your day to increase the amount of energy burned outside of daily exercise,” Lambert said. “In time, you will be able to reduce fat in a sustainable manner.”

When we set out to lose weight and body fat, it’s easy to become laser-focused on losing weight as quickly as possible. But as Harden emphasized, this isn’t a healthy or effective way to attain a healthier body. If we view good nutrition and consistent exercise as a lifestyle, we’re more likely to lose weight – and belly fat – in a healthy manner and keep it off for good.

You Asked: Can You Lose Weight Just from Your Stomach?

Whether you have some extra weight in your upper arms or rear end, it makes sense that targeting those areas with exercise—curls for your arms, lunges for your butt—would slim them down.

Weight-loss experts refer to this as “spot reduction.” But it turns out that in most cases, this kind of laser-focused weight loss isn’t possible. One study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that six weeks of intensive ab workouts did nothing to slim the exercisers’ midsections. A related study found that 12-weeks of one-armed workouts resulted in less loose skin in the trained arm, but zero fat loss.

Working out just one part of your body probably won’t slim it down, but some body parts are more likely to shed fat when you exercise. Your stomach is one of them.

MORE: The TIME Guide To Exercise

“Some fat deposits are more metabolically active than others, and those may be more responsive to exercise interventions,” says Arthur Weltman, a professor of medicine and chair of the department of kinesiology at the University of Virginia. “Abdominal fat in particular is one of the most metabolically active fats.”

When you exercise, your workouts trigger the release of hormones, Weltman explains. The higher the exercise intensity, the more of these hormones your body pumps out, and the more of that metabolically active fat you lose. (Some of Weltman’s research suggests that high intensity interval training (HIIT), in particular, may slim your midsection.)

If you have fat stored in your gut, arms and chest, a lot of your fat is metabolically active, so it will likely respond to exercise and diet changes, he says. That’s especially true of your abdominal fat. The bad news is that extra fat in these regions is also linked with a greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other ailments.

MORE: How Apple Cider Vinegar May Help With Weight Loss

On the other hand, if you store excess fat in the hips, butt and thighs, that fat is not metabolically active. You have a lower risk for many diseases, “but that fat is very hard to reduce,” he says.

What type of exercise is best for targeting the tummy? One study compared strength training to aerobic training in terms of fat reduction in different parts of the body and found that while aerobic training—running, swimming, cycling—led to greater whole-body fat loss, resistance training targeted abdominal fat in particular.

In a nutshell, spot-targeting fat isn’t very effective—in most cases. But if you’re trying to lose fat around your stomach, a mix of resistance training and high-intensity aerobic exercise, along with a healthy diet, may help reduce your belly fat.

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Reducing belly fat is a problem that hundreds of millions of people care about in the world, one of us understands that losing weight means reducing belly fat, which means that these two activities are proportional to each other.

When you lose weight, your belly fat will decrease, which is the desire of overweight people, but not everyone who is overweight needs to lose belly fat.

Many people in this world have a healthy appearance, but the belly fat is enormous, or the lean ones but the visceral fat is thick, and the belly fat layer under the skin is more accumulated in the abdomen.

How To Lose Belly Fat Without Losing Weight?

In an article we also mentioned this is why fat is concentrated in the abdomen but not concentrated elsewhere, we also recall this cause: That’s because our bodies have up to 70% the water, the most characteristic of the body, is the excess fat, which makes it easy to move downwards. We can see the bottom part of our body is the abdomen.

Our buttocks and legs are made up of a large muscle that supports the movement, excess fat is still cornered, but not much, excess fat and visceral fat are mainly concentrated in the abdomen.

If we have taken the time to learn how to reduce belly fat safely, then we all understand the simple problem that we need to combine eating, sleeping, and exercise regimen to reduce belly fat. However, people often lose weight, i.e., reduce the body’s volume, and this means reducing the waist circumference.

But most of us need to lose belly fat without losing weight, so what do we need to do?

There are two ways to reduce belly fat, that is:

  • Reduce belly fat while losing weight
  • Reduce belly fat but almost keep the weight

With the first way to reduce belly fat and lose weight, you need to focus on a calorie-reducing diet and practice a lot and sleep on time for a period of 1 to 3 months, and you will see positive results.
Within this article, we will focus on how to reduce belly fat but to maintain body weight:

So the importance of our body remains the same and the belly fat decreases so that will partly compensate for our reduced belly fat? That is muscle.

Our story will be to reduce belly fat to maintain weight and to increase muscle mass, and we need to understand this problem clearly and then work out a new plan for effective implementation.

Also, you may be interested in:

  • Exercise to Lose Belly Fat For Men

You need to sleep 7-8 hours/day:

For whatever reason, if you do not charge the battery, your phone will run out of power, and they will be turned off, for people to sleep the time of loading the body after a day of activity.

You need to sleep 7-8 hours/day

We usually think that when sleeping, the organs in the body are rested, but it is not, when sleeping, some organs reduce their activity, and others increase their business.

Sleep is an excellent resuscitation and detoxification activity of the body, and if you have a good quality of sleep, you will have better health.

Sleeping will help your muscles grow after a day of proper exercise. Read: Ways to Lose Belly Fat While Sleeping

Let your brain relax:

Our stress directly or indirectly causes most headaches or migraines. In this life there are billions of things that are very easy to stress you, we have to understand that everything on earth still works like that no matter whether you want it or not and make sure our problem is small.

More than the issue of many presidents. They don’t have a headache, so why do we need to stress.

Let your brain relax

The brain is the control center of our body when the mind is stressed, it will not control the body’s machine to work smoothly, and there will be an error, one of the common mistakes is the successful transformation of fat. The amount of fat is stored under the skin and around our internal organs, producing many diseases.

Every day passes, we fulfill the mission one more day in the life, nothing to worry about.

The diet keeps calories but reduces fat and sugar:

If you don’t want to lose weight and lose belly fat, keep the calories in your body with full calories or non-fat ingredients, you should not eat sugar, pay attention to protein-rich foods, they help you grow muscle.

The diet keeps calories but reduces fat and sugar

There are lots of foods that help you get enough calories, feel full and low in fat that can be found easily in your daily menu, it’s essential that you pay attention to the ingredients every time you make a meal.

Increasing dietary fiber intake will make you full longer, as the digestion of fiber produces fairly natural energy, does not happen suddenly, so blood sugar levels are even, your blood sugar is always in a state moderate, not exceeding the threshold. This makes insulin release regularly, and your pancreas is not overloaded.

Let’s do this now to prepare for a workout regime that helps increase muscle and reduce fat below. Refer: What foods to eat to lose belly fat ?

How do you reduce belly fat and increase muscle?

It is possible to use a general sentence for this practice as a long time episode with intensity and strength combined.

reduce belly fat and increase muscle

To explain this, let’s talk about two exercises that are fat burning exercises that are jogging and muscle strengthening exercises as strength exercises like weightlifting.

How do jogging exercises reduce fat and maintain muscle?

Jogging is one of the most effective fats burning exercises today when you exercise correctly, and you want to practice reducing fat and also reducing your muscles for an intense workout in a short time.

For example, a fat reduction exercise and weight loss, muscle reduction, you only need to practice for 20 minutes with high intensity: You go on a treadmill and run at full speed so that you can understand your jogging.

We can’t talk to people around. You can rest for 2 minutes and repeat, until 20 minutes … you will lose belly fat, lose weight, and reduce your muscles as well.

How to exercise to lose belly fat keep muscles with a treadmill:

It’s your training session for 45 to 60 minutes when you practice running slowly, while you can still talk to people around you.

Time off 3-4 minutes and then continue until the end of the whole session. This workout will help you burn fat but keep your muscles healthy.

How to exercise to lose belly fat keep muscles with a treadmill

However, if you practice more than 60 minutes or 90 or more, your muscles will be consumed like the above exercise.

Not only with the treadmill but also other exercises will be similar. You can read: What is the best exercise machine to lose belly fat?

Maybe You Care:

  • Best Treadmills Under $500
  • Best Treadmills Under $1000
  • Best Folding Treadmills 2020

Strength exercises will help you gain muscle:

The first thing we need to note is that we want to reduce belly fat, the only focus, and the abdomen will not yield the best results. Let’s practice reducing body fat all over the body, and the stomach is just a little more.

When your muscles are under pressure or stretching, they will have to brace during exercise, so you go home, eat and eat, and when your muscles grow, your muscle growth occurs when you sleep. This is how to increase muscle and reduce belly fat while sleeping great.

Strength exercises will help you gain muscle

You want bigger muscles to give your muscles more pressure when exercising, and you want the muscle to tighten or increase the number of repetitions.

However, it is not that we increase the weight of the muscles, the muscles grow more prominent, but the muscle development is related to the bones, the strength of the bones and muscles all contribute to how much we can lift. When we exercise too much force tolerance of the skeletal system, we can fracture.

For exercises that help you reduce muscle fat, please refer to What kind of exercise to lose belly fat?

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A while back, I covered how to lose fat. The thing is, if that’s your goal, there’s something else you also need to know.

And that is: how to lose fat without losing muscle.

Wait… what?!?

Did I just imply that you can lose your pretty, hard-earned lean muscle mass while only trying to lose your ugly body fat? Yup, I sure did.

To understand why it happens, how it’s possible, and how to prevent it from happening, you first need to understand an important fact…

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss: It’s Not The Same

People often say they want to lose weight. This thing is, “weight” can be a few different things. For example:

  • Fat.
  • Muscle.
  • Water.
  • Glycogen.
  • Poop.
  • Stomach content (i.e. food waiting to be digested).

So, if all you care about is losing weight, you could potentially sit in a sauna and sweat a lot, or get food poisoning and poop your brains out. Hell, you could cut off a leg and you’ll lose “weight” just fine. (Disclaimer: please don’t actually do that.)

But if you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you don’t want to lose any of this other stuff. Rather, what you specifically want to do here is lose fat, NOT muscle.

How Fat Loss Happens

Fat loss has just one major requirement: a caloric deficit.

A caloric deficit is the state you’re in when you consume fewer calories than your body burns for energy.

When this happens, it forces your body to find an alternative source of energy to burn for fuel instead, and that will primarily end up being your stored body fat.

How Muscle Loss Happens

In a perfect world, the ONLY thing your body would burn while in a caloric deficit is your stored body fat.

However, it turns out there’s a second energy source available: your muscle tissue.

And while you may want your body to only burn fat and not burn any muscle whatsoever, the reality is that your body doesn’t really give a crap about what you want.

All it cares about is keeping you alive (fun fact: your body can’t tell if you’re in a caloric deficit because you’re trying to lose some fat, or because you’re in danger of starving to death), and in order to make that happen, it will need to pull stored energy from somewhere.

And that can mean fat, muscle, or a combination of both.

How To Prevent It

What you need to do here is adjust your diet and workout in ways that will make your body less likely to burn muscle, and more likely to burn body fat.

How do you do this, you ask?

Here are the 8 best ways to lose fat without losing muscle:

  1. Eat A Sufficient Amount Of Protein
  2. Maintain Or Increase Strength Levels
  3. Don’t Reduce Calories By Too Much
  4. Reduce Weight Training Volume And/Or Frequency
  5. Get Pre And Post Workout Nutrition Right
  6. Incorporate Refeeds Or Calorie Cycling
  7. Take Diet Breaks When Needed
  8. Avoid Excessive Amounts Of Cardio (Or Don’t Do Any At All)

Let’s take a look at each right now…

1. Eat A Sufficient Amount Of Protein

When it comes to maintaining muscle, your total daily protein intake is the single most important dietary factor of them all.

It’s not specific food choices, or when you eat, or how often you eat, or carbs, or supplements, or even the exact size of your caloric deficit (more on that later).

Nutritionally speaking, the biggest key to losing fat without losing muscle is eating a sufficient amount of protein each day. This is supported by numerous studies on a wide range of people (sources here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

Even in the absence of a proper weight training routine, more of the weight you lose will be body fat rather than muscle mass just as a result of a higher protein intake.

So, the first step to any muscle-preserving diet will be eating an ideal amount of protein every day. How much is that exactly? Well, based on the available research…

For most people, something in the range of 0.8 – 1.3g of protein per pound of your current body weight is the sweet spot for preserving muscle during fat loss. (Sources here, here, here, and here.)

(Note: those who are very overweight should use their goal body weight instead of their current body weight when doing this calculation.)

Additional details here: How Much Protein Do I Need A Day

2. Maintain Or Increase Strength Levels

Would you be surprised if I told you that using a well-designed weight training program is crucial for maintaining muscle while losing fat?

No? I didn’t think so.

What may surprise you, though, is that it’s more than just “using a workout program” or “doing strength training” that provides the muscle-retaining benefits we want.

You see, the primary training stimulus for building muscle is progressive tension overload (source), which essentially means gradually getting stronger over time.

For example, if you lift the same weights for the same number of reps for the next 20 years, your body will have no reason to build additional muscle. However, if you gradually lift more weight, or lift the same weight for more reps, your body would then have a reason to build more muscle.

And this same concept applies for maintaining muscle as well (source). Your goal is to give your body a reason to keep the muscle mass it currently has.

How do you do that?

Aim to (at least) maintain your current strength levels throughout the duration of the weight loss process, or, if possible, increase them. Doing so provides a “muscle maintenance” signal that tells your body it needs to keep the muscle it has (or build more of it).

Think of it like this. When your body is looking for an alternative fuel source to burn for energy, and it can choose body fat or muscle mass for that purpose, it will be less likely to choose muscle (and more likely to choose fat) if it sees there’s a reason for keeping the muscle around.

Without that signal, the potential for burning muscle increases.

Silly Myths About Weight Training

That’s why the silly myth of “lifting heavier weights” to build muscle and then “lifting lighter weights” to lose fat, get lean, and get “toned” is one of the worst things you can believe when you’re trying to avoid muscle loss.

In reality, you lift heavy weight to build muscle, and then lift that same heavy weight if you want to actually maintain that muscle.

Purposely reducing the intensity by lifting lighter weights while in a caloric deficit essentially makes your body think: “Hmmm, it looks like we only need to lift lighter weights now. I guess all of the muscle that was built for the purpose of lifting heavier weights is no longer needed. That must mean it’s safe to start burning it for energy instead of body fat.”

You want to avoid that scenario.

This is why your primary weight training goal is to, at the very least, NOT lose strength. This will, in turn, allow you to NOT lose muscle.

How To Do It

Let’s pretend you currently lift 100lbs for 3 sets of 8 reps on some exercise. Your goal throughout the duration of the fat loss process is to end up lifting as close to that same 100lbs for 3 sets of 8 reps as you can… or more if possible.

The same goes for every other exercise in your workout routine.

And the reason I say “or more if possible” is because it’s a lot harder – though certainly not impossible – to gain strength (and muscle) while in a caloric deficit than it is when you’re at maintenance or in a caloric surplus.

This isn’t the case for beginners, as someone in the earlier stages of intelligent progressive weight training will be able to progress quite well regardless of whether they are in a deficit.

But for intermediate and advanced trainees, don’t be surprised if it’s a lot harder to do, or if progression happens a lot slower, or if you find the best you can do on certain exercises is just maintain strength rather than increase it.

This is fine, of course, as that is the main part of the weight training stimulus you need to avoid losing muscle.

3. Don’t Reduce Calories By Too Much

As I explained earlier, a caloric deficit needs to be present in order for you to lose any amount of body fat, and that means you’re going to need to reduce your calorie intake by some degree.

The thing is, that degree of deficit can be all kinds of different sizes ranging from unnecessarily small to excessively large.

And while different deficit sizes can suit certain people in certain situations more so than others, research and real-world experience lean toward a moderate deficit being ideal for many reasons, including preserving muscle (sources here and here).

Specifically…

The ideal caloric deficit for most people is between 15-25% below their maintenance level, with an even 20% often being a good starting point.

So, for example, if your maintenance level happened to be 2500 calories and you wanted to create a 20% deficit, you’d aim to eat about 2000 calories per day.

I explain this in detail, along with how to calculate your maintenance level, right here: How Many Calories Should I Eat A Day

Why Not Use A Larger Deficit?

This is the point when you may be wondering why a larger deficit isn’t being used. After all, wouldn’t reducing your calories by more than this make weight loss happen even faster?

Yup, it certainly would.

But remember, this isn’t just about “weight loss.” Our goal is more specific than that. We want to lose fat… and do it without losing muscle.

And for that purpose, large deficits, low calorie diets, and “fast” weight loss are going to be bad ideas for most people.

In fact, this sort of thing is a bad idea for many reasons, as it can worsen:

  • Metabolic slowdown.
  • Hormonal adaptations.
  • Hunger.
  • Mood.
  • Performance and recovery.
  • Water retention.
  • Sleep quality.
  • Libido and reproductive function.
  • Lethargy and fatigue.
  • Adherence and sustainability.
  • Disordered eating habits.
  • And a whole lot more. (Additional details here: Why Very Low Calorie Diets Don’t Work)

For all of these reasons and more, a moderate deficit will be best for most people.

4. Reduce Weight Training Volume And/Or Frequency

A caloric deficit is really an energy deficit, and while this is fantastic (and required) for losing any amount of body fat, it’s not exactly ideal for maximizing weight training performance and recovery.

This is something we just talked about a second ago in terms of larger deficits having a larger negative impact in this regard.

However, even with just a moderate deficit in place, there is likely to still be some drop-off in performance/recovery compared to when you’re at maintenance or in a surplus.

Why does this matter, you ask?

Because the workout routine you were (or would be) using with great success for a goal like building muscle under non-deficit conditions now has the potential to be too much for your body to handle in the energy-deficient state it is currently in.

And that kind of scenario? That’s what causes strength to be lost. And when strength is lost in a deficit, muscle loss is what typically follows.

So, if you’re using a workout routine that involves more volume (sets, reps, and exercises) and/or frequency (workouts per week) than you can presently handle, you may notice things getting harder for you, or see that you’re getting weaker, or that reps are decreasing, or that progress is regressing, or that weight on the bar needs to be reduced, and eventually… that muscle is being lost.

How do you avoid all of this?

Adjust your weight training program to compensate for the drop in performance and recovery that comes with being in a caloric deficit.

This could mean reducing training volume (e.g. doing slightly fewer sets), reducing training frequency (e.g. using a 3-day workout routine instead of a 5-day workout routine), or a combination of both.

Of course, the exact adjustments you should make (or whether any adjustments truly need to be made at this stage) depends on the specific workout routine you’re using and your own individual recovery capabilities.

But if you need any help figuring this out, my Superior Fat Loss program lays out exactly how to turn any effective workout routine for building muscle into one that is ideal for maintaining it while losing fat.

I also include a workout routine I call The Fat Loss + Muscle Maintenance Solution, which is the workout that I’ve already adjusted for this purpose and most often recommend to those looking to maintain muscle during fat loss. You can learn more about it right here: Superior Fat Loss

(Also note that one possible exception to the above advice would be beginners, as they should already be using a fairly lower volume beginner routine and therefore would be unlikely to need any further adjustments.)

5. Get Pre And Post Workout Nutrition Right

Your pre and post workout meals, aka the meals you eat before and after your workout, are not quite as super important or hugely significant as most people make them out to be.

They are just one of many factors of your diet that are secondary to your total calorie and macronutrient intake (i.e. protein, fat, and carbs), which is always what matters most when comes to losing fat or building/maintaining muscle (source).

Having said that, your pre and post workout meals still matter (sources here and here).

No, they aren’t capable of making or breaking your success, but they are capable of providing benefits that can improve your performance during a workout, and enhance recovery related training adaptations after a workout.

And since we know that 1) performance and recovery are reduced to some extent while we’re in a deficit, and 2) this can increase the risk of muscle loss… it’s pretty safe to say that these are benefits we want to get.

So, what do you need to do to get them?

Consume a nice amount of protein and carbs within 1-2 hours before and after your workouts. (Sources here and here.)

Simple as that. Additional details here: What To Eat Before And After A Workout

6. Incorporate Refeeds Or Calorie Cycling

As I’ve explained throughout this article, the simple act of being in a prolonged caloric deficit causes a variety of changes to occur that increase the risk of muscle loss.

From hormonal adaptations, to increased lethargy and fatigue, to a reduction in performance and recovery… it all just makes losing muscle more likely to happen.

Fortunately for us, there are methods we can use to help minimize these effects or potentially even reverse them.

These methods include:

  1. Refeeds
  2. Calorie Cycling
  3. Diet Breaks

We’ll cover diet breaks in a second, but for right now…

Refeeds and calorie cycling allow us to temporarily pause our deficit by strategically eating more calories – specifically from carbs, as carbs have the biggest positive impact on a hormone called leptin (sources here and here) – for the purpose of getting back up to our maintenance level or into a surplus.

In addition to being useful from the standpoint of making your diet more sustainable, these methods will also serve to replenish muscle glycogen stores (which helps with strength and performance) and have positive effects on various physiological and psychological factors that are negatively affected during a deficit.

  • Refeeds
    Refeeds can be done a few different ways, but in most cases, it’s a 24 hour period of being out of your deficit and eating somewhere between your maintenance level and 500 calories above it (with the increase in calories coming primarily via carbs). I’ve found one refeed day per week to be a good frequency for those with an average amount of fat to lose, and once every other week being good for those with an above-average amount to lose.
  • Calorie Cycling
    Calorie cycling is essentially multiple refeed days (i.e. 2-3) over the span of a week, often arranged so that you’re consuming more calories on your workout days, and fewer calories on your rest days, with the specific daily amounts adjusted as needed to still have the intended total weekly net deficit in place in the end.

So, with a typical weight loss diet, you’d be consuming about the same amount of calories and macronutrients every day, and be in a consistent caloric deficit day after day after day.

Refeeds and calorie cycling change this by inserting non-deficit days to help lessen the negative effects a prolonged deficit can have, and make us more likely to retain muscle while losing fat (source).

I’ve personally found each approach to be beneficial, which is why they are a big part of my Superior Fat Loss program. Feel free to check it out for additional details and my specific recommendations.

7. Take Diet Breaks When Needed

Now take what we just discussed about refeeds and calorie cycling, but imagine their positive benefits being more significant.

In fact, imagine that instead of lessening the negative effects of a prolonged deficit, we could actually reverse those effects to some degree.

That, my friends, is the full diet break.

A diet break is typically a 1-2 week period where you come out of the deficit and back up to your maintenance level for the purpose of briefly allowing many of the things that suck about fat loss (i.e. hormonal and metabolic adaptations) to recover a bit and go back to normal (or at least, closer to normal).

This is obviously beneficial for many reasons, one of which is preventing muscle loss (sources here and here).

To take a diet break, increase your calorie intake (primarily via additional carbs) so that you are at your maintenance level every day for a period of 1-2 weeks.

Diet break frequency should be dependent on personal needs/preferences, and how much fat you have to lose. Generally speaking, though, once every 6-16 weeks tends to be ideal for most (perhaps every 6-12 weeks if you have less to lose, and every 10-16 weeks if you have more to lose).

Just like with refeeds and calorie cycling, diet breaks are also a big part of my Superior Fat Loss program, so feel free to check it out for additional details and my specific recommendations.

8. Avoid Excessive Amounts Of Cardio (Or Don’t Do Any At All)

Cardio is additional exercise… and additional exercise requires additional recovery.

While this has the potential to be problematic at any time and under any condition, we know the potential is higher when we’re in the energy-deficient (and recovery-impaired) state we need to be in for fat loss to occur. Which we are.

Which means, the more exercise we do, the more risk we pose to our ability to adequately recover, both in terms of the body parts being used the most (typically the legs with most forms of cardio), as well as the central nervous system (CNS)… which affects everything.

And if recovery begins to suffer, strength and performance will suffer. And when strength and performance suffer, so will your ability to build or maintain muscle while losing fat.

Now, exactly how much of an impact cardio has in this regard is hard to say, as it depends on the exact frequency, duration, and intensity of the activity being done.

For example…

  • 3 cardio sessions per week will have less of an impact than 5-7 sessions.
  • 30 minutes of cardio will have less of an impact than 60-120 minutes.
  • A low intensity activity – like walking – would have little to no impact compared to a more moderate intensity activity… such as jogging.
  • And neither would have nearly as much of an impact as something with a high intensity – like HIIT (high intensity interval training… such as sprinting) – which can almost be like adding an extra weight training workout in terms of the stress it places on your body and how recovery-intensive it is.

Here’s What I Recommend

Weight training is a requirement for building/maintaining muscle. We need that.

But cardio? It’s unnecessary for those goals, and purely optional for fat loss in general.

This fact, combined with the potential downsides that come with cardio activity (e.g. it cuts into recovery, it’s an inefficient way to create a deficit, it burns fewer calories than most people assume, it’s a common cause of overuse injuries, most people find it boring, etc. etc. etc.), is why my default recommendation is simply this:

Do the least amount of cardio needed.

What does this mean exactly? It’s pretty simple:

  • If you have no real need or preference for doing cardio, you can feel free to do none.
  • But if you do, or you find that you didn’t at first but that eventually changed at some point during the weight loss process, you can certainly feel free to do some cardio. Just be sure to avoid doing any more than you truly need to be doing.

Additional details here: How Much Cardio Should I Do To Lose Weight

As for me, my preference is to have people create their deficit via diet alone, use weight training to build/maintain muscle while they lose fat, and save cardio as a secondary tool to consider using if a point is reached when lowering calories any further becomes too difficult and they’d rather burn those calories off instead.

And my preference for the cardio activity itself? 30-90 minutes of walking. It still burns a decent amount of calories, and it won’t have any real meaningful impact on recovery.

Win-win.

Goodbye Fat, Hello Muscle!

There you have it… the 8 best things you can do to ensure you lose fat without losing muscle in the process.

While the first two items (sufficient protein intake and maintaining/increasing strength) are the most important, most scientifically-supported, and most beneficial in this regard, I’ve found that implementing all of the recommendations in this article is what produces the best results.

And if you need any help with any of this, I’d highly recommend checking out my Superior Fat Loss program. It’s designed from top-to-bottom for the specific purpose of preventing muscle loss.

What’s Next?

If you liked this article, you’ll also like:

  • How To Build Muscle: The 15 Step Guide
  • Why Am I Not Losing Weight?
  • The 10 Best Fat Burning Foods
  • How To Increase Your Metabolism

Can’t get rid of belly fat no matter what I do

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